With no doubt, Christmas is one of the most festive holidays in the Philippines since it lasts for almost 2 1/2 months, and in my family's case even longer. Christmas means a lot of things: (trying to) complete the Misa de Gallo, shopping for gifts, and visiting relatives in the province. Unfortunately, it could also mean traffic, crowded malls, lack of parking, and swindlers.
Here are some ways we did to make our Christmas preparation hassle-free especially for Baby Charley.
1) Make a Christmas list - and stick to it
Lists are a very important tool especially for a compulsive yet OC buyer like me. With the list (and a strict budget), we could lessen the time we're spending inside the mall. This way, we're sure we're not forgetting anyone, and we could stick to our budget.
Many moms prefer going to Divi or Baclaran for their Christmas shopping; however, if one is patient looking for the good stuff, you could actually find the perfect cheap gift for everyone - without the hassle and the siksikan of shoppers.
Psst! I found Baby Charley's gifts to her younger cousins at the Landmark supermarket for Php22 each! :)
2) Schedule your Mall Time
Mall schedules could be our bestfriend and worst enemy. Thanks to the longer mall schedules, we could have longer time to shop. However, that could also mean the same thing for fellow working class people in the Metro.
Mall opening hours either during weekends or weekdays are usually the best time to shop as there are fewer people, shorter queues in the cashier, and nicer and more patient sales ladies. We also make sure that we leave the mall by 3pm to avoid the traffic jam and to make sure we could get a cab right away.
3) Bring only what you need
Shopping is fun and therapeutical, too! Most girls feel good while shopping yet devastated afterwards when bills start to pile up. Yikes!
Moreover, to avoid being a prey to holdapers, bring just enough money to shop, to eat, and to get you home. We also avoid bringing large amount (cos we dont have a large amount) of money. If you're not a compulsive buyer, using your debit cards is actually safer and more convenient.
4) Dress (and the baby) comfortably
Christmas shopping means a lot of walking and waiting so it's important that you're properly clothed for battle. Wear flats (I usually go for Sanuk) and a backpack so your hands are free to hold the baby.
In fact, I find it more convenient to leave Baby Charley at home with my roommate (my husband, btw) while I shop. At least, I only have myself to think about.
5) Take advantage of free giftwrap from malls
I have no talent in giftwrapping; that's why I have my gifts wrapped at the mall.
Toys r Us and Toy Kingdom offer free giftwrap for a minimum purchase. Marks and Spencer, H&M, F21, and Zara's paperbags could also serve as a giftwrap already. Rustan's, SM, and Landmark offer a giftwrap and a paper bag together.
However, if the lines are long at the toy stores or department stores, we would just buy a paperbag from National or Powerbooks especially if we wanna meet the Go home by 3pm schedule.
What we also find helpful is printing our very own Christmas cards. All we needed was a cute pic from the internet and a pack of sticker papers.
1) Pack well
Going home to the province for the holidays could be challenging since many would also be doing the same thing. Since it's just my roommate and I with the baby, with the gifts, and with all those bags, we make sure we're only bringing the essentials - especially if we're gonna commute.
Usually, we have one big eco bag for all the gifts, a backpack for Charley's stuff, another backpack for both of our stuff, and a handcarry with milk and wallet. This way, we could leave all our bags, except for the handcarry, at the compartment.
2) Schedule your trip
We're only travelling to Batangas this year, but we still need to plan the best schedule to travel. Travelling close to Christmas could be more difficult because of the rush of passengers and limited trips.
Travelling during the morning is also better than during the afternoon or at night.
3) Have your fares ready
Just to be on the safe side, have your fares ready in your pocket. This includes your fare for the cab, the bus, or even a small change for the porters. This way you wont be opening your wallet often which could attract the attention of others.
3) Dress well and smartly
just like while you're shopping, you have to dress well and appropriately when travelling. Have a scarf ready instead of a huge jacket especially for the baby. Sometimes we also bring a small blanket for her especially since it's been raining lately.
As much as I love skirts and dresses, I avoid wearing one whenever we travel with Charley. I find it more convenient to wear just a shirt paired with shorts or pedals. (Check out the cute ones in Regatta)
4) Prepare entertainment for the Baby
A happy, well-entertained baby means a blissful trip for everyone. Thank heavens Batangas is only 1.5 - 2 hrs away from Manila, so Baby Charley doesnt get bored much during the trip.
However, we still make sure we have her pillowcountrymen (her pink Hello Kitty pillow), a V-tech book, and her milk ready just in case.
However, the most important preparation is the Advent.
Our family, small as it may seem, prepare huge through the Advent season.
Sadly we cant attend the Misa de Gallo because of our schedules; however, we set aside a period of the day for prayer and reflection as we fill our hearts with gratitude with the bountiful blessings we receive each day. We also take this moment to pray for our family and our marriage, our health, and our decisions. Of course, we also pray for those we love.
It is only through a grateful heart can we truly say we have prepared well for Christmas.