For most Americans, the holiday season means giving gifts. Whether you shopped early, hit the Thanksgiving or Black Friday sales, expect to go online on Cyber Monday, or you plan to wait until the last minute, chances are you're going to be buying gifts.

The average American plans to spend $600 on holiday gifts in 2018 according to a survey of 2,028 American consumers conducted by Decluttr. The survey showed that 40% of respondents will seek additional income to pay for guests, and 25% will go into debt due to holiday spending.

Americans spend more than 40% more on their significant others than they expect to be spent on them. "Men are particularly guilty of overspending on holiday gifts, typically spending 84% more than is expected from their partners," according to a press release published with the survey.


Planned spend
on loved ones

Expected spend
from loved ones

Significant Other


















Graphic source: Decluttr.

Millennials spend less, work more

Millennials will spend slightly less than the $600 overall average, coming in at $518 spent on holiday gifts. That's still about $39 billion spent by this much-discussed generation, or 28% of the total holiday gift spend in the United States.

All that spending comes with its own problems. Almost half (47%) of surveyed Millennials feel stress over holiday spending. A much higher percentage of members of this generation (62%, versus 40% for all surveyed) will seek additional ways to make money to pay for their holiday spending. That includes 34% who will work overtime, 29% who will take on a side hustle, and 21% who plan to sell unused items to generate cash.

That extra income is needed, because 56% of Millennials expect to overspend on holiday gifts.

A piggy bank is wearing a Santa hat.

Set a holiday budget and stick to it. Image source: Getty Images.

Be reasonable

If people are generally spending more on gifts then people expect them to, then it's reasonable to reset expectations. It's silly to spend money you don't have or put yourself in a position where you have to get a second job, especially when the people getting the gifts aren't expecting it.

Talk to your family, friends, and loved ones. Set reasonable expectations and dial it back if the spending will put undue stress on people.

Restraint can be especially hard for parents who want to give their kids memorable holiday experiences. It's easy to understand that impulse, but it's also important to teach your children financial lessons, including "you can't have everything you want just because you want it."

Holiday spending can create long-term financial problems. That means that getting the gifts your kids, spouse, or someone else wants now can stop you from getting the mortgage or other loan you need down the line.