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An M&S Christmas Story: Nicole Hao Bian’s Holiday gift-giving tips

Of apples and lemons

“CHRISTMAS is my favorite time of the year and I take gift-giving seriously,” confessed 31-year-old Nicole Niña I. Hao Bian. “When I make my Christmas list, I already include a budget and a shortlist of possible gifts to give according to their personality, hobbies, and their likes.”

Nicole is systematic and practical. That is evident in the way she works. She manages six international academies under the JIB International Schools, sits on the board of several associations and flies to Hong Kong regularly for her doctorate degree in Hotel and Tourism Management. In between, she attends social events. She’s busy but this smart, stylish and beautiful lady breezes through her daily schedule with ease and finesse.

“I oversee and manage all the schools under JIB working closely with our academic leaders to ensure the schools accomplish its vision to be the premier institution for Hospitality, Tourism, Culinary and Entrepreneurship programs. I also take care of our industry linkages and education partnerships both nationally and internationally for all JIB schools,” says the educator.

It’s all about proper time management, “I plan my schedule and make sure that I get to attend to all relevant meetings and commitments but not sacrifice my day to day tasks. Everything is written on my planner (I’m traditional like that!) and noted on my calendar app (a note to remind me of a note!).”

At Christmas, Nicole is as organized in her gift-giving task. She starts planning as early as mid-October and slowly work from there. Her Christmas list (which numbers to more than 400!) is on an Excel file categorized according to affiliation and relationship.

Here, she shares her gift-giving tips.

1. The perfect gifts are gifts that spark joy.

Consider what the person likes, enjoys and is passionate about. A thoughtful gift doesn’t need to be expensive or branded as long as it is something that will make the person smile and feel loved and appreciated. A book for the book lover, a journal for the writer, traveling cubes for the travel enthusiasts, etc.

2. Be creative – Give experiences!

In this time and age, many people are looking into trying new experiences as compared to material things that lead to more clutter at home. Consider giving experiential gifts that the person can enjoy such as spa treatments, staycation packages, wine and cheese tasting sessions, movie tickets, restaurant vouchers.

3. Get personalized.

Handmade and personalized gifts are the perfect way to show your love and appreciation. Make an artwork or a personalized card, bake some Christmas goodies or curate all of the person’s favorite goodies in one basket. Plus, it’s a good talking point and a story worth sharing every time!

4. Visual presentation is as important as the gift.

Like food, visual appeal creates excitement! Gifts that are properly and nicely wrapped instantly sparks joy to the eyes! You can get creative by using non-traditional gift wrappers such as old newspapers/magazines/maps/calendars, recycled paper, re-usable bags, cloths and even personalized Christmas wrappers with your name/image on it!

5. Give gifts that can be shared.

Christmas is best spent with your loved ones whether they’re your family, friends, and associates/acquaintances, and the perfect gift is one that can be shared and enjoyed by many! Food and wine is the perfect way to bring everyone together and enjoy the holidays with good food and wine paired with great company and conversations.

“For me, food and wine is the wisest gift to give. It brings everyone together which is the essence of the holiday season. It can easily be added to the Christmas dinner menu and liven up the festivity. I know because I take charge of our dinner menus for Christmas and New Year!” she said.

“I always rely on Marks & Spencer for my Christmas food and wine gifts. It’s a one-stop shop for adults and kids. M&S has a good selection of wines, foodstuff and chocolates everyone in the family will love. More than any materials gifts, it’s the memories that we have shared with our loved ones over food and wine during the holiday season that will last a lifetime, Nicole said.

Fashion & food: M&S Holiday 2019 Collection and Christmas food hampers are available at the Marks & Spencer stores in Abreeza Mall & SM Lanang Premier.


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