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Presence in Every Present: 12 Days of Christmas Giving

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14 Dec 2023

5 Min Read

Michelle Lee Shu Ling (Student Writer), Nellie Chan (Editor)


Experience the joy of meaningful giving! Explore 12 days of Christmas presents that truly embody presence — great gifts for heartfelt holiday connections.

Growing up, Secret Santa was a beloved Christmas tradition in my family, bearing many heartwarming memories I often reminisce about. Each December, my parents would give my sister and me some money to pick out the perfect gift for one of our cousins, just as our cousins would do for us. We kids loved every bit of this tradition, not merely for the excitement of receiving our gifts but, more so, for the anticipation of watching our cousin's face light up as they unwrapped theirs! 


As we matured, that tradition took a different turn. The sentimental value that once 'measured' these gifts was exchanged for a bigger, better, and pricier yardstick — their monetary value. Disappointment would set in when the value of gifts received didn't amount to those given.


Then, on one fateful Christmas day, my parents imparted this lesson to us: the true spirit of giving transcends material presents; it extends to emotional presence — quality time, love and care, and even service to society. It got me thinking: Was this why my parents never exchanged gifts with one another? Was this also why they preferred spending time together, sharing a meal with the family, yet still seemed so content? 


I received the greatest gift of all that day: a renewed appreciation for presence. Today, this appreciation shapes our gift-giving habits among us cousins. If you're looking to give some great gifts this year, read on to learn the art of giving presents that truly embody presence, outlining meaningful giving for the 12 days of Christmas!

Day 1 to Day 4 of Christmas

Day 1 of Christmas: Gift your family quality time by spending the Christmas holidays with them!

Ignite the festive spirit by giving your family the gift of quality time. Sit by the fireplace (if you have one), sip on some hot cocoa, and sing your favourite Christmas carols together. Family time is an antidote to loneliness, fostering a sense of connectedness and belonging.


Day 2 of Christmas: Gift your faraway relatives handmade cards.

Extend the warmth of the season to your faraway relatives by sending them handmade cards. These sentimental keepsakes can be crafted in as little as 5 minutes or longer if you're up for an artistic challenge. Customise each card to add a personal touch!


Day 3 of Christmas: Gift your neighbours homemade treats.

Spread holiday cheer to your neighbours with some homemade treats. The exchange of these delightful gifts, together with house visits, fosters cross-cultural understanding, especially in a multicultural neighbourhood. We typically gift our neighbours my sister's chocolate brownies or butter cookies. Visit her baking account for the recipes!

Hands presenting a box of Christmas cookies

Day 4 of Christmas: Gift your loved ones a big hug!

Let actions speak louder than words this Christmas by gifting your loved ones a big hug. Hugging releases oxytocin, commonly known as the 'love hormone,' heightening happiness and strengthening relationships. According to Healthline, hugging can have health benefits, including reducing fear, stress, and pain, and it may also support immune and cardiovascular health!

Day 5 to Day 8 of Christmas

Day 5 of Christmas: Gift your partner a well-planned day out!

Surprise your partner with a well-planned day out tailored to their interests and preferences. Whether it's visiting their favourite cafe, going on a scenic hike, or trying something new together, create cherished memories for years to come.


Day 6 of Christmas: Gift your artsy friend a pottery, painting, or tufting workshop.

Treat your artsy friend to a workshop in pottery, painting, or tufting. The best part? You can join in on the fun! Choose from one of these workshops in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya to strengthen your friendship through shared endeavours!


Day 7 of Christmas: Gift your bookish friend more books through a book exchange.

For your bookish friend, initiate a book exchange to help them connect with other literature enthusiasts and expand their reading list sustainably. Recommend to them these places in the Klang Valley that host book exchanges.

Books as Christmas present

Day 8 of Christmas: Gift your introverted friend personal space.

Consider the gift of personal space for your introverted friend. Giving them space demonstrates respect for their boundaries and builds trust in your relationship. Check out these other tips to keep your friendship with an introvert going strong or make new ones!

Day 9 to Day 12 of Christmas

Day 9 of Christmas: ‘Gift’ back to the slow fashion movement through thrifting.

Celebrate the holiday season in an eco-conscious style by embracing thrifting for an affordable and sustainable Christmas outfit. Contribute to the slow fashion movement by donating pre-loved clothes too. Explore these thrift shops in the Klang Valley for a fulfilling shopping trip!


Day 10 of Christmas: ‘Gift’ back to society through volunteering.

Make a positive difference this holiday by contributing your time, effort, and resources to society through volunteering at a nursing home, children's home, or soup kitchen. Discover opportunities at Rumah Kasih, Rumah Hope, Kechara Soup Kitchen, and more.


Day 11 of Christmas: ‘Gift’ back to education for all through CAREbinet by The Risers.

Support education for all by adopting a school through CAREbinet by The Risers, an initiative by Taylor's College. Contribute through in-kind donations to address the essential needs of underserved school students of your choice, empowering them to prioritise their pursuit of academic excellence — making education accessible for all.


Day 12 of Christmas: Gift yourself a day of self-care!

Indulge in a day of self-care to unwind after the holidays. Create a sanctuary in your room with calming music or soothing scents. Refresh your body and mind through meditation, deep breathing, or exercise. Step into the new year at your best!

Woman meditating


With the 12 days of Christmas approaching, I trust my gift-giving guide has taught you the art of giving presents that scream, 'You matter!' There's something magical about gifts that go beyond the wrapping paper, isn't there? So, let your gifts be more than just things — let them be moments, laughter, and shared joy. Because, honestly, the best gifts aren't the ones under the tree; they're the ones right in front of us, in the form of our loved ones.


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Michelle Lee Shu Ling is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at Taylor’s University. When she’s not serving as President of Taylor’s Lakeside Model United Nations (TLMUN) Club or Editor-In-Chief of Taylor’s Lexicon Editorial Board, she writes!

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