If you havenâ€™t figured it out by now through the entries on this blog over the last two Christmases, the holidays are a BIG DEAL around Marketman territory. Besides all the dÃ©cor, the food, the baking, the desserts and sweets, the charities, the parties, etc., GIFTS are a major part of the season. Mrs. Marketman keeps a list of folks we would like to give Christmas presents to each year and at last count that list numbered in the several hundred. Now I know youâ€™re thinking that sounds ridiculous, and perhaps it is, but we try to remember to give all of the folks that make our lives so much easier or more interesting over the course of the year. Of course there are family and friends at the top of the list (literally), then there are the nurses, the market sukis, our butcher, baker and if we had one, the candlestick maker. We give the security guards, school staff, all of our employees and all of their offspring and associated family members. Tennis trainers of the Kid, the doctors, service personnel, lawyers, accountants, etc. All of The Kidâ€™s classmates (she bakes and decorates gingerbread cookies herself) as well as neighbors and business associates. The presents need not be elaborate, a banig bag with 6-8 homemade budbud kabog, for instance, or a bilao of tortasâ€¦ But we try not to forget anyone (though I am sure we do nevertheless)â€¦
For â€œbulkâ€ presents, Mrs. Marketman or myself hit Divisoria to buy windbreakers or bags or umbrellas by the dozen. Despite the bulk purchases, we always try to look for something that will be needed by, or suits the intended recipient. I have gotten so good at bargaining in Divisoria and I buy â€œwholesaleâ€ or a minimum of a dozen of anything at a time â€“ caps by the gross, dozens of polo shirts, wallets, bags, etc. For our annual staff Christmas party, I try and make sure there is a bounty of gifts, because somehow, it always seems better when there is a full treeâ€¦ it really isnâ€™t about giving expensive items, it is about getting the right items and presenting them with care. But the purchasing or making/baking/cooking is only the beginning, wrapping hits a frenzy around early December and a veritable assembly line is set-up in a corner of the house. We get tons of carboard boxes and papel de Japon and everything gets boxed (except irregular shaped items) and labeled. Next they are wrapped by us or the crew.
I try and make sure we have at least 15-20 different varieties of wrapping paper every season. Again, the visual feast below the tree is so much more stunning if you have variety. My personal favorites have always been Italian papers from Venice and Florence, with their stunning designs and colors and sometimes gold accents. They are so sumptuous and promisingâ€¦ I used to stock up on these papers for very special gifts and at 1-2 Euro a piece (albeit nice large sheets), they are rather pricey. Two years ago however, I stumbled across a great sale where the papers were marked down to about PHP25 a sheet and I bought nearly everything the store had in stockâ€¦and that was in July of that year! Talk about thinking forward! I also buy tons of paper in Divisoria as well as close-out sales in departments stores when traveling. Itâ€™s safe to say that there are always several dozen if not hundreds of sheets of Christmas wrapper under the beds somewhere in our home. We also have a stockpile of ribbons, ranging from the brilliant ones you find in Divisoria to the finest grosgrain ribbons I get while on trips to near and far. Last time I checked, if I included the curling ribbons that we have in 15 different colors and which cost just a few centavos per meter when purchased in bulk, we had enough ribbon to stretch from our home in Makati to the Alabang Town Center or the Quezon Memorial. I am not kidding.
So whatâ€™s the big deal? The presents are going to be ripped open anyway, you say? Why waste any time on the wrapper and ribbon? Well, my answer to that is that I just like to do it, and I think it makes the whole process of gift giving so much more satisfying. And since the presents sit under the tree for several days or weeks, it adds to the whole festive feel. Almost every present gets a ribbon, including the raw hide bones for the pet Labradorâ€¦ And if you think in bulk, I suspect we spend FAR LESS on wrapping each present than folks who buy 6-8 pieces of wrapping paper at National Bookstore (PHP12 each vs. PHP3 in Divisoria) or have their presents wrapped at the stores themselves (one candle shop in Glorietta IV last week almost nailed me for PHP120 for wrapping a candle â€“ I was so annoyed I decided not to buy the bloody candles at all!). So I guess you could be rolling your eyes with the this postâ€¦and I am willing to concede that there are two types of folks on the planetâ€¦ those that worry about the wrapper and those that donâ€™t. Whichever camp you may fall into, I do hope you have a great Christmas!