Christmas Gift giving

Thursday 22 December 2011
My family isn't very big on gift giving. I guess we're the stereotypical stoic and pragmatic Asian family where unless something is practical, it ain't worth giving. When I delved into my rather murky memories of  Christmases spent in Sarawak (Borneo),  I remembered it was more of a religious event. I went caroling with fellow Joyful Vanguard members (a Christian organization similar to Girls Guide), going to midnight mass at the local cathedral and visiting friends and family. Our Christmas tree was a rather sad looking spindly plant and the presents were empty boxes. My most exciting Christmas was spent with my then unmarried aunts where they whipped up cake after cake through the night with Christmas songs blasting in the background. An aunt took me to a shop just before midnight because we ran out of a vital ingredient for the cake she was baking. Their friends dropped by and I spent the night trying to stay awake so that I can eavesdrop on the grown ups' conversations.

On the other hand, Christmas in New Zealand is such a laidback festival that one could easily think that it was just another ordinary day if it wasn't for the incessant ringing of the cash registers. We would make the yearly pilgrimage to Ponsonby (a suburb in Auckland) to see the houses decorated with lights. Many years ago, we decided to succumb to the commercialization of Christmas and join in the buying frenzy. Well, when in Rome..... or in this case, when in New Zealand....  Boy, we were exhausted. The stress of buying presents for people who may or may not care for them. The practice was duly shelved until the arrival of the little ones. Whose parents were more excited than they were about the presents under the tree.

Fast forward to the present. I'm still somewhat pragmatic about presents. Lil L is beyond excited and spend the days counting the number of presents under the tree. She's at an age where she's happy with little Sylvanian toys, a book and a bag of sweets. We bought her a gigantic doll house last year (I was soooo excited!) but she preferred the cheapo presents instead. pfffft.....  I came up with a list of gift ideas that are neither expensive nor precious. I've finally discovered at a ripe age of 38 that the best presents in the world do not need to be expensive. What's important is the time we spend with our loved ones.

1. Fortnum & Mason fudge £10
I've spoken about them previously. I adore their fudge. These are laden with gazillion calories but heck, you only live once. A word of warning, do NOT order from their website as their customer services is one of the worst I've ever encountered. Missing items, late orders.... BUT do check out their store.

2. Neom organic candles  £37
Neom candles are completely natural and organic. None of those synthetic and poisonous nasties. I find them just as good as Diptyque if not better but far better value for money. Sold at Selfridges and their own website. Their 3 wick candles burn for up to 55 hours.

3. Potted Herbs
I'm a plant killer. What I'd love is to find potted herbs so I can leave them on the window sill and use them whenever I need to. Perfect for those who love to cook.

4. Smythson cards and envelopes £30
I've always found it really handy to have a card or two lying around. Just in case when you have to pen a thank you note or include a birthday card. Smythson is the ultimate place to shop for stationery.

5. Michael Buble Christmas CD £4.99
What's not to like about this dashing old soul crooner who reminds me of Frank Sinatra? It's the perfect music to play during Christmas. I don't know about you but I find it hard to think straight with loud pumping music but a beautiful vocal with a back up orchestra will do me just fine.

6. Bobble  £10.95
I don't like buying bottled water unless I'm in a bind. £1.50 for water? Seriously. I don't care if it came from some magical spring where unicorns reside but water is water. I don't like limescale in my water so these reusable filter in a recyclable bottle is perfect.


  1. Hubs is getting Smythson, Fortnums are in my bad books and I love the smell of Neom candles,

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Aww - Lil'L didn't like her dollhouse? I bought Lil'C one this year. Our family is not big on Christmas gifts either, we just buy gifts for the kids. Happy Holidays my dear!

  3. i love MB's xmas album. it's seriously so soothing to listen to! i preferred the cheap toys when i was young too lol. u get a kid a nice & expensive toy & he'll always be more interested in the box it came in hahaha

  4. I like Michael Buble but this xmas album is a tad disappointing I feel.

    Anyhoo... just popping by to say Merry Christmas to you and your family! :)

  5. I have to admit, I get into that who spend-more mentality when it comes to Christmas although personally, i like to get many little gifts rather than one big one. Those of course, should be reserved for any other day of the year. Hehe.

    I do love these inexpensive ideas, especially the plant. I wish more people gave plants! It's such a lasting gift (unless given to brown thumb here) and so personal, in a way.

  6. Merry Christmas to you, little L and your DH!
    S in NY

  7. just wanted to greet you dear... merry christmas and hope you're having a great holidays!!! xoxo

  8. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  9. Just wanted to say hello! I am a new reader and an instant fan of everything on your blog. I am currently working my way through the archives... so much eye candy everywhere. And I love your style posts!

  10. I am in Hong Kong now and people are even more religious about shopping here than in the UK. It's pretty scary yet contagious. I have been trying to be a mindful shopper for two months now and have been finding it very difficult, yet gratifying and liberating. I really agree with you that it's time that matters most, the gift of love and kindness to the ones you love is ten times more important than something very expensive that they will never use anyway.

  11. Everything you got was such sweet treats to body and soul. Buying gifts for small children can be quite difficult. We only got our daughter a few things this year because she gets bored with her toys quickly and you bet toys are EVERYWHERE. I totally agree with you that the core of Christmas is about spending time with the loved ones. All we really need is a family.

  12. The holidays are too materialistic. I'm so glad she appreciates the simpler things (at least right now hahaha). I love dyptique candles! Thanks for telling us about Neom! I've never heard of them, but love their philosophy! :D

  13. Love love love Neom, so under rated and one of the few genuinely organic brands around. Well done for spreading the word!



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