1. Misa de Gallo
A favorite Filipino tradition of mine. It may be difficult to complete the nine-day dawn masses if you have to attend countless Christmas parties, but it sure is worth the effort. Imagine all the yummy native treats you can purchase after Mass. Bibingka, puto bumbong! Misa de Gallo jumpstarts the holiday season for me, lest we forget the true reason for the season.
2. Secret Santa
Not too long ago, my family and I decided to start a Secret Santa way of gift giving. We’ve always enjoyed giving our siblings presents that are sure to impress the recipient. With this in mind, we are also conscious of not blowing our budgets on presents. A few ground rules: one, we create our own wish lists. That way, the gift giver is sure to buy something that is appreciated. Two, we require a minimum amount to be spent. Come Christmas Eve, we are all so excited to guess who our secret Santas are as we open our presents!
3. Trim the tree.
Many of us are more than stay-at-home moms nowadays. Whatever our work may be, it is a wonderful idea to get the children together and decorate our Christmas trees. I set aside an afternoon and turn on some holiday music to set the mood. It gives us great quality “catch up” time.
Create your presents from recycled materials instead of buying them. What better time to let your creative juices flow!
5. Shop at bazaars.
Manila is one of the few cities that can claim to be the mecca of Christmas bazaars. You will find one-of-a-kind gift ideas from up-and-coming entrepreneurs and get a chance to be a socially responsible shopper. Many charitable organizations join these bazaars and sell sustainable products and gift ideas you can purchase that benefit their causes.
3. Visit a charity of your choice with your children.
In this age when our children’s needs have already been fulfilled, it is nice for them share their blessings with the less fortunate. Visiting a children’s charity like CRIBS Foundation to give presents or to just take time to play with the kids is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.
7. Bake your gifts.
A great gift idea that comes from the heart. You and your child can bake goodies to give to friends and loved ones instead of buying presents!
8. Build a home with Habitat for Humanity.
It is never too early to teach your children how to be charitable with their time and their skills. Children enjoy building things, so it’s the perfect opportunity to show them how to build a home for a family who needs it.
9. Tour the city.
It was always a treat for my siblings and me to see the Christmas decorations at night. We’d all get in the car after Noche Buena and our father would drive us around to see the decorations that had come up for the season. Check out Greenhills Shopping Center, Araneta Center, and Ayala malls. They all have wonderful Christmas displays that are a feast for the eyes.
10. Take a break!
With all the hustle and bustle of the season, we tend to get caught in the moment of chaos. Stop. You have made your list. You have checked it twice. You have bought everyone something nice. Find a nice little neighborhood café and sit down. Order a wonderful cup of coffee and an ensaymada. Inhale and exhale.