In contrast to her busy and complicated schedule, Kris Aquino prefers to keep the holidays simple yet substantial

For the first time in a long time, the Christmas rush isn’t making Kris Aquino drop in utter exhaustion. Finally, there’s no daily talk show to tape, no film festival entry to hustle for: There’s just the upcoming New York trip with Joshua and Bimby, which is Kris’ gift to the boys. “I’m super lucky because they don’t ask for anything. They tell me, ‘Mama, we have everything already.’” The two love to travel, though, and with their previous New York trip proving too short, she decided that a three-week holiday break in the Big Apple would be the perfect gift. “The cold weather leaves me dying, but the boys love it. And when they’re happy, I’m even happier.”

Shift to digital

This doesn’t mean Kris isn’t as busy as ever. Though she made the definitive move from traditional media to the digital world, work continues to be demanding, even during the holidays; she isn’t the Queen of All Media for nothing. “I said the other day that the road of traditional media may have gotten closed, but thank God that a digital skyway opened,” she quips.

Kris trended this year among her main audience of millennials through videos that reveal the more banal yet personal parts of her life, plus the accidental memes generated from her candid and witty Instagram posts that catch on like wildfire. “On digital, authenticity is celebrated,” she reflects. “I’m so grateful that what I have to say and how I say it fit the vibe of what goes on online. It wasn’t really a matter of reinvention; it’s more of being the right fit for this generation.”

Still hustling

On the day of her Shopmag shoot, Kris had to beg off from joining a family mass in Manila to celebrate the birth anniversary of her father, the late Ninoy Aquino. “My sisters have already excused me from attending gatherings,” she reveals a bit sheepishly. “They know that work comes non-stop this time of the year, even until when we get back [from New York in January]. They understand that I have to give this time to the boys; they just told me to make sure we go to mass.”

Holiday spirit

As a working mother, Kris has long mastered the art of getting things done in the most practical way possible, especially in her household. If it’s more efficient to get someone else to do a task, why not delegate—including all the holiday necessities?

Home decorations? She took liberal cues from the Santa-themed displays at SM City San Lazaro—and had everything bought and set up at her home while she and the boys were in the States in early November. “Three trucks of décor came to the house,” she recalls, laughing. “Plus the visual merchandisers who fixed everything. We have four Christmas trees: one each for the boys, one for the entire family, and one for me, because I wanted flowers on my tree. Everything is super cute.”

Gift-giving? Gift certificates are always perfect presents. “I believe you give gifts you’d also want to receive, and I love gift certificates.” As she herself is particular about the things she likes, Kris wants her gift recipients to have the chance to choose what they want. “Everyone, from my nephews and nieces to my inaanaks, is happy to get GCs, because they can use them whenever they need to. Kuya Josh would give them to the manan

Christmas simplified

It’s surprising to hear from someone who obviously loves the good life, but as Kris puts it, “I simplified Christmas.” Even her choice of gifts to receive, while specific, are pretty simple: “Aside from GCs, I like robes that are long and fluffy, because as soon as I get home, I get undressed right away, wrap myself up in a robe, then stay in bed reading or binge-watching. I always tell people not to worry about buying me something for Christmas. Save it for my birthday. I know people already spend a lot for the holidays.”

Scaling down on the festivities seems apt, given the full year she had of adjusting to navigating the online world; spending Christmas with just her boys is the perfect breather for what was and what yet awaits her. “This past year introduced me into a different way of thinking, and I’m so grateful that my team has the youth and fortitude to keep going,” Kris says. “They inspire me.”

Second wind

As for 2018, there’s the release of Crazy Rich Asians, a feat that Kris calls nothing less than “a victory,” and her plans for her growing digital empire. “We’ve signed so many new deals so I’m challenging the staff to continuously improve everything we produce. When we were new to online, [our] authenticity was celebrated. Now, we’re no longer new so the production value has to keep going higher.”

Life is about to rev up again really soon, but Kris won’t have it any other way. “I’m having fun again,” she says with a smile. “It’s a second wind for me, and I’m enjoying it.”

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