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The True Cost of Christmas (for Father Christmas)

We're just a teeny, tiny bit concerned that...well...Santa might be going out of business!

Here at Expert Market, we love Christmas. No, seriously, we really, really love it. We’re the sort of people who fill up an inflatable swimming pool outside in mid-winter and then lie in it singing ‘Walking in the Air’ in our highest voice whilst waiting to be frozen into a snowman.

As the days get shorter, we’ve started feeling the annual festive pocket pinch creeping up on us and this got us thinking: How does Father Christmas do it?

Forget Secret Santa and office tinsel - it must cost the big man himself a fortune to manufacture every single toy in time for Christmas day, let alone employ a workforce to make them all; and what about the reindeer? And Mrs Clause? And insurance?

Well, we infiltrated Lapland Inc. and had a sneaky nose around the festive ledgers. What we found doesn't make for pleasant reading!

There’s no two ways around it: St Nick is going out of business.

True Cost of Xmas for Santa | Expert Market

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As you can see, St Nick might need to tighten the belt around his jiggling jelly belly if he wants to break even anytime soon. Thankfully his supply of festive magic might just stave off the bailiffs for a little bit longer. But if the twinkling fairy dust does dry up then Father Christmas could always consider a business loan to ease his troubles.

If you’re interested in how we arrived at our figures, then take a look at the tables below, which detail the methodologies and sources for our figures.

Merry Christmas from Expert Market!

Note: All estimations are entirely fictitious. Any resemblance to Santa’s real-life fiscal difficulties is purely coincidental. Please don’t leave coal in our stockings. Pretty please.


OutgoingSumSource Link
Reindeer Feed
  • Recommended reindeer feed per day is 4.2lbs
  • x 365 days
  • x 9 reindeer
  • / 2000 (lbs in a tonne)
  • x cost per food
Oklahoma State University
Reindeer Health
  • Annual cost of vaccinations
  • + annual cost of worming tablets
  • + annual cost of penicillin and darts
  • x 9 reindeer
Oklahoma State University
Sleigh Maintenance
  • Estimated by Abogo
Sleigh Insurance
  • Based on motor car driver annual premium
This is Money
Elf Wages
  • Annual average salary for manufacturing in Lapland = 30,768 EUR
  • x 3,000 Elves
Elf Pensions & Insurance
  • is +21% of overall salary
Helsinki Business Hub
Cost of Toy Manufacture
  • Spend per child (EU average)
  • x number of Christian kids u14
  • = (212 x 526,000,000)
  • BUT - this is retail spend and Father Christmas manufactures his gifts
  • So we have to assume prices have been marked up
  • A mark-up formula of is not uncommon in retail(production cost x 2 = wholesale price) x 4 = retail price)
  • so we can divide our figure by 8 to get a closer approximation
The Atlantic
Lapland Cost of Living
  • Average Lapland monthly apartment rent
  • + Average Lapland monthly groceries
  • + Average Lapland monthly utilities
  • x 12 months
Mrs Clause (CEO of Lapland Inc.)
  • Average salary for Finnish CEO
IncomingSumSource Link
Image Rights
  • Based on most expensive image rights and endorsement deals
  • Cristiano Ronaldo made $28m in 2014 and has 108m Facebook fans
  • There are 2.2bn Christians in the world
  • This is 20x more fans than Ronaldo
  • So we can assume Father Christmas' image rights are worth 20x more than Ronaldo's
Sells his stockpile of
cookies & milk
  • Assume 25% of children leave 2 cookies + 1 quarter pint glass of milk
  • Equals 131,500,000 kids leaving cookies + milk
  • = 263,000,000 cookies and 32,875,000 pints of milk
  • Cookie = 57calories
  • Quarter pint of milk = 96 calories
  • Elves need 2000 calories per day
  • = 35 cookies or 5 pints of milk per elf a day
  • Each elf needs 17.5 cookies + 2.5 pints of milk per day
  • Father Christmas & Mrs Clause need 2500 calories per day
  • = 44 cookies or 6.5 pints of milk per day
  • The Claus' each need 22 cookies + 3.25 pints of milk per day
  • Workforce of 3,000 elfs
  • = 52,500 cookies per day + 7,500 pints of milk per day
  • Clauses = 44 cookies + 7.5 pints of milk per day
  • Overall daily consumption = 52,544 cookies and 7,507.5 pints of milk
  • x 365 days<
  • The operation needs 19.2m cookies + 2.7m pints of milk per year
  • (by storing treats they have enough cookies for 5005 days + milk for 4378
  • This leaves 243.8m cookies + 30m pints of milk
  • If Father Christmas sells this stockpile at supermarket prices:
  • 20 cookies per pack of Maryland = 12.19m packs
  • Sell at £1.09 (Tesco) = £13.3m
  • 4 pints of milk = 7.5m 4 pint bottles of milk
  • Sell for £1 each (Tesco) = £7.5m
Tesco - Maryland Cookies
Tesco - 4 Pints of Milk
Recycles Christmas lists
  • 526,000,000 children write Xmas list on one piece of A4 paper
  • Each piece weighs 4.5grams
  • 526,000,000 x 4.5 = 2,367,000,000 grams
  • = 2367 tonnes
  • Paper can be recycled in the EU for £83 per tonne
  • = £83 x 2367 tonnes
Lapland winter tourism
  • Tourism is worth 2.4% of Finnish GDP (271 billion usd in 2014) = 6.5bn USD
  • 18% of tourists come in winter months (nov-dec-jan) = 1,460,452 tourists
  • Costs are 20% higher in winter months (based on flights and hotel prices)
  • Average annual profit per tourist = 821 euros
  • (tourism / total num of tourists = 6.5b / 1.46m)
  • Vis-a-vis +20% for higher costs = winter average profit of 985 euros per tourist
  • So 985EU x 1,460,452 tourists = 1.44bn USD = £954m
European Union
Studding his reindeer
  • Father Christmas’ reindeer fly faster than the speed of sound
  • Must be worth as much as a champion race horse if studded
  • We also assume all 9 reindeer are male
  • Unbeaten Frankel stud charge = £125,000
  • Made £15m profit in first year
  • So 9 reindeer x £15m = £135m
Airbnb his spare rooms
  • Average Lapland nightly Airbnb cost is £65.4 (as of 01/12/15)
  • Exclude the 12 days of Christmas
  • Which means 353 night a year available to rent
  • 65.4 x 353 = £23,114.5
  • Santa's original grotto was 942m sq (via Liverpudlian John Lewis)
  • Average owner occupied dwelling in finland is 94m sq
  • = 942 / 94 = equivalent to 10 houses
  • Average number of people per house in Finland = 2
  • So 10 houses x 2 occupants = 20
  • - 2 (santa/mrs claus) = 18
  • 18 spare bedrooms to rent
  • = £23,114.5 x 18 = £416,061 per year
Airbnb - Lapland
Liverpool Picture Book