Santa has to start getting ready for Christmas 2018, and that means he needs a budget.

Now, you might assume that this will require billions of dollars. But that assumes that every child is either on the nice list or the naughty list. In reality, usually only two or three children make the nice list, and a dozen or so make the naughty list. Delivering to all the children would be insane, and also inane, given how mediocre most children are. For the purposes of this question, we will only focus one delivering to one child.


  • The sleigh and reindeer are as efficient (in terms of chemical energy) and fast as a jet, but are fueled with reindeer food instead of petroluem.
  • We'll assume the child lives at the equator.
  • Santa maintains a base at the North Pole. Usually only ten people (including elves) are at this base at a time, as well as the sleigh and nine reindeer.
  • Santa's workshop is also stationed at the base, and requires resources similar to a research laboratory to maintain (like these).
  • It only takes about 72 elf-hours of labor to make a present (the child will get one present). The raw materials are basically worthless, but the end product is a powerful magical artifact. Magical elf labor normally has similar costs to that of an attorney, but they charge Santa only a tenth of the price for Christmas related services.

Given these requirements, what would be the total costs to deliver to this one child?

  • $\begingroup$ There is a massive variance in the cost of an attorney. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings uhm, we'll say that it's the average $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ So you want to know the combined cost of an airline ticket around half the globe and a lawyer for 72 / 8 = 9 days. That's fifteen thousand. Happy? $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't agree with the off-topic close votes, for the same reasons I outlined here. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 0:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I, unfortunately, disagree with your disagreement about closure. This question (as evidenced by the answer) is borderline pure math. Everything was google-able with minimal effort followed by some multiplication, division, and addition. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


Distance & Time

The duration and distance from Equator to North Pole ...
12 hours, 7 minutes (approximate for a direct flight)
Or, roughly a day for round trip.

Reindeer Feed

Hummingbirds eat about half their body weight a day, so that can function as a basis for consumption.
Average, male reindeer weight 375 lbs. x 8 Reindeer = 3000 lbs.
Half body weight = 1500 lbs.
½ Ton (or 2000 lbs.) of Deer Feed is $649.99
So … About $487.49 for 0.375 Ton of Reindeer feed.

Elf Salary

Conservative, average, hourly cost of attorney = $200
Elf salary $200 / 10 = $20
Hours worked 72 x $20 = $1,440


$487.49 + $1,440 = $1,927.49

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    $\begingroup$ And the cost of the toy itself... $\endgroup$
    – DonielF
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ As per the original text, the toy itself is comprised of "basically" worthless materials. So it's "basically" $0.00. Notwithstanding the labor cost of chopping and shaping lumber, mining and smelting metals, mixing and moulding rubber and plastic... All done by, what, 8 or so elves... $\endgroup$
    – Ayelis
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 20:58

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