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So, I'm new to the "living on my own" game and let me tell you — it's been a pretty big struggle. I really never understood how much the little things cost until I moved out a couple years ago. That being said, I will take free things whenever I can get them.

Maybe you're already established and comfortable in your life — good for you! However, it's still useful to ask for things that you would otherwise have to buy for Christmas. Hey — I didn't want to be an adult either, but that's just the way things are.

Whether you're a young adult or a fully fledged old person, here are five major categories of presents you should definitely include on your wish list.

1. Kitchen supplies

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Not only are quality pots and pans super expensive, but the little things count too — cutlery, appliances and tools all add up. Putting big items like a food processor or a slow cooker on your wish list takes the hassle and anxiety out of buying one for yourself.

Not to mention, kitchen supplies will last you pretty long — unlike that bottle of brandy you and your cousins killed in one night.

2. Music or movie and TV subscriptions

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Music, movies and television are all consumed by subscription nowadays — I couldn't live without my Spotify, Netflix and HBO GO. Asking for a year's — or a couple years' if it's cheap — subscription to an online streaming service will save you a ton of money.

Let's face it — we can't keep mooching off of our family's accounts or creating new identities for free trials. So ask for a Netflix subscription instead of expensive headphones you can get super cheap knockoffs of.

3. Warm clothing

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Yet another unexpected expense in adult living — warm coats are expensive but absolutely needed for the northeast weather. Asking for a nice wool pea coat or a faux fur lined trencoat will ensure that you'll be toasty warm for years to come.

Heck, why not even socks? Being the butt of so many Christmas jokes, it's time that warm, fuzzy socks made its comeback. Both your feet and your bank account will thank you.

4. Gym Membership

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Ah yes, time for the dreaded New Year's resolution — instead of wasting your own money on a gym membership you'll only use two weeks into the year, why not ask for one instead? This way, maybe you'll even feel guilty for not going and continue your doomed resolution.

Memberships are also usually on sale this time of the year — praying on the weak, no doubt. But who knows? Maybe you'll actually stick it out this year.

5. Money towards an investment

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Do you have student loans creeping up behind you? Need to pay the rent to your swanky Brooklyn apartment soon? Why not ask for straight-up money for Christmas? Yes, it seems like a pretty shallow thing to do, but the holidays are for giving!

For my birthday, I asked my parents to pay that month's rent so I would be worry-free and spent my money on other things I had been putting off. It's not the most heartfelt present, but to me, paying off someone's debt is pretty huge.

Of course, this list is definitely for families that are well-off or at least lower middle class. If your family and friends can't afford these things, don't be distraught if they buy you a cheap present or none at all. It's important to keep in mind that the season is about coming together — while gifts are just an add-on.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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