Show some love to our independent businesses this Christmas

So you’ve already settled the gifts for your friends who are into beauty and booze; but what about those who poo-poo big expensive presents? If you’re scouting around for something meaningful and unique, have a browse through the handcrafted works of our homegrown brands—it’s the perfect time to discover entrepreneurs who’ve turned their passions into their careers.


You know them for their ang ku kueh cushion, but area65 (formerly Meykrs and Red Republic) has a whole range of local nostalgia-inspired trinkets that will bring an appreciative smirk to anyone’s face. They may be a commercially successful brand today, but there’s no denying the sweat that went into building it up from the ground. From their latest collection, grab a Peranakan Trinket Dish ($13.90) that can hold everything from loose change to nail polish to cigarette ash.

Available online and in-store at Marina Square, Plaza Singapura and Suntec City

Ethos Books

It’s a 21st Century tragedy that we don’t read as much as we used to. If time is your primary gripe, independent local publisher Ethos Books has released a brand new series that could tackle just that. This Christmas, give the gift of reading with orbit, a series of short works giving voice to lesser-known narratives from around the world—easy to cart around, quick to devour, and wickedly affordable ($10). The first three titles of the series launched on Dec 1, and include a tiny space, a collection of poetry by a non-verbal 9-year-old on the autism spectrum and his family; Notes After Terawih, which compiles one woman’s observations after attending Muslim Terawih prayers for the first time; and Giving Alms, an anthology of short stories from Burmese locals.

Available online

Gallery & Co.

While the ongoing Minimalism exhibition in town continues to wow, a corresponding retail collection by museum store Gallery & Co. has its own minimalist works of art you can actually buy. Launched in tandem with the art show, the collection takes visual cues (read: colour) from the exhibited artworks and feature collaboration with homegrown designers Super Attic and In Good Company, as well as Lasalle students. There’s everything from glass straws to namecard holders in a range of vibrant colours, but we’ve got our eye on the PVC Tote Bag ($29.90) that instantly brings to mind Olafur Eliasson’s mind-blowing Room for one colour.

Available at Gallery & Co.

Hush Candle

Candles will remain now and forever a fail-safe option for Christmas gifting. But instead of getting yet another Bath & Body Works candle, invest your money in local sustainable candle brand Hush Candle. The two-woman team behind the brand specialise in hand-poured soy candles that use natural essential oils for an authentic, quality scent. They’ve since expanded into calming room sprays and handy roll-on perfumes as well. Pick up a limited-edition gift set ($50), which comes with a candle, spray and perfume, beautifully packaged and available in four scents: Peppermint Orange, Lavender, Rose and Lemongrass. The only thing more thoughtful than aromatherapy is handmade aromatherapy.

Available online and in-store at Tangs Orchard, Bloom Room Singapore, Stamping Ground Coffee and Therapy Market

Janice Wong

Janice Wong may by now be the poster girl for Singapore-made chocolates, but that doesn’t mean her sweets are any less lovingly handcrafted. For that friend in your life who appreciates well-made, tasty confections, three new holiday hampers include the dessert maestro’s bestsellers as well as new and exclusive releases. The Small Box Set ($150) comes packed with a newly released Chocolate Paint Jar Set—a DIY edible art kit of chocolate paint, paint brushes and an acrylic board; the Crayon Box, or chocolate crayons in a rainbow of flavours; as well as cookies, nougats, and Janice Wong’s signature tea.

Available online and in-store