It’s been a tradition for Filipinos to hold noche buena meals and give gifts to friends and loved ones on Christmas Day. This practice is supposed to be enjoyable and festive, but sometimes it brings financial problems.
Christmas festivities are the most extravagant among Filipinos’ celebrations. In general, we give the most expensive gifts to our loved ones during this time. This brings problems if we are not careful and spend beyond our means. I’ve also experienced this. My sister gave me a gift that was twice the price of what I gave her or my relatives who wanted Christmas gifts because I’m the only one in the family working in Manila.
Some people go as far as spending almost all of their 13th month pay to buy Christmas gifts for others or themselves.
Not being generous on Christmas will get people to think that you are being stingy and have no sense of pakikisama. We want to avoid this, so we just go with the flow despite these traditions often making a dent on our budget.
However, there are ways to save money and still give gifts to your loved ones this holiday season.
Redeem credit card points for free items. Check with your bank if you have unclaimed credit card points that you can use to get free items from partner establishments, such as free restaurant gift cards and spa treatments.
Make homemade gifts. You can make homemade pastries such as cookies and fruitcakes that can be given to your loved ones for their noche buena feasts. Just remember to use neat packaging.
Use gift cards you got throughout the year. If you have unused discount cards and gift certificates, you can give them as gifts to your friends and family. The receiver will appreciate this because you are giving them the option to choose their gifts.
Re-gifting is counter-cultural for most Filipinos, but you can do this if you want to save money, and as long as you won’t feel guilty. The trick here is matching a gift with someone else who will appreciate it. Make sure the person does not belong to the same social circle as the gift giver.
With the right strategy and planning, you can definitely give great gifts to the people you are grateful to this Christmas season, without compromising your budget.
Kristel Silang is the content manager of MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.