Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cost of Christmas

Celebration of Christmas  -  one the most important festivals in the Christian year  -  comes with a price tag that can range from next to nothing or as much as a pocket book can afford.  Sometimes money does not matter.  The more creative the giver  -  or perhaps the most heartfelt the gift  -  the more special the gift.  For those who have waited until the last few days to find a gift or decorate their homes or offices, the ‘creativity’ may have to give way to ‘commercially available’. Shopping for the traditional red and green trappings has a price tag.

Image result for national christmas tree imagesIf you are not the President of the United States with a permanent tree located on The Ellipse near the White House, you have to trudge out to find a tree.  The typical Christmas tree is a pine, spruce or fir tree cut at a nearby tree farm and brought in late November to a local grocery or hardware store.  The National Christmas Tree Association says Oregon is the top Christmas tree producer, representing about 35% of the total tree harvest, followed by North Carolina with another 25%.  Michigan and Pennsylvania also figure prominently in Christmas tree cultivation.  The retail price of farm grown trees averages about $7 to $10 per foot, depending upon the total tree size and condition.
The tree might be the least of the holiday expenses.  The National Retail Federation reports that its annual consumer survey in October 2016 found that respondents were planning to spend an average of $935.58 on decorations, gifts, food and cards during the 2016 holiday season.  This compares to $952.58 that turned up in the 2015 survey.  Apparently, survey respondents blamed the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidential election as a reason to be cautious with spending.    
After the decorations are in place, holiday celebrants also have to foot the bill to added energy use.  The typical set of tree lights along with a wreath and a garland around an outdoor gate post or mailbox will require approximately 635 watts to run incandescent bulbs or 100 watts for LED bulbs.   This typical January light bill will thus include an extra $2.00 to $11.00 for the added energy usage.  However, the serious decorator with an outdoor Christmas display that attracts a slow crawl of cars along the street could see a hefty $300 to $400 increase in their light bill if they are using incandescent bulbs.  An investment in the new LED bulbs could cut the same bill by 90%.
What would the holidays be without a steaming cup of eggnog?  Milk, eggs, cloves, vanilla and cinnamon are all part of the concoction.  A bit of rum adds more interest.  Rum prices have not changed significantly in recent years and largely depend upon the craft and reputation of the producer.  One important development for American holiday revelers is the thawing of relations with one of the most important sources of rum in the world  -  Cuba.  One of the highest rated Cuban rums, Havana Club, sells for around $20 to $25 for a 750 milliliter bottle. 
Whatever the amount paid for a string of lights or a few colored bulbs, the comforting smell of evergreen and cinnamon and the sound of “Welcome friend, come on in…” will be treasures beyond measure!  

Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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