Christmas shopping tips...

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» Thailand > Angel > Preparing for Christmas 2000

And a Ber-y Merry Christmas to You Too!
By Angelica Bautista Viloria
September 7, 2000

It is September, the start of the "ber" months. In the Philippines, our beloved country, this means that you would already be hearing Christmas carols over the radio. You would also probably start fretting about all the expenses that Christmas gift-giving would bring. Will I get a two or three month bonus? Where did I put my list of godchildren? Your pocket may already start getting a headache.

Following are some tips, which I myself (never mind if you don't know me and don't know from where I draw my credibility to give such tips) have used. These have helped reduce the stress of the Christmas season and have actually helped me in regaining the excitement that a child would feel at this time of the year. Here goes:

1. Make use of a wish list.

In our office (and I have started to do this, even with my hubby), each individual lists down gifts that he or she would like to receive for Christmas, agreeing on a budget of course (say P300 minimum, which is roughly over $6 at the rate that the peso-dollar exchange rate is going). This way, you're sure to give a gift that the person will like. There's also an element of surprise since you still don't know which of the gifts you listed down you are eventually going to receive.

2. Set aside some money throughout the year for a gift fund.

Some people never get to do their shopping until their bonuses are released. This means that they'll have to elbow their way through crowded department stores, line-up grudgingly just to pay for your purchases, the works in terms of frustration! One way to avoid this is to set aside a certain percentage of your net pay, throughout the year, for a gift fund. This way, you don't need to wait for your 13th month pay to start shopping till you drop.

3. Go around.

Don't limit yourself to the malls and the department stores. Try the tiangges (flea markets), subdivision and hotel bazaars, and the night markets which should spring up during the latter part of the year. You may be able to find some cheap (price range would be P300 and below) but interesting items. In the past, I've been able to find unique gift wrappers, nice hand-made paper, cute alarm clocks, etc, etc. You should also try and attend some of the exhibits at the Megatrade Hall of Megamall. Last June though, they advertised a Food, Wine, and Tea Fest, which we went to only to find out when we arrived at the place that it was a Chinese-Filipino Food, Wine, and Tea Fest only. Oh well, the Majestic Ham was yummy.

4. Not all your gifts need be store-bought.

I had to give my husband a gift one time but did not have enough time to go shopping. So, armed with paper and some brightly-colored pentel pens, I made coupons with some originally-written verse and which referred to gifts (e.g. a book of his choice, a free movie) which he could redeem whenever. This is a way to test your creativity. You can also make coupons, for services, like a 15-minute massage or a turn in terms of doing certain household chores.

5. Give more than a material gift.

Use Christmas gift-giving to inspire people. Give them a nice quote, a personal letter thanking them for all they have done for you, a book mark with a message which can comfort or uplift them amidst the drudgery of daily living. Every one needs a boost.

6. Start early.

Organize things as early as September, if this is the least you can do. Shop in September-October. Wrap your stuff by November. Give your gifts in early December. You'll be amazed at how relaxed you'll feel.

7. You can judge a gift by its wrapper.

Everyone likes an interesting and nice-looking gift. Make your present attractive by using colorful ribbons, stickers, and other accessories (e.g. small bells). I've come across some tips stating that we can try using non-conventional wrappers like glossy magazine pages, comic pages, and even manila paper which you or your kids can draw on.

8. When you see something you like, buy it.

One of life's great shopping frustrations is to decide to buy something and when you're ready, it's gone. Throughout the year, stock up on gifts (e.g. picture frames, photo albums) which are generic enough to be given to people with different personalities. Also, once you see something you like, grab it for the next time it might be gone (as I have realized rather belatedly several times in the past).

Well, when all is said and done, don't get stressed too much. Enjoy the season. After all, Christmas gives us much reason to celebrate. A Merry Christmas to everyone, even if it's only September.

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And a Ber-y Merry Christmas to You Too!
Written September 7, 2000
Copyright © 2000 by Angelica Bautista Viloria of

Angelica Viloria is a Filipina mom, living in the Philippines, who works in a credit rating company, and occasionally posts articles in her family homepage at