How to make Christmas shopping less stressful

When the most wonderful time of the year comes rolling in, it’s easy to rant about the horrendous traffic, prices going up, the impossible task of booking a Grab or hailing a cab, and all the get-togethers we’re squeezing in after years of lockdown and social distancing. And with only one week left before Christmas, your anxiety might be hitting the roof if you’re not yet done shopping for gifts. 

Let’s all take a breath. Not being able to cross everyone off your list won’t be the end of you or the holidays. Here are a few tips to help you get through the Christmas shopping rush to make sure you’re still feeling joyful on the 25th.


Let’s get real with our budget. 

A lot of holiday stress comes from how much money we have to spend on gifts, Noche Buena, and all the potlucks and dinners we’re going to this season. 

Be honest with yourself and determine how much your total gift budget will be and how many people you’re giving gifts to. You can either divide your budget equally among their gifts or assign an amount to each one then stick to it. Try to spend cash, Gcash, or use your debit card. Leave the credit card at home so you can stick to your budget and avoid overspending. (Nobody wants to greet the New Year with a credit card debt.)


Shop more mindfully.

Sometimes in our rush, we can end up just buying a generic gift for groups of people without thinking if they can actually use it. If you don’t know them very well, try to look for something they need, something they’ll be sure to use.

If you find something on sale, make sure it’s worth your pesos. Getting a bargain of something that you didn’t intend to buy or you yourself will not appreciate receiving as a present is still unnecessary spending. 

(Mindful shopping also means finding and supporting good businesses, here are a few things to look into.)


Think of alternative gift-giving ideas.

You’re most likely not the only one trying to stick to a budget so suggest exchanging handmade gifts (look for some DIYs here) or doing a white elephant exchange gift (usually an unused and unwanted item in the house or a recycled gift). 

Just make sure your white elephant can be something useful to other people. Steer clear of gag gifts as white elephant if you’re spending your hard-earned cash; especially if the recipient will likely chuck them into the bin along with the gift wrappers once Christmas is done.

Share an experience.

Many people end up decluttering after the holidays or at the start of the year. If you don’t want to possibly add to the clutter or want to give something more memorable, think of giving friends or family something they can do or that you can do for them. 

Treat your friend to a spa date or go on a pottery class together with your sister. You can also offer to drive them around one weekend and help them out with their errands that day (with the cost of gas these days, that’s a gift that anyone can appreciate.)

Plan ahead for next year.

Christmas is typically the most expensive time of the year and whether or not you have a 13th month or a bonus, it’s still a good idea to set aside a monthly budget for your gifts. You can also start preparing your holiday gift list. This way the holiday spending doesn’t sneak up on you, you’ll have more time to relax, and hopefully it can reduce the stress of Christmas next year. Hey, we can always hope.

—written by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications including a teen fashion mag and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermentation and eating more plants!