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Just when you thought gifting season is over, along comes another reason for presents – Valentine’s Day.

For those who hate the idea of overpriced flowers and overbooked restaurants, this list is for you. The best part is, you can share these gifts with your significant other, or experience them with your family as a whole.

1. Volunteer at an animal shelter

Photo credit: SPCA

As love knows no boundaries, why not celebrate with some furry friends? You can learn a lot about a person by the way they treat animals. SPCA and PAWS welcome adults and children to volunteer at their shelters. Walk dogs, clean kennels and give your full tender, loving, care to animals in need. You will both leave with a sense of fulfillment, and that is a guarantee!

2. Tour the city

Photo credit: Kuala Lumpur by Hotels.com

Avoid driving and parking hassles by touring the city on the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus. Be a tourist in your own country and visit over 60 places of interest, or go on a gastronomic adventure together. There are two routes for you to choose from depending on the sights you’d like to see. What better way to get to know the city, and your loved one all in a day.

3. Love boats

Photo credit: Cruise Tasik Putrajaya

Some of the best views of Putrajaya can be seen from Tasik Putrajaya. Take a cruise with your better half and sail past more than 20 Putrajaya landmarks. You can opt to take the traditional Lepa-Lepa boat, the Perahu Dondang Sayang or for a modern experience, the air-conditioned cruise boats. There are also several packages to choose from which include meals on board.

4. Sleep under the stars

Photo credit: Tiarasa Escapes

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by going glamping. Operators provide basic hotel facilities, so there isn’t a need to bring any camping gears. Most glamping sites are only a stone’s throw away from the city and easy on the pocket. So, pack your bags and enjoy a romantic night under the stars.

5. Handcrafted surprises

Photo credit: Black Milk Project

If you are not on the artistic side but would like to get crafty, fret not as there are plenty of workshops and classes that will cater to you. You can either sign-up with your partner or surprise them with a handcrafted gift. Create a mini forest at a terrarium workshop. Learn to stitch pouches or clutches made of leather. You can also create a watercolour art piece in a class perfect for beginners.

6. Personalised Perfumes

Photo credit: OLFAC3

The sense of smell is a powerful tool that invokes memories of all sorts. Personalise a bottle of perfume for your partner that is uniquely them. It could range from one that reminds them of their childhood, to one that could take you back to your early days of courtship.

7. Practical gifts for two

Photo credit: Fluffy & Co

If you insist on buying, let it be gifts that you both can enjoy at home. A coffee machine and luxurious linens are practical gifts worth investing. You could also create a romantic Spotify playlist and listen to songs via a new Bluetooth speaker. For those with a tub at home, set up a bath with Malaysian-made paraben and cruelty-free bath bombs. While you’re at it, light up the room and your moods with his and her candles.

8. Escaping dinner

Photo credit: @breakfastthieveskl

Instead of the usual candlelight dinner, start the day right with a breakfast date. We are not talking your typical ‘mamak’ brunch. There are plenty of restaurants that offer hearty breakfast meals. Breakfast is almost always cheaper, relaxed and there isn’t a need for reservations. With a full belly, head on home and snuggle up while watching romantic (if not cheesy!) Valentine’s Day movies on Netflix.

9. Be one with nature

Photo credit: Broga Hill Facebook

If you like romantic adventures, begin your Valentine’s date with a quick hike up Broga Hill in Semenyih to catch the sunrise. In the evening, head out for a picnic date by the lake and enjoy a romantic sunset together. There are plenty of parks with beautiful sunset views in KL. Be sure to pack insect repellents to keep bugs at bay.

10. Spa with the family

Photo credit: Ozmosis

If you’re not able to find a babysitter at the very last minute, why not celebrate love with the entire family at a child-friendly spa? Keep your children occupied with their Kids Menu of supervised activities and pampering sessions. Enjoy your downtime without the guilt of having to leave your children at home.

Christmas is approaching, but are you still struggling to find presents for the kids?

If you’re anything like me, you might be finding yourself overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choices.

Should you spring for an electronic learning device for the kids, so they don’t get left behind at school? But then, what about too much screen time? What’s Shopkins all about, and why is there so much stuff? And what the heck is a PJ Mask?

Pause right there, fellow parent. Lean back, and take a couple of deep breaths. You know how sometimes you worry that you’re too old-fashioned and traditional? That’s not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to present gifting.

Here are some traditional (but definitely not boring) Christmas present ideas for kids aged three years and older:

Blocks

But what kind of blocks, you ask? The short answer is – any kind. Whether they’re plastic and fit together, or are made of wood, early childhood researchers reckon blocks tick all the boxes in terms of fostering imagination, building (no pun intended) a sense of spatial reasoning and language (above, below, next to, behind), and being something the whole family can do together – regardless of age.

Board and card games

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but my three year-old has been absolutely kicking my butt at a memory card game. It took him a while to get the rules, but for the last two weeks, we have been playing at least a game a night. It has refined his sense of difference and sameness and attention to detail (and mine, too). Memory card games as well as old favourites Uno and Snap are something the whole family can take part in. If you’ve got older kids, snakes and ladders, Operation, chess or even Monopoly can be a great way of building social skills and understanding rules.

Dress-up costumes

Kids love using their imaginations, and it’s a shame not to encourage and nurture it. Feed their sense of wonder and whimsy by stocking up the dress-up box – fill it with gender-neutral costumes or bits and pieces sourced from charity stores or flea markets. Kids of both sexes would love playing make-believe with a stethoscope, firefighter’s helmet, funny hats and sunglasses and capes. Glitter, feathers, sequins and other shiny things are also always a winner.

Science kits

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is very hot right now but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Kids of all ages could learn about biology with an at-home ant farm or butterfly garden. Nurture your little paleontologist’s passion with a dinosaur dig kit, or grow your little geologist’s gusto for geodes with a crystal-growing kit. Got a little stargazer on your hands?

A telescope or a diorama of the solar system you can set up together will have your older child starry-eyed with excitement while kids who are into moving parts would enjoy a build-it-yourself vehicle. The possibilities are to the power of N – that is, an ever-expanding number of possibilities.

Games gear

Malaysia is hot. It’s sweaty, humid and can be downright unpleasant. But let me tell you a secret – the heat doesn’t really bother the kids too much, especially when they’re having fun. Health professionals and researchers recommend kids from one to five years of age should spend 180 minutes a day of physical activity, whereas kids aged five to 12 years should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Encourage them to get out there with games gear. Younger kids can work on their hand-eye coordination by playing ball outside, or attempting to play cricket, tee-ball or football. A basketball hoop and ball or a pair of roller blades (and a helmet!) can get older kids excited. After something the whole family can enjoy? A badminton set will have everyone moving!

 

By Faye Song

Faye Song is a former journalist now working in marketing and communications. She lives in Darwin, where she enjoys the best of Southeast Asia (the food and night markets) and Australia (the workday that ends punctually at 4.21pm), with her husband, toddler and small dog.

Christmas is just around the corner, and if you’re still scratching your head over gifts, here are some ideas that are bound to thrill your loved ones. With a selection of old favourites and local heroes, just try and stop buying something for yourself too.

Mekar (Blusher Cushion – Jambu) from SO.LEK RM49
Laila Woman Top in Green from Whimsigal RM169.90
Norah Pearl (Maroon) from Nelissa Hilman RM187.74
14K Gold Matahari Ring from The Straits Finery RM360
Christmas Cufflinks from Cuffz RM49
Phone troy sleeve from 34 RM105
Men’s body & Grooming Set from Kiehl’s RM160
NMD R2 shoes from Adidas RM580
Meadow Kids: Mini Box Of Stencils from Babydash RM27.30
Little Blessings for Little Children: Children’s Board Book (Love You Always) from Me Books Asia RM39
Children’s Tent from IKEA RM59.90
Teal Rahul Shirt from Kooshboo RM95
Pure Essential Oil Blended Soy Candle from The Olive Tree x Lilin + Co RM69.90
World Map Tea Towel from The Map Hatter RM70
My Kuih or the Highway Pouch from Nala RM114.00
Garmin vivosmart 3 Fitness Tracker from Harvey Norman RM699
Trisquare Concrete Pot from BentukBentuk RM45
Kiku kimono pouch from Biji-Biji KL RM69
Rose Gold Jewel Statement Earring with Fringe Detail from Lovisa RM87.90
Artisan Malaysia Original Abstract Watercolour Series I from Spruce RM380

 
Compiled by Nellie Liang
 
 

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Image Credits:
Nelissa Hilman, SO.LEK, Whimsigirl, The Straits Finery, Harvey Norman, adidas, 34, Kiehl’s, Babydash, Me Books Asia, Kooshboo, IKEA, The Olive Tree, Nala Designs, The Map Hatter, BentukBentuk, Lovisa, Biji-Biji KL, Spruce.