Spending more isn’t the secret of a Happy Christmas


Academic research has shown that spending more does not lead to a happier Christmas

Research shows that spending less on Christmas will not stop East Dunbartonshire residents enjoying a happy Festive season, according to Jo Swinson.

In a consultation of her East Dunbartonshire constituents carried out by email, Jo asked whether people would be changing their Christmas spending this year, against the backdrop of the economic downturn.

The results of the consultation show:

  • 41% of those surveyed said they would be spending less
  • 57% of those surveyed said they would spend the same
  • 2% of those surveyed said they would be spending more

In most cases, those who said they would spend less cited reasons such as uncertainty about their future income, recent job loss or general anxiety about the credit crunch.

Many of those who reported that they would spend the same said that they would be spending more carefully to make their money go further and that they would start saving earlier for next Christmas.

Jo said:

“The results of this survey show the impact that the economic downturn is having. People are overwhelmingly choosing to spend the same or less than usual on Christmas, often because of worries over job security and future income.

“I am encouraged to see a high proportion of people saying that they will be looking for ways to make their money go further. This shows that even in difficult times, East Dunbartonshire people are sensible when it comes to making the most of their money.

“The good news is that research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows that the secret to a happy Christmas is not how much we spend. According to research, the things that make us happier at Christmas tend to be spending time with friends and family, eating and drinking well and for some, engaging in religious activities.

“The research also shows that the more people spend and receive, the less happy they tend to be. This validates what many people already know – spending more doesn’t make us happier and a Merry Christmas need not cost the Earth.”

The reference of the research is as follows: Kasser, T. & Sheldon, K (2002) What makes for a merry Christmas?, ‘Journal of Happiness Studies’, Volume 3, Number 4, pp. 313-329

The study involved sending questionnaires to 400 household and 70 undergraduates. Participants self rated their levels of overall satisfaction, stress, positive experiences and negative experiences along and additionally stated what activities they had engaged with over the festive period.

It was found those stated that they did greater amounts of spending or receiving had lower levels of wellbeing. Those who spent time with family, engaged in religious activities, ate and drank well, or gave eco-friendly gifts had higher levels of wellbeing. It was also found that engaging in tradition had no overall effect on wellbeing and neither did helping others; however, those receiving help may have benefited.


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