Christmas and consumption: responsible purchasing

Christmas and consumption: responsible purchasing

Christmas and consumption are two concepts that increasingly shake their hands. When Christmas arrives the streets are filled with lights, shops are adorned with Christmas motifs and carols can be heard from their speakers. However, it is not necessary that Christmas comes to breathe this Christmas atmosphere, since the decoration in many shops puts it even in August and the lights on the public streets every time turn on before. But, Why does Christmas come every time before? What is the objective of advancing this date so marked a month, even two?


  • 1 Christmas and consumption
  • 2 Christmas and Conditioning
  • 3 Christmas and consumption: Control our expenses

Christmas and consumption

If we were to define Christmas in a few events, these could be: listening to Christmas carols, trees full of lights and balls, nativity scenes, lights and Christmas motifs in the streets, etc. Let's say the atmosphere changes, both at home and abroad. In fact, many people expect Christmas for the picturesque decoration with which many town halls decorate their cities and towns. The atmosphere seems to change completely. And it is not about any change, but we also tend to become more sensitive, more supportive and more loving.

As is well known, Christmas is a date of gifts. In some countries gifts are made by Santa Claus, in others by the Magi, and in other countries by both. Little by little, over time, Christmas has been associated with giving. Christmas and consumption have become almost inseparable. We give to our family and friends. Christmas has also been associated with large family food banquets. They try to prepare dishes that the rest of the year are usually eaten more occasionally, both for its high price and for its elaborate preparation. So it can be inferred that at Christmas the expense is much higher than throughout the year.

Christmas and Conditioning

When Pavlov rang a bell before bringing food to his dogs, they salivated. The animals had associated the sound of the bell with the presence of food and began the behavior of salivation. This simple conditioning is known as classical conditioning.

Somehow, something similar happens with Christmas. In Pavlov's case, food elicits a salivation response on its own, that is, an uncontrolled stimulus (food) provokes an unconditioned response (salivation). When a neutral stimulus (sound) is put before food, an association occurs. So the sound becomes a conditioned stimulus that provokes a salivation response by itself, so it would already be a conditioned response.

In our case, and quite briefly, Christmas could be the unconditioned stimulus since when this date arrives, our link with consumption is so high that our desire to buy increases. It is essential to say that the fact that Christmas acts as an unconditioned stimulus requires a lot of conditioning through. However, consumption is already so associated with Christmas, that this article will be addressed as an unconditioned stimulus per se.

So, Christmas would be our unconditioned stimulus and you buy the unconditioned response. Now, what elements can we use to generate the purchase response associated with Christmas? Lights, carols and decoration. At Christmas everything is filled with Christmas lights, so If these lights hang a month and a half before, the consumption response can be activated and the number of purchases will increase.

Christmas and consumption: Control our expenses

It is normal that after the strong association between Christmas and consumption, when this date arrives we feel a strong impulse towards consumption. Even so, there are certain tips thanks to which we can control our expenses:

  • Bring cash. Thanks to the credit card, paying is more comfortable, however, the negative aspect is that we are not really aware of everything we spend. If we want to have a more real perception of the money we spend this Christmas, it is best to have cash in the wallet. In this way, we will appreciate how the amount of bills and coins is decreasing and we can be more aware of the expense we carry.
  • Buy the necessary. Christmas, like sales, encourages buying, but does not require, that is, we do not have to buy something we do not need. How many times have we bought something that we have used very rarely or none? We have been carried away by the time of the year or the price and we have made an unnecessary expense. It is therefore essential think and reflect on whether what we are going to buy is necessary in our lives.
  • Gifts: the righteous. Giving a child five kinds of toys is over-stimulating. We think that the more gifts, the better. But the reality is very different. If a child is given two or three things, he will enjoy them more than if we fill the room with boxes and boxes of different toys. The more you have to choose from, the less you'll know what to play and the sooner you'll get bored.
  • Eat with a head. Food is another important aspect at Christmas. The prices of a certain kind of food skyrocket on these dates, so spending can be increased if we want to consume these types of foods. The question is about the need to have to buy certain foods. Do we have to eat these foods at Christmas for an astronomical price or can we eat them the rest of the year at a more moderate price?


Domjan, M. (2012). Principles of learning and behavior. Madrid: Paraninfo