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Christmas Shopping minus the Stress

Is there such thing as stress-free Christmas shopping? When I was assigned to write about this topic, I was taken aback for I was not quite sure where to start. Shopping or Christmas? Both are stressful, and yet I will write about the opposite! With this dilemma, I began to wonder: why are shopping and Christmas so stressful?
First, let’s deal with shopping. Shopping is not always stressful. Personally, it has some “therapeutic effects” on me. It releases tension. Walking inside a mall is a form of exercise, a feast not only for the eyes but for all the senses. Shopping rejuvenates me. If this is so, what makes it stressful? Have you ever experienced being invited to a girlfriend’s birthday and doing a last-minute gift search and not being able to find the perfect gift? Or, you find the perfect gift but your budget is not enough? Imagine having to experience these tenfold because of the many friends you have to remember during Christmas. And the worst thing: malls are full of people during the holiday season!
Second, what makes Christmas season stressful? The weather is supposed to make you calm because it is a little colder. People wear a smile all the time because of the bonuses and the 13th-month pay in the pipeline, plus the smell of roasted castanias and ham in the air. YET, there are over a dozen gifts to be wrapped; kids begging you to buy gifts for their bonito-bonita at school; the husband requesting a simple Christmas dinner at the house and the bosses are coming; friends pleading with you to attend Christmas parties that start right after Halloween; the house still needing decorations because the kids want a giant Christmas tree with lights that go on and off; and there are still names on your gift list who don’t have presents yet!
Reading through this list gives you stress right? These things make shopping and Christmas stressful! For those who want to enjoy the season minus the stress; here are some tips on how to make shopping for the holidays, and celebrating Christmas, stress-free.
SIMPLIFY: The season demands everything great. However, given the limitation you have like space, budget, time, etc., try to make things simple. Some people have the time to hire a decorator to transform the house into something grand but some do not have that luxury. Make the effort to make the house festive but make sure it is something you and the members of the family can do.
PLAN: Make sure the kids have what they need for school or other Christmas-related activities that they might have. Remember that Christmas is for kids so let us prioritize them. Also, plan for the big Noche Buena ahead of time so you can talk to your spouse about this and still have time to change the menu should he want to add something more.
SHOP EARLY: It is always wise to shop early because the prices are not yet sky high and there are still enough spaces in the malls to move around.
PERSONALIZE: In lieu of a Christmas card, I usually send pictures of my family to friends and relatives especially those who are living abroad. This is a good time to show them that the kids had grown and the family is getting bigger. For budget-conscious people, creating personalized gifts for your friends might also save you some money. Try to visit websites that offer creative ways of creating holiday gifts.
CHOOSE A MALL where there are great buys: Budget-conscious people frequently go to all those tiangge or bazaars that sprout like mushrooms during the holidays.  Its true that going to these places for your Christmas shopping might give you great discounts.  But the stress it might cause you (imagine a very crowded place and heavy traffic) may not be worth it.  However, there are malls which offer the best finds with less stress.  One of these is Market! Market! in Taguig.  It offers the convenience of a mall with the price and finds of a tiangge.
Consider Traditions: Every family carries on a certain tradition during Christmas.  If it has been a tradition in the family to have the Noche Buena with the nanays and the tatays, it would be great to prepare food which many family members can enjoy.

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