another publication by IMAGE asia

The gift of giving

Giving gifts is as old as humanity itself. Even in primitive caveman culture, it was common as a means of showing affection. Throughout history, gift-giving has been related to expressing appreciation, displaying status symbols, wishing someone good luck or a means to secure personal favours from leaders and sovereigns.

In the USA and Europe, gift exchanges between family members were relatively subdued and simple until the late 19th century - very different from the gift culture our generation is accustomed to.

In modern-day society, holiday gift giving often gets associated with consumerism and profit-oriented brands. Regardless of your view on holiday commercialisation, remember that giving, at its core, is about celebrating the humanity of people around you. When personalised and chosen with the right sentiment, gift-giving can form new, and deepen existing, connections.

Do you dread this time of the year because of gift shopping, or do you get excited that you get to show appreciation to those you love? To help you express your feelings in a creative way this holiday season, we've checked out what Phuket has to offer and gathered some ideas to help get you started.

Phuket is truly a place with plentiful shopping and gift options. For an ample selection of everyday products - such as clothes, shoes, accessories or cosmetics - there are malls in Patong, Phuket Town and on major roads throughout the island with huge choices of goods similar to those in international shopping destinations. In prominent department stores, bestsellers and new collections are displayed in bright windows. Buying a fashionable surprise for your significant other, whether it's a new perfume, a pair of jeans, or a planner will be simple enough; every store has countless sales assistants just waiting to help you get it right.

Shopping mall locations page reference in STREETS of PHUKET
PAGE 80 E3 Central Festival Phuket, Bypass Road
PAGE 75 C3 Junceylon, Patong Beach
PAGE 82 E6 Robinsons Ocean, Phuket City

For something a little more exclusive to Thailand, Phuket has large specialised centres such as textile and silk outlets. Thai silk shops offers endless gift options to choose from at various locations around the island, including silk ties and scarves, bags and wallets, shirts and kimonos, children's wear as well as beachwear such as wraps and kaftans.

If you decide to get family or friends a practical gift for the upcoming holidays, soft furnishings, household linens and cottons are always welcome, especially for those setting up a new home. Styles and colours are plentiful at Island Furniture and should please even the pickiest individuals.

If the person you're buying a present for lives in Phuket, why not get them a beachwear item such as a bathing suit or a pair of board shorts? Shops in Phuket enjoy a wide selection of beachwear for every taste: from bold and striking to timeless and elegant. Ladies also enjoy being spoiled by a nice kaftan, while a hat, a pair of elegant sandals or a beach ball set is always a welcome gift for the outdoor-oriented gentleman. Alternatively, if you know the person's taste and size, you could opt for an elegant shirt, a dress or even a tailor-made suit for him or her from one of Thailand's leading bespoke tailors, Narry & Chandan!

For technology lovers, the selection of gadgets available on the island is surprisingly wide and includes well-known international brands as well as a multitude of Asian counterparts that are usually cheaper. Gladden your techie enthusiast with a mobile phone, a tablet, a new camera, or get them a case or an accessory for a device they already have. E-book readers are another 'in' option for both genders of every age.

Phuket's a great place, too, to buy natural handmade spa products as it's home to award-winning maker of body treatments, Lemongrass. Their products make a great gift for anyone, and are particularly suitable for those who are environmentally conscious. Pick a tropical essential oil, an aromatic candle, a vegetable-based face cleanser, or simply create a customised gift set for that special someone.

Nothing says "you're special to me" better than a delicate handcrafted piece of jewellery, and you don't have to spend a fortune as beautiful silver items are widespread on the island. You can find both modern and traditional designs (inspired by the hill tribes in Northern Thailand) of bracelets, rings, pendants, necklaces, and brooches. Moreover, you could brighten up someone's holiday with a unique silver vase, a figurine, or a cigarette case. Alternatively, you can opt for a more exclusive piece featuring a precious or semiprecious stone, or Swarovski crystals.

If you'd rather create a memorable moment for your loved one instead of giving them a material possession, Phuket's a place where you can get very creative. For instance, all ocean lovers enjoy a watersports session, ranging from surfing, paddle-boarding and parasailing to sailing, snorkelling and diving; the best part of this idea is that this is something you can do together. If you'd prefer to stay on the beach but also add a little romance, why not book a romantic beach picnic for two through one of the island's agencies?

Phuket's renowned restaurants are another great opportunity for reigniting romance or celebrating together during the holiday season. Take your family to one of the many beachside gems with stunning views and sumptuous meals, or simply gift a dinner reservation. You could also purchase a massage or a daycare package at one of the local spas with seemingly endless choices of Asian-based treatments for the utmost in relaxation. From simple to luxurious beauty parlours, most places will have Thai and oil massages as well as packages for couples.

ven if choosing gifts seems challenging at first - particularly if your family is extensive or you have a long list of friends – it's ultimately rewarding. Most of the time, the value of a gift lies in the details that show your true appreciation for, and understanding of, the receiver; just think about your own all-time gift favourites. Whichever way you choose to show you care this holiday season, don't forget to garnish it with a handful of inventiveness and a large pinch of cheerfulness.

The gift of giving
5 Star Sea Cruise
Central Festival Phuket
Island Furniture
Narry & Chandan

69 Slam
Charter Catamaran
Paul Ropp
Thai Silk

Asia Marine
Hype Luxury Boat Club
Lemongrass House

Robinsons Ocean

  Photo gallery : The gift of giving