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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

The challenging art of giving

Expensive or cheap, it's the thoughts that count.
November 30, 2012
By: Tee Hun Ching, Editor
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The challenging art of giving

The year may be winding down but, for many, stress levels are shooting up.

A survey by a finance company made news recently for its findings: 45 per cent of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas because of the financial burden that it brings.

Nearly 60 per cent of them expect to carry debt into the new year from the expenses incurred.

There are variations of such sobering – and depressing – studies every time the festive season beckons.

A few years ago, a British gifting company polled 3,000 people and concluded that many ranked the Yuletide among life’s most stressful events, right up there with divorce, moving house and changing jobs.

Yet another survey by a shopping website claimed that many Christmas shoppers in Britain would prefer a trip to the dentist to the stress of hunting for presents.

The angst is not unfounded. About 1.5 million new items were reportedly listed for sale on eBay on Boxing Day last year, a surge credited mainly to those who wasted no time in getting rid of their unwanted presents.

But I’m such a sucker for the holiday season I would gladly put up with the nasty traffic snarls in town as Dec 25 approaches.

I love the Christmas jingles that are played ad nauseam everywhere and am easily wowed by any effort to deck the malls, even if the trees are fake and the tinsel flakes.

Yes, the religious holiday is now a glorious money spinner. But I still can’t help but buy into the whole feel-good fest, even if the cheer is manufactured.

It is, after all, the one time in the year when most people are obliged, even forced, to think about making others happy, whether they are kith and kin or strangers in need.

If it all gets too much, the Internet is chock-full of tips on how to cope with holiday season blues.

You could, for instance, ask that family members buy presents only for the kids instead of for all and sundry. Or do it Secret Santa-style so that everyone has to buy just one gift.

You could also check out our annual gift guide where we’ve done the homework for you and shortlisted 100 eye-catching suggestions for all in the family this week.

If all else fails, don’t knock the saying, “It’s the thought that counts”.

One of the best presents I’ve ever received was a mug from my husband on which he enlisted a pro to print a picture of our two kids. As I was unwrapping the gift, he did his best to temper my expectations. “It’s not the new iPhone, okay? It’s something very simple. It’s very cheap.”

Drinking from it still brings on a smile in the morning, even when I’m at my grouchiest. Cost of the mug: $7. Chasing away workday blues: priceless.


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