Walt Disney — Santa’s Workshop

It’s the night before Christmas and the elves are hard at work producing toys for Santa to deliver on Christmas. The North Pole is an engaging illustration of an economy and a good foundation for reviewing nominal and real GDP. The elves in Santa’s workshop illustrated assembly-line efficiency and tangible outputs based on the number of toys produced. Elves produce a wide range of toys including rocking horses, building blocks, and dolls. The assembly line scene can be used as a reminder about the difference between intermediate goods (such as the doll’s clothing) and the final good (the entire doll) and which items are counted toward GDP.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples. The appendix includes hypothetical values for these products so that students can practice calculating real and nominal GDP.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Island of Misfit Toys

The Island Of Misfit Toys contains a number of toys that have some sort of defect, like a polka-dotted elephant, a train with square wheels, and a Jack-in-the-Box named Charlie. The job of a toy is to entertain children, and until they can be matched with a child, they could be considered unemployed.

A lot of the toys seem to have given up hope for finding a match after being on the island for so long. As they anxiously await Christmas Eve it’s clear that some of the toys are on the brink of becoming discouraged workers. A discouraged worker is someone who has not actively looked for work in the past four weeks because they don’t believe there are any jobs available.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — Dentist Dreams

There are numerous characters in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) that experience some sort of job loss challenges. Hermey is an elf that doesn’t like making toys and would prefer to be a dentist. After talking with the head elf, Hermey proclaims “they can’t fire me, I quit” and leaves the toy shop. Despite being a skilled toymaker and possessing dental knowledge, Hermey is frictionally unemployed as he waits to transition to a new job.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

The Santa Clause — Technological Improvement

Even Santa and his sleigh can use some upgrades once the new technology has been developed. Technological improvements allow companies to produce more products using the same resources or to continue providing the same level of output more efficiently. Charlie and the elves help Santa improve his gift-giving efficiency by upgrading his suit and improving the features of his sleigh.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Christmas Vacation: Expected Future Earnings

Clark is hoping to get a big Christmas bonus, but his boss sends him a gift for a jelly subscription instead. Consumption is one of the components of aggregate demand, and future income can influence present consumption. Clark was planning to spend this income on a new swimming pool for the family and already spent some money on the deposit for the pool assuming he would get this bonus. He even notes that there isn’t enough money in the bank account to cover the check he wrote. His current consumption was based on an expectation of future income.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Elf — Buddy’s Comparative Advantage

Buddy is a human living in an elf’s world. He finds there are a lot of things he’s not so good at compared to the other elves. Before getting too sad, the other elves point out a lot of things that Buddy is good at compared to them. Even if someone is good at everything, they can still benefit from trading their services with others. Trade is often based on each person’s comparative advantage. For Buddy, that’s changing the batteries in the smoke detector.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Christmas with the Kranks — Christmas Tree Demand

The Kranks are (initially) planning to skip Christmas this year, which means their demand for Christmas trees decreases. When their daughter announces that she’ll be back home for Christmas, the Kranks scramble to try and find a tree. Unfortunately for Luther, there aren’t many trees available because it’s so close to the holidays and he ends up paying full price (instead of a discounted price) for a pathetic tree. When decision-makers don’t have much time to make a purchase (like Luther right before Christmas), their demand is fairly inelastic.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Christmas with the Kranks — Skipping Christmas

With their daughter heading out of town, the Krank family decides to skip Christmas and head on vacation. An opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative. While their daughter was still at home, the Krank family preferred spending it with their family and celebrating Christmas. After their daughter announces she’ll leave, the Krank family decides to head to the Caribbean.

Thanks to Mandy Mandzik for the clip recommendation. Check out her working paper, All I Want for Christmas is an A on My Econ Final: A Holiday-Themed Review Class, for more Christmas-themed economics examples.

Aladdin: A Ring Exchange

In this scene, the King is desperate to find a suitable prince for his daughter, but Jafar offers to help. The cost? The king’s expensive ring. Despite a clear emotional attachment to the ring, the king offers to exchange the ring for Jafar’s services since he believes the Jasmine’s benefit will be worth the loss.

Aladdin: One Jump

Aladdin has stolen a loaf of bread is furiously trying to escape Razoul and his guards. The potential cost of stealing the load of bread is large, but Aladdin notes that he only steals when he has to: “I steal only what I can’t afford.” In this sense, Aladdin is weighing the expected costs against the benefits from stealing the bread and reasons that it’s worth the risk when it means he gets to eat.

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