Ever wonder how much we spend on average on holidays and special occasions? We’ve collected the data to find out.

How Much Do We Spend on Holidays and Special Occasions?

It’s probably no surprise that we tend to spend more during the second half of the year. Thanks to Black Friday and Christmas, retail shopping goes into high gear.

Of course, we know that holidays aren’t the only time of the year for spending. There are also other special occasions and life events, like weddings and graduations, that we’ll pull out our wallets for.

But what are the average costs of these special occasions? How do they add up?

We were curious, too—so we’ve rounded up the latest data on how these special times break down financially. Here’s a look at the average amount spent on each occasion.

Valentine’s Day

Only 51% of Americans reported plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2019, a slight decrease from 55% the previous year. However, in spite of the lower share of celebrants, the average spending per person rose by 13%.

Specifically, Americans spent an average of $161.96 for Valentine’s Day gifts in 2019. Total spending for the holiday across the U.S. increased by 6% from the previous year, to a record-breaking total of $20.7 billion. (The previous record was $19.7 billion, set in 2016.) 

Fourth of July

Americans spent about $6.9 billion celebrating the Fourth of July in 2018. Those who planned a cookout or picnic averaged $75.35 per person, but other expenses include fireworks, travel out of town, and patriotic decorations for the occasion.


Here’s one fall holiday that might catch you off-guard in terms of spending. For Halloween 2018, Americans spent an average of $86.79. Costumes took the cake with the most spending—$3.2 billion total—and not too far behind were decorations ($2.7 billion) and candy ($2.6 billion). 

Black Friday

Black Friday is no longer just a 24-hour event—it’s more of a long weekend, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with Cyber Monday. That said, the average shopper spent $335 during this period. Millennials were the biggest spenders, purchasing an average $419.52’s worth of goodies each.


For the 2018 holiday season, the National Retail Federation found that people plan on spending about $1,007 on decorations, candy, and gifts. Perhaps this number is a little generous, though, as Gallup reports $885 and Statista $794.


Not everyone gets married, and not even all those that do opt to host a wedding ceremony and/or reception. Regardless, the cost of this particular life event is traditionally a big one.

According to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study, the average wedding in the U.S. cost $33,900. Given such an exorbitant amount, it perhaps comes as no surprise that one-third of Americans go into debt to fund their nuptials.

The major costs involved included catering ($12,242), the reception ($9,764), and the engagement ring ($7,829). On average, brides spent $2,260 on their wedding dresses while grooms spent $602 on their suits.

How about spending as a wedding guest?

The results of a study by Bankrate found that guests attending the wedding of a distant friend or relative spend an average of $372. However, for closer friends and relatives, they generally spend more, with an average of $628.


On a less celebratory note (or not, depending on the person), divorce can also rack up quite the bill. The average cost of a divorce in the U.S. is roughly $15,000 per person, although it may be considerably cheaper if uncontested.


For high school and college graduates alike, the average gift-giver spent $102.51 on graduation presents in 2018. The most common gifts? Cash, gift cards, and cards with money inside.


When you take weddings, divorces, and graduations out of the question, the holidays alone account for well over a thousand dollars of spending over the course of the year. That is, if you’re spending close to the average for each occasion.

Were any of these numbers higher or lower than you expected? How much do you typically spend on these holidays and special occasions?

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