Part of the magic of Christmas may be how Santa Claus manages to balance his budget.
Old St. Nick has yearly expenses totaling more than $25.3 billion, according to a theoretical study conducted by content marketing agency Design by Soap, on behalf of UK-based serenataflowers.com.
The majority of those immense (and yes, imaginary) costs come from Santa's most important job: Toy production.
Based on UN population data, there are 2.4 billion children ages 17 and younger around the world. The average cost of manufacturing, producing and packaging just one toy for each child would be $10 per head, the company estimated.
Assuming all of these kids made it on the nice list, that works out to a total of $24.3 billion.
Then there's the matter of shipping those precious gifts. (As much as Father Christmas may love the North Pole, it's not a very feasible site for manufacturing and storing toys.)
Instead, the research team decided to headquarter Santa's mythical workshop in Shenzhen, China, where there's "a local airport and shipping port that isn't possible in the North Pole," said study author, John Pring. Shenzhen is "set up for heavy manufacturing and shipping those goods worldwide," he continued.
Shipping by road from the city would cost $446 million, while ocean shipping works out to be $236 million. That's $683 million total. (Though of course, these costs could be shifted with use of a reindeer-led sleigh.)
The study also took into account food, accommodation and insurance. With a projected crew of 50,000 elves to make all those toys, housing was estimated at $31.5 million per year. Those workers need food too — $18.3 million's worth to be exact. Health insurance for the elves, property insurance and travel insurance set Santa back another $291.4 million.
Don't forget wardrobe. To that point, 10 high-quality, custom-made suits were estimated to cost $10,000, a small fraction compared to the rest of Kris Kringle's bills.
A study like this requires plenty of assumptions, but Pring said the estimates were "in the ballpark."
With expenses like these, Santa would almost certainly be among the richest men in the world. On the Forbes 400 list this year, Bill Gates took the No. 1 spot with an accumulated wealth of $89 billion. (St. Nick could run through that much money in under four years.)
Although it's unclear just exactly how Santa makes his riches, Pring speculates it has much to do with stipends from his high-profile public appearances.
(Mr. Claus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)
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