How to create holes in complex geometry?

Hi, let me explain my situation.
I’m modeling the sword below and I wish to make the 3 circle-shaped holes in the guard. I’m aware that Boolean in a thing but I’m often told to avoid it.

I also want to texture this sword after, specifially using Substance Painter, so it’s important that the UVs don’t get ruined.

Thank you in advance!

I’d do a booelan cut and clean up the topology afterwards manually, including the UVs