Tuesday, December 16, 2008


A present wrapped in a discarded flyer.

Christmas is just around the corner. There's some great, last minute, thoughtful gifts you can get for people, and it's not hard to obtain.

Just 2 weeks ago, I bought some really super tasty, organic, natural, unheated (raw) honey from a young boy who collects honey from the jungles of Pahang with his dad. Since his family collects from all sorts of beehives, the taste of the honey for different bottles are not the same, but that's ok. Really, that's the beauty of pure food. Some of the honey are white and cloudy, others are light in color, and some are really dark. Better than some of the commercial ones out there, which are mixed with coloring, sugar and artificial flavorings, diluted with water to keep the honey looking all the same. Think about it. How do they get these honey looking uniform? Worse, much of the honey commercial honey we buy is also heated, thus destroying some health giving benefits like enzymes and vitamins.

But back to the bottles of honey I bought from Mat.

I just wrap up these awesome bottles of pure goodness like the way I would wrap bottles of wine as gifts for people who I think would really enjoy them. I feel good too because I'm helping Mat and his family earn some honest living. You see, as soon as they collect enough of this jungle honey and filter them into glass bottles, Mat will lug these heavy syrupy golden liquid (and they are extremely heavy, take my word for it), catch a bus really early in the morning and journey a few hours into Kuala Lumpur to look for customers to buy his produce at the neighborhood market.

I tried to wrap the honey up to show how it'll look like but I now realize I'm pretty crappy when it comes to decorating stuff, so I may pay a young neighbor if she would consider wrapping some of my stuff for me. She really does some beautiful pieces, so it's really win-win for us all. Mat and his family get some income from the sale of the honey. The teenager gets some pocket money to spend for Christmas. I get some gorgeous presents to give away.

Speaking of buying local and supporting the local industry, you could buy really interesting stuff if you look carefully. You could buy a wonderful rotan tikar (or a hand woven rattan mat) for a house decorating mad friend! You could buy them from some Malay markets. If you look carefully, you could also buy some bamboo woven baskets, handmade handbags or the songket (songket is a handwoven silk or cotton fabric that is intricately patterned with gold or silver threads.) .

Organic local fruits in cute local-made handwoven baskets would make great gifts. Buying local produce will reduce your carbon footprints. And going organic means you are helping the industry by not supporting pollution and farmers that use dangerous chemicals in their orchards. People love a great story, so include a little card in the basket with a note about where the fruits and the basket come from. If you know the farmer you buy the fruits from, just explain in the note who they are and how great they are to use organic farming methods. Lots of Australian organic products use this delightful method which allows the consumers to get to know who made and sell these products. I think it's really charming and thoughtful. I always wondered why we Malaysians and Singaporeans don't do it more often.

Cookies I bought from a small vendor at the Subang Parade flea market, but first, my kid has to test and approve before I can give them away as Christmas presents.

The other things most of us love are cookies, and around the holiday season, lots of women bake cookies to supplement their income. Here is our chance to help these small vendors out, and buy some delicious treats as gifts. The cookies shown in the picture above will look really festive once it's wrap it up with some beautiful violet organza ribbons leftover I'm going to recycle from my wedding decorations. The plastic packaging look a bit frosty because I just took them out of the fridge.

Talking about saving money AND reducing your carbon footprint, how about wrapping your gifts in unwanted flyers. I wrapped this gift using a McDonald's flyer I was about to throw away. Wrappers cost a pretty penny nowadays, so there's lots of savings to be made there. My camera doesn't do justice to the wrapping shown above, but it really looks cool, if I may say so myself. The idea didn't come from me. I saw a friend do this once before for her kid's birthday, and it looked really nice. She told me it really wasn't worth spending tons of money on wrapping her kid's presents because he was going to tear them to shreds in a matter of minutes. The joy he got was really from furiously tearing the paper apart to reveal the gift inside.

The next gift idea is homemade cut out coupons. They really do make excellent gifts for people on a shoe string budget. I'm really dying to receive one, especially those that offers free babysitting or free home cooked meals or free foot massages!

Go forth and reduce, reuse and recycle!

Come join my "Eat Raw Food Today" facebook group

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