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Gifting during Yuletide

Candles, cakes and cards mark the arrival of Christmas

CHRISTMAS IS here and the festive mood is back. It's time to shop for dresses, decorations for the Christmas tree, gifts, cakes and chocolates. With almost everything under a sun available right here, shopping for gifts has turned into a delightful experience. With just few days away for Christmas, leading card sellers such as Hallmark, Archies and Odyssey have come up with colourful Christmas decorations in their showrooms. Huge Christmas trees with gold and silver bells, danglers, streamers, bows, Santas and masks are on display.

The Christmas tree is part of the Christian faith and celebration and leading shop galleries in the city have stocked it. Each one comes with a note on how the custom began. "Gift shopping for Christmas has already begun. Imported pine trees cost Rs. 1,450 and come with a height of four and five feet. Soft toys and Santa Claus toys are fast moving too. We have introduced two special chocolate gift items — classic chocolate box (beginning at Rs. 65) and celebration chocolate box (beginning at Rs. 200)," says Iman Prabhu, manager, Odyssey.

The cards sections in gift shops are crowded. Earlier, if cards were a means of wishing family and friends who were far away, today, they are also being given to loved ones living nearby, classmates and even siblings. Mere verbal greetings are passé.

"The card buying population mostly comprises college and school students. It is they who are bringing in changes in the way one greets friends. They first pick the cards and then move on to the gift section; the card complements the gift," Iman adds.

Cards are more personal than just wishing someone. They show that the sender has found the time for a friend. "When I was my son's age, nobody would give each other gifts for festivals. Gifts were reserved for occasions such as birthdays. But now, I am shopping for gifts for my son's friends and mine," says Rani, a housewife.

Innovation is the key and gift shops are going all out to impress customers. Harmony Gift Solutions, a franchisee of Hallmark cards, has come out with plain greeting cards. "Corporates prefer plain cards that come in a bunch of 50 and in a price range of Rs. 4 and Rs. 12. We also have the facility to print the greetings," says V. Prakash, in-charge, Harmony.

Christmas is incomplete without candles and you find them aplenty in shops. "We have scented candles and decorative candle stands. Prices begin at Rs. 150," says Govindaraj of Archies Gallery, Avinashi Road.

Christmas cakes are synonymous with the festival. Bakery and pastry outlets have geared up to join the celebrations. Apart from Christmas fruitcake, chocolate Santa, kalkals, rich plum cake with almond icing and pastries will be lined up. "Our annual cake exhibition-cum-sale is from December 23 to January 1. The main attraction will be a sugar model of The Titanic. Other cake models include Pokeman, clock tower, dancing Barbie, laptop and helicopter," says T. Bakthavathsalam, administration manager, The Nilgiri Diary Farm Ltd.

A lot of thought goes into the prettily-wrapped packages that appear at Christmas time. For some, giving gifts is part of festive tradition. "I give gifts to family and friends for Christmas and New Year every year. It is the festive season and what better way to celebrate than giving," says Sudha Suresh, also gift-hunting at the store.


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