How to Make the Best of the Holidays
The holidays are coming, and I was thinking about all the stories I've heard about
people hating the month of Celebrating. I was trying to figure out why in the
world anyone could hate such a beautiful time of year, when in my family, we never
take the holidays for granted. It's the most done-up holiday of the year for me
and my Neopets, although they prefer to stay the colors they are, and have specifically
told me not to paint them.
Now, Neopets naturally have the best time of all during this time of year,
but why don't their owners have as much fun as they did when they were younger?
Obviously, the answer is money. Most people don't like feeling obligated to
spend their hard earned Neopoints on other people, so the time of Giving becomes
the time of undue stress and hardship for most Neopian families. Why is this?
The number one reason that I have come up with is the fact that people don't
know how to buy presents.
If you look at it the way most Neopians do, it's easy to see why everyone gets
so frustrated. You go out to the overcrowded shops, stick around for hours and
hours hoping to catch something before it flies off the shelf for good and you
have to wait for restock, all while dodging in and out of the extremely heavy
foot traffic, only to spend even more money on expensive wrapping paper that
will simply be ripped to pieces and thrown in the trash a few weeks later. All
this, and you never get what you really wanted or needed in return, and you've
chopped your savings into a very tiny piece of what it used to be.
Please, I beg of all of you, don't keep torturing yourselves like this! It's
all completely unnecessary!
Follow these simple rules, and I promise, your holidays will be the best you've
had in years.
1) Shorten the list of people you'll give gifts to.
It's really sweet of you to think of all of your guildmates and their pets,
and their petpets, as well as the Techo master and all of your pets' friends,
but honestly, do you ever get anything back from them? Do you even know any
of their names? My first rule of thumb for saving yourself time, energy and
money for the holidays is to downsize. This doesn't mean that you don't need
to give them anything; it simply means, prioritize. Your pets and first ring
of friends are the most important to you in your life, so splurge more on them,
and just bake a few batches of cookies and/or candy for the people farther in
the background instead.
2) Don't waste money on high quality wrapping paper.
This is one area that quite a few people get very irritated. First you have
to get out the awkward rolls of paper hidden in closets, behind tons of other
boxes and shoved in weird places. Then when you finally find them and get them
out, most of the paper has huge rips in it that renders a large portion of the
roll useless. Then you have to figure out how in the WORLD to wrap the most
awkward of gifts, like things that didn't come in boxes or are frankly just
too large to wrap in a practical manner. Not to mention the fact that quite
a few people have absolutely no idea how to fold it all in the first place,
and end up cursing the whole gift-giving process.
Instead, how about getting a bunch of brown paper bags, tissue paper, and a
roll of colored twine, then having your pets and their petpets color on the
paper to decorate them? Also, how about just using the paper grocery bags you
always just throw away, or put in the recycling? If you cut the bottom off and
one cut down a single side, it becomes a large piece of paper. Then get your
pets to decorate it. It's a great way to show off your pets' creativity, save
money, and it's incredibly adorable and cherished by their friends. Don't be
afraid to tape the ribbon down, either. Just roll up a piece of tape and stick
it underneath the ribbon, and no one will be the wiser until they go to remove
it. It helps it keep its appearance.
This isn't to say that you can't use wrapping paper at all. I happen to absolutely
love it--all the different colored boxes with fluffy bows, stacked in precarious
positions. You just don't have to wrap everything like that. Be a little creative
and you'll save yourself money and receive compliments on your ingenuity.
3) Take time to think about what you want to give to certain people.
Nothing is worse than receiving the same gift year after year (i.e. bowties,
scarves, bikes, plushies, etc.). How many bowties does a single pet really need?
Of course the type of gift given depends on whom it is given to, but the same
principle applies to everyone. Say you're an owner, and have absolutely no idea
what to get your teenage pets. You always end up getting the same things, and
considering that they're teenagers, they never tell you what bands they really
like, so you ask around the chat boards to see who the most popular stars are
at the time, then end up buying a CD they already own. Instead, don't be afraid
to give more interesting gifts, like a book on time travel for the scifi fan,
or an archery set for the pet that really, really wants to get back at Punchbag
Bob. Sure, practical gifts that actually have a purpose are great, if they're
truly needed, but if your pets have more clothes on their bedroom floor than
in their storage spaces, do you really want to be adding to the pile of laundry
that you always end up doing for them?
Ideas come to me for gifts, generally when I'm just wandering around the shops
looking at random objects. I admit, it's really hard to just think of the perfect
gift off the top of my head, unless I keep it in mind for the entire year, which
is even harder sometimes. One of my old friends had randomly told me that he
really wanted a pet Draik one day. Now I obviously couldn't go out and buy him
a Draik morphing potion. But I went and looked in the trading post to see if
anyone had ever made a plush version of the winged creatures, and low and behold,
there are tons of them. My friend adored it--it wasn't as good as the real thing,
but that way he could keep the pets he already was taking care of. Then last
year, I was looking for a gift for my best friend, and happened upon a box of
Jub Zambra and the Cobrall Charmers mugs. It was the perfect gift because I've
never liked that particular band, although my friend and her pets find them
to be the best musicians around. Also, they had just moved into their new Neohome,
so it was kind of a housewarming/Day of Giving present. They loved it, of course.
The trick here is that the gift is for them, not you. Therefore it means that
much more to give a gift that you absolutely despise, yet know the other person
Another idea for one present is an inside joke. Everyone always says, "laughter
is the best medicine." Well, it's true. Giving a gift that reminds someone of
something funny that transpired between them and yourself earlier in the year
is always a great idea. Don't be afraid that you'll look like a fool if they
don't remember. If you've given them a box of 300 NP bouncy balls and they look
at you weird, remind them of the time they bounced one too hard and it flew
out the window, taking out the mailman. Trust me, they'll remember.
Lastly, the thoughtful gift. This is the gift that you typically reserve for
your owner, pets, and the people that have made the biggest impact in your life
over the years, either by helping your family through a crisis, or just being
there to talk to. This, I find, is the easiest gift of all, although most people
make it the most difficult. I want to make this perfectly clear: thoughtful
does not equal expensive. Thoughtful is when you show someone just how much
they mean to you, which does not mean you need to spend millions of Neopoints
on a single present. Again, think of whom you're giving it to. Say you're about
to finish training, and have absolutely no idea what you could possibly give
to your owner because you're completely broke. This is probably the reason you
want to give them a really great gift in the first place--they've bought you
codestones and bottled faeries many times throughout the years. Make some personalized
stationery. Make sure it's very light if you're going to write on the picture,
or just make a full color picture on one side, then write on the opposite. Write
a thank you letter. It's not hard at all, if you can think of all of the times
they've bailed you out of a rough spot. Make a rough draft if you want; a list
of things you were grateful for. Your owner always hung your drawings on the
fridge when you were a younger, but she'll more than likely frame your letter--and
what did it cost you? A little time?
4) Forget the diet!
Now I don't work at the Hospital, but I think gaining a few pounds over winter
is way, way more tolerable than being too stressed to have any fun. I say, if
you want a little more than your fair share of your favorite dish, go for it,
and stop worrying about your waistline. Go ahead and think of the Month of Celebrating
as your gift to yourself for being so good for the whole year, and worry about
the numbers on the scale later. Worrying makes you sicker than gaining a few
pounds, and effects your entire life and is extremely difficult to rid yourself
of, whereas winter weight can be taken off very easily.
Now in closing, I would like to all of relate to the less-than-rich folks out
there. I grew up in a very poor home, never really making quite enough Neopoints
as I wanted to. As I've stated previously, the holidays are the biggest party
of the year for my family, and we always made the best of everything, even though
we had very little to work with. My pets took it upon themselves to help out
of course, making most of their own toys and other amusements by entertaining
themselves while I was bringing home the proverbial bacon, but I can't help
feeling that my pets sometimes felt less than satisfied in that I could not
afford to buy them books and tickets to concerts and the most popular toy of
the year. I specifically remember the year of the Candychan. We were reading
the chat boards, and they were talking about how people were selling them on
the trading post for ridiculous amounts of NP. Then Xongy looked at me and told
me, "I think they're stupid. Don't get me one, I would hate it." I smiled, and
I think he could see the weight being lifted off of my shoulders. While he didn't
end up being on the 'cool pet' list in the guild that year, I think he appreciated
the gifts that he did receive much, much more than his peers. Maybe that's why
Christmas means as much to him now as it did then.
So remember, this holiday season, relax. There is absolutely no need to put
yourself into the poorhouse, or buy gifts for people whose names you can't even
remember. This tradition has survived so long not due to the amount of NP we
spend on others, but due entirely to the time spent with our families, building
and upholding traditions, and celebrating the fact that you've survived yet
another year. Gift giving is meant to make the person receiving feel loved,
appreciated and understood, and you as the giver feel better about yourself
for spreading happiness.
Search the Neopian Times
|The Far Side: Part Three|
Looking through the bars of the cage, she saw
that there were various people coming and going, but a few elders were gathered
around the central fire, all eyes on the...