Festive Finances: Unwrapping Holiday Traditions and Embracing Afterpay

November 30, 2023USA

As the winter holidays draw near, we surveyed the holiday plans of 2,000 Americans and unveiled not only cherished traditions, but also a growing reliance on financial tools, notably Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services.

Decking the Halls: A Generational Affair

Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, one tradition stands tall—decking the halls. Millennials emerge as the true torchbearers, with an impressive 95% enthusiastically participating in the timeless tradition of holiday decorating. From tinsel to bows, the younger generation embraces the festive spirit with unmatched zeal, setting the stage for a season of merriment.

Holiday Plans Unveiled

As holiday plans come into focus, a triad of activities takes center stage for Americans this year. Holiday shopping leads the pack at 61%, closely followed by cooking or baking (60%), and the art of gift wrapping (57%). However, beneath the surface, generational nuances come to light. Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers share a common thread—the prioritization of transforming their homes into festive havens, with over 50% of each group placing emphasis on interior decorations.

The Travel Bug Bites

For over a quarter of Americans (27%), travel is on the holiday agenda. Gen Z, in particular, is set to spread their wings, with 35% gearing up for journeys, embodying the spirit of exploration and adventure.

Gifting Trends Unwrapped

As wish lists are compiled, money (31%) takes the lead as the most coveted gift item across all generations. Clothing or footwear (15%) and experiences (14%) follow closely behind. However, the second most desired gift unveils a fascinating generational divergence—self-care and beauty items for Gen Z (15%), clothing or shoes for Millennials (23%), and experiences for Gen X (15%) and Baby Boomers (17%).

Traditions: A Unifying Thread

More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) proudly declare the existence of holiday traditions in their lives. A surprising twist emerges as Millennials prove to be the tradition keepers, with a remarkable 81% adhering to festive customs. In contrast, Baby Boomers, known for their adherence to convention, trail behind at 54%.

Gifts Galore and Generational Contrasts

This year, the average American plans to give and receive a bountiful 13 gifts. Yet, when it comes to generosity, Millennials take the lead, estimating an average of 17 gifts per person. In contrast, Baby Boomers adopt a more conservative approach, planning an average of 10 gifts. The spirit of giving, it seems, varies across the generations.

A Glimpse into Shopping Habits

When navigating the maze of holiday shopping, Americans predominantly opt for online platforms (60%) or the familiarity of big box stores (59%). A nuanced look, however, reveals generational preferences, with Gen Z and Baby Boomers favoring online shopping, while Millennials and Gen Xers lean towards the brick-and-mortar experience.

Stress Reduction through BNPL

As the holiday season approaches, Afterpay’s recent report with Oxford Economics cited that 70% of users report that BNPL, like Afterpay, helps them manage stress related to significant expenses, while 67% specifically appreciate the relief it provides during the holiday spending frenzy. Consumers can benefit from the allure of low costs and convenient payment structures during the holidays and Afterpay’s suite of flexible products can be a resource for those looking to alleviate the financial pressures this holiday season.


This online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who celebrate a winter holiday evenly split by generation was commissioned by Afterpay and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between Nov. 17 and Nov. 20, 2023. All participants are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited by the OnePoll research team, who are members of the MRS and have corporate membership to ESOMAR and AAPOR.

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