The Best Cities to be a Kid on Christmas Morning

While parents love nestled, sleeping children, the best part of Christmas is Christmas morning. The stockings are all filled, the presents are under the tree, and Mom and Dad awaken to the very early morning sounds of children telling each other to “BE QUIET!” We decided to look and see which cities are the best ones to be a kid on Christmas morning. We looked at four criteria: (1) the over-abundance of other children in the region; (2) the number of toy and game stores per capita; (3) the number of candy stores per capita; and (4) the probability of having snow on Christmas Day.

For number of children, we looked at the share of the population that is under 14. The largest share is in Laredo TX at almost 33%. That is followed by Mc Allen TX, Provo UT and Brownsville TX—all with over 30% of their populations under 14. The smallest shares are in Ithaca NY, and State College PA (both around 13%) and Punta Gorda FL at under 12%. Although, the population of children in Punta Gorda probably increases over the holiday season as families visit their Grandparents.

The leader in hobby, game and toy stores is Ocean City NJ with 12.5 stores for every 100,000 residents. Great Falls MT has 11 and Billings MT and Pittsfield MA are both above 10 stores for every 100,000 people. Casper WY, Carson City NV and Barnstable Town MA are all above 9. There are a few cities for which no hobby, game and toy stores are reported. These include Lewiston ID, Weirton-Steubenville WV-OH, and Bradenton FL. Merced CA has less than 1 store for every 250,000 residents while Hanford-Corcoran CA requires 143,000 residents for each store.

With nearly 23 candy stores per 100,000 residents, Ocean City NJ is clearly the sweetest place in North America. All of that salt water taffy and handmade fudge has to be sold. Barnstable Town MA is second with 5.4 candy stores per 100,000 people. The top 6 is rounded out by Atlantic City NJ, Coeur d’Alene ID, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA and Sandusky, OH which all have around 4 stores per 100,000. Again, a handful of cities don’t have any candy stores reported in the statistics. These include Madera CA, Lewiston ID, Weirton-Steubenville WV-OH, Saint John NB, and Bradenton FL. Victoria TX has one store for every 115,000 people while Hanford-Corcoran CA has one store per 150,000.

When it comes to having a “white Christmas”, Canadian cities dominate the top 10 with 6 cities having more than a 95% chance of a white Christmas. Fairbanks AK is your best bet in the United States. Over the past couple of decades, Fairbanks has had snow on Christmas 98% of the time. Only a couple of other US cities are above 90%. They include Eau Claire WI (91%) and Grand Forks ND (90.2%). Anchorage AK at 89%, Wausau WI at 89% and Duluth MN at 87% complete the list of cities where at least 17 out of 20 Christmases will have snow. The only city in the U.S. and Canada that is guaranteed not to have a white Christmas is Honolulu HI. There are another 110 cities across the southern half of the U.S. and Canada with only a 2.5% chance of having snow at Christmas.

Exhibit 1 pulls it all together and shows the top 25 cities in to be a kid on Christmas morning. Given its 2 candy stores, 6 toys stores, 26% of the 125,000 residents under 14, and 82% chance of having a white Christmas, Logan UT gets the star position. It is closely followed by Coeur d’Alene ID, Fairbanks AK, Billings MT, and Ogden UT. Saskatoon SK is the only Canadian city to break the top 10. The next Canadian city, Regina comes in at number 60. While mostly in Rocky Mountain states, Niles-Benton Harbor MI takes sixth and Appleton WI and Joplin MO are in the top 20.

There are also, of course, a few cities that don’t do quite so well. To avoid labelling any one city the “worst place to be a kid on Christmas morning”, let’s just say these are “among the worst”. If your parents are dragging you to one of these cities for the holidays, make sure all your candy and toy shopping is done before you start the journey “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house”. These cities include Bradenton FL, Pine Bluff AR, Weirton-Steubenville OH, Auburn AL, and Johnson City TN.

No matter where your travels take you this holiday season and regardless of what city you wake up in on Christmas morning, we wish you all the best.

Download this Insight (PDF)

Data Sources:

US Census Bureau County Business Patterns (2008)
NOAA (National Climatic Data Center)
Environment Canada
Canadian Yellow Pages data compiled by Daniel Silver at UTSC
Statistics Canada Population Data (2006)
American Community Survey Estimates (2009)

The Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors—location, place and city-regions—in global economic prosperity. Led by Director Richard Florida, we take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.