15 ways to spend Christmas: Where to shop, staycation and travel

The world’s second pandemic Christmas is upon us—and what a difference a year makes. 2019 was the last normal Christmas we experienced, a time when disposable income was spent on gifts, flights for extended holidays, and family reunions. 2020 was the first new normal, when the traditional Midnight Mass was regulated through churches’ capacity and the government urging people to hold reunions virtually instead of in-person.

Two years since the first COVID-19 cases were first detected in Wuhan, China—we have a Christmas season that’s in between those two years. There’s revenge shopping for the luxury market, discount hunting for everyone, and people want to spend the holidays out of their homes. To be sure, there are more reasons to celebrate and be grateful for Christmas 2021.

Few restrictions remain in place in NCR and we can celebrate with physical reunions, malls are open for shoppers, and the country’s top destinations have removed the RT-PCR requirement for the fully vaccinated.

Here are 15 ways to celebrate the holidays and make merry:

Shopping

Ayala Malls

You just need to walk through Glorietta and Greenbelt in Makati and you will be swept away by the spirit of Christmas. With Rustan’s and SM leading the shopping options in the city, Christmas is an affair for the whole family.

Vista Mall AllHome

As with last year, it’s a mix of online shopping and live events at Ayala Malls. Shopping, loyalty and rewards app Zing,  ANA (Ayala Malls Neighborhood Assistant) and Pasyal guide shoppers through the holiday frenzy.

Glorietta

ANA can handle your purchases from restaurants, department stores and supermarkets and deliver them to your doorstep through Lalamove or you can pick them up at the malls’ DriveBuy stations.

SM Supermalls

Mall of Asia in Pasay has Night of Lights, the first ever Christmas Drive Thru Installation in the Philippines. It is open until Jan 2, 2022 at the Concert Grounds to lead off the celebrations. These include the Holiday Resto Week, SM Christmas Saya Village, and SM Bears of Joy.

SM Mall of Asia

There are ongoing Christmas markets, parks and villages, Santa appearances, character meet and greets, Christmas medleys, magical firework displays and drone shows, and other surprises. Simbang Gabi is still online this year and can be viewed on SM Supermalls’ official Facebook page.

Online shopping is via SM Malls Online. Food and shopping vouchers, and tech deals  abound on its Facebook page, which you can use when ordering.  

Venice Grand Canal Mall

Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall

Surrounded by the brightly-lit buildings of Rockwell Center and its own beautiful décor inside, Power Plant Mall in Makati is a favorite destination for the well-heeled. Apart from its retail partners offering discounts, the mall is raffling off a Defender Range Rover. The raffle is ongoing until Jan. 31, 2022. Shoppers can earn one raffle entry when they spend at least P1,000 in Rockwell Center Locator establishments (Edades, Joya, One Rockwell, and Manansala); P2,000 in Power Plant Mall stores and on shop.TheRockwellist.com.; P3,000 in The Marketplace and Power Plant Mall. Raffle draw is on Feb. 1, 2022.

Vista Malls

Vista Malls’ retail outlets AllHome, AllToys and AllDay Supermarket are offering holiday treats via discounts and bundles. AllHome is offering the best indoor plants for Christmas as gifts while The Coffee Project, the country’s most Instagrammable café, is now serving holiday blends. The Coffee Project’s 2022 Every You Planner is out, which you can send to a friend as a gift. Check out discount vouchers on Vista Malls’ Facebook page.

Megaworld Lifestyle Malls

Venice Grand Canal in McKinley Hill in Taguig features the country’s first and only floating Christmas Tree in its man made canal and the McKinley Hill Christmas Trail, which lights up the 54-hectare township. A fireworks show is held every Saturday of December while Christmas carols are sung live every Sunday. Sunset Market by Mercato, an outdoor food fair, is open from Thursdays to Sundays; StrEAT Market, an open-air food fair, is from Friday to Sunday.

Shangri-La Plaza

Shangri-La Plaza

The upscale mall along EDSA is holding a virtual chorale competition called Songs Around the Tree that’s open to all groups of friends, family, clubs, and organizations. The performance should be recorded via Zoom or Google Meet with a Christmas tree as your background and submitted via google drive, wetransfer to [email protected] The Christmas song can be in English, Filipino, or any native dialect. Shang is accepting entries until Dec. 18. First prize is P25,000, second is P10,000, and third is P5,000.

Staycations

Pen Days of Christmas

The Peninsula Manila in Makati is offering a holiday getaway with the special Pen Days of Christmas room package. For every confirmed stay, the hotel and Looking for Juan will donate an extra book to children from underprivileged communities. The package includes breakfast for two adults and two children ages six to 12 at The Lobby and starts at P6,500 for a Deluxe Room (inclusive of taxes).

Boracay Discovery Shores

It’s always grand at Grand Hyatt Manila

Grand Hyatt Manila

Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig offers a holiday staycation package which features a two-night stay from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, 2022 with your third night free. The offer includes breakfast for two and access to the swimming pool, fitness center, and spa. The Grand Kitchen will have a special menu for Christmas lunch and dinner, for Noche Buena, and Media Noche (New Year’s Eve dinner). It’s priced at P14,934.

A royal holiday at Raffles Residences Makati

Raffles

Raffles’ Royal Holiday Treatment packages start at P9,000 for a one-bedroom suite, P15,000 for two-bedroom, and P24,000 for three-bedroom. It includes breakfast, P1,000 worth of hotel credit per stay, 20 percent off on food and beverage offers, including Christmas and New Year offers at Mirèio and Spectrum (except minibar), and 20 percent off on a la carte treatments at Willow Stream Spa.

Sofitel Philippine Plaza

Sofitel

Sofitel’s Christmas Eve package (Dec. 24), starting at P28,888, includes overnight stay, breakfast buffet for two adults and two children (six years old and below), Festive Christmas Eve Dinner at Spiral for two adults. Its weekend package, starting at P8,888, includes overnight stay with breakfast buffet for two adults and two children (six years old and below), complimentary early check-in (8 a.m.) for guests arriving on a Friday or Saturday, 50 percent discount on late check-out (until 6 p.m.) on Sunday.

Crimson Hotel Filinvest City

Crimson Filinvest

If you want to bring the holiday buffet to your house, Crimson Filinvest’s Café Eight is offering Christmas Home Indulgence selections. Choose from Western favorites of either Beef Wellington or Salmon Coubillac for your main; A Taste of Home featuring local delicacies like Kilawing Tanigue and Slow-roasted Lechon Belly; A Taste of Prosperity with Peking Duck and Slow-braised Beef with Daikon Radish; or It’s Christmas Thai with zesty Tod Mun Goong (deep-fried prawn cakes), Deep-fried Whole Snapper with Garlic, and Sticky Rice with Mango. Café Eight also offers Roast Carving selections good for a party of five, as well as Party Platters for four or eight.

Travel

Boracay

One of the last local destinations to waive the RT-PCR requirement for fully vaccinated travelers, Boracay is getting back on its feet with more tourists spending the season on the island.

Boracay Discovery Shores

Discovery Shores Boracay’s noche buena features an international buffet at the beachfront Sands restaurant for P1,800 (adult) and P1,400 (children seven to 10 years old). For Christmas Day, it’s a selection of modern Filipino dishes plus native and local treats for the same prices. New Year’s Eve features a lavish buffet spread followed by a countdown party with performances by Smooth Band and DJs, priced at P6,300 (adult) and P3,150 (seven to 10 years old).

El Nido 

El Nido Casa Kalaw

Lio Beach’s #TravelBetterTogether packages cater to different budgets. Casa Kalaw has a two-night three-day package with dining voucher at P7,750 per person while Balai Adlao has 10-day and 30-day long stay rates at a daily rate of P3,500 and P3,000 respectively.

Bohol

Bohol Amorita

Bohol’s stunning Chocolate Hills and beaches are reason enough to pack your bags for the holidays. Luxury resort Amorita is offering a year-end sale on all its room categories starting with deluxe room at P6,500 peak and P5,500 off-peak; P7,000 and P6,000 for junior suite; P9,350/P8,250 for one-bedroom suite; P15,600/P14,400 for pool villa; P32,200/P29,400 for two-bedroom pool villa.

Siargao

Siargao White Banana

Siargao has become a favorite place for remote workers. And why not when you can surf on your time off or work on the beach? While there are no particular packages for the holidays, some of the resorts worth checking out are White Banana Beach Club on Tuason Beach, famous for its lively vibe with its restaurant being the epicenter for socialization; Siargao Bleu Resort & Spa with its floating cottages and location near Cloud 9; Romantic Beach Villas with native cottages; and Siargao Island Villas, whose accommodation range from premium rooms to beach suites.

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