There is nothing like Filipino Christmas. CNN summarized it perfectly: “The southeast Asian nation has the world’s longest festive season—and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.” However, the nationwide merriment is not without its pains. There’s the “carmageddon” or the Armaggedon-style traffic jam and the overcrowding in malls and other public areas. Here are nine tips on how to enjoy a hassle-free Christmas in the Philippines.
The meticulous Santa
The best ways to have a hassle-free Christmas always involve planning. You don’t really have to brave the roads at the peak of Christmas rush if you’ve planned your shopping ahead of time. If you’re the type of person who love giving gifts, you start your shopping months before the season. You can do this as early as January. Start buying gifts as the year progresses. So as not to consume too much space in your condo, you can go for small or light items that can easily be stored in drawers and cabinets. Buying gifts all year round will also let you choose quality items because you can focus on each recipient. Consider getting gifts for two to three people in your Christmas list every payday.
No stress Noche Buena feast
Stressing over the details of your celebrations defeats the purpose of it all. It’s time to end those exhausting hours cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning up. You can opt for potluck and hold your event in your condo’s function hall. This will save you hours of preparing each dish. Consider food deliveries as well, but place your order early to make sure you are accommodated. Go for recyclable plates, cups, and forks. If you insist on lavishing your culinary prowess upon your guests, consider preparing your Christmas recipes ahead of time to lessen the craziness near the date.
Prepping for Pinoy Christmas celebrations shouldn’t be a one-man task. Involve your entire family, from reserving a venue to the post-event clean up. You can start a Facebook group as early as September where you can share ideas such as your party theme and food. It’s better if you can assign committees with designated tasks. One group will take charge of Christmas decorating, another will work on the program, etc.
Manage the trash
Gift wrappers are one of the sources of garbage during Christmas events. Can you imagine the number of trees we waste for these decorative papers that we discard? Explore other wrapping options, preferably eco-friendly ones. You can use reusable paper bags, boxes, and baskets. You can also consider giving away gifts that do not need wrapping such as gift certificates and cash.
Skip the malls, spend time at home
During the yuletide season, most of the working population are on vacation. This is a grand opportunity to relax and take things slow. Thus, you should find ways of avoiding unnecessary stress such as getting stuck in traffic and dealing with long lines in shops. How to avoid hassles during Christmas? Relax and bond with your family at home. Condo living allows you to enjoy your staycation at its fullest through various lifestyle amenities. You can have a picnic at the open lawn, an afternoon of games at the entertainment room or night swimming at the leisure pool.
Smart Christmas décor
A lot of our time and resources are spent preparing for Christmas, neglecting post-event must-dos. Where will you store your Christmas lights and other décor? What will you do with leftovers from Noche Buena? Before buying any ornament, you should have considered its storage space in your condo. A 4-feet Christmas tree may look majestic in your living room, but do you even have space for it when you take it down? Why not put up stunning wreaths on your doors instead? You can also opt for no-power Christmas lights that use phosphorescent materials. These will save you power and eliminate the risk of short-circuit disasters.
Sometimes, no matter how meticulously you plan the amount of food for Noche Buena, there’s always a dish left untouched. Don’t throw these away. Serve them the following day. You can cook new dishes from leftovers such as lechon paksiw from whatever is left of the roasted pig, or pizza toasts from loaf bread and extra spaghetti sauce. You can also donate food to orphanages or families living in the streets.
Hosting relatives from abroad? Lease a condo unit
Each year, tens of thousands of Filipinos come home to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. It’s expected that hotels are fully booked during this peak season. If your balikbayan relatives are spending the holidays in the city, recommend short-term leasing in condo communities. A fully furnished unit has everything they need, from household appliances to sleeping essentials. They’ll also have access to laundry services and use of fitness facilities and indoor amenities. A condo for rent is more affordable than a hotel accommodation and more convenient than an apartment unit. Plus, you don’t have to stress yourself accommodating guests in your own home. It’s a win-win situation!
Give way for more space
After weeks or months of gift giving and bargain hunting, it’s likely that you’ve increased the number of stuff in your home. How are you going to fit all your clothes, shoes, and other new items in your condo space? Let go of old ones. Grab a large box and revisit your closet. Toss out worn jeans, overused sweaters, and everything else that you barely use. Replace with the new items you got. Do the same thing in your kitchen, living room, etc. You can sell your old stuff or donate them to charity.
Christmas Day may be over, but the festivities will go on for another month. There’s still the Media Noche on New Year’s Eve and other Christian celebrations in January. Take note of Christmas hacks that you can use on every occasion. Plan ahead, delegate tasks, donate your extras, and avoid stress as much as you can. Remember that these festivities are meant for merriment and relaxation. There is absolutely no need to stress over your pre- and post-event tasks.