Australians are chicken about Christmas gifts

Chickens used to give women a way out of the sex industry in Mozambique have become the most popular feel-good gift to give this year.

The chickens have ousted the quick-breeding goats that feed families in developing countries as the top choice in a range of unusual presents available from charities. Australian shoppers have purchased 4000 pairs of chickens, 2500 ducks and 1500 goats from the Oxfam website this year.

“The chickens are used to give women in Mozambique a way out of the sex industry,” Oxfam spokeswoman Amanda Schofield said. “They can sell the eggs at the market and breed the chickens so eventually they will have enough to sell or to eat.” “These gifts make Christmas fun and a bit cheeky. It’s a feel good present. Receiving and giving makes it feel like your bringing back the spirit of Christmas, sharing and hope, reflecting on family and those less fortunate.”

Retailing at $10 a pair, the chickens are $29 cheaper than the goats that topped the Christmas humanitarian gift chart last year. Other options include an Oxfam toilet for $94.

“In emergency situations like Sudan or after a tsunami we will build toilet blocks for people to maintain their dignity and for sanitary reasons, to sensure the feaces doesn’t contaminate the water supply,” Ms Schofield said.

World Vision, Tear Australia and Unicef all have similar gift catalogues. For those keen to branch out from animal giving, you can purchase an eye examination for $5 from Tear, a vegetable pack for $50 from World Vision or a $30 school pack for students from Unicef.

A range Australian companies also offer gifts that will have benefits closer to home. Rainforest Rescue will sell you the gift of 10 square metres of Daintree Rainforest for $20, while The Smith Family will use your donation in your loved one’s name to provide funding for disadvantaged Australian children’s education.

Green Fleet offers a way to keep Christmas lunch guests carbon-neutral travelling to your house with a $45 tree-planting package. The cost covers the planting of 17 trees and a bumper sticker. The cheapest hippy present comes from the Australian Red Cross, who are asking Australians to donate blood in someone’s name.

“We ask people to give blood and use it as a present. We give them a card that says ‘I have voluntarily given blood as a special gift in your name’,” Red Cross spokesperson Bonita Mersaides said. “It’s something that is unselfish and it demonstrates the true meaning of Christmas by doing something for the community.”

Peeking at your gifts? You’re not alone!

Can’t resist a quick shake and peep at that present under the Christmas tree? You’re not alone, with a US survey finding one in five adults are present peekers.

The survey of 2,287 US adults by research firm Harris Interactive found the main culprits tend to be women, with 21 per cent unable to resist the temptation for a sneaky peep compared to 15 per cent of men.

The younger 18 to 34 crowd also have less self-control than the 35-plus crowd, with 32 per cent taking a sneaky look compared to 12 per cent, according to the survey that was conducted on behalf of Yahoo! Shopping.

Gift wrapping expert Christine Fritsch, author of the book “Gifted Wrapping”, suggested hiding present for children up high and trying to disguise adult’s presents.

For example put an electronics box on the outside of a non-electronics gift to throw off expert peekers. “If you put a smaller box within a bigger box, you can curb a lot of peeking,” she said.

She also suggested wrapping the present as soon as you get home and leaving off the gift tag until the last minute. And don’t use a gift bag. “That’s just way too easy to peek,” she said.

Australia > Porn hidden in Christmas gifts

Parents have been warned to check their children’s Christmas presents after it was revealed hundreds of hardcore pornographic images had been hidden in books, clothes and toys at some of Melbourne’s major shopping centres.

Police fear children could open gifts on Christmas morning to find them lined with porn.

Information technology expert Kenneth Palliser, of Mitcham, allegedly slipped pornographic images of children into merchandise at four major shopping complexes in the eastern suburbs between November 18 and 26.

He was arrested in a police sting at Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre on November 26 and Taskforce Goral has been set up to investigate the full scope of his alleged activity. The shopping centres where goods were allegedly contaminated were Knox City, Doncaster, Forest Hill Chase and Eastland.

Det. Sen-Sgt Greg Heafield, of the Nunawading Criminal Investigation Unit, appealed to parents to check gifts thoroughly before wrapping them to avoid a shock on December 25.

Information can be given to Crime Stoppers on 1300 888 000 or by visiting

How Canadians spend money over Christmas

Atlantic Canadians biggest Christmas spenders, Quebecers most miserly.

An EKOS poll suggests the average Canadian expects to spend $861 on Christmas gifts this year.

The big spenders tend to reside in Atlantic Canada, poll respondents from the Maritimes and Newfoundland said they were budgeting an average $1,029. The relative misers live in Quebec, with plans to spend an average of $689, while Ontarians averaged $946. Figures for the Prairie provinces, British Columbia or the Northern territories were not immediately available.

Paul Adams, executive director of EKOS, says Atlantic Canadians spend more because they tend to have larger families and Quebecers spend less because of the province’s rising secularism.

EKOS performed a random phone sample on December 5 and 6 of 1,022 Canadians for the Toronto Star and Montreal La Presse. National results are considered valid within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, a margin of error that rises when the results are broken down regionally.

A Christmas gift

A Christmas gift inspired by England goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s horror own goal against Croatia has helped to boost diplomatic ties between London and Zagreb, it was reported yesterday.

The British Embassy in Zagreb has offered the Croatian government framed photographs of the infamous incident which occurred during a Euro 2008 qualifier two months ago, said the daily Vecernji List.

«We have decided to remind you of the early Christmas gift from Paul Robinson to Croatia, since we believe that was the key moment in relations between the two countries in 2006» it quoted British Ambassador to Croatia John Ramsden as saying.

Aussies turn to Net for Christmas

Australians are turning to the internet for their Christmas shopping to avoid crowds and queues, a survey has found.

About 96 per cent of the 405 online customers surveyed by eBay said they were frustrated by Christmas shopping. Pet hates were crowds, queues, parking, high prices and the constant Christmas jingles.

About six million Aussies shop online, spending a total of $11.35 billion, or around $1900 each, a year, according to the online auction company

The ninemsn shopping website expects a 50 per cent increase in users from mid-November to mid-December.

The research found that on average, Australians will spend about $9.5 billion on 200 million presents this holiday season.

Those surveyed mostly believed women were the best gift-givers. Only 22 per cent nominated a male family member as the best gift-giver. Wives were named the most difficult people to buy for, while husbands were awarded the title of worst gift-givers.

Husbands looking for tips should take note: women listed books, perfume, cosmetics or toiletries and clothing or shoes as their preferred stocking fillers. Men wanted DVDs or CDs, electronic goods and laptops, PCs or accessories.

The origin of the Christmas Presents

The origin of the Christmas Present seems to have a number of different sources.

The earliest references to presents being given on or around the Winter Solstice comes from Ancient Rome during the feast of Kalends. High ranking officials were expected to give gifts to the Emperor since the Winter Solstice celebrated the birth of the Sun God, to whom the emperor was directly related.

Another early source of gift-giving comes from St. Nicholas, who was remembered for his charitable giving. Often on his feast day parents would leave small gifts of chocolate or fruit for their children. His feast day slowly came over time to be associated with the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity on December 25th.

Gift Giving in the modern sense starts in America in the 1820s. What had once been the simple practice of exchanging small gifts exploded into the full-fledged consumer driven holiday we now know. The first advertising for Christmas Gifts is found in the early 1800s, around 1804. By the 1820s ads began to spring up more and more, and by the 1840s they were an integral part American Society. This sudden interest in gift giving may be tied to the rise of Clement Moore’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

Many people in today’s world claim that “Christmas today is all about presents, not like when I was a kid”. In truth people have been claiming that for over a century and a half. Harriet Beacher Stowe, of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” fame, wrote a story in the 1850s where a character complains how when she was a child, “the very idea of a present was new!” and that, “there are worlds of money wasted at this time of year.” Unlike all the other people who are nostalgic for the Christmas of their childhood since, Harriet Stowe was correct, the commercialization of Christmas did occur in her life time.

Sources for the History of Christmas Presents >

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