Well, it’s that time of the year again. Time for giving and receiving joy, hope, charity, good tidings and, of course, gifts. This year, S and I have picked 12 (well, actually 16, but 4 are in the same category) wonderful gifts ranging from the very affordable to the uber-splurge that we love (own) and highly recommend. And–as we did two years ago, when we first started posting our holiday gift guide–we’ve picked 12 things to signify the 12 days of Christmas. So, happy holidays and happy shopping. (Note that most titles below also a hyperlink to the product or brand.)
1. Eva Solo Fridge Carafe
I personally adore these fridge carafes. The neoprene cases come in 5 brilliant colors (black, red, yellow, blue and green). They’re perfect for keeping your water, juice, milk or other liquids cool. And they look sexy and feel luxurious. They’re also designed perfectly. They sit upright in most fridge door shelves and the rubber stopper keeps your liquids fresh. The bottle has a flip-top lid that helps prevent spillage if you’ve added ice cubes into the carafe for some super cooling.
2. Baccarat Glasses
S is currently obsessed with collecting (thankfully, collecting slowly) Baccarat glasses. Last year, we spent a week in December in Osaka, Japan. While there, we had drinks a few times at B Bar, a stunning Baccarat-owned cocktail bar (it also has branches in Tokyo). All drinks, as you can imagine, are served in gorgeous Baccarat glasses. Since then, S has been determined to have her own collection of cool Baccarat crystal to serve cocktails in. Buy your Baccarat both old and new. While the one on the left is brand new, we bought the one on the right (a vintage Rohan tumbler) on eBay ridiculously cheaply.
3. Black Solstice plastic cocktail shakers from Habitat Bangkok
To help you make those drinks that you are going to serve in those chic Baccarat galsses, you’ll need a couple of cocktail shakers. While it’s great to have one stunning silver one, I find that it’s also very useful to have several cheaper ones lying around. That way, you can make several drinks at one time. These black plastic shakers from Habitat in Bangkok are less then US$5 a piece (on sale that is, they are normally priced at US$10), which makes them perfect for either hoarding at home or giving to friends.
4. Cusipro silicone baking spatula with stainless steel handle
S believes these are the very best spatulas she’s ever used. First, of course, is the silicone, which is heat-resistant, non-stick and a breeze to clean. It also makes this spatula super efficient at scraping every last bit of cake batter from your mixing bowl. Then there’s the great design, the sexy metal handle and all the colors you can choose from (ours is from a couple of seasons back). This is not just a great gift but a kitchen-essential. In Singapore, get your Cuisipro products direct from the distributor, Razorsharp.
5. KitchenAid Stand Mixer
Sure, it’s expensive. But doesn’t your loved one deserve only the very best? The KitchenAid Stand Mixer is THE mixer, the standard by which all other mixers are measured (and the only one your loved one really wants anyway). The fact that it looks amazing and comes in a variety of colors only makes this incredible kitchen-tool that much sexier.
6. Microplane Rotary 39000 Series grater
S and I have tested a lot of graters over the years. And the one we’ve come to love the most is this rotary grater (we’re onto our second one, and this is truly a new and improved version). The easy to use handle makes grating mountains of the fluffiest shavings of cheese the simplest task in the world. Where we used to argue about who would get stuck grating the cheese for pasta dishes and other foods, now we both volunteer for the duty. The 39000 Series grater comes with two blades for grating different kinds of foods. S also loves it because it can be adapted for left-handed use. In Singapore, you can purchase Microplane products from Ruiter Far East. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Teastick by Gamila
Some of the coolest things come in very small packages. S and I love Gamila’s teastick for its size, design and usefulness. The tiny stainless steel tea-steeping tool is slim and sexy. To make a cup of tea, slide open the tea stick, pack your tea in, slide it shut and slip your teastick into a cup of very hot water. When done, remove. The water flows through perforated holes in your teastick, but the leaves stay trapped inside. It’s also easy to wash and dry. And at US$18, you can easily afford to have several, a couple for home, one for travel and one for the office.
8. Some very special books
It’s no secret that S and I love books. Here are 4 that we think make great stocking stuffers this year.
Ashley by Heng San San
Singaporean Heng San San lost her daughter Ashley two years ago. This beautiful child was just seven years old; she was five when she was diagnosed with malignant tumors in her brain. This moving children’s book, illustrated gorgeously by Ximena of Lobster Squad, talks about Ashley and her love for food, how she got sick and then how she came to terms with both her illness and her religious beliefs. This is a very beautiful book. San San self-published it and is selling copies at just S$25. Further, all proceeds are going to a children’s charity in the Philippines. To buy a copy, contact San San at email@example.com.
Happy Now! by Karen Yeo
The story behind this book is also pretty moving. A little while ago, a lovely old woman named Lee Kim Wah was conned of her entire life savings. She had worked for most of her life as a nanny and housekeeper. Karen Yeo was one of the persons who Ms Lee helped raise. When she learned about what happened, she tried to help her get her money back and the conmen arrested, eventually to no avail. Trying to find a way to help Ms Lee get back on her feet, Ms Yeo and some friends decided to produce a cookbook of Ms Lee’s recipes. Friends had always said that her homecooked Singaporean and Malaysian food was some of the best they’d ever eaten. All the proceeds from sales of this book are being given to Ms Lee. To purchase, please go here.
Wine Dinners: Pairing Asian Flavours with Bordeaux Wines by NK and Melina Yong
Dr NK Yong is one of Asia’s most famous wine collectors. His wife Melina is a legendary cook. Over the past two to three decades, these two have been instrumental in introducing fine wine to Asia and in introducing Asia to winemakers from around the world. This is their first book, a small volume that presents 12 wine dinners, each focused on the wines of a very special Chateau in Bordeaux. This book is also special to me as S was the book’s co-author. Wine Dinners is currently only available at bookstores in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and through Swindon’s in Hong Kong. Melina is also auctioning off a private cooking class at the Miele Active Kitchen in Singapore to raise funds for the Children Cancer Foundation. The reserve price for the entire session for 10 people (including a four-course meal with wines) is $3,888. Interested donors are invited to submit their bids (along with their full names and contact details) to Cheryl Yuen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Land of Cocktails by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan
This lovely little tome is written by cocktail divas, Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan, proprietors of the legendary New Orleans restaurant Commander’s Palace. It is naughty and nice, and filled with great cocktail history and recipes that will inspire you to re-introduce the cocktail hour (as it was first practised) into your social calendar.
9. Indonique teas
Indonique Tea & Chai operated a cafe and wholesale busines on Magazine Street in New Orleans prior to Hurricane Katrina. During this horrific storm, the whole business was literally destroyed. Since then, owners Daya and George Constance have moved to Connecticut and re-opened their business. As you can imagine, it’s been tough. Please support this couple as they try to get their feet on the ground again. Their Indian teas are excellent and by buying from them, you’re helping a very worthy enterprise.
10. 1995 Les Echansons from Mailly Grand Cru Champagne
What’s the holiday season without Champagne? This season, I’m drinking a classic Champagne from a classic house. The 1995 Les Echansons from Mailly Grand Cru is simply beautiful. And, for all Singaporean readers, I have arranged a special deal in case you want some for yourself or to send to a friend. This Champagne is normally priced at S$195. I have arranged with the distributor, Estima, to make 14 parcels of 3 bottles available at S$420 nett (including free delivery). That is a savings of S$165. Again, only 14 parcels are available, so act fast. Email email@example.com to place your order.
11. Louis Vuitton European City Guide 2008
I am addicted to these city guides and buy every edition every year religiously. They’re beautifully designed, surprisingly well-researched and just plain cool to have, look at and touch. Every global nomad will love this amazing box set.
12. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
I’ve written before how much I love this little but powerful point and shoot. With easy to use programmes, optional manual controls and a Leica lens, this is the best, small travel camera I’ve found to date. Give it to your favourite shutterbug and make his or her year.