As the Department of Tourism slogan goes, "It's more fun in the Philippines"--and Christmas is no exception. The Philippines is said to have the longest Christmas season, which starts in September and ends in February. As the Christmas season rolls along, there is a flurry of activity and preparations everywhere: reunions left and right which means lots of kainan and exchange gifts.
Along with the emphasis on family bonds and having a joyful spirit, another Filipino trait that is exhibited during Christmas time is generosity. Filipinos are generous to a fault, but that generosity is multiplied ten-fold during the festive season! That's why you'll see everyone scouring stores, malls, tiangges and bazaars for the best Christmas gifts to give, even if money's running low.
To avoid the holiday rush, the best time to shop for gifts is all year round, especially in January, when everything is on sale. But I know most of us are busy, so we often shop last minute (guilty here!) For last minute shopping, the best tip I could offer you is to just go to one place to get everything, like SM department stores! Aside from having different branches nationwide, it's a one-stop shop for everyone, literally giving it all for you. Plus, I can earn points for shopping using my SM Advantage Card (SMAC). Sometimes, SMAC members get special sales and discounts too. Cool, right?
Also, to avoid overspending, getting frazzled and being a grumpy Grinch, make a list, and check it twice. Yes, just like the old Christmas song goes! :) A list ensures you don't forget anyone and prevents you from panic-buying, or picking out the first thing you see. And when you're done with your list, don't forget to get something for yourself too!
~What would I want to get for Christmas?~
Although I like getting money for Christmas (for older kids, it's just easier for godparents to give money), I appreciate getting presents more. There's a joy in opening the package and appreciating the thoughtfulness of the sender and the time and effort he/she took to pick out your present. Plus, I usually spend my Christmas money on
As I was thinking about what I wanted for Christmas, I got stumped! I'm quite contented at where I am at in life, though I could use a few pairs of shoes (Yosi Samra flats in a neutral color, new gym shoes and maybe a pointed flat), and some (gym) clothes! ;) I'm also a bag hag, so I would love to get a small sling bag and especially a gym bag! I need one in my life so I don't have to lug around 2 bags in school like a fool (one for personal stuff, one for gym stuff). Lastly, I would love to have a external hard drive to store my TV shows, a delicate gold chain necklace with a small pendant and a copy of Lang Leav's Memories. I'm not a die-hard Lang Leav fan but when I saw the book at Fully Booked BGC and leafed through it, I fell in love with it on the spot. Tagos besh.
My siblings and I weren't raised with a gift-giving tradition within the family so we don't normally exchange gifts. There's so many of us; it'd be chaotic, not to mention costly! We're the type of people who show our love to each other by spending time with each other and doing things for each other. That's why I'm not really a good gift-giver; you can ask my friends that! If I do give gifts, I would really ask my friends what they want or think about what they would need cause I don't want things (or money) to get wasted.
Here's what I'd give my loved ones this Christmas:
My sisters: clothes
Feebee wants them, Felicia's okay with them, Timmy needs more of them. Simple as that. The SM Group brought in tons of brands to the Philippines, like Forever 21, Uniqlo, etc so there's tons of stores to choose from, but the SM in-house brands are good, stylish and affordable too.
My brother: sneakers
I could get my brother the things he wants like The Marvel encyclopedia but I know he needs a pair of sneakers more. Other than their in-house brands, SM offers branded shoes in the department store. Because I'd get perks and rebates (points for shopping), I'd much prefer buying at the department store than buy at a brand's standalone store.
My dad: perfume
Other than being a huge watch guy, he loves perfume. Since I can't afford a Rolex, Patek Philippe, or any Swiss watch just yet, maybe I'll just get him a scent. Or a new wallet.
My mom: curtains, or perfume
My mom's been bugging about the curtains at home (cause she wants to have them changed) so I'd probably give her some. But then, the curtains would be for the house, soooo... My mom also likes scents, and her favorite is Jo Malone, so that's what I'd probably give her. Good thing SM has both in their department store, so I can just change floors instead of going in and out of shops to get what I want.
My best friend: a charm for her bracelet
My bestie from pre-school's been nothing but nice to me this year, so I'd wanna get her something from Santa: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Haha. Just kidding. If I had enough money, I'd get her a charm for her Pandora bracelet. It could be a Christmas one, a friendship one or something that will remind her of me. Haha.
Seriously though, my best friend is the hardest person to shop for cause I think she has almost everything she needs! I'm sure you also have a friend like that who has everything, so you ask yourself, what do I give to them??
What I do in situations like these is find a gift that gives, like the SM Care Bears of Joy campaign. You can buy a bear for 200php and a child gets another bear. You can give a friend a bear and make someone else happy by getting one too! How's that for taking gifting to the next level? You can also pay-it-forward and make a donation to an organization/charity in their name. I'm a staunch believer in the power of education--plus I was a scholar myself--so one of the organizations I support is World Vision. For 600php/mo, you can send a child to school. 600php is probably the price of one or two meals out you can forego, right?
The nice thing about Christmas and giving gifts is that, it doesn't have to be tangible. If you don't have a lot of money, know that not everyone appreciates material things. Some people appreciate a kind word, effort and time too. Maybe even more than material things. If you know they're going through a rough time, send them a message. If you've been too busy for each other, meet up, bond and talk. Take it to the next level by organizing something to make others happy.
Whatever you decide, don't ever forget the Reason for the season. And remember, you don't need to have Christmas to be able to give gifts and make others happy!:)