It’s the time of the year again: picking thoughtful gifts for the treasured friends in your life. If you haven’t been diligent with your shopping schedule (or too caught up with work — trust us, we can relate), you might find yourself in a crazy frenzy to just grab whatever is within reach, throw it all together and call it a day.

Our tip? Go for the best bites and food accessories. After all, The way to the heart is through the stomach. “There are many things you can get to satiate the foodie in your life, but don’t fret over it,” says renowned actor Lawrence Wong. “Sometimes simplest favourites can make the strongest impressions too.”

At ION Orchard, you’ll be able to find the best presents all in one place. We’ve done the legwork and here’s our best picks on special finds.

Kaya is an integral part of a Singaporean breakfast, yet it is surprisingly hard to find a good, traditional version. But you can find a delicious take on this trusty spread at Violet Oon Singapore’s retail arm. The jam, prepared Nyonya-style, is made by stirring coconut and egg over a double boiler, then infused with fresh pandan and steamed for that delightful gooey texture — local foodies will appreciate this reliable treat.

Violet Oon Singapore, #03-22/28/29, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801

An advent calendar is a fun way to count down to Christmas, and even better when each of the 25 boxes contains a piece of chocolate. Belgian chocolatier Godiva puts together an assortment of its milk, dark and white chocolate treats in Christmas-themed wrappers. It’s a meaningful ritual to introduce to friends and a great activity to keep excited kids at bay. You’ll want to tell your friend to be patient with this gift — only open one box a day.

Godiva, #B1-05, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6509 8924

7. Tea leaves, The 1872 Clipper Tea Company

Christmas party preparations can get on everyone’s nerves. Take the time to calm down over a good cup of tea. The 1872 Clipper Tea Company offers an extensive range of tea leaves and blends. Go for the floral Singapore-inspired collections for your locavore friend, or for the more exclusive ones (think Nuwara Eliya, or the champagne of Ceylon) for tea enthusiasts.

The 1872 Clipper Tea Company, #B4-07, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6509 8745 

8. Sambal, Putien

If you’ve ever wanted to gift a foreign friend something local and meaningful, look no further than Putien’s jar of sambal. After all, this spicy, rambunctious dip is that one condiment that so many of our local dishes can’t do without. The best part? The Putien name has been given the Michelin stamp of approval and that’s something every gourmand would easily buy into.

Putien, #04-12, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6509 4296

9. Jam, Plain Vanilla

Jam is the perfect excuse to have something sweet for breakfast, and Plain Vanilla, a café tastefully hidden at clothing store In Good Company elevates their raspberry staple with a simple aromatic addition: rose. Lather it all over your morning toast or enjoy it with some of the café’s freshest bakes. Either way, it’s a fabulous way to perk up your morning, especially with a cup of tea.

Plain Vanilla, #B1-06, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 8299 9422

10. Sea Salt, Vom Fass

Salt is that one essential ingredient no cuisine on the planet can do without yet every serious foodie would know that there’s a difference between table salt and cooking salt. Vom Fass, a delicatessen known for their aged spirits and olive oils carries the latter, and an exquisite version at that. They’re shaped like tiny pyramids and would be perfect when flecked over a juicy steak.
Vom Fass, #04-25, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801, +65 6509 8409
Illustrations by Nadine Christmas

Azimin Saini & Jasmine Tay