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Older Adults Focusing on Family this Holiday Season

2021 Holiday Shopping and Travel Poll

It’s the shopping season and most older adults plan to buy gifts for friends and family this year. In AARP’s newest poll, over eight-in-ten (83%) adults age 50 and older plan to shop for gifts for a holiday or other sorts of observance. Children (74%) and grandchildren (53%) are their top gift recipients, followed by friends, siblings, other relatives, and parents. Women are more likely to take the lead in gift giving, purchasing for a wider variety of people than their male counterparts. Women are significantly more likely than men to say they plan to purchase gifts for their grandchildren, friends, and parents, as well as for the service workers in their lives.

spinner image Man Holiday Shopping from Home

On average, adults 50 and older say they plan to spend $500 on gifts this year, with 15% of gift givers spending over $1,000 on holiday gifts. Most (71%) older adults say their holiday gifting costs are about the same as last year, but 17% say they are cutting back. Women are more likely to be cutting back on holiday shopping than men (21% vs. 13%), and African American/Black older adults are more likely than their white counterparts to say the same (33% vs. 13%).

Despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns, travel is still playing a big role in many older adults’ holiday plans this year. A third (33%) of adults 50 and older plan to travel for the holidays this year. Men are more likely to say they’ll be traveling than women (37% vs. 29%). Family is the big motivator for travelers—72% say their primary motivation is spending time with family, while 36% are looking forward to relaxing and recharging.


This nationwide poll of 1,000 adults ages 50 and older utilized NORC’s Foresight 50+ Consumer Omnibus Survey, a monthly multi-client survey. Interviews were conducted in English online (90%) and by phone (10%) from November 12 – November 15, 2021 and included five questions on holiday shopping and travel. Data are weighted to the latest Current Population Survey (CPS) benchmarks developed by the U.S. Census Bureau and are balanced by gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, region and AARP membership. The weighted data reflect the U.S. population of adults ages 50 and over.

For more information, contact Oscar Anderson, For media inquiries, contact AARP’s External Relations department