While the Christmas season is always a good time with long holidays and festive celebration everywhere, it also makes one appreciate the culture of giving red packets on Chinese New Year. I believe many people may too be faced with the frustration of choosing Christmas gifts, especially when one has to be the secret Santa of someone whom one barely knows.
Buying Christmas presents has become harder by the year, which makes me wonder if it is something like doing exercise that gets harder with age.
Perhaps we are expecting more when choosing gifts. Instead of merely buying something pretty as when we were younger, we want to choose something useful and that can make people happy. Or perhaps, we have received so many impractical gifts over the years that we don’t want to buy gifts that may just be a waste of people’s space. Whatever the reasons, gift giving has become a hassle come Christmas.
One difficulty in Christmas gifts shopping is the time constraint. Even with the Handover and Winter Solstice holiday preceding the actual Christmas break, we are all too busy with work, studies, and social obligations that prevent us from shopping, or even thinking about gifts earlier. Quite a few people claimed they only bought gifts for relatives at the very last minute right before they visited.
Another common difficulty comes from choices. Not that we don’t have enough choices in Macao, we have too many. In fact, our little town has become so globalized that nothing is special anymore. Once upon a time, shops like “Uniqlo” and “Marks and Spencer” in Hong Kong were my go to places for Christmas shopping. But since they were opened in Macao, gifts from these shops have lost their specialness. The same goes for the thousands of international brands now available in town.
Moreover, buying gifts for ladies used to be a lot easier, with a great variety of perfumes, accessories, and cosmetics. Usually a visit to “Sasa” or “The Body Shop” would solve all gift-related problems for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas. Unfortunately, we are now faced with the issue of not only being uncertain of which brands our friends may like, but more importantly, what they may be allergic to.
In my attempts to investigate on Christmas gifts, I found that more and more people in Macao have allergies of some kind. So, it becomes dangerous to buy any skin products, even anything scented, for people we do not know well enough, or those who do not know themselves well enough.
How about presents for kids? With so many toy stores to choose from, it shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Unfortunately, nowadays it seems easier to guess what toys children already have at home, than to find something they don’t have. So I resorted to getting candies and chocolates. To my surprise, one kid told me he is allergic even to chocolate. Luckily, I got candies too.
Browsing through articles on gift giving, most of the tips center around knowing the person you are buying gifts for, and observing their needs and interests, but that creates an even bigger problem. The more I observe, the more I find that there is nothing people in Macao need that they do not already have. For the things that people usually don’t have, most of us cannot afford to give them as presents, like an apartment or a parking space.
So, after thinking of all the possible unique gifts, the best ones to get in the end, are consumables like wine and bath salts which at least would not take up precious space in people’s apartments for long. Assuming the people receiving the gifts do drink, or have a bath tub, of course.