A Unique Do-It-Yourself Christmas Hamper

Hampers make great gifts but they’re usually rather costly and there’s no control over what items to include in the package. So this yuletide, I decided to assemble my own hamper to gift families of close friends and conceived what I call the Christmas Hat-per!

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Goodbye impersonal gift hampers… hello Christmas Hat-per!

The Christmas Hat-per is very easy to put together and this post will share how it is done. It took me only about 15 minutes to wrap the Hat-per but a lot more time thinking and shopping for the items to be included within.

To assemble the Christmas Hat-per, you will need 3 things – a Santa hat, a container, and streamers.

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Streamers for decoration, plastic containers to serve as a base and Santa hat to conceal the gifts within.

I got all the above items from Daiso Singapore at S$2.00 each (streamer, hat and container) but you can get them anywhere as long as you can find a container with a rim that fits the circumference of a Santa hat. The container acts as a solid base to stabilise and hold the gifts in place.

I put together 2 hat-pers according to what I know about the people I created the them for. One is gold and the other red.

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GoldHealth Hat-per… this hat-per was put together for a family who is very health conscious. It consists of a box of green tea, a pack of Nasi Lemak (yup, you read it right… nasi lemak!) tea, a small packs of nuts and a bottle of organic honey-vinegar.

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A tip about selecting items in the hat-per is that a tall bottle is a must to serve as the central pillar to hold up the Santa hat.

Start the assembly process by first securing the bottle with a lot of scotch tape to the base of the container in the middle. The other gifts need to be smaller and fit around the bottle. Scotch tape is used to stick the items to the bottle to secure their placements.

I then wound the streamer around the ensemble to fill up the gaps and twirled it around the bottle to the top (the streamer is secured with scotch tape at the top). This creates a visual surprise when the recipient pulls off the hat and see the sparkles inside.

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Red Adventure Hat-per… for a lively personality who has a penchant for pink / red (that’s why the gifts are almost all in those hues) and cute animal things. The curation of gifts includes a vanity set (from my mum), nasi lemak tea (I’m so enthralled by this exotic flavor that I bought 2), koala biscuits, lemon biscuits (gift from another friend), mocha almonds, and a bottle of bubbly.

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Because of the tight space, the items are held together easily with a little scotch tape at the back of each item. The great thing about assembling a personalised hamper is that you choose the items to include and control cost.

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After assembling the gift items and adding the streamers inside, slip the Santa hat over the packaged gifts and pull the hat’s brim over the containers rim. The container is a little larger that the hat’s rim so it forms a secure seal when the fabric stretches over the rim. No need for scotch tape or any other fasteners to hold the hat to the container. As a finishing touch, I stuck pieces of scotch tape rolled to form double-sded tapes at close intervals at the base and wrapped the excess streamers around it to add some bling. I avoided using double-sided tapes as they are hard to remove from the containers surface later.

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Ta-da! Specially made personal Christmas Hat-pers ready to bring on good tidings. Best thing is, the hat can be worn and the container used for other purposes so there is minimal wastage and a second life for the packaging materials.

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Wishing you and your love ones a blessed yuletide. Happy gifting!

Orchard Road Christmas Decor 2013

Some of this year’s happy lights along Orchard Road shot entirely with my aging Samsung Galaxy S3…

Plaza Singapura’s outdoor decoration looked anorexic this year.

One of the oldest shopping icon in Singapore, Plaza Singapura used to have such elaborate dress up that turned its main entrance into a playground. Now it’s just a small tree behind its acrylic version of the United Colours of Benetton. Money no enough?

Orchard Central usually have some statement pieces in its Christmas décor and this year, it puts the green into the yuletide season with decorations made by recycling the bottom of plastic bottles. Quite a neat idea.

Saw a narcissistic tree outside Orchard Central. The saying about narcissists is that they seldom have a good ending. Point proven with this photo? LOL.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Here’s the partridge. But where’s my true love? 😦

Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window display took a light-hearted ride on the wild side with geese pulling a sleigh of LV gift-things. But I suddenly have the craving to eat Lou (卤) 鸭.

It’s an unusual sight… Malays singing Christian hymns and Christmas carols. Singapore is so progressive!

ION Orchard erects a giant Christmas tree (yet again) to herald the festivities. Combined with huge screens flashing advertisements and a massive LED skin wrapped around its outer visage, the décor gave the illusion that there is a lot going on when there’s really not much. It has what I call the ‘Chinese Ghost Story effect’… a pretty maiden by night and a grave during the day.

Bring on the bling and celebratION!

The HIGHlight (no pun intended) is staring high up at the tower of lights inside ION Orchard’s gigantic tree. It makes the eyes dizzy.

When seen in focus, the inside looks like a Star Wars set.

Another spin shot of the lights created by simply turning the mobile phone while shooting. The lights change colours so each ‘vortex’ photo can look different.

Wheelock Place had Christmas decals in the shape of gingerbread men, snowflakes and poinsettias on its glass doors. We decided to turn gingerbread dude into a lass. Hahaha…

A peep into Wheelock Place’s Christmas decorations.

It’s an astrological Christmas with a constellation of lights.

Turning the Christmas cones into planets.

Forum Galleria had a novel idea to bring in the safari for Christmas with birds and beasts of the topics and savannah.

The concept was unusual but the zoo theme felt salah.

Let it snow, let it snow! Tanglin Mall always draw the crowd with its faux snow.

Better have fun and enjoy it as this could very well be the last year that Tanglin Mall brings ‘winter’ to Singapore.

Didn’t get to cover all the mall decors as I started shooting the lights this year pretty late.

But with this shots, I wish you and your love ones a Christmas filled with affection, happiness and good health! 🙂

Must-GRUB at Bishan Park

As the yuletide season rolls in, so begins the hunt for a restaurant to feast with family and friends. This year, there is a new addition to the Christmas table in the form of GRUB, a contempo-bistro at the heart of Bishan Park.

Curious what a diner within a neighbourhood park looks like, I accepted an invitation to sample GRUB’s Christmas menu and stumbled upon an oasis to chill and unwind!

Sitting next to a shallow stream surrounded by lush greens, GRUB brings garden dining right into our HDB heartland.

“At GRUB, we believe in eating responsibly. This means cooking with as natural ingredients as possible, without the addition of MSG, artificial preservatives, additives or flavourings. We also believe that responsible eating starts with good practices by the farmers, fishermen and artisanal producers that we work with.” – GRUB’s declaration of guilt-free eating.

There’s a choice of open-air seating on a patio or dine in air-conditioned comfort at the bistro that’s just been opened in May 2013.

Hip and uncluttered, GRUB’s layout and design maximises the view of the natural surrounding both indoor and outdoor, creating a great ambience for grazing and gazing.

A selection of exotic hand-crafted beers, ciders and stouts demands just as much finger pointing as the food menu. Taste pleasers are the Brit Thatchers Gold and Pear ciders and the Scottish Crabbies series of fruity beers that taste deceptively like sweet sodas. Booze prices range from S$10 – S$13 per bottle.

My palate’s curiousity was drawn to this bottle of American brew, Magic Hat #9. It’s sweet citrus flavour is no illusion.

#9 was a little lonely so I laid lips on the Belgian Rochefort 6 as well. I think they make a nice coupling… practicing those numbers under the sheets after a few bottles is optional.

GRUB’s Christmas menu (S$30++) is a 3-course affair with 2 choices each for :

Appetisers –  Soup of the Day OR Smoked Salmon Salad

Mains – Slow-Roasted Turkey with Gravy OR Honey Baked Ham with Apple Sauce

Desserts – Banoffee OR Sticky Date Cake

I got a taste of everything Santa would be envious of and one of GRUB’s hot favourites from the daily menu. Here are what the dishes look like…

Appetiser – Smoked Salmon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. The addition of almond flakes brought life to the taste and the salmon slices were generous.

Appetiser – Soup of the Day (potato leek soup with light gorgonzola cream and bacon bits). Love the creamy texture that’s done just right and my personal favourite.

Main – Honey Baked Ham on Mash with Apple Sauce and French Beans. The salty ham was nicely balanced by the neutral potato mash and sweet-sour apple sauce.

Main – Slow-Roasted Juicy Turkey Breast with Gravy on Sweet Potato Mash and pea tendrils shoots. The moist turkey medallions were tender and tasty but the raw pea sprouts somehow subtracted the taste for me. I would’ve preferred it with wild rockets but this would still be my choice for a main course. The sweet potato mash was pretty unusual too.

Desserts – Sticky Date Cake with Burnt Caramel, Vanilla Ice-Creamand Toasted Almonds and Banoffee (banana and toffee trifle with freshly whipped vanilla cream).

The winner is the Sticky Date Cake to end the whole dinner on a sweet note.

The hot dessert (literally) at GRUB is their Churros with Dark Chocolate and Tangy Crème Anglaise dips. We were told that the churros were made 100% by hand as the chef wasn’t satisfied with the machine-blended texture. Because this gets so many orders, the chef is getting sore in his elbows and finger joints and makes only a fixed amount daily. So go early for the churros before they get sold out for the day.

GRUB’s Christmas menu jingled my taste bells and the dining experience was made more sublime by awesome wait-staff and the kitchen’s commitment to use no MSG and additives. For a cozy Christmas get-together away from the holiday crowd, GRUB is a must-grab this season. Merry Christmas!

Day 334 : Gangnome Style!


Christmas carols have invaded our malls for a fortnight now and everywhere I looked, shades of the coming yuletide season shimmered, glittered and glowed. Everywhere. But my office.

That’s until my colleagues discovered these cute fold-it-yourself paper gnome from 3 Eyed Bear, a creative website that shares innovative handicraft paper creatures for free. Besides this gnome, called The Snorfs, there are many other kawaii-until-can-die model designs. They are really cool and relatively easy to make… just click on the design, print, cut, fold and glue.

So my colleagues made a bunch of them to infect the office with some Christmas cheer and I sneaked a photo before they got scattered around the different departments.

Christmas is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus although Christian purists question the legitimacy of 25 Dec as the day He was born and in the same breath, decry Santa Claus’  pagan DNA.

But to me, Christmas is really a celebration about YOU… about us. The reason we have a date to celebrate the birth of Jesus is because God so loved us that He gave His only Son to redeem our sins. It is for us that Christ was born. It is for you that He came.

Since we are the reason for the sleigh bells to be ringing and Rudolf to get a red nose, it makes good sense for Christmas to be about celebrating the people in our lives as much as in remembrance of the One who came for our lives.

This way, it doesn’t matter if one is Christian or non-Christian for you are worth celebrating because someone loves you. Even if it feels like no one on this earth gives a sh*t about you, there is the One who sacrificed His Son 😀

Leatheration : A Dark Christmas

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This Christmas… it got dark… it was very painful… and I cried out in tortured pleasure as friends’ donned leather for some S & M yuletide. It was a spanking good time at the Leatheration Christmas Party with slave boys, dominatrix, leather cops and me in military leather. Sir, yes sir!

We were exceptionally thrilled that people were so sporting not just in dressing to the theme, but also taking part in the games. Some costumes and entertainment segments were so risqué, photography had to be banned and no posting of images onlinewithout permission. So you can imagine the good clean fun the 40 plus of us had. And at the end of the night, each of us got a personalized music CD aptly titled Slut . Sweat . Shag . as a door gift.

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Booze flowed freely as 2 crawling slaves led by dominatrix Michael started the night’s programme with the Life In Disaster Awards 2005. There was the Wallflower Of The Year for that individual who is transparent at social functions, where people forget their presence. Then there was the Clueless Of The Year, to honor a consistent display of blurness and empty-headedness that can sink helium. This was followed by the Macho Mary/Gary Award, for those whose behavior deviates from their exterior. Then came the Slut Of The Year, to recognize that person who… well, you know what a slut is. Finally, the most coveted title, the Bitch Of The Year Award. This category had the most nominees with 6 contenders. So many people just have nothing better to do with their tongues. Sigh…

After those disastrous characters came the Worst Dressed Award given to this guy in a pink striped shirt. It looked like Pizza Hut made him a uniform out of their tablecloth. But the Best Dressed winner was a knock-out with a netted black tank-top skimming a red kilt completed with metal clasped leather boots and a whip coiled around the torso. Following the awards was the customary gift exchange to put in that hint of Christmas cheer before the saucy fantasy segment – Spanked Hunks / Babes. Throughout the night, guests voted for who they wanted to see get spanked with a little star sticker and the top 3 most voted removed an article of clothing and dropped their pants/skirts before being stung 3 times with the leather whip. Ouch!

On the whole, the event went pretty well with great guests who very promptly left their inhibitions at the door. Leatheration… where pain justifies love.

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