How much just to deck the halls?

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Along with charitable donations, Christmas spending continues to rise. The average budget for travel, gifts, entertaining, and decorations this year: $1,558, according to the American Express Retail Index. That's up 16 percent over last year. Among men and women, holiday shopping behaviors vary considerably:

*Men are more likely to splurge than women (45 percent vs. 40 percent).

*Most men (56 percent) will splurge on a spouse/partner, and more women (36 percent) will splurge on a son or daughter.

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*Men will spend an average of $611 on a special someone, while women will spend $406.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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