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Well I don’t exactly like the word ‘cheap’ – but it rhymed with cheerful… what I mean is ‘financially enlightened’. We have worked hard at RedBalloon to ensure that we have something for everyone’s budget – to make sure we have in the experience range the sort of gift that you give to your child’s school teacher and even for Secret Santa.

Regardless of religion, Christmas and the end of the year is a time to be thankful. For family and friends. For the year that was, and the year that approaches.

Gratitude and thankfulness are at the core of living a happy life.  I urge you to be real in your message. Take a moment to really notice those around you.

I’m passionate about my work on FiveThanksADay.0rg. Gratitude makes such a difference to our happiness. It costs little – aside from your time and a willingness to be participate. Try these ways of kick-starting a campaign to say five authentic thank-you’s everyday:

1) Write it in a letter – or in an email; on a card; in a text message; the back of an envelope; or a fortune cookie. Put it in writing, make it personal, make the effort.

2) Use your words – say it face-to-face and say it from the heart. Extra points if you call someone instead of texting, and make actual contact rather than leaving a voicemail.

3) Make a mental note – at the end of every day, instead of thinking about all you have to do, count your blessings. Reflect on that which you have (not lack) in your life, and feel good about it – and let those people know.

4) Volunteer – give your time for free to help out a worthy cause. Studies show that regular volunteers live longer, are less likely to experience depression and are more satisfied with life.

5) Share a ‘Good Time’ – (okay so clearly I have a vested interest in this one – but you see my point). Good times shared and the memories are worth more than a piece of ‘stuff’ gathering dust in the corner. And sharing good times doesn’t have to be expensive… in fact here are a few suggestions for making the most of your ‘together time’ this festive season:

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