Home Alone: How Did Kevin’s Parents Get So Rich?

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Summary

  • Peter is speculated to be a day trader and Kate a fashion designer, based on the official novelization of the film.
  • The McCallister family’s extravagant lifestyle, including their expensive home and trips, raises questions about their source of income. Some theories suggest Peter could be involved in criminal activities or that they inherited a fortune.
  • The McCallisters’ ability to afford lavish vacations and accommodations, such as a penthouse in Paris and a suite at the Plaza Hotel, hints at a possible shady or fraudulent source of money. The true explanation remains unknown.


It’s that time of the year again when the Christmas spirit and holiday cheer make just about everyone turn on 1990’s Home Alone. It’s a staple of the season and a favorite of many during this time of year, but with each passing viewing as one digs deeper into the McCallister family, one has to wonder: What did the family actually do for a living? A Christmas trip to Paris can’t come cheap and, since the movie doesn’t really dig deep into what their jobs might be, it’s up to the audience to speculate how the McCallisters are really making their money.

Home Alone takes place in a location where most films by writer John Hughes take place and that is in suburban Chicago. The McCallisters live in one of the greatest movie houses in history in the suburbs where Peter McCallister (John Heard) is supporting five kids and his lovely wife Kate (Catherine O’Hara). On top of this, Peter’s brother Frank (Gerry Bamman) is what some might call a mooch so not only is this a Christmas excursion that involves the main family, but it also includes Frank and his brood. Granted, it’s stated that the Christmas trip, which included nine people flying from Chicago to Paris, was paid for by their brother Rob, but that just begs the question of where any of the McCallister money is coming from. That is four adults in first class with the kids flying coach. Even in 1990’s money, that couldn’t be cheap.

Home Alone
Home Alone

Release Date
November 16, 1990

Rating
PG

Runtime
103


Peter Could Be a Businessman While Kate Could Be a Fashion Designer

Some of the need for speculation here is removed by the official novelization of the film, which was written by Todd Strasser as a promotional tie-in for the movie when it was initially released. The novelization suggests that Peter is a prominent businessman while Kate is a fashion designer. As to what kind of businessman Peter is, it could be determined that he’s a day trader of some sort, while the mannequins in the home, which Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) uses to fool Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) during the party scene, would indicate Kate’s fashion background. Any other reason for them being there would just be creepy and weird.

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Was Kate a couture fashion designer? Based solely on her personality, it would be more believable that she was designing clothes for more modest endeavors and not Paris Fashion Week. It’s hard to really put a dollar value on her income, but Peter would also need to be doing very well as a “day trader” to really afford their home.

The house is located in Winnetka, Illinois, which is known as one of the wealthiest suburbs in America. Zillow puts the price of the house, as of 2023, with six bedrooms and 4000+ square feet, at $2.3 million. Again, it was likely cheaper in 1990, but it would still be a hefty penny and would need its inhabitants to be more than just comfortable to afford it. Throw in the lavish Christmas decorations to make it look like the best house on the block, perhaps something more nefarious is going on with the McCallister clan.

A popular theory that has emerged in recent years is that Peter was actually in the mob. This would mean that Home Alone would have even more in common with its 1990 counterpart, Goodfellas, than just Joe Pesci. The theory would go a long way to explaining where all of their money comes from, although it’s hard to imagine writer John Hughes really going there in his fun, albeit violent, family film.

Fans of the film have really gone along with this theory for a few reasons. One of the main points selling this angle is that Kevin doesn’t call the police directly to his home when Harry and Marv are trying to rob it. Kevin is precocious and self-aware enough to know what his dad is really up to and would know better not to involve the cops. The film suggests that Kevin doesn’t do it because he shoplifted a toothbrush, thus thinking he’s a criminal, but perhaps the truth is that he doesn’t want to bust himself or his dad.

The “Peter Was a Criminal” Theory Has Some Weight

In this theory, perhaps Peter uses his day trader job as a cover for his mob activities while Kate is living life as a mobster’s wife and also fulfilling her dream as a fashion designer. If it’s also a family business, this would explain why Uncle Rob is fronting this costly trip to Paris for the holidays as if it’s no big deal. Peter would have to be doing a damn good job with the Chicago territory because fifteen tickets from Chicago to Paris on a non-stop flight, during the busy travel time at Christmas, would certainly make American Airlines very rich and most people very poor.

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Digging deeper into the McCallister family income, Rob and Aunt Georgette not only have an opulent penthouse in Paris, but they also own a massive brownstone near Central Park in Manhattan, as we learn in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. The home is vacant and undergoing renovations, but one would have to be well off to maintain a penthouse apartment in Paris while attempting to spruce up a townhouse on the Upper West Side. There is something shady going on or perhaps the McCallisters were left a fortune by a relative that has since passed away. The theories are endless.

While Rob funded that trip to Paris in the first film, Peter’s money is what funds the family trip to Florida in the sequel. Fourteen tickets from Chicago to Miami during Christmas, with four first-class spots and ten seats in coach for the kids, are far from cheap and American Airlines is once again very happy. After a movie-related mishap results in Kevin being left in New York City, he stays at one of the “finest suites” at the Plaza Hotel, on his dad’s dime. Now, it’s wholeheartedly credit card fraud (perhaps something he learned from his dad) but that would not be a cheap stay at the hotel. The audience gets a sense of Kevin’s room service bill at the end of the movie, but once you factor in that night’s stay in what was most likely a one-bedroom penthouse suite, Kevin’s dad’s credit limit would need to be stacked to support that.

It’s honestly all fun and games trying to figure out how the McCallisters afforded their lavish home and huge family trips during the holidays. The truth is, when you factor in inflation and a bit of movie magic, the McCallister way of life is very plausible. However they afford their lifestyle, whether it’s legitimate or nefarious, it’s clear that every holiday season movie watchers wish they could have a piece of their pie. Besides, Kevin bought a plethora of groceries for $19.03, so maybe the family is just really frugal. Who knows?

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