Australia is a nation of celebration splurgers



Australia is a nation of celebration splurgers

Our enthusiasm for celebrating our nearest and dearest is costing us $18.4 billion* each year, despite the average person preferring to receive presents of sentimental value.

The new Suncorp Cost of Celebration Spending Report, revealed the average Australian spends $1,013 every year on presents and festivities to celebrate those around them. However, the report also found nine in 10 people prefer presents of sentimental worth meaning many of us may be spending more than what’s needed or expected.

Suncorp Behavioural Economist, Phil Slade, said the findings confirmed you don’t always need to spend big to show someone you care.

“It’s important to take the time to think about the person you’re buying for. As the research found, people value different qualities so investing thought into what the person you’re buying for likes may not only reduce the cost, but make it more meaningful,” Mr Slade said.  

“Gift giving is all about connections - there is a psychological link between how much a person wants to feel connected with the person they’re buying for and how much they think about that person when they’re not around, with how much time and thought and effort we put into a present or celebration.”

The report found Australians spend the most on Christmas ($470), followed by birthdays ($360), engagements and weddings ($204), anniversaries ($169), Valentine’s Day ($100), Mother’s Day and Father’s Day ($99), baby showers and bridal showers ($80), and lastly Easter ($67).

“It was interesting to see on average sons spend more than daughters ($106 vs $93) on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but daughters tend to be better at planning ahead and budgeting – a timely reminder in the value of planning with Mother’s Day on the horizon,” Mr Slade said.

The research also revealed the nation is divided when it comes to what we feel is an appropriate gift. Only a third of us believe re-gifting is appropriate and only 45 per cent believe cash is an appropriate gift.

“It’s clear more people prefer the meaning behind a present, over the monetary value. Gift giving which reflects thought and consideration can reinforce that primal sense of belonging which may not be as reflective through cash or a gift card,” Mr Slade said.

In terms of planning ahead, concerningly only one third of people always budget for celebration spending, a third sometimes do and a third never do, with females more likely to budget for celebration spending (33 per cent females vs 27 per cent males).  

Mr Slade said budgeting and planning ahead for large expenses can help to lessen the burden or financial impact on your wallet.

“There are many important factors when deciding how much to spend on a present or celebration. According to the research, most of us believe ‘who the gift is for’ is the most important factor when determining how much to spend, closely followed by ‘the importance of the occasion’ and ‘how much money you have’.

“Celebrations such as birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are concrete dates in the calendar which means you can plan ahead.

“If you take the time to work through your finances and correctly guesstimate how much money you will need to save before a planned celebration, this will help to make giving gifts more affordable.”

Phil Slade’s top money-saving gift-giving tips include:

·       Second hand gifts are not always second rate – especially for larger gifts such as a musical instrument

·       Consider organising a group gift where you can get away with spending less money

·       Use your downtime to actively think about presents you are going to give – as leaving present planning and shopping until the last minute means you are more likely to make irrational decisions and spend more out of guilt.

Other key findings:

·     40% of people agree that a card is a good gift.

·     55% believe that cash is an appropriate gift

·     56% would prefer something personal or sentimental over an expensive gift.

·     33% of us believe re-gifting is appropriate. 36% believe re-gifting is never appropriate (40% males vs 32% females).

·     Males are more likely to agree that re-gifting is never appropriate, cash is never an appropriate gift and that they would prefer an expensive gift over something personal/ sentimental.

·     18-34 year olds are more likely to agree that they would prefer an expensive gift over something personal/ sentimental.

·     Higher income earners are more likely to agree that cash is never an appropriate gift.

·     Approximately 90% of Australians prefer personal/ meaningful gift or useful/ practical gift over expensive gift or a prestigious brand. The preference is equally split between useful/ practical and personal/ meaningful.

·     55+ year olds and females are more likely to prefer ‘A large effort to obtain/make’, ‘Personal/ meaningful’ and ‘useful/ practical’ over ‘Expensive’ or ‘A prestigious brand’. Males are more likely to prefer useful/ practical gift over personal/ meaningful gift.

·     18-34 years olds and males are more likely to prefer expensive over personal/meaningful or useful/practical gifts.

·     18-34 year olds are more likely to spend over $150 on engagement/wedding presents and celebrations, and more likely to spend $150 and under for Christmas presents and celebrations.

·     35-54 year olds are more likely to spend over $150 on Christmas presents and celebrations.

·     55+s are more likely to spend less on engagement/ wedding, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day/Father’s day presents and celebrations.


Suncorp Cost of Celebration Spending Report surveyed 1,581 people across Australia and was conducted by AMR. Data has been weighted by age, gender and location, to ensure the sample would be representative of the Australian population.

*Based on ABS 2016 Census of Population and Housing statistics – total population aged 18+ is 18,193,867.

*Total spent on gifts and celebrations = $18,430,387,271 (Average spend per year is $1,013).

*Total spent on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations = $918,608,345 (Of those who do celebrate, the average spend per year is $99).

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