You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Grandparents will spend £1.4billion on grandkids this Christmas

Posted on 14 December 2017

  • Grandparents spend £42 on each grandchild and around £154 in total on their grandchildren
  • One in five spend more than £250
  • Younger kids prefer presents, older kids want cold hard cash!

The latest figures from SunLife reveals that UK grandparents will spend more than £1.4billion on Christmas presents for their grandchildren this year.

Research by over 50s experts SunLife has found there are 8.4million people aged 50-75 in the UK who have grandkids and celebrate Christmas. On average, these grandparents have four grandchildren and they will spend £42 on each – that’s £167 on average which across the UK is a staggering £1,416,733,965!

One in five grandparents have six or more grandkids to buy for, which means forking out more than £250 each Christmas!

The research has also shown that younger children much prefer receiving presents while older kids want the cash! More than two thirds (69%) of 6-8 year olds say they like receiving gifts, just 5% would choose cash or a gift card but this switches completely for teenagers – just 12% want presents while 81% would rather have cash or gift cards.

Top gift choice from grandparents Average 6-8yrs 9-11yrs 12-13yrs 14-15yrs
iTunes gift card 5.2% 2.7% 4.5% 8.2% 6.6%
Other gift card 10.2% 2.7% 14.8% 13.4% 9.0%
Presents 42.9% 69.4% 46.7% 25.5% 12.7%
Cash 35.1% 16.9% 29.6% 45.7% 65.2%
None of the above / Not sure 6.6% 8.3% 4.5% 7.3% 6.6%

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife said: “We’ve learnt from previous research that generations often feel out of touch with each other. As a company that’s for everyone over 50, we wanted to help grandparents with their Christmas shopping this year.”

To help those grandparents still looking to buy a gift rather than give their grandchildren cash or gift cards, SunLife asked 1,700 kids aged 6-15 exactly what they wanted for Christmas. The full results can be seen in SunLife’s Grandchildren’s gift guide – a comprehensive list of the top gift ideas for kids of all ages, ranging from under £10 to over £50.

The most popular choice this year for boys was Lego, closely followed by computer games while topping the list for girls were board games. The highest placed choice on both the girls’ and boys’ lists was board games, followed by mobile phones, tablets and science kits.

The most popular gift in the ‘average’ spend price range of £42, was LEGO Minecraft The Mushroom Island for kids aged up to 11, and then for older kids, clothes; pyjamas are the most popular request, followed by tops, dressing gowns and jeans.

The most popular themes included Smiggle, Superheroes, Minecraft, Pokemon and Unicorns, while girls said they’d rather have a Spider-man themed lunchbox than Frozen.

When asked if money was no object and they could have anything in the world, the answers ranged from the luxurious to the ridiculous, with requests for everything from a Ferrari to a pet unicorn, with one child just wishing their nan and grandad lived closer.

Ian concludes: “We’re giving grandparents a practical, informative list based on the answers we've got from asking over 1,700 children what they want from their grandparents at Christmas. Their answers were funny, informative and really heart-warming – from saying their favourite part of Christmas is spending time with the family… to being desperate for a pet unicorn, a million pounds and a huge cheesecake!”

Top 10 gifts for boys

  1. LEGO
  2. Computer games
  3. Gadgets
  4. Board games
  5. Mobile phone
  6. Tablet
  7. Computer game system such as Xbox or PS4
  8. Nerf guns
  9. Action figures
  10. Science at home set such as make your own slime

Top 10 gifts for girls

  1. Board games
  2. Jewellery/accessories
  3. Make it yourself such as jewellery
  4. Clothes/fashion
  5. Science at home set such as make your own slime
  6. Books
  7. Mobile phone
  8. Puzzles
  9. Tablet
  10. Sweets and chocolate


Number of people aged 50-75 in the UK according to ONS is 18,820,525

SunLife’s Big 50 interviewed 50,000 people aged 50-75 and 50% said they had grandchildren, which is 9,410,263.

90% of grandparents celebrate Christmas, which is 8,469,237. Our OnePoll research reveals Grandparents spend £41.82 on average on each grandchild. Our Big 50 reveals the average number of grandchildren each grandparent has is 3.69, rounded up to 4. £41.82 x 4 is £167.28. The total spent is £154.32167.28 x 8,469,237 = £1.4bn.

Number of people aged 50-75 in UK (ONS) 18,820,525
% of 50-75s grandparents (Big50) 50%
Number of 50-75s grandparents (18.8million x 0.5) 9,410,263
% of grandparents that celebrate Christmas (9.4million x 0.9) 8,469,237
Average number of grandchildren (Big50) 4
Average spent on each grandchild (OnePoll Research) £41.82
Average spent by each grandparent (OnePoll Research) £167.28
Average spent by grandparents aged 50-75 in UK £1,416,733,965