Since I started working, I consider gift-giving as an important part of our Christmas celebration. It’s my little way of giving back to others, sharing my blessings with them. Gift-giving is also one of my primary love languages to other people so I do cherish this chance to express my affection and gratitude.

Inevitably, choosing gifts for people can be stressful — though it should not be. It requires planning, time, budget and preparation. Partaking in this tradition every year, I have collected my own techniques and smart tips to manage gift-giving for my loved ones and make it hassle-free as possible.

1. Do profiling.

List your prospective recipients and group them according to family, friends, co-workers, godchildren, etc. It is easier to sort the list and determine the budget that way. Shopping is made easier if you focus on one person/ group at a time for your mind wouldn’t be mixed up with lots of ideas on what to give. By listing their names, you’ll be reminded of their personalities and interests and what types of presents will suit them. Keep a master file in your notebook or excel sheet.


2. Set the budget.

Identify the main source of funds – will it be coming from your salary? 13th month pay? Savings? Loan? In my case, I take it from my 13th month. I keep a draft of the estimated budget and the actual expenses so I’d know how much I can set aside for my savings. Based on experience, the biggest budget normally goes to family (because you are more inclined to give their personal wants) and kids/godchildren.


3. Pick at least two venues for your shopping. 

The mall should be accessible to your home or workplace so that if there are chances of returning an item for reasons such as repair or replacement, it will be easier to go back. It’s also easier to canvass for prospect items because it is in the vicinity. Always consider these things: traffic, transportation cost and volume of people. Shopping should be the last thing that should stress you out!


4. Don’t go to Divisoria or Quiapo unless there’s a valid reason. 

We always think that going to bargain places will trim our expenses. Yes, if you are going to purchase in bulk. But don’t go there if you are buying only a few items. Two years ago, I went to Divisoria to buy decorations for a Christmas party but I ended up exceeding my budget. Why? Because I got fascinated with the cheap items but they were not on my list, so my expenses ballooned! Again, consider the traffic, transportation cost, and food allowance. If it is accessible and more convenient for you, then why not?


5. Scout for shops that offer free gift-wrapping. 

Not only does it save time but also energy! The gift becomes more presentable and elegant because it does not only promote the brand, it is more meticulously wrapped. (Talk about those fancy ribbons, laces, and well-pressed, fine edges!) You can also ask the store if they can place the item in a paper bag so no need to find a wrapper. Here are some of the stores I know that offer free gift-wrapping with any purchase from their store, regardless of the price: SM, Market Market, Toy Kingdom and Kultura. Landmark and Rustans offer it for a minimum of Php 300 purchase.


SM Prestige membership offers priority lane in gift-wrapping, but here’s how to qualify:

“To qualify for membership, you must be an active SMAC member with a spending of at least P300,000 in SM during your two-year membership.”


6. Shop by installment and don’t do it last minute.

It’s hard to squeeze all gift-shopping in one day. You won’t have as much time to roam around, compare and screen. You’d end up buying what is reachable and available and not what you really wanted to give to the person.

For me, I do my gift-shopping after office hours before going home. I do it together with my other errands like paying bills or other transactions so it will be a multi-purpose agenda at the mall.


7. Give gifts collectively.

Want to stretch your budget? Give presents by groups. You can treat your family to a nice dinner, give one whole cake per team in the office, a box of cupcakes for your teachers, or a basket of goodies to your relatives. After all, it’s you remembering them that counts. Again, this is by individual preference. Definitely, personal gifts have more impact than those given to you as a group.

8. Don’t oblige yourself to give presents to people you rarely see.

It may not sound so nice, but it’s practical. I give presents to people I interact often or those I can see anytime. I do not stress-out giving gifts to all my friends and godchildren if they reside in parts of the world I can’t reach.


9. If you can, shop alone.

For me, it is easier and more manageable to go to the mall by myself. Of course, your friend, mother or partner’s opinion would help, but it will take more time, more expenses. Shopping is more of therapeutic to me. I don’t like being disrupted, pressured or being waited on. I don’t like hearing side comments “ang mahal naman niyan!” or “kuripot mo naman bakit yan lang?” If you need help in carrying stuff, ask assistance after you’re done with the shopping. Ask your husband to meet you at this hour, this place. Guys are very impatient with women’s shopping. Need I say more?


10. Give with the right motives. Do it cheerfully. 

Don’t think of gift-giving as a chore, a routine every Christmas, a show-off to family and friends or an obligation. You’ll be drained. After all, our goal should be making the person happy with our presents. It’s about them, not yourself. Your ultimate reward would be seeing those priceless smiles on their faces. 🙂


These tips are subjective and are based on personal experiences. It may not be applicable to all. Then again, I hope this list has helped you even in a small way.

Merry Christmas! 🙂