Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday shopping season is now upon us. With just a few weeks until Christmas day, many shoppers are feverishly trying to find the perfect meaningful gifts for everyone on their list. Between the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to the last minute sales just before Christmas, the American commercialization of Christmas plays a very big part in how much the average American pays for all of his or her holiday expenses. Between gifts, holiday parties and decorations, Christmas in America seems to be getting more and more extravagant. Here is a look at the average cost of an American Christmas and a glance at why the cost of the holidays is steadily rising.

Americans Spending More on Gifts in 2012
According to a study performed by the American Research Group, Inc., Americans will be spending more money on gifts in 2012 than they did last year. In 2011, the average American spent $646 on holiday gifts. In 2012, it is expected that the average American will be spending $854 in gifts for friends and loved ones. It should come as no surprise that the average cost of gifts is so high. With advertisements for big sales everywhere, there is a greater chance for impulse buys and overspending. Additionally, rising from a period of economic turmoil, many Americans may be more willing to spend this year after years of scrimping.

American Parents Spend $271 on Christmas Gifts Per Child
Costs can rise for families, especially for parents with underage children. According to an article released by MSN in December 2011, American parents planned to spend an average of $271 per child in Christmas gifts. One in 10 parents said the plan was to spend over $500 per child. While this is just an average, American families can definitely spend an astronomical amount of money on Christmas gifts.

Larger families with several children may have to work evern harder to avoid the holiday spending hangover. While this excess would be better placed elsewhere, such as parents creating strong financial futures for their families, these warnings often fall on deaf ears. Christmas spending has taken a dramatic increase in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Dramatic Upswing in Spending Since the 2008 Recession
In 2008, a recession hit the United States, and with many people out of work and struggling, holiday costs dropped significantly. According to Gallup surveys, in 2008 the average American spent 29% less on Christmas gifts than in 2007. Meanwhile, since the economy has slowly recovered, spending has gradually increased. In comparison to the spending levels of 2007, the United States is not spending quite as much. The average family expected to spend $764 in 2012. As the employment rate increased, and the housing and auto market has begun to recover, so have American's spending habits. Although this might support an economic recovery, consumers will have to sacrifice their savings.

The Bottom Line
Americans have been spending more on holiday gifts every year since the 2008 recession. Only time will tell if the predictions are correct. If 2012 keeps in line with past holiday spending, 2012 will be a very big year indeed in the United States for holiday spending.

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