Using survey data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we've done the math to determine which generation spends the largest chunk of after-tax income on gifts — and which spends the grinchiest share.

Follow along as we count down to the least generous gift-givers.

6. 65 and older

Joyful senior lady showing present
Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

They spend 2.6% of their income on gifts.

Grandparents really do love spoiling their kids and grandkids.

Households led by people 65 and older are the most generous gift-buyers. They spend the largest percentage of their money on presents: $1,124 of their roughly $44,000 average annual income.

But they like to be sensible about it. They spend far less on toys ($40 per year, on average) than on educational gifts ($211) or clothing ($180). "Socks again, Grandma? Gee, thanks."

5. Ages 55 to 64

Digital composite of Christmas Winter couple with Christmas tree and gift
vectorfusionart / Shutterstock

They spend 2.47% of their income on gifts.

Just below seniors on the gift-giving ladder are Americans who are approaching their retirement years.

Households led by folks in their late 50s and early 60s use $1,765 of their more than $71,500 in average annual earnings to buy presents.

These baby boomers purchase an average of $170 worth of food for others each year, more than any other age group. They also spend the most annually on gifts of clothing for girls and women ($109), and they love to give educational presents, like money for college ($528).

4. Ages 45 to 54

Family Knocking On Front Door As They Arrive For Visit On Christmas Day With Gifts
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

They spend 2.26% of their income on gifts.

During these years, gifting reflects changing lifestyles. Gift-givers and many of their recipients have shifted from going out for food and drinks with friends to settling down and raising kids.

Households led by Americans in their late 40s and early 50s devote close to $1,900 of their nearly $84,000 average income toward buying presents for others.

On a dollar basis, they're the biggest Santas, spending an average $53 a year on toys and games to give as gifts. And, they put almost $800 annually toward educational gifts like textbooks, school supplies and tuition — more than any other age group.

3. Ages 35 to 44

Flat lay of Merry Christmas and Happy new year and any holidy travel concept.  Traveling Christmas and Happy new year greeting card concept background with copy space top view.
ezphoto / Shutterstock

They spend 1.2% of their income on gifts.

For generous people in their late 30s and early 40s, travel is the biggest gift.

These households spend $917 of their roughly $75,600 after-tax income on gifts. And, $259 of the money goes toward transportation-related presents, which can include tickets for airlines and trains, as well as gasoline gift cards.

No other age group comes close for spending on that category of gifts.

2. Under 25

Cropped close up photo portrait of curious teenager taking giving receiving present with small green tree with snow
Inspiration GP / Shutterstock

They spend 1.1% of their income on gifts.

The youngest adults are relatively cheap when it comes to giving gifts, though they're not at the very bottom of this ranking.

The average American between 18 and 25 earns about $30,000 a year after taxes, and spends $336 of that on presents. They devote $20 a year toward gifts of jewelry and watches, making them far more likely to give bling than older consumers.

Research from the National Retail Federation shows 43% of the youngest adults planned to spend more on holiday presents this year — a higher percentage than any other age group.

1. Ages 25 to 34

Happy friends having fun during christmas time sitting on sofa at home - Young people drinking beer together and enjoying xmas holidays - Youth celebration x-mas concept
AlessandroBiascioli / Shutterstock

They spend 1.07% of their income on gifts.

The stingiest gift-givers are millennials between ages 25 and 34. This age group spends the smallest percentage of earnings on presents for others: $652 of their more than $61,000 average after-tax income.

"Millenials as a cohort have experienced greater income inequality and depressed wages, leaving them suspicious around consumption for temporary items," explains Loretta L.C. Brady, professor of psychology at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

These young adults do spend more than $200 a year on clothing to give as gifts, and they also like to give presents that come in a bottle: They spend $23 on gifts of alcoholic beverages, more than any other age group.

About the Author

Chris Persaud

Chris Persaud

Freelance Contributor

Chris is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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