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1. Set a budgetA lot of people base their Christmas shopping budget on their 13th month pay, but spending more on gifts doesn’t mean they will be well received. On top of gift shopping, there are going to be lots of parties and gatherings that probably have to contribute to, and if you’re traveling, you’ll need a separate budget for your trip. Yes, the holidays are expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend all that you have on the Christmas season. You still have to think about your monthly bills and savings. Plus, you want to save some money to be able to treat yourself. Instead of devoting 100% of your 13th month for presents, aim for 50-75%, so the rest of it could be used for other holiday expenditure. And if you need to dip into your monthly salary, you can still do so without risking an empty bank account by the time the new year comes rolling in.
2. Make a wish listMuch like a wedding gift registry, wish lists benefit both parties. For the shoppers, you’re narrowing down the options of presents so they don’t go crazy thinking about the perfect gift. For you or whoever the list is for, you’re pretty much guaranteed a present that you actually like. Consider making wish lists with family members and friends.
3. Start shopping nowAs a nation that starts blasting Jose Marie Chan and putting up decorations as soon as September starts, you’d think we’d be done with Christmas shopping by the end of November. Unfortunately, most of us are procrastinators, leaving gift shopping to the last possible minute. A smart Christmas shopper would have already bought (or at least thought of) one or two presents by now. If you haven’t started yet, it’s not a big deal. Ideally, you do want to get your shopping as early as possible to avoid the crowded malls and horrible December traffic. It also gives you time to have a gift shipped from overseas if you’re ordering presents from out of the country.
4. Use social media for gift inspirationWe all have a friend or family member that refuses to make wish lists, claiming that any present will do even though they clearly disappointed with the presents from the year before. To avoid another failed attempt, do your research by checking out their social media. Pinterest would definitely be the most helpful of all platforms, though not everyone has an account. You can see what pages and links they’ve liked on Facebook, and see the kind of things they like to post on Instagram.
5. Head to the mall during off-peak hoursMalls are starting to get pretty crazy right now (more so than usual). If the weekends are the only times you have to visit your nearest shopping center, do your shopping first thing in the morning. That way, you’ve got a good parking spot, and you can get a lot of it done before the lunch crowd. If your office is in or near a mall, you can always visit it after work or during your lunch break on the weekdays. It’ll be more crowded after work, but anything is better than shopping over the weekend.
6. Map out your mall visitWith holiday sales everywhere, it’s so easy to be distracted. Your primary goal is Christmas shopping, so you’ll need to prioritize specific stores to avoid wandering aimlessly and shopping for yourself instead of your family. Efficiency is what will also help you stay within your budget, so make yourself an itinerary, if you will. You can always window shop after you’ve gone through your list.
7. Shop onlineIf you can’t stand the crowded malls, you can save yourself the time and energy by purchasing gifts online. Some products are even cheaper online than ones at the physical store, though there will be added costs, such as shipping and handling. If you’re concerned about added costs, consider buying multiple presents from one site to be eligible for free shipping. Depending on the online retailer, you may also request to have your gifts wrapped to save you all that trouble of wrapping it yourself.
8. Sign up for sale alertsIf you’ve ever shopped online or part of a brand’s mailing list, you probably get loads of emails that tell you when a sale is happening. While they would be considered junk throughout the year, these emails are like gold for the -ber months. They’re your chance to save more money, so keep a lookout. One sale you shouldn’t miss out on is the 11.11 Single’s Day sale, which is happening this weekend.
9. Support small businessesYou’re probably used to shopping with popular retailers and big name brands, but there are loads of local small businesses that offer unique items that are just as good, if not better, than the products in SM or Ayala Malls. For example, Pretty Me has a bunch of beauty products that aren’t sold in most malls, and the rarity of the gifts will be something that your family and friends would really appreciate.
10. Consider getting gift cardsIf you absolutely have no clue as to what to get your loved ones, you can always get them a gift card from their favorite store. If they love makeup, a Sephora gift card would be great. If they love Forever 21, get a GC there. Have a friend who is a frequent traveler? Give them an AirBnB GC. While some people might consider this lazy, what person would be disappointed with a GC at their favorite outlet? It’s basically a free shopping spree, and that way, the recipient gets to pick out their own presents without spending any of their own money.
Sheena is the lead fashion writer here at Pretty Me Philippines and has contributed articles for numerous lifestyle blogs and online publications. Other than keeping up with the latest trends, she loves baking and home DIY projects.