The decoration Grinch: Over 12 million Brits have had their decorations deliberately damaged or stolen

  • A quarter of people who celebrate Christmas, 12.2 million Brits, have had some of their decorations stolen or damaged
  • The average cost of damage totals £1.6 billion, or £133 on average per occurrence
  • 6.8 million people have had disagreements with neighbours over Christmas decorations
  • To cope with Covid blues, a third (31 per cent) of people plan to make changes to their decorating traditions this year, putting decorations up earlier, putting up more than usual or keeping them up for longer

A quarter of Brits (25 per cent) who celebrate Christmas, some 12.2 million people, claim they have had their decorations damaged or stolen at least once before, reveals new research1 from Churchill Home Insurance. With Christmas vandals causing damage of £133 on average per occurrence, the overall cost of festive decoration damage amounts to a huge £1.6 billion.  

The decorations most commonly believed to have been stolen are outside Christmas lights (6.8 million, 14 per cent) and outside Christmas decorations like inflatables and festive signs (6.2 million, 12 per cent). Millions also claim to have had their decorations deliberately damaged, with similar numbers reporting their inside decorations (19 per cent) and outside decorations (18 per cent) have been deliberately damaged by others.

It appears not all families share in each other’s festive cheer, as family members who don’t live in the home are known to be the main suspects for stealing and damaging Christmas decorations (20 per cent), followed by strangers (15 per cent), friends (11 per cent) and even neighbours (nine per cent).

In addition to millions of Brits’ decorations being stolen or damaged, some people have also experienced others from outside their household taking down decorations from their property. In fact, 6.9 million (14 per cent) people have had their Christmas lights taken down and 6.3 million (12 per cent) have had their outside Christmas decorations taken down.

The Christmas spirit also seems to be absent from some of the UK’s neighbourhoods as 6.8 million people, or one in seven, have had disagreements with someone they don’t live with about their Christmas decorations. The main cause for arguments has been people saying they had too many decorations up (35 per cent or 2.4 million), their decorations were too large (33 per cent or 2.2 million), too loud (31 per cent or 2.1 million) or too bright (30 per cent or two million).

With people wanting to spread some festive cheer for longer this year, the research shows that nearly a third (31 per cent) of those who celebrate Christmas, nearly 50 million people, plan to make some changes to their decorating traditions. Around a fifth (18 per cent) will be putting up decorations earlier than usual, one in ten will be putting up more than usual (10 per cent) and nine per cent will be keeping them up longer than usual.

This year alone, £2.4 billion will be spent on new decorations, with nearly half of all UK adults who celebrate Christmas (48 per cent or 23.7 million) saying they are buying new decorations- spending on average £48 each. The highest value item that people are planning on purchasing to decorate their homes with, are large outdoor decorations such as reindeers, costing on average £97 each, followed by large outdoor inflatables (£87) and outdoor Christmas trees (£75).

Table one: Average amount spent on particular Christmas decorations 

Decoration items

Average cost

Indoor Christmas lights


Christmas wreath


Nativity display


Outside Christmas lights to attach to the house


Festive signs e.g. Santa stop here sign


Indoor Christmas tree


Outdoor projector for decorative purposes


Outdoor Christmas tree


Outside Christmas inflatables


Large stand-alone outdoor decorations e.g. giant reindeer


Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2020

Pritpal Powar, Head of Churchill Home Insurance, said: “Christmas is fast approaching and streets are already illuminated with lights and Christmas decorations. Understandably the impact of Covid-19 has meant many of us are keen to enjoy Christmas as much, and for as long, as possible and many want to go all-out on decorating to bring some festive cheer.

“We clearly do not want to deter anyone from enjoying themselves this Christmas but it’s important to remember that these decorations are not cheap so may be a target for potential theft. Luckily there are some precautions you can take to limit the chances of your decorations being damaged or stolen which can also benefit your property’s security in general, including using locking cords on your outdoor items or securing them to the ground, having motion sensor lights outside your property and installing some security cameras or doorbells.”



Notes to Editor

1            Omnibus research conducted by Opinium among 2,000 UK adults, between the 3rd and 6th  November 2020.

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
Churchill PR Manager

Ext: 01651 832 095

Mobile: 07920080956

[email protected]m



Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

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