Hassle-free Christmas shopping tips

by Monique Lachica, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2011 11:46 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2011 12:40 AM

I am done with my Christmas shopping. Call me an aberration but I've discovered the secret to hassle-free shopping, even with a long list of people to give presents to and a tight budget. 

The key is planning ahead. And with still a little over a month to go, you still have enough time to get your shopping done, keep spending down, and enjoy picking out gifts for the people on your list. 

But you have to start with the list.

1. Make a list

Even Santa does it and he checks it twice.  Make a list of people you want and need to give gifts to: your family, inaanaks, friends, co-workers,  neighbors. Don't forget your household help, labandera, the manong who comes regularly to tend to your front yard, the mailman, and the basureros. Budget or allot an amount of what you will spend per person.

It also helps if you already have an idea of what to give a particular person. This way, you save time and money if you know already where to go and what to buy instead of hopping from store to store looking for the perfect, inexpensive gift. 

Remember to stick to your list and budget. When out shopping, bring only the cash you need because it is easy to get carried away by the huge discounts and you may end up buying more than you intended. If you do spend more on one item, find a better deal for the next item on your list.

2. Keep an eye out for sales

You don't need to fight the madding crowd in Divisoria to get good bargains. There are a lot of good finds in department stores and shopping malls. Most stores have items marked down year-round. They just don't announce it.  Look for the yellow or orange-tagged items. Some of these items are even cheaper than those in Divisoria. What's more, they're branded and often, of better quality. Department stores also offer free gift wrapping.

Retailers as well as suppliers also hold warehouse sales during the last quarter of the year. They usually announce the sales in social networking sites so you have to browse these regularly. You can also sign up for sale alerts via email.

At warehouse sales,  items are marked down by as much as 80%.  Here's a list of  those having their sales this weekend :

Gingersnaps and Just G -  starting November 14 until December 29 at Warehouse 19, Armal Compound 2, M. Eusebio Ave., San Miguel , Pasig City. Open from  Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Mossimo from November 17-18 at 76 Valencia St., Brgy Valencia, Quezon City. Open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Richwell's Kids Kraze Warehouse Sale on November 18-19, 25-26, December 2-4, 9-11 and 16-20, 2011 at 34 Scout Torillo corner Scout Limbaga, Quezon City . Open weekdays and Fridays (1:00pm to 6:00pm) and Saturdays and Sundays (9:00am to 6:00 pm).

Big Garments Sale (Gap, Old Navy, etc) from November 17 to 20, 2011 from 8:00am to 6:00pm at Star Trends Apparel Corp, Blk 4 Lot 3 Acefree St, Sterling Industrial Park, Iba, Meycauayan, Bulacan. Sale is for members only but membership is free so you can call  Divine at  299-6100, 299-6061 or text her at 0908-8742059 for more information.

3.  Buy in bulk or wholesale

If you're buying for a group, get one item for all, instead of buying individual gifts. Not only will this save you time, you're likely to get a discount if you buy wholesale.

Buy also one or two extra generic gifts for people you may have forgotten or failed to include in your list.

4. Ask for a wishlist

Being practical should not make you feel embarrased. Give your wishlist to friends. Ask for theirs. You are both assured you're getting the gifts you want. Your friends can also pool their funds so they could get you something a little better than what their individual budgets can afford.

5. Organize a Kris Kringle

With finances stretched, more and more people are adopting the Secret Santa tradition in the US and UK. Here, we call it Kris Kringle or Monito-Monita. It's an easy way to save because you just shop for one person. And it works not only in the office but also for families!

6. Play Santa

Shop in your closet! Make a grab bag. Do an inventory of all the things you have stocked up on but don't need or use. Gather them all up in one huge plastic bag, bring it to a Christmas party, then ask people to pick out something they like.

7. Start buying for next Christmas

Once you've checked all the names, save your list for next Christmas.  You can also use the same list for people's birthdays. Then when January rolls around and stores hold their inventory sales to unload old stocks, start buying a little at a time. It's easier on the pocket.  When you see something you think someone will like, don't hesistate.

There's one benefit to having your gifts wrapped up and under the tree weeks before Christmas. You now have the time to enjoy shopping for yourself!