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The ‘Ber months’ are here. The holidays are just around the corner for a country that celebrates the longest Christmas season in the world. Jose Mari Chan is probably seeing boys and girls selling lanterns on the streets by now.

Apart from festivities such as school or work parties, lunches, family reunions, and barkada get-togethers, there’s one tradition Filipinos love to carry out every Christmas: gift-giving.

Fondly called Monito-Monita, this act of giving presents is a sure hit. Seeing delight in the faces of people you’ve gifted definitely tugs at the heartstrings. It’s the true spirit of Christmas.

If there’s one other habit, though, that Filipinos are fond of doing during the holidays, it’s last-minute shopping. (O, aminin!)

And while we can’t help you with availability of time or money (We’re struggling, too. LOL!), we can try to convince you to break this habit for your own good. Here are 5 reasons why you should shop early for Christmas:

1. You can avoid the crowds and long lines.

Expect a huge crowd of people shopping for gifts in malls, bazaars or even road shops just a few days or weeks before Christmas. “‘Di-mahulugan-ng-karayom” levels. Get ahead of everyone. Shopping as early as you can save you energy and time. Lots of it. You can go at your own pace and shop without having to tackle anyone to the ground for that shirt in its last size available. You also won’t have to stand in line for hours and counting to pay for your cart full of gifts you still need to wrap. Even your smartphone won’t be able to distract you from major leg pain.

2. You can keep your stress levels at a minimum.

Shopping items for yourself can be stressful enough. More so if it’s for another person so gifting can be inevitably stressful. If you shop early, however, you can keep your stress levels at a minimum. By slowly and consistently slashing off must-buy gifts on your list, you can feel assured that you’re well on your way to anticipating the holidays relaxed and feeling like the most organized person ever. Let’s be real, when you get to avoid crowds and long lines, you tend to be less exhausted.

3. You can put more thought into your gifts.

Avoiding crowds, long lines, and stress means more time to carefully curate your items. Hearing a cousin blurt out a wish to have a specific item in the middle of August can immediately give you an idea of what to get for them on Christmas. That’s one less person to think about. Personalizing your gifts are much-appreciated, too, especially if you have a knack for DIYs. Go extract your creative juices for unique and memorable giveaways. Your own travels can be another source of presents. Whether it be local or international, surely there’s a gift your loved ones would love to have a share of your adventures.

4. You can save money. REALLY. 

Shopping for Christmas presents throughout the year means more chances to save money. Instead of being dependent on holiday sales and splurging for items all at once, be on the lookout for other promos the whole year and seize the opportunity. You might be surprised at your accumulated savings. Think of it as spreading out your expenses throughout the year, much like how you diligently give money for a paluwagan. Emptying your wallet or using the entirety of your Christmas bonus is not exactly the wisest move to make, too. Remember: May next year pa, besh!

5. You can fully experience the joy of Christmas.  

Once you’ve got your time, money, stress, and gift ideas under control, only then can you fully experience the joy of Christmas. Having undivided attention for your family, friends, and relatives makes meaningful conversations and connecting easier. Catching up on each other’s weight can also be quite fun. But all kidding aside, don’t kill the holiday happiness by juggling holiday get-together preparations and attending all the parties while fretting over how you could possibly finish your shopping. Minsan lang naman ‘to sa isang taon, ‘di ba?

Haven’t started on your Christmas shopping yet? It’s not too late!

Illustrations by Madel Crudo

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