Early Holiday Shopping Guide

We have a few weeks to go to approach the inevitable – setting up of lights, decorations, and festive music in malls and our homes as well. 

While we’re at it, let’s be the advanced mag-isip in a world full of people going nuts because of the notorious last-minute holiday rush. 

holiday shopping guide

Benefits of Early Holiday Shopping

Before you decide to go on an early shopping spree, ask yourself: what's my goal?

Is it to save some time? To avoid the ungodly amounts of stress? Or dodge some sketchy modus that takes place at the height of the season? Whatever that may be, think about it every time you hesitate picking gifts. 

More affordable choices. 

There are at least two monthly mall sales you’ll come across before the actual holiday season is in full swing. Make the most out of these to check the prices.  

While there are tempting promos about one to two weeks before Christmas, they may come late. Unless you don’t mind the stress and delays, stick to your initial plan. 

Less interaction with crowds 

Around late November or early December, most of the workforce will receive their much-awaited bonuses. This means higher spending power. And where do most of them go when they have money to spend and gifts to buy? You got that right, the malls! 

Shop earlier and avoid the mob, ‘nuff said. 

Lower chances of getting stuck in traffic 

Lower chances of getting stuck in traffic are one of the advantages of shopping in Manila when it’s off-season. You spend a shorter time on the road while maximizing your time covering a lot of ground when you go on mall tours. Who says only celebrities do that, heh?

Thoughtful Gift Ideas 

Generic mugs, picture albums, and picture frames aside, did you know that recipients of meaningful gifts tend to use or consume the gifts themselves instead of giving those away as white elephants? 
In other words, people appreciate well-thought-out gifts readily. 

Of course, you need to know them well to know what they really, really want. But in the spirit of early planning and budget-limited logistics, let’s have a rundown of ideas that are meaningful on your end:

Handcrafted Items or Goodies 

This is a win-win scenario most of the time. In addition to making gifts about them, the labor of love that comes with the packaged present is the best one you can offer this season of love. 

Items of Interest 

Maybe your mom told you for the nth time that she loves that dress you both saw on display last week. Perhaps, your BFF has always been gushing about that lippy she saw on sale but never bought, for some weird reason. 

Consider these as indicators of what to get for them. If you can’t get the exact item, explore other possible options within their hobbies or interests. 

Your Specialty 

If your friends have been begging you to cook them your much sought-after lasagna or coffee cake, why not set aside some of your holiday vacation days and grant this request?

In this case, buy the materials you’ll need for the packaging and dry ingredients that won’t easily go bad ahead of time. You may either create the gifts in advance and distribute them early (for cheaper delivery fees, especially for same-day delivery services), or opt to cook the food you’re famous for a few days before the holidays officially start rolling in. 

shopping tips

Shopping Hacks for a Smooth Experience 

Fortunately or unfortunately, you need to consider tips and principles if you’re planning to shop early for the holidays – it's part of adulting! Here are some that can keep you sane during the crazy Jose Mari season: 

Prioritize who you’re giving gifts to and list them down 

Stick to your list of priorities no matter what. After all, you’re the one who should decide who means the most to you. If you’re keen on ranking them in order of priority, do so, by all means. You can even rank some people equally if you please. 

Keep a tracker and maintain it throughout the gift-giving season

This may seem like the most boring thing to do in the midst of an upcoming festive season. But it will help keep you efficient while buying gifts. 

Write the entries down in your planner or use an app to keep every piece of information organized. 
For starters, list these entries down in a handwritten or encoded table: 
  • Names of people you’re planning to give gifts to 
  • Specific gifts you’re planning to give 
  • Allotted budget for the gift 
  • Alternative, if ever the specific gift is not available 
  • Other important notes 

Set your budget

While it’s tempting to get everything that looks good inside a Christmas sock, expand your EQ and get a hold of yourself. 

Like they say, only spend within your means. You’re giving to express your love and gratitude, not to impress people you barely know. 

  • Allot a specific amount for all the gifts you plan to buy. Add 10% to this value as a buffer, in case you underestimate the prices. 
  • Set percentages of the entire budget per person, if you’re not looking to spend equal amounts for them.  
  • Translate the percentages to actual amounts and compare them with the actual prices of the gifts. 
  • If the price of the gift is above your budget, try looking for a secondhand version that’s at least EUC (excellent used condition) or VGUC (very good used condition). 

Buy extras, just in case 

I’m sure you've had past holidays when you had some unexpected titas or grandfolks over, only to be met with discreet snide comments when you haven’t handed them anything – a form of thanks for showing up without warning, rhyme, or reason. 

Getting at least five extra gender- and age-neutral gifts for these occasions would help. If you'd be considering food, just make sure it won't spoil easily. Wrap the gifts and have some blank tags ready for last-minute labeling. 

Compare and contrast prices way before your “shopping appointment” 

Comparison gives you a rough idea if you’re better off saying pass for now or if it’s the best time to get the deal. Go online and check the apps if you’re feeling too lazy or too busy to hit the shops. Just make sure to click on the legit sellers for optimal comparison.

Don't give in to peer pressure. 

What if someone gives you a gift, are you required to give something back? Well, it depends on your core belief system and culture. Whatever that may be, be proud of it. You’re not obligated to give anything in return, even if other people tell you so.

What then is a good way to gauge? 

If you’re not giving out of love, gratitude, or anything along those lines, then don’t. At the end of the day, it’s your resources, not theirs. 

Do you have some “spare gifts” to give? Give it if you feel you’re backed against the wall. Hopefully, that holds off the bashers. For now. 

*This is a guest post