GIC is back again, with yet another fabulous Christmas spectacular! Just a week shy of exchanging presents, enjoying Boxing Day sales and seeing the smile on the faces of your children, friends, and family!
A Chinese inspired Christmas street party: Photo: Washington Post
However, as the days roll on, how can you manage to make your Christmas experience worthwhile, being away from home in a different country? A lot of people say “When in Rome…” , but let’s take this winter holiday and “Roam” away from that saying!
Everyone should enjoy the festive fun, so we have a few ideas on how to make you feel just at home away from home.
PLAN AN OUTDOOR CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE
Take a Christmas Light Tour
No matter where you live, some buildings nearby probably goes all out on the annual Christmas lights display. Put some cocoa in your Chinese thermos, bundle up the family, and spend an evening driving around looking at the amazing Christmas lights displays.
Bobbing down the Bund in Shanghai? Displays of Bustling Beijing? Admiring festive lights on the Soaring Skyscrapers of Shenzhen? Toasting to Happy Holidays in Hong Kong? If you happen to live near one of these landmarks, you're in for a treat because the following are some of the best Christmas lights on display in Asia. If you're close enough, it is worth the trip to go see these displays!
Photo: Travel CNN
Finding Local Displays
Even if you don’t live in a fancy city, keep in mind too that your area's famous landmarks are likely to be decked out as well. So look at your local magazine or visit your local shopping mall to get the best experience of making your Christmas special in China!
Visit a Restaurant for a Christmas Meal
Western hotels and restaurants in China serve a multitude of Christmas specialties, ranging from Set menus, A la carte to Buffets! Take the whole family out based on your budget to save time in the kitchen and take advantage of the Christmas Season! A lot of these places would also be beautifully decorated too. So there is the additional incentive of enjoying a freshly prepared meal surrounded by beautiful sights and lights!
Photo: Christmas Dinner Guide
Christmas crafting has been a popular family activity for a long time. Whether you're crafting ornaments for the tree, baking in the kitchen or making homemade gifts, it's the gathering together of generations that help make homemade Christmas activities so special.
You might think that sitting down during the busy Christmas season to make a bunch of ornaments is the last thing you want to do, but crafting with your kids or friends is a great way to bond, and create something meaningful. Ornaments do not have to be complicated.
For super easy ornaments, use clear, acrylic, fillable ornaments and fill them with tinsel, white iridescent tinsel, or curled curling ribbon in Christmas colors. Attach a ribbon for hanging. If you're up for something more crafty!
Photo: The Ornament Girl
Build a Gingerbread House
The whole family can build a gingerbread house. Make a sketch, create a template, bake the gingerbread, then find all the wonderful treats for decorations.
If you are not feeling brave enough to tackle a whole gingerbread house from scratch, you can use crackers and canned frosting in lieu of gingerbread. Your house won't be as big, but then again, neither will the mess!!
Holiday treats do not have to be expensive or difficult to make. Whip up some homemade candy or cookies. to share with family and friends. Consider making a big batch of one goody and then attending a cookie swap so you can get several varieties in exchange for your labor. If you're looking for cookies to make with your kids try a batch of regular sugar cookies, and sprinkle them with colored Christmas sugar!
DECK THE HALLS
Dine in Style
Whether you dig out Grandma's special holiday china settings, or just use festive colors in paper plates and utensils, setting an elegant table for your holiday meal puts everyone in the mood to celebrate. Light some candles, use a table runner and other linens and add a festive centerpiece.
Christmas Dinner perfectly served in a Chinese Home – Photo: Daviding.com
Decorate Your Tree
Everyone has different methods for decorating the tree. Some people want it to be a spectacular themed display; others might use ornaments the kids have made over the years. When decorating the tree, share the stories behind the ornaments or why you picked them.
For example, I went to help a friend who was having a rocky relationship with her boyfriend, but after digging through boxes of memories for ornament inspiration – the conversation ended up going like this "How did this get in here? Do you remember this?” ;”Yes honey, this is our second anniversary” – And now they’ve been married 10 years!
For many families, the holiday celebrating starts the day before Christmas with a large feast and midnight mass. Create your own special memories the day before Christmas with these fun ideas.
Pajamas and a Story
Cozy up in your favorite pajamas, sit on pillows by the tree and read special Christmas stories. There are many wonderful books highlighting this time of year, including:
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas
• Polar Express
• T'was the Night Before Christmas
Warm up some cider or hot cocoa to share, and enjoy some read-aloud time. You'll find that even older kids and teens will enjoy this tradition.
Photo: Waterstone’s Books
Christmas Talent Night
Usher in Christmas with some fun and laughter. Before the big night, write out several ideas on small strips of paper that people will have to perform. Have family members choose one piece of paper and then perform their talent for the rest of the group. Have the audience rate the acts on a scale of one to ten. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
•Create a medley of your favorite childhood Christmas songs, and hum them.
•Act out Santa's day on the 23rd of December.
•Explain to the group how to take care of reindeer for optimum flying. Be creative and feel free to use audience members as reindeer props.
•Act out Santa's day on the 26th of December.
•Play a popular Christmas carol on a pair of spoons. See if the group can guess what is being played.
Share the Christmas Love
Some things are just better shared with neighbors and friends or in a group. Include other people in some of your family's traditions, and you will find yourself reaping the benefits ten-fold.
Gather folks or your kids together for caroling. Once you get started, you'll find it to be a joyous event. If you can't quite get into going door to door, call a local nursing home, shopping mall or hotel, and see if you can carol there. Everyone is sure to love your presence.
Even if you are tight on cash, you can still help your favorite charities by giving of yourself. Donate your time or unused items to a worthwhile Christmas charity effort. Consider charities for Children in China or other charities which help the less fortunate.
Join the family together to take meals to homebound individuals. If you live in your small town, consider baking treats for your helpers at home and security guards. There's no better way to put your blessings into perspective than to share with those who spend their time and honor in your service.
Celebrate Christmas from the Heart
Remember that Christmas not only doesn't come from a store - it doesn't come with rules. In addition to honoring your fondest memories of Christmases past, you can create new traditions by doing the things you and your family will cherish most!
Do you have any other ideas of making your Christmas special in China? Please leave your comments below!