Everyone knows there are two types of Christmas presents: those that the giver clearly put a lot of thought into – the ones that cause the receiver’s face to light up; and the ones you open and realise straight away that they were bought hastily at the last minute.

For Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb, a thoughtful or personalised gift is definitely the way to go.

“I appreciate when people put thought into their gifts. Personalised gifts or gifts that show that people were paying attention to what you said or did during the year are the most touching.”

Having said that, she isn’t a big fan of Christmas shopping.

“If I want to get something for someone, I don’t usually wait for Christmas. I think Christmas gifts are something children look forward to most, so I put the most effort into children’s gifts at Christmas.”

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, Marisa likes to keep it very traditional.

“Christmas is a time for unwinding, catching up with friends and spending quality time with the family. It is also a time for reflection, for celebrating life and milestones reached during the year, and for planning the next year. There is the religious aspect to Christmas too. We are ultimately celebrating the birth of Christ and there’s a lot of tradition associated with that. And there’s the lights, good food and drinks aspect to it, which helps us go through what would otherwise be the darkest couple of weeks of the year,” she says.

Marisa’s New Year’s resolutions, or as she calls them, “intentions” revolve around what thinks will be a challenging year in terms of time management and navigating the political sphere.

“So my intentions are to focus on what really matters and avoid time wasters.”

Marisa’s low point of the past year was one that perhaps everyone in Malta can identify with.

“My least favourite moment was when daily new COVID cases surpassed 500 in March 2021, and several businesses and schools were closed again. It was necessary, but tough on everyone. Another low point was Malta’s greylisting in June 2021.”

On the other hand, the end of the year has provided more positive memories.

“I look back and see that our efforts to have a more dynamic Chamber were yielding results. I had the pleasure of working with some really exceptional people and I will cherish this forever.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Marisa predicts impact of the global supply chain and inflation crises currently wreaking havoc across the global economy will continue to be felt in Malta.

“Next year will be a major battle with shortages of materials and rising costs,” she says.

Nevertheless, despite a potentially challenging year ahead, Marisa has a few takeaways from 2021 that will help her, and perhaps others, navigate through the storm together.

“This year has taught me that you need to take time to get to know people and that when you are open and honest about your ideas, people will take you seriously even if they might not always agree with you. It has also confirmed to me that what tires people out is not the amount of work they do but lack of direction. When objectives are clear, people can find purpose in what they do and they will do it happily.”

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