How Much Would It Cost To Make Santa’s Presents?

December 23, 2013 in Editorial


Everyone knows Father Christmas is magical and can travel at impossible speeds with lots of presents on board… but what if his magic stopped there and he had to have all his gifts made the old fashioned way? How much would it cost to ‘run’ the North Pole?

We’ve assumed that Father Christmas would deliver to every child in the world. Also, he would presumably give presents of equal value to each kid regardless of nationality…but not, of course, regardless of behaviour. Assuming an even distribution of ‘goodness’, and that the best kids get an American style Christmas while the worst kids get coal, then we can estimate that Santa’s presents would cost $244 billion.

santa sleigh Children in the world: 1,841,000,000

Most expensive present: $271

Cheapest Present: $5.28

Average Present: $132.86

Total Cost: $244 billion

Which could mean that shops donate presents to Santa to the tune of $244 billion, but we know that it’s elves who make the presents. How many elves? Assuming an average elf is as productive as a USA toy industry employee, then we can figure out that Santa will need about 3.65 million elves. Should Santa ever choose to arm them he’d have the biggest army in the world and Rudolph’s glowing nose indicates nuclear capabilities. Little wonder then that nobody really objects to his violations of sovereign airspace.

We can also figure out how much Santa will need to pay for things such as materials, wages and machinery by scaling up the costs of a big toy firm. We assume that Santa himself doesn’t draw a salary and instead does it for the love of young people and flying really fast.

elves north pole USA Toy Production: $2,076,000,000

USA Toy employees:  31,000

Elves required: 3,650,000

Hasbro Annual Costs: $3,536,983,000

Hasbro Employees: 5,500

Santa’s costs: $2.35 trillion

$2.35 trillion would in fact be the cost of running a Santa-scale enterprise in the USA. We’ve not tried to figure out how much it would cost to relocate to the North Pole, though the answer would be something like “lots”.

If you enjoyed this, find out the cost of going to Hogwarts, how much it would cost to be Batman or  the money villains could have made if they had been good. You can find them and more in our Greatest Hits section, and we hope you stay in touch:

Notes on the numbers, for those who like this sort of thing:

1The definition we’re using here for ‘child’ is someone aged under 15.

2 When calculating number of elves, our numbers are from profit-making industry data. Elves wouldn’t be seeking profit, but by the magic of ratios this doesn’t actually matter. The formula we have used is below

Elves equation 2

Now if we assume that the cost of a toy is say, 90% of the shop price and 10% is profit, then for a non-profit world both ‘Total toy sales’ and ‘average toy’ would be multiplied by 0.9 to remove profits. This would result in the same number of elves as the for-profit scenario, as we are dividing then multiplying by the same factor. So regardless of the mark-up on toys, the number of elves required by our calculations should still hold true. 

3Wikipedia is awesome and we love it, but beware the occasional error. At the time of writing, the wiki page for Hasbro says it has 10,000 employees. The annual report says 5,500. We went with the annual report figure.