Every adult (aged between 25 and 65) will spend an average of 95'000 pesetas over the Christmas period, five per cent more than las year, according to a national marketing agency. And it is the small shops which will come off best. Christmas will cost an average family of three (two adults and a child) about 190'000 pesetas, which will be spent between the end of November to early January, on lottery tickets, meals in restaurants, celebrations, toys and other gifts and food. Expenditure will be divided more or less equally between leisure (lottery tickets, fiestas, etc) and commerce (food, toys and gifts). The cost of getting away from it all by taking a short break is not included in the figures, as according to the company which drew up the statistics, not enough people do this to make an impact. When it comes to food, 40 per cent of fresh food is purchased in traditional shops and markets, compared to 35 per cent in supermarkets and 25 per cent in hypermarkets. And wise housewives are already drawing up their festive menus and preparing to stock up the freezer in an effort to beat the exhorbitant prices charged for “seasonal“ favourites as Christmas approaches. These favourites include suckling pig, turkey (the Majorcan black turkeys are usually much more expensive than the ones on sale all year round), and shellfish, expensive at the best of times, but sky high during the holidays. And by sky high, I mean as much as 12'000 pesetas a kilo for Dublin Bay prawns. Most people like something a little more exotic than usual at Christmas and New Year, which is all very well. But with a little imagination and planning it is possible to find something which is both appetising and different, and doesn't mean that you have to mortgage your home.

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