Here’s to no-stress Christmas shopping!

Published November 20, 2021, 4:00 PM

by AA Patawaran

This storied department store has since 1952 specialized in things that make you—and the recipients of your generosity—feel very special inde

GOLDEN XMAS In photo: Beaded pearl ornament at Rustan’s Christmas Village. Cover design by Jules Vivas

We’re going to have Christmas at last, the first proper Christmas since we made the acquaintance of the Party Pooper of our time—COVID-19. So get your pens and paper ready. We’re making a list.

If you don’t want to stress over picking the right gift, go to Rustan’s, the storied department store that has since 1952 specialized in things that make you—and the recipients of your generosity—feel very special indeed.

A few years before the pandemic, having given up on any chance to complete my Christmas list, I somehow found my way to Rustan’s on Christmas Eve. I only had a few hours left before Noche Buena, followed, as my family had practiced since my parents decided to have a family of their own, by the exchange of gifts.

TIS THE SEASON TO SHOP Rustan’s Makati facade, photo from this year

But no time, no problem! Rush hour was done. The rest of Metro Manila was winding down for the last cocktail before Christmas—and I had the entire department store to myself, accompanied only by a retinue of sales attendants pointing me here and there, showing me this and that for anyone on my list. No longer busy with other shoppers, these angels-turned-sales attendants also gave my choices the finishing touches in Rustan’s iconic wrapping paper in its signature blue or red tied with a single-bow gold ribbon.

I honestly have no recollection of buying Christmas gifts last year. Many of my friends were too afraid to venture out. As for my family, I think Santa, being a senior citizen, did not quite make it past the checkpoints, either, so he left cash.

This year, I think, I hope, I pray, it’s different. We’re going to have Christmas at last, the first proper Christmas since we made the acquaintance of the Party Pooper of our time—COVID-19. So get your pens and paper ready. We’re making a list (and checking it twice).

What to get the girls

For these girls, naughty or nice, why not Criselda Lontok’s Martha floral caftan or Luna’s V-neck printed satin blend dressing gown? It’s perfect if, taking advantage of the easing of the travel bans, you plan to spend Christmas out of town, say, Punta Fuego or Tali Beach.

But Christmas in the city is just as lovely an idea, now that we are no longer prisoners in it. You can’t go wrong choosing a Bardot Jordan’s lace dress, a standout piece, plus a compact Coccinelle handbag for good measure, for a sophisticate. Check out also the top-to-bottom outfits at Lady Rustan that a cosmopolite sure could use, whether on a Google Hangout or even out on the town, mask on and socially distanced. The new arrivals at Natori, such as the Takara fluid crepe shirtdress or the Haru cotton poplin topper, or the new styles at Elie Tahari, such as the metallic tie shirt or the scarf print buttondown, will sure make a welcome surprise in a gift-wrapped box for your stylish friends, but so do the basic tops at Etika Collective. The Sitara Vintage headband would be a nice pick too. 

A beauty gift set is fail-proof and, at Rustan’s, you have many choices, such as the Acca Kappa White Moss Gift Set and L’Occitane Festive Cocoon Collection packed with various bath and skincare goodies. Or go all out and get the women you treasure with their signature Chanel scent or the age-defying creams they swear by like Estee Lauder’s ReNutriv or Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Lotion, replete with a scented candle from Diptyque. If you know what they love, they will love you better.

What the boys like

Men won’t ever tire of wireless headphones and Bluetooth speaker, so take your pick from a broad range of styles and sizes from JBL, Sony, Philips Audio, and JLAB. Take a good look at Swedish designer brand Mooni, whose speaker lanterns might be a great addition to the man cave.

GAMING MUST-HAVE Black and blue JLAB Ply gaming headset

At the risk of sounding macho in this age of fluid sexuality, I would suggest Powerbanks and other accessories for phones, tablets, and Bluetooth speakers, like Mophie’s three-in-one wireless charger, Anker’s PowerCore III Sense 10K Wireless charger, and Nomad’s USB-C Cable, for men-on-the-go, but these things should be precious too for women running in heels.

Clothes are never easy, if you’re buying for a man, but as long as you stay practical, it should be no problem—New Balance sneakers, for instance, or everyday shirts from Pedro del Hierro and Hackett. Lest we forget, grooming is essential for today’s man, so you might want to put the battery-operated Mobile Shave in the gift box. It’s compact enough to be brought anywhere.

What makes kids happy

Ah, kids. Don’t we all love shopping for kids? More than anyone else, the kids have been locked up too long. Now they’re free at last. If you have kids, from whom two years of childhood have been robbed by this pesky virus, take them to the beach this Christmas. Or if you want to wait until it’s safer to do so, like after the holidays, buy them any or all of the pieces in Banz’s playful collection of swim trunks, rash guards, swim tops, and bikini bottoms. They’ll know a beach trip is in the offing and it’s going to make them jump for joy when they open their gifts. Don’t overlook the printed sunhats and polka dot wrap-around sunglasses too.

For babies, let your friendly Rustan’s shopping assistant show you some of the nice things at Indigo Baby, Orange & Peach, or Buds and Blooms or honor the babies’ mothers with breast pumps from Avent, breastmilk storage bags from HoneySuckle, nursing pads from Baby Moby, or Mamaway maternity pillows, nursing bras, and support belly bands. Happy mommy, happy baby, you know.

Something for the home

Home gifts are the best this season. We’ve spent too much time at home we could use a few touches to make it feel new again or to give it more power to keep us safe, entertained, relaxed, and, well, at home.

Why not the rayon-from-bamboo duvet set from Malouf? It’s silky soft, gentle on the skin for life-giving sleep and, better yet, for waking up in complete luxury. Or why not a Noblesse whisky set from Nachtmann for washing away the stresses of the day?

The kitchen is where it’s at, the most important activity that keeps us going through these challenging times, so a Cuisinart’s Precision Stand Mixer or Tefal’s 10-in-one Rice Multi Cooker is a perfect gift. So is Amefa’s Baguette 24-piece set, replete with knives, forks, and spoons for various purposes, plus a gravy ladle and a cake server, especially if the recipient is a just-married couple. Seletti table mats are sure to brighten up the main bonding room, meaning the dining room, with their pops of color and fun designs.

If these tips do not make shopping for gifts any easier for you, then leave it to Rustan’s Christmas Gift Registry. Just ask your friends and family to sign up, if they haven’t yet, at to generate a Registry ID (email [email protected] for inquiries). You better sign up, too, in case your peeps want to repay your generosity.

There are many other options to make it easier, such as with the help of a personal shopper. Just dial the Personal Shopper On-Call hotline 0917-111-1952 during shopping hours, and the rest is done, including delivery to your doorstep for a minimal fee, depending on where your doorstep is in Luzon, Visayas, or Mindanao, or even free of charge for a minimum purchase of ₱5,000.

Happy shopping!