The Philippines has one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world.
Come September 1, people start their Christmas shopping, and Jose Mari Chan songs are piped out at malls.
September is also the month some homeowners begin decorating their houses for the most wonderful time of the year. One of the best places to shop for holiday décor this early is Dapitan Arcade, as this Quezon City bagsakan of decorations overflows with Christmas items at the beginning of the "Ber" months.
Here, you can get Christmas tree decorations for as low as PHP200 per pack of 20 ornaments.
But before you head to Dapitan, map out a game plan, as the area can get overwhelming (and crowded).
Here are interior designer and Real Living stylist Dagny Madamba’s tips on how to do your Dapitan holiday shopping:
1. Don’t go too early
You might want to get a head start on shopping, or maybe just to avoid traffic, but Dagny advises not to visit Dapitan in the morning, and to go after lunch instead, as most of the stalls open in the afternoon.
2. Go shopping with a Christmas theme in mind
"Think na of what holiday décor theme you want, whether it’s classical, rustic, all-white, crafty, or Pinoy," says Dagny, who cautions that you might get overwhelmed by the sheer number of style choices on display. "It’s easier to shop when you know what you want."
3. Don’t forget to bring sturdy tote bags
"If you’re planning on buying breakable items or glassware, bring your own sturdy tote, because the tinderas usually just wrap the items in newspaper and put them in flimsy plastic bags."
4. Canvas before buying
Dagny cautions: "There are a lot of items on sale that are the identical, so go to other stalls first, to see which stall is cheaper—usually some are much, much cheaper than from the last stall, even without haggling!"
5. Start first at the Dapitan Tiangge
If you’re looking specifically for holiday décor, hit Dapitan Tiangge first. This is a large, pink warehouse located outside the main Dapitan Arcade.
It is chockfull with every type of Christmas décor imaginable, from specialty tree ornaments and glitter wreaths, to giant Santa Claus and reindeer figurines.
But don’t miss the miniature Christmas villages and music boxes that they sell there, which are just magical-looking.
The ceramic carousel music boxes start at PHP350 apiece, but the more elaborate villages can cost from PHP4,000 to as high as PHP25,000!
6. Stock up on Santa Claus
You can find papier mache and polychrome Santa Claus figurines aplenty in almost every stall and outdoor corner of Dapitan, but do hit Stall A-48 at the Dapitan Tiangge for the best selection of Santas.
Get your fill of Santa tree ornaments, medium to big figurines, and hanging Santas starting at PHP150.
7. The bigger decorative items are outside
If you’re looking for Christmas trees and large decorative items, head to Kanlaon Street just outside Dapitan Arcade. A five-foot-tall Christmas tree costs P2,500 and up. It’s also nice to visit this place at night, as it is literally glowing with Christmas lights from the stores.
8. You have to be brave enough to dig up things
Lastly, Dagny advises that you have to sift through a lot of items to find what you really want, so take your time.
"You really have to sort through the piles of items. Don’t be afraid; maraming diamonds in the rough."
Happy Christmas décor shopping! Visit Dapitan Arcade at 37 Dapitan cor. Kanlaon Sts., Laurges, Quezon City.
This story originally appeared on RealLiving.com.ph.
*Minor edits have been made by the PEP.ph editors.