The holiday season in the Philippines is a time of extended celebration, but due to the rising prices of almost everything sold at the supermarket, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But there are plenty of ways to enjoy the four-month long festivities without breaking the bank, and all can still be within reach. Here are some simple tips:

  • Explore local events and attractions: Many parks, business corridors and town centers host a variety of holiday events that are either free or offer discounted admission costs. Whether it's a sponsored mall event, night market, or barangay fiesta, make sure to look out for these activities and take advantage of them.
  • Try crafting handmade gifts: While store-bought gifts are nice and convenient, they can also be expensive. Making something yourself can save you money while still showing someone how much you care. Plus, you can customize your gifts to fit the recipient's taste.
  • Throw a potluck: Instead of going out, why not host something at home? Gather your friends and family for a potluck noche buena! Ask everyone to bring their own ulam or lumpia to share so that everyone gets in on the fun and no single person is stuck footing the bill. Meanwhile, you can provide drinks, decorations, and your signature spaghetti with hotdogs, and you end up spending less for the holidays.
  • Host a game night: Invite your millennial friends over for game night by providing snacks, beverages, and fun activities such as board games or charades. Ask each friend to also bring their own favorite game or activity so that you can have plenty of options for entertainment.
  • Have an indoor movie night: Are your friends not keen on playing games? Then just set up your living room TV and have all of your friends come over for popcorn, your leftover spaghetti with hotdogs, instant milk tea (yes, these things exist), and binge your hearts out on Netflix! Make sure to have cozy blankets and chairs available so everyone can get comfortable during movie night.
  • Plan a low-budget picnic at the park: Get out into nature with your fam by going on a picnic at a nature reserve - perhaps even at Luneta or at your local town square, if that’s your cup of tea. Bring homemade sandwiches, snacks, drinks, games, and plenty of anti-mosquito lotion for lounging around afterwards. It’s an inexpensive way to spend quality time together outdoors. 
  • Go on an outdoor adventure: Get outside with your friends and take a hike, bike ride, or an excursion to your local church! You can find plenty of affordable outdoor activities to do together without spending too much while still refilling yourself with langit points  along the way. Also, being physically active is a great boost to your wellness.
  • Host a virtual hangout: If you can’t all be together physically, host a Zoom hangout instead! You could also set up an online game server on Discord and invite your friends to join in for some video gaming fun.  You can also watch movies or TV shows together, play trivia games, or just chat the night away.
  • Organize a street dance party: If you own some sweet big-ass speakers at home, then it’s time to put on your dancing shoes and have a street dance party! Create a collaborative Spotify playlist and ask everyone to add their favorite tunes so each person can take their turn playing DJ for the night. This is an inexpensive way to get everyone up and moving without having to leave the house, and find out who among your peers have terrible taste in music. But make sure to secure any necessary permits as well as follow health and legal protocols.

At the end of the day, there are plenty of ways to get together with friends and family on a minimal budget by following these simple tips. So make sure to look out for events, explore handmade gifts, and host potlucks to create lasting memories this holiday season. With a bit of creativity and some effort, you can plan fun gatherings without having to shell out cash, because you probably spent your Christmas bonus on gifts anyway.

R Sio

R Sio edits news stories for a financial information services firm. He engages in cryptocurrency trading and meditates at home, but not at the same time. He co-hosts the Feeling Expert podcast.