Conceptualised by Stephen and Trixie Hanlon who wanted something to unite and bring Malaysians closer, ‘The Lepak Game’ is a Malaysian version of ‘Cards Against Humanity’, a simple word-matching game where players pick the most Malaysian response. Best played at the mamak.
Looking for something small and cute? Have a look at Pantun Pins, which sell a range of pins and patches that depict the keris, mee goreng and other Malaysiana and pop culture icons that can be worn on sleeves, collars or denims.
Filled with walnuts, pecans and candied dried fruit, this granola packs in all the flavours you’ll find in a slice of Christmas fruitcake. It’s perfect for breakfast, or as a healthy snack while being a couch potato.
Candied fruitcake granola, RM19.90
The easy-to-use, handmade solid cologne made by Adrian Cheong from The Apothecary is a great gift for guys. We particularly like the Colossus, a signature product that has a balanced masculine scent of neroli, citrus, peach, nutmeg, amber and musk.
Local stationery brand Mossery creates lovely notebooks, planners, greeting cards and other paper products that make us want to give up planning and drawing on fancy iPads. There’s something for everyone in their range of 2018 planners, which span from the formal Speckle Black and Plain Black to the cute Cats Pink and Shiba Royal.
2018 planners, RM120
Forget the mass-market green teas – Malaysian brand Niko Neko sources some of the best green teas from a traditional tea farm from Japan. Go for the Kiku Superior matcha, a well-balanced tea that is smooth, has little astringency and a pleasant umami flavour.
Kiku Superior Matcha, RM79
Give someone a green start to the year with this all-in-one package made by urban farming initiative Eat, Shoots & Roots. In it, you’ll find everything a person needs to start planting their own vegetables and herbs.
ESR Planter’s Box, RM59
Made from cotton-core wicks and natural soy wax (which burns cleaner, instead of petroleum-based paraffin), these candles made by Jasmine Gan are mostly fruit- or herb-based scents – so they’re mostly light-smelling and contain citrus and fresh notes. One all-round pleaser is the Lavender & Verbena candle, which sets a calming mood around the house.
Lavender & Verbena scented candle, RM45
No Malaysian can resist a discussion about food, which is why we’re recommending ‘The Food That Makes Us’, a collection of Malaysian food stories based on home recipes by Foong Li Mei and Szetoo Weiwen; and ‘Kandaqstan’, an all-encompassing guide to nasi kandar written by The Malaysian Insight founder Jahabar Sadiq. Also worth buying is ‘Growing up in KL: 10 years of The Bangsar Boy’, a collection of columns about KL life written by The Star columnist Niki Cheong.
For those who love a good cuppa, get them a pack of freshly roasted beans from Artisan Roastery, which was one of the earliest purveyors that kickstarted KL’s third wave coffee scene. Make it a Christmas-themed gift by choosing the Colombian Roberto Jurado Microlot which has notes of caramel, red apples and oolong tea, or the Colombian San Pedro De Cartago which has flavours of orange, figs and dark chocolate.
Rather than buying boxes of big brand chocolates, opt for the artisanal chocolates made by Cocoraw and Nayuta Chocolatasia. The former produces nama-style chocolate truffles that are flavoured with ingredients like Bentong ginger, salted gula Melaka, rum and gin; while the latter is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker that uses single-origin beans from Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
Stickerrific is a treasure trove of leather-bound journals, stickers, postcards, wax seals, calligraphy sets and calendars – if you’ve got a love for arts and paper, this should be your regular hang-out joint. They also produce some fun pieces, like this 12-month calendar that features watercolour illustrations of Luke, Leia and Chewie, the shop’s three resident cats.
Also because, cats.
The batik tops designed by visual artist Sharina Shahrin are colourful, practical and never dated, making it a great gift for anyone. Better yet, each piece is a one-off design, so it’s unlikely that you’ll find someone else getting the same gift.
Give a gift and support indigenous Malaysian communities by buying stationeries from Earth Heir, a social enterprise that creates sustainable livelihoods for Malaysian craftsmen. One suggestion is the range of Mah Meri bookmarks made by the women of the Mah Meri tribe.
Mah meri bookmark, RM20
Add a touch of Malaysiana with goods made by local design firm The Great Indoors, which first gained a reputation for decorating cafés like Mukha with their selection of Malaysian antiques. These welcoming mats were inspired by iconic signboards that fronted train stations, amusement parks and industrial factories in Malaysia and Singapore during the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Papan Tanda mat collection, about RM75