FFE Magazine

How to avoid the Christmas gift Trap

Its again the season for gift giving. If we are going back home to the Philippines for the holidays you need to have pasalubong for your friends and relatives. If you are not travelling back, you still need to send some gifts to your relatives back home and also buy for family and friends near you. The rush and the stress of the season could push us to shop and buy gifts irresponsibly.


Tips to overcome the gift trap



So how do we avoid overspending for gifts ? Thankfully, the Christmas gift trap can be overcome in many ways. Here are just some of them:


Make a list and check it twice. Just like Santa Claus and his list of naughty and nice, create a list of people whom you would like to send a gift to. Mark off significant loved ones like your family, spouse or lover, in-laws and best friends. Then make a separate list of acquaintances and the extended family. To save up on balikbayan box space and money, buy ‘bulk’ gifts like assorted chocolates to give to groups of people.




Budget your money. After writing a list of people, work on a rough budget for each person or group. To do this, consider the requests they have made or the type of gift you’d like to give them and the item’s price. Once a person has been assigned a gift, don’t be tempted to add more to the gift. For example, if you’re buying each member of your family a gift, then there’s no need to give them a group gift like chocolates or other items.



Prioritise your receivers. After assigning an item and price for each receiver, tally the total expense. If it goes over your target budget, then make adjustments. If you find that you can’t adjust the price, then you can subtract people from your list. This may mean hurting some family and friends, but just be honest and say you’ll get back to them in another balikbayan box. Rescheduling when to give your gift is also a good way to wait for better discounts and sales that may come after the Christmas season.




Look for sales. Many stores go on sale or give season discounts way before Christmas. Anticipate them to get a better price on items. Before buying your gift, it is also better to look for cheaper options. For example, assorted chocolates cost differently depending on the brand and the shop. When it comes to gifts for your balikbayan box , being specific does not matter as long as the item came from outside the Philippines. This means you don’t have to buy the most expensive brand; settle for an inexpensive but locally made item.


Don’t be tempted by payday loans. Payday loans are typical fall-backs for those who find themselves cash-strapped during Christmas sales. They are very convenient; however, interest rates may be too heavy to pay off within the agreed period.




Use loyalty points or vouchers. After writing your list, the next thing to do is to look for vouchers. Now is the time to spend these accumulated loyalty perks. Points and vouchers are the ‘hidden’ benefits of being a loyal shopper and can do wonders for your holiday season shopping. Before planning to use them though, ask first if the shop will honour points and vouchers during Christmas shopping season.


Go slow in cards-only transactions. Most transactions are now done through cards. In these cases, it is better to use debit than credit cards because you have better control of the flow of cash. Credit cards not only make you feel like a limitless spender, they also have interest rates that you’d have trouble paying off months after Christmas is over.




Choose reputable online shops. Online shops are common shopper’s havens in this season because shopping centres tend to be crowded and stressful to visit. But before clicking ‘buy,’ make sure you are only dealing in reputable shops. In addition, make sure you’re using a computer with the latest anti-virus software to prevent your personal information from being stolen.


Be aware of fake goods. Genuine products are always better because they are less expensive to maintain in the long run. Fake goods may be very cheap compared to their counterparts. But because they are made using cheap materials and substandard processes, they take damage easily. Genuine products can also give you long-term protection from damage like warranties.




Ship your pasalubong through a reputable forwarder. Get recommendations when the time comes to look for a forwarder as there are reports of many scams involving balikbayan boxes, especially during peak seasons like Christmas. Don’t fall for scams that promise half the price for shipment of a box. Reputable forwarders charge a high price for shipment because they also pay for customs duty and taxes. Fake forwarders offering discounts may not only deliver your boxes to loved ones, they may also turn a profit from the goods you carefully planned and spent for.


Gifts for hosts




Christmas is not only the time for gift giving, it is also time for feasts and dinners with friends and neighbours. One important ritual not to miss when attending these get-togethers in Europe is to give hostess gifts. These can be small items like candles, desserts, flowers or wine.

Hostess gifts are best appreciated when they come from your country of origin. Here are some inexpensive hostess gifts you can give this Christmas:

If you are being invited to potluck dinner, it may be good to bring a Filipino dish to give your host a taste of our culture.

Souvenir items from the Philippines.  We always have some native bags, wallets that we bring back every time we visit the Philippines.





At a time when many Filipinos are still in need of help after the devastation brought by typhoon Yolanda, you can opt to channel your gifts to make a personal contribution to typhoon victims instead. Not only will this option keep you away from the stress of holiday shopping, you can also brighten up the Christmas of those who need your help or donation most.


Christmas is the season of giving, and it is important not to forget to give yourself a treat. Do this by not falling into debt trap with over spending when buying gifts.  Shop smart this Christmas, and carry over all these tips to your shopping lifestyle. This way, you can ensure a better financial future!


Do you have other tips that will help fellow Filipinos avoid the debt trap that comes during Christmas? What alternatives can you suggest to popular buys this season? Have you yourself been in a debt trap because of Christmas gifts? How did you get out of it, or what are you doing to get out of debt? Share your thoughts by commenting below!





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