Make the holiday season extra meaningful this year by start a funny or special holiday ritual. It doesn’t have to be complicated, as these parents and experts show.
Send a box of love
“We learnt at a parenting seminar that doing things together as a family helps give children a sense of belonging and stability,” say Minna and Kenneth Ko.
“Since we have been making conscious efforts to teach our kids how blessed we are to live in Singapore and that there are many children out there who worry about their next meal, we started a practice of filling shoe boxes with small gifts for children in third world countries last Christmas. It’s an idea initiated by Samaritan’s Purse. They are learning that Christmas is a time for giving and that they can help others in small ways too. You can see how proud they are and how their little eyes light up when they know their gifts matter! It’s a great way to create lasting memories.”
Remember the joy
Little ones have more reason to appreciate the good times and bad from this year on. Start recording their happy and sad memories in a scrapbook, or ask them to share their experiences at the holiday dinner table. What’s important is not whether you agree with the story, but that your child finds a story in his heart that brings him joy. After, pop some popcorn, stir up hot chocolate and open presents in your pyjamas.
Hold a house concert
“We have an annual ‘house concert’ with friends, food and music. The highlight of the night is when the kids play some music of their own. Sometimes the adults join in with flute, oboe and more. We end with everyone singing carols,” says Lindey Blok. “Another family tradition is pulling out a special basket of Christmas books collected over the years. The kids love them because the books only come out in December and go back into storage once the tree comes down.”
Let kids take the lead
Tell the little ones they can take charge this year. Have them make a menu of the things they want to have for Christmas breakfast or lunch. Everyone makes a trip to the supermarket to gather all the ingredients and come Christmas morning, Junior and team put everything together. Let the kids prepare your Christmas treat and afterwards, tell them they’ve got to help clean up before they can get their hands on presents.
Dress Junior up as Santa
Christine Lim plays on the fact that her son is the only grandson in the family. Last year, he stole the limelight when he dressed up as Santa and all his cousins accompanied him as Santarinas.
“It was a lot of fun,” recalls daddy Gilbert Woo. He also gets to be the bearer of gifts big and small, distributing them to his cousins at the party.
Pass the pancakes
“Have a pancake party like us,” says Vincent Ng, father of two. “I start it on Christmas Day every morning and we’ve been doing it for three years. Sometimes, there’s a little roti prata and fruit loops, to jazz things up. Pancakes are really easy for the kids to make, with bananas and syrup, and we can get everything from the supermarket.”
Create a thoughtful tree
Join hands with Junior and write a Thought-For-The-New-Year note on a decorated card. Meaningful quotes like “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened”; “Love lots; smile more”; or “You’re only as good as your last work” can be great talking points. Throw in a little glitter and hang the cards on the Christmas tree.
Pass it on
Renee learnt what a donation was when she was just four. Every Christmas, she decides with her parents which shortlisted charity the family will support, and gives them some of her savings.
“Spending time with the family and remembering to give are both very important in our family,” says their dad, Ronnie Lee. “We want our children to remember that Christmas is about giving. Making a donation is also a way to inculcate the value of saving in our children.”
Create your own Christmas wrap
Kathy Cano-Murillo, author of six craft books, says: “Holidays are to kids what chocolate chips are to cookies: Delightful with a side of sensory overload.” Before you rush to clean, cook, decorate, host and shop, let a bit of art and craft steal a few moments for you and your child to create a little holiday magic.
“Try making your own funny family wrapping paper. Colour copy family photos and your child’s previous artworks. Make a fun collage with them on an extra large piece of construction paper. Make colour copies of this and you’ll have your family’s very own wrapping paper this Christmas!”