14 December 2016

What's the real cost of the traditional British Christmas?

What makes a 'proper' Christmas in the UK? Is it the songs that chase you from shop to shop, the tinsel and lights, or the Christmas dinner with all the trimmings?

Christmas in Britain is packed with traditions and for many of us, it wouldn't feel right if just one of those elements was missing. To discover just how far Brits will go for the perfect Christmas, we asked you about your most important traditions and investigated the true cost of Christmas.

The pre-Christmas buzz

The average Brit spends £645 on Christmas every year. Rather than deal with this big expense all in one go, a lot of people save up or start spreading the cost across the year.

The real pre-Christmas excitement comes from the simplest things: 

  • 72% of Brits decorate their Christmas tree 

  • 47% have an advent calendar to take them through December  

  • 30% leave food out for Santa and the Reindeer on Christmas Eve 

  • 12% of us still observe the old custom of a cheeky kiss under the mistletoe. 

This a pagan tradition dating back to the ancient Druids, who believed that mistletoe would give prosperity and fertility to all who smooched beneath.

plate of treats for santa

Under the tree or in the stocking?

According to our survey, 83% of us insist on opening presents on Christmas day. But only 38% of us hang Christmas stockings, and only 31% get a real tree to put gifts beneath. 

The average amount spent on a real tree is £41. The other 69% of us just use a fake tree or don't bother with one at all.

stocking full of gifts

The Christmas Dinner

84% of Brits have a traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas day, which includes turkey and all the trimmings. The humble turkey is actually one of the least traditional dishes on the table and only went mainstream in the UK in the 1960s - a gift from the US.

Far more traditional is the Christmas pud, which began life in the 1570s as plum porridge or pottage and evolved into the more fashionable desert we have today. Despite this being a true British tradition, 31% of those surveyed don't eat it at all.

The average Christmas dinner costs £77, with alcohol coming in at the biggest expense at £21 and gravy the lowest at £2. Most people spend around £18 on turkey or other meat but only £6 on the veg.

The average Christmas dinner has between four to six guests, with 19.5% having less than four and only 7% entertaining more than 10.

traditional Christmas dinner

Christmas entertainment

It wouldn't be Christmas without a good family argument. The most common Christmas disagreements are: the choice of food, who does the washing up, longstanding family disputes and the age-old battle of the remote.

Television holds a big place in the modern family Christmas, with 54% settling down to watch a Christmas film with the family and 23% watching the Queen's speech. 26% opt for an afternoon snooze on Christmas Day, while 39% play games with the family.

The Twelve Facts Of Christmas

  • The average Brit spends £645 on Christmas every year
  • Only 39% of us have a real tree
  • 30% leave food out for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve
  • 84% of Brits have a traditional Christmas dinner
  • We have on average 4-6 guests
  • The average Christmas dinner costs £77
  • We spend around £21 on booze
  • 31% of us don't eat Christmas pudding
  • 54% settle down to watch a Christmas film with the family afterwards
  • Only 23% of us watch the Queen's speech
  • 26% like a Christmas afternoon snooze
  • The 4 most common Christmas disagreements are: 
    • the choice of food
    • who does the washing-up
    • old family rows and 
    • who controls the remote.

What are your Christmas Day traditions?

For the chance to win £250 Love2Shop vouchers, leave a comment below our prize draw Facebook post to tell us what Christmas traditions are important in your family. 

Prize draw closes midnight 18 December 2016. Terms and conditions apply.

OnePoll surveyed 2,000 UK adults in November 2016.

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