You want to enjoy the crazy, busy holiday season, not stress out or start panicking over it. With some planning and good time management, the holiday period can be manageable and even easy breezy stuff.

Nine Singapore women share their tips and tricks on handling Christmas shopping, entertaining and childcare.

 

 Try these nine easy tips from Singapore women and
fret less about party planning and Christmas shopping. Image: Corbis

1. SHOP EARLY
You’ll avoid the crazy Christmas crowds and the last minute rush for presents. Freelance editor Pinky Calica-Vierra, 40, likes buying gifts months ahead and overseas, so that she can score unique items. In one July, she bought cool kitchen gadgets and knick-knacks at Ben Thanh market, Saigon. The gifts were wrapped, labelled, and shipped back here.

2. GO ONLINE FOR GIFTS
Skip the queues and crowds by buying your gifts online. You don’t have to lug heavy bags of presents either; the gifts get shipped to your doorstep. Customer service assistant Yolanda Zhuang, 26, loves shopping for gifts online. She loves the convenience; she gets to shop in her pyjamas. Online shopping is also cost-saving; Yolanda adds that it’s “a great time to take advantage of the low US dollar and euro”.

3. THINK GENERIC WHEN BUYING PRESENTS
Go with generic gifts for different groups of people. Senior marketing manager Criscy Bautista Camacho, 30, says that shopping becomes less of a hassle when she groups her gifts.

She gives her colleagues home-made brownies; her extended family receive gourmet food hampers; her brothers and brothers-in-law get T-shirts. She buys fashion accessories or underwear for her girlfriends and female cousins.

4. PERSONALISE YOUR GIFTS; WHILE KEEPING TO “ONE GIFT FOR ALL”
Be smart about shopping for a group of friends; without giving up the personal touch to your gifts. Claire Miranda, 48, a writer, likes having a theme for her Christmas presents. Once, she wanted to share her love for coffee with friends, so she bought mugs and gourmet coffee beans. In another year, she baked mini rum cakes. Last year, her family gifted home-made calendars; they used her daughters’ travel photos for the calendar design.

5. TAKE COOKING SHORTCUTS
This helps you save valuable time on food preparation; you don’t have to prepare everything from scratch. Singapore HR manager Leanne Chan, 34, usually throws two to three parties each Christmas. She says that cake mixes, frozen berries and veggies, and instant and precooked foods “are a godsend at Christmas”. She makes a list of what to serve and she takes shortcuts without compromising taste or quality.

6. USE A PARTY THEME
This makes your party special and you don’t need to fuss too much over different party planning details.

A couple of years ago, entrepreneur Adeline Yeo, 34, had a Peranakan theme as her house resembled a Peranakan museum. She lit candles all over her courtyard to make it look magical and dreamy. Her female guests appreciated the kebayas that she hung throughout the house; they had fun trying them on and photographing themselves in it.

7. HAVE A SYSTEM FOR PARTY INVITATIONS
Rank the parties according to who the host is, the location, who else is going; attend the ones that are ranked the highest. Banker Jaclyn Ng, 25, says that it makes it less stressful to decide which party to attend, since she gets many party invitations. If she has the time, she would try to dropping in at the low-priority ones. 

8. SIMPLIFY YOUR PARTY WARDROBE
Picking outfits can become a chore when you have too many functions to attend. Invest in a simple black dress, says stay-at-home mum Elsie Chok, 28. Make it look different each time by switching up your shoes, bag and accessories, or adding an interesting twist to it by way of a statement brooch or trendy belt. This way, you’ll get one dress, with many outfit possibilities.

9. LET YOUR KIDS DO WHAT THEY LOVE
Plan activities that match their interest; this will keep them entertained this holiday season. Freelance writer Marie Monozca, 41, enrolled her son, a sports fan, into a sports camp. Her daughter gets beading or painting classes as she likes art.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer December 2010.