Across Hong Kong, households have been receiving their envelopes from the Inland Revenue with a tax rebate of up to HK$3,000, giving people the pleasant dilemma of what to do with the windfall. To make us feel better about blowing the cash, even investment adviser Stephen Gollop, chief executive of Bridgewater, who normally suggests saving money for one's retirement, recommended spending it on something special. 'It's probably a good idea to treat it as a windfall and do something different,' he said. But what to spend a $3,000 rebate on? For a start you can afford to take the helicopter to Macau and back. But if you want to stay overnight at the weekend you'll need to take the ferry or swim back to keep the trip under $3,000. For those seeking to go further afield, short holiday packages to Cebu in the Philippines are also an option. Staying in Hong Kong, you can have nine three-course meals at a French restaurant, or if you want as much food as you can get, the maximum rebate will cover 146 Big Mac meals from McDonald's at $20.50 each. For a few hundred dollars more than the rebate you can savour four bottles of good Californian red wine. Those looking for something more enduring could consider picking up a tranche of shares. The minimum investment depends on the lot size for each individual stock, so $3,000 will not be enough for a quality blue chip but could easily fund the purchase of a small cap or penny stock. 'PetroChina is the cheapest mid to large-cap stock that you could buy,' said Herbert Lau Chung-kwun, research head at Celestial Asia Securities. 'There is also a lot of choice among H shares in that price range, and we are still quite positive on them.' With 2,000 shares in each PetroChina lot, the minimum investment would be about HK$4,440 based on Friday's trading price of HK$2.22. 'Other major caps will be much more than that,' Mr Lau said. 'There are plenty of small-cap and penny stocks listed on the main and GEM boards but you would need to do a lot of study. Even for a small amount of money, do your homework and be prudent because with a penny stock you could lose it all,' he said. Karin Weber of Karin Weber Gallery said $3,000 could buy an original work of art that could be worth a lot more one day. The gallery currently has works from Burmese artist Aung Myint in that price range and Australian portrait painter Rosi Helms, and also recently held an exhibition of works from students at the Sichuan academy of art. 'Go by your gut feeling. The painting must somehow hit your emotions - it doesn't matter if it costs $500 or $50,000,' she says. Ms Weber also suggests looking at Chinese furniture or other antiques and collectibles. 'These days most antique shops are discounting quite heavily because business is so bad. You can get a nice stool or even a chair or a low table for that amount of money. It may not be original, it could be a newly made piece from old wood or you could get lucky with a genuine antique,' she said. Quality investment-grade Ming dynasty pieces will cost up to $200,000, but smaller pieces from the late Qing dynasty could make a pleasing purchase, even if they don't appreciate strongly in value in years to come. For people who are prepared to get together and celebrate the rebate, Mr Gollop has a few ideas. 'One idea is pool the whole lot and have a giant Sars-free party,' he said. 'Second is donate it to an appropriate charity or possibly some sort of Article 23 campaign.' Some charities have already caught on to the idea of encouraging people to donate the rebate to worthy causes. The Hong Kong Cancer Fund recently sent out letters urging people to donate some of their rebate to try and raise $22.5 million. 'We urgently need your help. Because of Sars, some of our services are in danger of closing. Please take a minute to read this letter and think about donating some of your tax refund to help people with cancer,' began the letter from chairwoman Sally Lo. The purpose of the rebate - which will cost the government $2.3 billion - is to boost Hong Kong's economy which has suffered the double whammy of slowing global growth and Sars. The rebate is for 50 per cent of each taxpayer's last tax bill up to a maximum of $3,000. The government has said 1.3 million people will benefit from the rebate with 700,000 getting the maximum $3,000 returned. The government will be hoping that people spend the money rather than save it, but that will depend on how each person feels about their job security. 'If they are more cautious about jobs and outlook they are more likely to bank it,' said South China Brokerage vice-chairman Howard Gorges. The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chief economist, David O'Rear, said: 'There will be people who feel their job security isn't very good or their income has been cut who will save the money. But then there are also those that haven't been that badly affected, which is the vast majority .. and with some luck they will be looking for a way to spend it.' The impact on the overall economy from the rebate is likely to be relatively small but gauging exactly what it will be is difficult. 'You're looking at a very small portion of GDP. What may happen is that we see a slower deterioration in the cutback on spending which has been going for some time,' said Mr O'Rear. However, even if the impact is small, any boost for the economy is to be welcomed, said Mr O'Rear. 'At this point with an economy that has been hammered by so many terrible things that were outside of our own ability to influence, we're really looking for anything that we can get to help stimulate it,' he said. For people planning to spend the money, Mr Gollop urged them to make sure they spend it locally to boost the economy in whatever small way they can. 'Just make sure you spend it on Hong Kong. Go and buy something exciting which you weren't going to do but make sure it wasn't made in Japan,' said Mr Gollop. However, people thinking ahead may wish to save the money to help cover the next tax bill which will be higher than last year's. The government announced a 1 per cent increase in the income tax rate in the last budget. For 800,000 taxpayers, the rebate effectively cancels out the 1 per cent rise announced in the budget.