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After a stressful day at work with uncooperative colleagues, or a tiring day at home with equally uncooperative kids, wouldn’t it be wonderful if your husband or partner surprises you with a gift to make up for your bad day? You would be thinking “What a gem of a man I got myself!”

Yes, getting a gift can make us feel all kinds of wonderful. We all love getting gifts, be it on special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays or even festivities like Christmas. Nevertheless, we trust that nobody, not even people who are obsessed with gifts, wants a ‘surprise’ they are not expecting.

The Right Stuff

You may be one of those women whose husband dutifully reads your mind, cheers to marital telepathy! If your other half always pleases you with his choice of gifts, be it that new Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette that you have been eyeing or the satin Zara top that you have been sighing over, count yourselves lucky.

However, if your husband always tunes out whenever you are speaking and presents you with another vacuum cleaner for yet another year, you may not be thinking he’s such a gem at all. Instead, you may be mentally writing a list of methods to kill him!

Another Household Appliance?

What is the quirkiest gift your partner has ever gotten you?

Let me start with mine. For my first birthday after marriage, my husband was acting all mighty and smug because he said he figured out the best gift he can get for me. Naturally, I got excited as we counted down the days for my gift to arrive via post.

I was already dreaming along the lines of Chanel, Dior and Bobbi Brown. When my gift finally arrived, I was too numb to speak. It was a grill pan. I lost hope then. My husband and I have been married for almost four years now. Along the years, I have received an oven, a pressure cooker, a cake mixer and even car wipers as presents!
I thought I had it bad, that was until I found out what my dear friend received – a random leaf! Yes, you heard me right.

She was gifted a leaf by her partner who is a tad too focused on the environment. Being the sweet self that she is, she still keeps the leaf as a memento, to this day.

I also know a couple who didn’t get quite a right start with gifts. The wife lost her father on the day she got married. In a bid to make his wife happy, the husband ordered a rather large-sized canvas painting of her father as a gift. The wife could not stop crying in sorrow every time she looked at the picture. After that incident, the husband was definitely more careful about gifts!

I Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

To avoid all these messy gift situations, dropping hints of what you actually want, really could work wonders. Teacher Anita Karasu couldn’t agree more.

“Gifts should always be valuable to the person receiving them. It would be unfair to buy them your personal favorites. As a teacher, I dislike receiving a pack of red pens because most times only one or two would work or sometimes, none at all. I would have candles and soap bars lying in my drawer until it’s time for disposal because I am not a big fan of such gifts.

“That is why I honestly feel that it’s okay to drop hints. So, I try as much to drop hints. But don’t ever go on like a broken record!” she said.

Another way to get what you really want is to stop dropping hints and just straight up tell the giver what you want. Send links of examples, or prepare a wish list of some things you would really appreciate. Simple right? You get what you want, and the person giving the gift doesn’t have to keep guessing and stressing. Win-win situation. It doesn’t get better than that.

At the Heart of Gifts

But if you ponder deeply, do the types of gifts we receive really matter? The gifts should just be a little plus on top of the huge love you get from a person. After all, they did make an effort to get you a gift in the first place.

So, when your partner or husband  gifts you with another kitchen appliance or that fake Prada handbag from Petaling Street (gasp!), take a deep breath, remember what’s important, and show some appreciation.

Because at the end of the day, as clichéd as it may sound, it is, honestly, the thought that really counts.

Gift-giving season is here! Throughout the years, we have been lucky to receive well-thought-out gifts for the children. Through that, I have also learnt to be a better gift-giver. After all, gifts are expressions of love, care, and connection with the child and their family.

1.Books! Books! Books!

You can never go wrong with books. Books are great presents because you can bulk buy age-appropriate best sellers during book sales for the children you will be gifting throughout the year. My personal favourites are poetry books for children. Books that encourage children to try new things creates opportunities for quality family time – origami books, children’s cookbooks that have great fail-proof recipes, gardening books are also top of our list.
If you are concerned that the child may already have the book, here’s the secret, it can be regifted or donated. A book is never wasted!

2. A day of play

It could present itself in a ‘voucher’ where the holder of the voucher is entitled to a whole day hanging out with [insert best friend’s name].  I used to stress over making it the perfect playdate until I realised that the children were just happy being together. The house, the park, the swimming pool is their ‘happiest place in the world.’  Getting them to pop their own popcorn is an additional memorable treat. For ideas of where to go, you could check out our lists of outdoor spaces or 50 Top Things  to do in Malaysia with Children.

3. Legos

For many hours of creative building and play, Legos make age appropriate gifts that can be bought  online for the time pressed. For the environmentally conscious gift giver, you will be happy to know that these blocks will soon made from plant instead of petrol based materials! If you search early enough, you may get sets on preloved sites on Facebook or Carousel  for a fraction of the price.

4. Board Games

These are great gifts that will help  develop children’s collaboration and communication skills. Apart from mastery and strategy, another life skill children learn through board games is  the art of winning and losing gracefully. Well, most of the time.

There are many games to suit the child’s interest.  Pictionary for drawing,  Mathmagic and congkak for numbers. Scrabble is a fun game for the whole family to learn new words. Just as Uno, Connect Four, and chess  is great for strategy. A mega compendium of 30 games will definitely keep them occupied for ages.

5. Gardening starter kits

Who know where the spark will lead to? Perhaps an edible garden project?

There are many  benefits of gardening for kids, from encouraging them to eat healthily to doing their bit for the environment. Thanks to Daiso and Mr. D.I.Y,  spades, pots and watering cans need not be expensive. Seeds are also easily available in supermarkets and hardware shops. Or you can just save them from your fruits and vegetables. The Free Tree Society  organises plant giveaway days where you can get free saplings. The gift of lessons in  care and appreciation of the environment is one that the child will carry for life.

6. Cooking starter kits/equipment

An apron, a baking tin, a set of cooking utensils will be a surefire way to ignite a sense of curiosity in the ‘adult world’ of cooking. Throw in a cookbook and ingredients to make a meal, the meal they made  will give the gift of pride and confidence. It is also a great way to create some  quality family time.

7. Scooters

Photo credit: Micro Scooters Singapore & Malaysia

Scooters are a good starting point for kids to be comfortable with being on wheels. When shopping for one, ask if the spare parts are easily replaceable. A good scooter can be handed down and be the source of joy for many kids, for many years, in the family.

8. Bicycles

Photo credit: Stryder Malaysia

The children spent many hours zooming around the park and the neighbourhood with bikes bought by their grandmother.  Getting them second hand, and a trip to the bicycle shop will also do the trick as my mom did for those bikes. And please remember to get a helmet!

9. Sports Equipment

Footballs, basketballs, badminton rackets and shuttlecocks are gifts that will get the kids outdoors. With stores like Decathlon and Sports Direct providing good quality equipment at a reasonable price with delivery service, your gift might just create our next Nicole David!

10. A gift of experience

Photo credit: Sunway Lagoon Malaysia

I once mentioned to my son’s godmother that he was interested in tying knots and that a challenging solitary activity would benefit  him. She thoughtfully gifted my son rock climbing classes and also a book about tying knots.

Other gifts of experience could be tickets to a musical, the science centre, zoo, waterpark, a movie outing. There are many free activities in the Klang Valley as well that you can take the kids to. The key is to listen, and appreciate the interest of the child and gift accordingly.

What matters to those receiving your present is not the size of the price tag, but the gift of presence, effort and thought. Happy gifting!