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Gift-wrapping a wish

Giving cards for the New Year seems to be passé these days. Gifts are the in-thing - the more, the merrier.

SAYING IT with a simple `Happy New Year' is just not some people's style. Wishing friends a happy new year these days is all about being an innovative gift giver.

Vintage, Hallmark and Archies are still good, but not expressive enough.

"For me giving gifts to friends is the thing to do at New Year. Spreading the good cheer and joy, it somehow makes everything more festive. Giving gifts just makes the New Year a bit more special and happy," says Dawn, a student at Bangalore, who was gift-shopping at Style Plus along with her sister.

The cards sections of gift shops are crowded. Earlier, if cards were a means of wishing family and friends who were far away, today, people buy cards to give to each other, classmates and even siblings. Empty-handed wishing is passé.

Curiously, the card buying population mostly comprises college and school students. It is they who are bringing in changes in the way one greets friends. The plan of action is quite simple -- first pick the cards and then move on to the gift section; the card is just a complement to the gift. "Over the past few years, I have observed that the youngsters take their New Year seriously. Earlier, they would buy cards and that would be the end of their New Year shopping. These days they pick up cards to go with the gifts. The card is still important; it's more personal than merely wishing someone. It shows that you have found time for your friend " says Babu, owner of Dreamz on MG Road.

"When I was my son's age, nobody would give each other gifts for the New Year. Gifts were reserved for occasions such as birthdays. But now, this is the done thing, so, here I am shopping for my 10-year-old son's friends. My son got gifts last year, and we had to give return gifts. This year, it's my son who's doing the gifting. I too am buying some stuff for close friends," says Rema, a housewife, who has picked up some crayons and some games as gifts.

Peer pressure is at work when college and school students shop for gifts. "I can't just give a card to my close friends A gift adds to the personal touch. It's also awkward if my friends give me gifts and I don't have anything for them," says Indulekha, a Class XI student. Her budget is Rs. 50 each for her two close friends; for others, a card with some smaller gift will do.

The Christmas vacation makes it easier for friends to venture out together on shopping expeditions. "We bought some gifts and cards from here; we plan to check out the other stores as well. Giving a gift is a special way of wishing someone and New Year is a time for celebration and happiness," say college students Ashwathy, Shalini and Parvati, shopping at the Archies outlet, near the SMV School.

Stuffed toys, games, clay curios, key chains, crystals, books, watches, `Diviniti' pictures... almost anything is a potential gift. In fact, the lengths that people go to be innovative, has Rajendran, manager at Style Plus, in splits. "It is really funny to see people trying to be innovative. We have stocked innerwear at the store, and at times, I used to wonder if it was such a great idea after all. But this year, we actually gift-wrapped these innerwear; somebody gifted a dozen of them to friends. Then there are diapers, nail cutters... name it and we have gift wrapped them in the past two days," he says. Apart from these `funny' gifts, there are the Rolex and Espirit watches and perfumes as well.

This is not to say that giving gifts is the prerogative of those below the age of 25. There are grown-ups too who gift during the `season'. "The gifts are usually curios or books; it depends on the taste of the friends." say Sushila and Gopinath, looking for gifts at Style Plus.

For some, there is nothing extraordinary about giving gifts. "I give gifts to family and friends for the New Year every year. It is a festive season and what better way to celebrate than giving," says Sudha Suresh, also gift-hunting at the store.

There, nevertheless, are the traditionalists who believe that a card is one eloquent way of saying `Happy New Year'. "If I were to give gifts to somebody this year, it would probably be my immediate family. Apart from youngsters, not many people in the city give gifts. Of course, corporate gifts for my husband will be there. But on the personal front, I have not received any gift so far, nor do I expect any. I believe that cards are very personal; the wordings in some are very beautiful," says Devika Subhash, who teaches at the Press Club.

But the mantra seems to be: say it with cards if you have to, but say it better with gifts and spread the joy and good cheer around. Nothing to beat a Happy _ gift-wrapped _ New Year!


Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

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