The Gift Economy


We all know that kids love to receive gifts, but would you be surprised to hear that they prefer to give them? After a devastating year, in which many of us have had limited contact with friends and extended family, the Gift Economy is booming – and kids are more focused than ever on acts of kindness that show how much they care for others.

At gohenry, it’s our mission to make every kid good with money. But, of course, there’s more than one way to be ‘good’ – so we decided to take a closer look at the Gift Economy to shine a light on the ways that American children give back, and do good things with their money.

Our research shows that more than half (56%) of the young people aged 6-18 we surveyed, think it feels better to give than receive, rising to 59% of teenagers aged 16-18*. Kids in Missouri (72%) get an even bigger buzz out of gifting, while those in Indiana (46%) are already excited about what’s waiting for them under the tree – they believe it’s better to receive!

At the end of a difficult year, gifting is so important to gohenry kids that they’ve saved a total of $75,260 for Christmas**, which is 90% more than they saved in 2019. This works out at around $69 per child, with children saving an average of 19% of their total earnings just for the holiday season.

This year, the biggest holiday savers are in the following states:

1. Georgia: $8,500
2. California: $7,560
3. Texas: $6,900
4. Florida: $6,400
5. New York: $3,500

Holiday shopping

When they’re shopping for the holidays, most of the 6-18 year-olds we surveyed focus on buying a gift for their mom (72%), their dad (64%), and their sibling(s) (53%). They’re more likely to buy gifts for their friends than their grandparents (37%, compared to 30%) – and almost a fourth (23%) buy a gift for their pet.

According to our survey, girls are more likely to buy gifts than boys, especially for their mom (76%, compared to 69% of boys) and their friends (44%, compared to 28% of boys). Just 12% of children and teenagers won’t buy any gifts at all this year, with older teenagers, aged 16-18, least likely to indulge in holiday shopping (16%).

Budgeting for gifts

On average, the American children and teenagers we surveyed plan to spend a total of $166 on holiday gifts this year. Girls plan to spend a little more than boys ($172, compared to $157 for boys), with girls aged 6-10 planning to spend most of all ($187).

The children and teenagers we surveyed, who are planning to buy holiday gifts this year, plan to spend the most on their mom ($29), followed by their dad ($25), their siblings ($21), their friends ($17) and their grandparents ($17). More than one fourth (27%) say they wouldn’t spend anything on other family members, and 26% say they wouldn’t spend anything on their pets.

Compared to 2019, the American children and teenagers we surveyed who plan to buy gifts this year, are spending 25% more*** on holiday shopping this year, with boys more likely than girls to say they’re spending much more (13%, compared to 6% of girls). Even though many families have endured financial hardship due to Covid-19, almost half (49%) of young people aged 6-18 plan to spend roughly the same as they did in 2019 – no doubt because they’ve been planning and saving for the holidays for most of the year.

Compared to 2019, the biggest increases in holiday savings are in the following states:

1. Rhode Island: 9079%
2. Maine: 2684%
3. Alaska: 820%
4. Oklahoma: 731%
5. Minnesota: 652%

Giving to charity

Of course, there are lots of ways to show that you’re thinking of others during the holiday season, including making a donation to charity. gohenry partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of America to provide their community with an opportunity to have kids help other kids. To date, a remarkable $16,368 has been donated via the gohenry app.

Even though the holiday season might look and feel a little different this year, America’s children and teenagers have saved hard to boost the Gift Economy – and now they’re ready to make some special memories with their families and friends.

* Survey conducted by Censuswide, based on 2,006 children in the US, aged 6-18

** Data taken from 88,060 gohenry children in the US, with accounts active from January – October, 2020.

*** Statistic has been calculated by combining those who answered ‘much more’ and ‘slightly more’.


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