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Teachers love holidays! The summer holidays provide much needed time for rest, relaxation and a bit of exploration. It is a time that takes a bit of a toll financially, but most teachers are able to stay afloat.

Shorter breaks are great for fun get-a-ways to luxury hotels and neighbouring countries here in the Middle East. Spending for these types of treats is usually easier on the pocket.

The winter break, however, is the holiday that most teachers love and fear. This is the break where Western teachers focus on family, celebrating and making the most of the time that they have together.

Winter break is perhaps the most expensive break because airfares are exploitative (if you can’t book early or find a great deal); it’s the season of giving gifts and there are numerous parties and events to attend.

During the winter break, even the thriftiest teacher can fall prey to unnecessary spending.

Below are a few tips to consider when shopping this holiday season.

Be the gift

Turn up with a smile, great stories and good energy. Your loved ones haven’t seen you in a while. Share some of your Middle Eastern experiences with them via fun videos and photos. Laugh together, eat together, enjoy each other, and create priceless new memories.

Become budget savvy

Some of us enjoy spending. We like getting the things we think we want. Can you imagine if we applied the same tenacity to our holiday shopping habits? If it isn’t a need – leave it. It would be lovely to gift everyone, but maxing out our credit card will find us living with regrets for the entire month of January and beyond.

Buy what’s needed

It can be difficult to buy gifts for friends who are demanding or ‘picky’. Think about what these persons need. Create a list and purchase the item that will be most practical for them. Many times, we make elaborate purchases and these items end up being re- gifted or unused. A practical gift of something that is needed will ensure that your gift will be put to good use.

Starve the commercial monster

The commercial monster lures holidaymakers with lots of enticing deals. Walk away. Put your hidden talents to use and create a collage, painting, poetry, or musical piece etc., instead of making a pricy purchase. Make sure that the finished product is classy. Even if it is unappreciated, it will make for good conversation in the years ahead.

Share the spending

There are a handful of people who require expensive gifts. Talk to your spouse or other close relatives when planning to purchase gifts for fussy relatives and friends. Pool together and divide the cost equally among each contributor. This way, you get to save a bit and still gift the person with something he/she will appreciate.

Say no

You won’t be able to gift everyone. You don’t have to attend every single party or event that you are invited to. Choose carefully the amount of money that you want to spend. Some loved ones will be satis ed with just being with you.

Decide what your holiday expenses will be. You can choose to go hard and ‘ball out’ for the holidays, or you can be thrifty and still have a good time. When you return to the Middle East, you are returning to other financial responsibilities. Ensure that you plan for those.

By Carolyn Lee