Buying Gifts? Follow These 5 Gift-Giving Etiquette Rules

Isabel Salvosa

Isabel Salvosa

Last updated November 30, 2023

There’s nothing quite like Christmas in the Philippines. With stunning light displays and holiday decor, the cheerful jingle of Christmas carols, and the mouthwatering aroma of puto bumbong and bibingka, no wonder we celebrate Yuletide festivities for over four months.  

It’s indeed the most wonderful time of the year. But if you add exacerbated traffic problems, jam-packed malls, and multiple monito-monita exchanges to the equation, the holiday season is also one of—if not the—most stressful times of the year.

To make it easy for you, we've come up with a primer on gift-giving etiquette and tips on buying gifts during the holidays. 

5 Gift-Giving Rules of Etiquette in the Philippines

gift giving etiquette buying gifts

Before buying Christmas gifts, check out this quick guide on gift-giving etiquette:

✔️ Don’t Expect Anything in Return

Ever received a gift and awkwardly realized that you have nothing to give in return? If the opposite happens to you this time around, remember that just because you added them to your Christmas list doesn’t mean they have to add you to theirs. The point of gift-giving is to bring joy, not to get a gift in return.

Plus, you never know if someone might just not have the budget for gifts.

✔️  Don’t Overthink the Price

Speaking of budgets—if you’re wondering how much you need to shell out for gifts, the rule of thumb is to spend whatever amount you’re comfortable with. Save the expensive gifts for your loved ones. An acquaintance or coworker might feel uncomfortable with the idea of presents bearing hefty price tags, too.

If you're participating in a monito-monita gift exchange, it's best to settle monetary limits with all parties beforehand. 

✔️ Make It Personal

They say it’s the thought that counts, but don’t show up with a rushed, half-baked present. It might end up regifted to someone else, or worse, thrown in the trash.

Stumped? For easy parameters to follow, consider the 5 rules of gift-giving: get your recipients something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read, and something to experience. You don't have to give each recipient all of these, but this gift-giving tip can certainly help streamline the process. 

In addition, come up with Christmas gift ideas tailored to your recipient’s interests. This is easy if you know your monito or monita well or if they prepared a wish list, but if not, try to (sneakily!) ask around about their preferences. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with useful items such as skincare sets and food gift boxes.

If all else fails, there's nothing wrong with a gift certificate. But do try to make sure it's still in their field of interest—like a Sephora card[1] for a kikay officemate, or a Fully Booked card[2] for your bookworm bestie. 

✔️ Avoid Handing Out Presents in Front of a Group

Say you're meeting up with a group of officemates or friends for a Christmas party. You don't have the budget to buy gifts for everyone, but would still like to get a token for your favorite work buddy or high school bestie. 

In such cases, try to discreetly hand them the gift. Better yet, wait until you two are alone. This is so the others won't feel left out. 

In turn, if you're the recipient, wait until you're at home to open the gift—don't do so in front of others who haven't gotten anything.

✔️ Show Your Appreciation

For recipients, this is the most important rule. Whether you like your gift or not, remember to thank your giver for the sweet gesture.

If you plan to regift the item, make sure to do so with a new recipient who doesn't know the original giver. Also, consider whether they would appreciate the gift more than you did. If not, don't just dump the gift on them. 

5 Tips on Buying Gifts in the Philippines

gift giving etiquette - buying gifts

Searching for the perfect present and witnessing your recipient’s reaction is a key part of the holiday fun, but let’s face it—the logistics of it all can be quite a nightmare, especially if you’re shopping for lots of people.

Whether you’re planning to send individual gifts to family, friends, and colleagues or bulk ones to clients, partners, and employees, read on for tips on hassle-free Christmas shopping.

🎁 Make a List (and Check It Twice)

Think of a Christmas list like a grocery list—you need one to stay within your budget and finish your shopping as quickly as possible. You don’t want to waste time ambling around aimlessly, looking for gifts in the wrong places.

Write down who you’re giving gifts to so that no one gets left out. If you can, jot down gift ideas for each recipient and your price range for each gift. This way, you won’t get any unpleasant surprises once you see the receipt. You can then stay within your Christmas budget.

🎁 Shop Online

Hate the idea of wrestling your way through a throng to find a gift within holiday mall hours, queueing for hours, and struggling to hail a taxi back home while lugging heavy packages around? Do your holiday shopping online instead.

In the past couple of years, online shopping has become the norm. Aside from convenience, you get to enjoy exclusive discounts and perks such as free shipping and cash back.

For even more benefits, use a credit card when shopping online. Here are some of your best options: 

Credit Card Online Shopping Perks
UnionBank Rewards Credit Card
2023 UB Rewards VISA FA
  • 3x rewards points when you shop and dine here and abroad
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱30 spend
Metrobank Titanium Mastercard®
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱20 spend
  • 2x points for online, dining, and department store purchases
  • Convenient 0% installment plans for up to 24 months
HSBC Platinum Visa Rebate
  • 5% rebate on shopping (including online) and travel transactions
  • 1% rebate on insurance, 0.50% rebate on all other spend
  • 6% rebate on the first Caltex transaction and 3% on Caltex fuel purchases for the whole year
HSBC Red Mastercard
hsbc red
  • 4x points on online, shopping, dining, and overseas spend
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱20 spend
  • 0% interest installment plans for up to 36 months
Security Bank Gold Mastercard
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱20 spend
  • eSecure feature for setting limits on online shopping
  • 0% installment plans for up to 24 months
BPI Rewards Card
BPI Rewards Card-1
  • 1 rewards point for every ₱35 spend
  • Up to 100% of your credit limit for your installment purchases with the Bonus Madness Limit
  • Special Installment Plan payments of up to 36 months at 0%
UnionBank Lazada Credit Card
unionbank lazada
  • 6 Lazada credits for every ₱200 spend on Lazada
  • 1 Lazada credit for every ₱200 spend elsewhere 
  • ₱50 free shipping voucher each month at Lazada
  • Free ₱500 discount vouchers for five Lazada sales in a year

🎁 Beat the Holiday Rush

Whether you decide to shop online or offline, do so in advance. As mentioned, shopping in physical stores gets stressful during the holidays. 

Plus, for all its perks, online shopping still has its limitations. What with the massive volume of orders online shopping platforms receive during the holidays, you might end up receiving your own package well after Christmas.

So don’t wait too long, or that perfect gift you’ve been eyeing might get sold out!

🎁 Impress with DIY Gifts

No room left for presents in your budget? Nothing beats a lovingly crafted DIY gift. You’ll simultaneously save money and show your loved ones just how much you care.  

For instance, you can fill a hamper with self-care goodies such as homemade candles and essential oils for that workaholic officemate. If you’re gifting a health-conscious foodie, whip up a gift basket with organic snack bars. Lastly, your K-Pop-obsessed friend will love a package chock-full of photocards and themed merch.

🎁 Send Out Your Gifts via Delivery Apps

gift giving etiquette buying gifts - delivery apps

No time to meet up and give your gifts in person? Thanks to on-demand delivery apps, you can now book online gift delivery in the Philippines, as long as you’re connected to the internet.

For last-minute gift-giving, take advantage of same-day delivery. Certain apps such as Lalamove, Grab, and Joyride also allow multi-stop deliveries if you have several recipients. 

Caught up in the holiday rush and have no time to buy gifts yourself? Use a pabili service, such as those offered by Grab, Angkas, and Lalamove. You can ask your driver to buy and deliver anything on your behalf.

Final Thoughts

Take advantage of precious time with your loved ones this Christmas taking note of these tips on buying gifts. Avoid embarrassing moments at reunions and parties by following the rules of gift-giving etiquette as well. 

Lastly, focus on staying fully present and finding ways to make the festivities memorable and special for everyone. After all, Christmas comes only once a year—make the most of it!

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Before joining Moneymax as its Content Editor, Isabel worked in media and e-commerce for over six years as a writer, content producer, and editor. She specializes in branded content, lifestyle, and entertainment. Isabel holds a bachelor's degree in Communication Arts from De La Salle University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading graphic novels and horror manga and spoiling her cats. Follow Isabel on LinkedIn.


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