What to Read Next

How we can all learn from the cost of Christmas past

Felicity Hannah
Yahoo Lifestyle
1 November 2012

With Christmas hot on our heels, we're all starting to feel the familiar worries over just how much Christmas is going to cost us this year.

Each year the amount we spend on Christmas seems to skyrocket, despite us tightening the purse strings in the downturn. In fact, a recent study found that shoppers expected to fork out over £600 on presents alone - with that figure appearing to rise each year. 

So as we calculate the cost of the presents, the chocolates and all the food and drink we'll be enjoying, it's little wonder that many of us feel nostalgic for a time when Christmas was simpler - and seemingly, a lot cheaper.

[Related: How to cook the perfect Christmas dinner]

Ask anyone in their 50s about their childhood Christmases and you’ll hear about a less complicated celebration – fewer presents, no TV and playing board games as a family rather than fighting over the Wii remote.

Naturally everyone gets nostalgic for their own childhood Christmases, but the frenzied spending that exists today simply wasn't the norm in the 60s.

This is partly down to the level of disposable income we have today. But it’s also because it wasn’t as socially acceptable to get into debt 50 years ago; unlike today when so many people have a credit card.

How much did they have to spend?

Let’s take a look at Christmas 1962 – 50 years ago exactly.

Back in the 60s, the average UK home had a gross weekly income of £18, which is just over £300 today. In 2012, the average UK home has a gross weekly income of closer to £700.

[Related: How to clear your overdraft by Christmas]

That means we have almost twice the income of those back in 1962 – but how much more expensive is Christmas?
How much did everything cost?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) can reveal that in the last 25 years, the cost of a Christmas tipple of whisky has risen from 68p to £2.26.

A Christmas ham cost 66p per kilogram back in 1967, compared to £7.13p per kilogram today.

And for those planning on cosying up around the fire, you'll be interested to know the cost of coal has risen dramatically in the last 50 years. Back in 1962, it was 48p per 50kg but today it's soared to a whopping £16.47.

More recently, high food inflation has pushed up the cost of Christmas dinner. The ONS found that Christmas dinner 2011 was 7.5 per cent more expensive than in 2010.

The price of turkey rose by 3.8 per cent to £8.15 a kg, with wine rising by more than 8 per cent.

The steepest rise was in the price of cream crackers, which soared by 50.9 per cent compared to the previous year.

This year there’s already been a warning on vegetables.

Prices of spouts, potatoes and other seasonally-festive veg are soaring higher than Rudolph – with even wholesale costs up 25 per cent compared to last year.

Debt the halls

Festive spending may go up and down year on year, but over the last half a century we’ve had more disposable income than ever before – and the cost of Christmas has rocketed accordingly.

However, so has the amount of debt we’re willing to go into to fund a dream family Christmas.

A study by Skipton revealed that if the average Brit spent £631.18 on presents for their families last year, then they carried an average debt of £466.38 into 2012 as a result.

This means more than half the cost of the presents was funded using debt.

Research by the charity Family Action found that for the very poorest UK families, the lowest price for an ‘acceptable’ Christmas was £182.

That equates to their entire disposable income for two and a half weeks, making it easy to see why so many households - rich and poor - end up in debt this time of year.

Clearly we have a lot to learn from Christmas 1962.

It may mean fewer presents and less tinsel, but surely the best Christmas is one we can afford.

Has the amount you spend on Christmas increased? Do you go into debt to pay for the big day? Share your thoughts with other readers in the comments below.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Medicare Supplement Plan F is the most popular plan option, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

What Are The Pros & Cons Of A Reverse Mortgage?

More Americans are accessing their home equity to support their retirement years. Speak with a professional and see what you may qualify for today.

Stop Paying Too Much For Your Prescriptions.

Drug prices vary wildly between pharmacies. GoodRx finds the lowest prices and discounts. Compare prices, print free coupons & save up to 80%.

Looking To Buy New Car Tires?

Confidently buy Goodyear® tires online with help from the experts! We'll help you find and compare tires based on your vehicle or tire size.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Register Now for Free

Are you paying yourself what you’re worth? Learn how to take control and build wealth.

Find Out How SoFi Can Help Refinance Your Loans

SoFi is refinancing student loans with fixed rates as low as 3.5% APR...

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Are You Parenting a Teenager?

Raising teenagers can be challenging. If you need help understanding why your teens do the things they do, sign up for our free teen email series.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!