Most years, coming into the holiday season means offering advice for Koh Samui’s busiest time of year. Christmas party lists, New Years Eve suggestions – literally hundreds of ways to make merry. This year? It’ll be the holiday equivalent of “walking 20 miles backwards through the snow uphill” … or whatever torrid tale we’ll one day tell our grandchildren. In short, we’ll “have to make our own entertainment”. Below, find my best suggestions for doing just that – with as much tropical respite and hints at future travel as possible. Enjoy!
Note – every toiletry and beauty product below is 100% cruelty-free.
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Holiday Gift Guides: Quarantine Edition
Gifts for Grown-Ups
01. Quarantine Christmas Ornament – How better to sum up this prize of a year?
02. Fluffy Slide Slippers – Normally, I’m recommending flip-flops. This year? Fuzzy slippers.
03. Coconut Rum – Add it your cereal and keep going, no judgment here.
04. Monstera (Swiss Cheese) Plant – A surprisingly beginner-friendly tropical house plant.
05. A Promised Land by Barack Obama – Reasons to celebrate? Barack! is! back!
06. Mermaid Tail Blanket – The best way to turn your sofa into a vacation.
07. Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones – Drown out your family…
08. Dry Erase Elephant – For any relative who loves elephants beyond belief.
09. LEGO Ship in a Bottle – Incredible! LEGO for grown-ups.
10. 2020 Review T-Shirt – Would you recommend it?
11. White Christmas Coconut Coffee – Grab the aforementioned rum and …
13. Baggage Claim Eye Masks – Take the 2020 off your face.
14. SPF 40 Unseen Sunscreen – My absolute favourite sunscreen … if you ever get to go outside.
15. The Body Shop Coconut Gift Set – If you’re saving the coconut rum until later, start with a coconutty shower.
16. Thailand: The Cookbook – An encyclopaedic start to greedy-people Thai cooking adventures.
17. Anti-Theft Travel Backpack – Wear it around the house for now, pretend you’re going places
18. Palm Tree Ugly Christmas Sweater – Utterly hideous, with ample flamingoes.
19. Tile All-Purpose Finder (4-Pack) – Attach four tiles to four things you love, and never lose them again
20. The Everything Travel Blanket – Highly squashable, wherever you deploy it
21. Pineapple and Coconut Gin – Run out of coconut rum? Switch to gin
22. Maenam Thai Cookbook – A new favourite Thai cookbook – just released this summer.
23. Palm Print Pajama Set – Tropical PJs for your 2020 Bridget Jones moments.
24. Portable Espresso Machine – You’re not going anywhere … but when you do … you’ll be so caffeinated.
25. Amazon Halo –Start your post-quarantine healthier habits with a new fitness tracker
26. Ray-Ban UV Sunglasses – One day they’ll block Thai UV light … for now they’ll hide your COVID hangover.
27. “Good Vibes Only” Sun Care Travel Kit – You’ll need it in 2021. Please need it in 2021.
28. Jewelry Travel Organiser – Use the top half for general storage (phone charger, scrunchies, etc) and the bottom half for cleverly jewellery organisation.
29. Portable Travel Hammock – This guy packs down into its own travel sack, ready to visit beaches as soon as humanly possible.
30. Lonely Planet Thailand (2021) – Pre-order a copy for its August 2021 release … then wait patiently for The Future Times.
31. butter LONDON Nail Lacquer – A deep blue colour … to match beachy dreams, not COVID moods.
Gifts for Kids – Travel and Explore
01. Ocean Life Jigsaw Puzzle (1,000 Pieces) – From Little Tunnies to Weedy Sea Dragons, this puzzle is perfect for ages 8+.
02. Shark Blanket – A whale shark “blanket tail” available in three sizes, from toddlers to adults
03. Little Passports Subscription Box – A monthly subscription box for “little passports” ages 6-10.
04. Portable Travel Bed – Perhaps more for parents … this roll-on case turns an economy plane seat into a child-size bed.
05. Stretchy Noodles – Great for busy hands
06. Elephant Slippers – Available in kids’ and adult sizes
07. Mermaid Tail Blanket – As with the shark blanket, available in three sizes
08. LEGO Suitcase – A mini LEGO kit with a small suitcase. A nice stocking stuffer for a quick activity.
09. Fort Building Kit – Build forts, boats, castles and more.
10. Family Treasure Hunt Game – Play indoors or outdoors. Ages 3-10.
11. Guess in 10 World Trivia – Ages 8+. Choose from world cities or countries versions of the game.
12. Everything & Everywhere – Ages 4-9.
13. Under The Sea Coloring Roll – Ten feet of under-the-sea colouring (ages 3+).
14. LEGO Airplane – Ages 7+
15. LEGO Travel Pouch – Use as a pencil pouch, travel case or to store a new LEGO kit.
16. Paper Flower Science Kit – Ages 7-10.
17. Wikki Stix Travel Set – Ages 3+.
18. Your World Jigsaw Puzzle (1,000 Pieces) – Ages 8+
19. Elephants of Thailand – Available in a two-part series, in paperback and for Kindle.
20. Sparkling Play Sand – Includes 6 moulds and two pounds of sand. Ages 3+.
Games, Books and Things to Do (At Home Edition)
01. Travel Trivia – 50 family world trivia questions, for ages 8+
02. Drawing Without Dignity – for grown-ups only … a much ruder, much funnier take on Pictionary
03. Phuket Jigsaw Puzzle (3,000 Pieces) – spend hours staring at Thailand … with this 3,000-piece puzzle
04. Atlas Obscura – “A wanderlust-whetting cabinet of curiosities on paper.”— New York Times
05. Unstable Unicorns Game – “a strategic card game that will destroy your friendships.” Play with 2-8 people, depending who’s currently in or out of your bubble.
06. Underwater Puppies – The only puppies you should buy for Christmas.
07. Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs – Food? Water? Sleep? Spontaneity? Rearrange and reorder whatever 2020’s done to you.
08. Inside3 Blind Maze (Level 3) – A novice-level puzzle ideal for patient people ages 12+
09. What Should I Do with My Life – Asking for a friend…
10. How to Traumatize Your Children – The reviews alone sell this book more than any other recommendation here.
11. Scribbles That Matter – Bullet-journal your way to 2021…
12. The Loser Game (Learn How to Fail Well) – Topical! Buy one for yourself and another for the Golfer-in-Chief.
13. What Do You Meme Game – Another game that’s grown-ups only. (“There are some things you just can’t unhear. Trust us.”)
14. Travel + Leisure Subscription – Plot your way out of your house, one issue at a time.
15. Confidence Prompt Cards – Been a while since you needed confidence? Or real clothes that weren’t yoga leggings? Start here and re-enter 2021 life with new sparkle.
16. Conversation Menus – Nine months of COVID and running out of stuff to talk about? Add one of these to dinner and see what you learn.
17. The Ultimate Game for Couples – Use as conversation starters, or play as dares.
18. Scratch Off World Map – Tim Robbins scratched his way out of Shawshank… you can scratch your way out of 2020.
19. Rainforest Coloring Book – Pure escapism. Just add Enya.
20. 100 Questions Conversation Toolkit – Think you know everything about your household? Think again.
Gifts Under $20 (£15)
01. Coconut Cremes – Stocking stuffers made with coconut milk
02. Thai Sweet Chili Banana Chips – Superb for anyone who likes spice
03. Salt and Sea Soy Candle – Sail away, as best as 2020 will allow
04. Flamingo Pool Float Tea Infuser – A more tropical way to brew your tea
05. Quick Dry Hair Towel/Beach Turban – A segue between the shower and the next messy bun
06. Seagrass “Belly” Basket – Ideal for storing blankets, dog toys, or a new plant (add a drip-tray within)
07. Dried Thai Mangoes – Chewy in the best kind of way
08. BYO Sriracha Keychain – The easiest (and least weird) way for a sriracha addict to bring their favourite sauce
09. CALM Bath Salts – How many pounds of these are required between now and January 20th?
10. Sand-Proof Quick-Dry Beach Towel – Available in watermelon and even ‘Songkran’ print
11. butter LONDON Nail Lacquer – Add some sparkle to a not-so-sparkly year
12. 100% Natural Lip Balm Set – Choose from a dozen flavour combos – with plenty of tropical choices
13. Collapsible Coffee Cup – Save the planet, one cup at a time
14. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World – This book is superb, and an ideal place to start a New Year digital detox.
15. Foldable Pocket Backpack – Over nine thousand reviews!
16. Pomelo Pine Soy/Beeswax Candle – Not quite Thai pomelo salad on the beach … but close?
17. Starry Night Sleep Mask – Block it all out. All of it.
18. Coconut Toiletries Gift Set – A sweet gift set of coconut water bath products in a cork pouch.
19. Fruit Infuser Water Bottle – An inevitable departure from the coconut rum and gin suggested earlier
20. Coconut Bowls – Blend something smoothie-bowl-shaped and add it to these. Bingo. Vacation mode.
Gifts Under $15 (£11)
01. Adulted Really Good Ribbon – Need a prize? Yes, you do.
02. Wallet Ninja – Ruler, bottle opener, phone stand, screwdriver, fruit peeler, box cutter … this is very cool.
03. 2020 Christmas Ornament – Soooo wouldn’t recommend.
04. Coconut Milk Caramels – Dairy-free, with pure coconut milk.
05. Hidden Pocket Scrunchie – “Her hair is full of secrets”
06. Monstera Leaf Wax Seal – Seal cards, gift wrap or anything you find in your path
07. Butterfly Pea Flowers – Bake the bluest things you’ve ever imagined, infuse cocktails and more.
08. World Travel Laundry Bag – Use as a laundry bag or even a Santa sack.
09. Monstera Earrings – Just $8! Available in rose gold or silver.
10. Portable Reusable Drinking Straws – Telescopic straw adjusts to three lengths to fit any glass.
11. Dr Bronner’s Organic Magic Balm – The “Windex” of skin products – use on dry skin, sore muscles, pretty much anything
12. Phone & Tablet Holder – Supreeeemely useful foldable phone and tablet holder. Use on your coffee table today, and a plane table next year?
13. Tropical Santa Pop-Up Card – The only card I’ve seen where Santa’s drinking out of a pineapple.
14. Dragonfruit Loose Leaf Tea – Caffeine-free dragon fruit tea; bright pink.
15. “Corona Extra” Christmas Ornament – Combining COVID, Christmas and alcohol in the very best way.
16. Hand-Made Dragon Fruit Soap – Exactly how I like my soap: tropical, paraben- and SLS-free. (As with everything on this list it’s cruelty-free too).
17. Grow Your Own Avocado Tree – Get growing!
18. Tropical Face Mask – Mask up with palm prints.
19. “I’m Over It” Daily Sampler – Share your feelings for the day, choosing one of thirty-two “samplers” including “what fresh hell is this” and “let me Google that for you”.
20. Tropical Socks Set – Trot to your home office in style. It’ll be the dressiest thing you’ve got on.
2020 Cards and Wrapping Paper: COVID Edition
01. Under the Sea Wrapping Paper – Customizable with names, family photos, unique messages and more
09. All of the Above
10. Personalised Wrapping Paper – Customizable with names, family photos, unique messages and more
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