Kid-Friendly Ways To Celebrate Christmas (Without Spending Too Much Money)
It's the end of the year and Christmas is just around the corner. But let’s face it, Singapore is not ranking in the top spot for most expensive city for no reason. Things are getting ridiculously expensive, so how do you manage to have a merry Christmas without spending $$$ on on expensive experiences and Christmas feasts?
This Christmas, celebrate the bigger things in life together as a family through these kid-friendly, meaningful ways:
It can get harder to teach children basic values and principles as they get older, so instilling good morals can go down much easier when you have an enthusiastic toddler on your hands.
With my two children, I found that the year-end holidays and Christmas were probably the best times to remind them to be grateful for everything we had and not to take it for granted.
As a family, we make a list of what each of us has been thankful for throughout the year (‘I’m thankful that I got a nice teacher this year" came around more than once). And then each of us lights a candle to give thanks for the year gone by. It may sound cheesy, but there is something very serene in celebrating Christmas in such a simple way.
Start your own special family tradition
As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m a huge one for teaching kids to value experiences and people more than things.
So another family favourite of ours has been to celebrate Christmas "our way" - it’s not expensive or elaborate; it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but to us. It also marks real family bonding and creates precious memories that money can’t buy.
For instance, when my boys were growing up, we celebrated Christmas by ordering matching pyjamas and waking up in them on Christmas Day. It was the nerdiest thing for some people, but for us, it was just another thing that we looked forward to every year. For affordable options, check out the cute Family Christmas PJ sets on Etsy and Shopee.
Gift practical gifts
I also believe that teaching children to give someone a useful gift, rather than just buying something and giving it for the sake of gifting will serve them well for a long time to come.
For instance, giving a live gift means that it’s a gift that keeps on living (and giving) well after Christmas is over. It’s not exactly a practical stocking stuffer, but we like giving loved ones a potted plant (IKEA sells them for as cheap as $5), after wrapping it and personalising it at home .
Likewise, giving someone the gift of your time can be really precious. If you have an elderly neighbour, do something useful for them like going to buy food or go together for a meal. Spending a few hours with them might not seem like a big deal for your family, but it could mean a huge deal to your neighbour during the Christmas holidays.
Christmas is always a timely opportunity to teach (or remind) children that there is nothing more noble than caring for other people, especially those who are less fortunate than them. There are many child-friendly places in Singapore where you could volunteer together as a family, and doing something nice for other people on Christmas makes it that much more meaningful.
Here’s where you could be volunteering together with your children (do take note that for some of these activities, children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the activity):
Did you know that by volunteering even just two hours of your time, you can raise enough money to feed a family of four for an entire week? Instead of just donating your pre-loved items to the Salvation Army, let the kids be a bell ringer this year at a shopping mall, raising funds for Christmas Kettling. (FYI: volunteers below 16 years old need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian!)
All money raised goes back to helping the less privileged in the community. From now until 22nd December, register here or download the mobile app ‘Salvation Army Volunteers’ and simply select your preferred shopping mall (there are 11 locations to choose from), date, and the 2-hour time slot you prefer.
Besides helping reduce food wastage by rescuing surplus food before it goes to waste, The Food Bank Singapore also distributes food to organisations and people in need, striving to end food insecurity in Singapore by 2025. I especially like how The Food Bank has a Juniors Club, a seasonal program during school holidays for kids aged 5 to 12 to raise awareness in the young generation, and help them participate in age-appropriate volunteering activities.
Children can sign up for the Warehouse Session for a tour of The Food Bank’s warehouse and assist in sorting, packing or taking inventory of the donations. This activity helps children learn more about identifying food categories, expiry labels and how a warehouse operates.
The Food Distribution through our Joy In Every Bundle programme teaches children about packing individual food bundles and distributing them to those in need and their living conditions; while Excursions / External Collaboration takes kids on a visit to local farms and food production/wastage factories for a better understanding on how food is produced.
Help someone by donating your pre-loved things
Giving is better than receiving, and Christmas is also a good time to declutter, be it clothes, toys, books, shoes, etc. Encourage your children to donate what they have outgrown (as long as they are in good condition) or what they are not using anymore and to give it to someone more needy to hopefully give them a better Christmas.
If you'd like to donate beyond the usual organisations, such as the Salvation Army, here are some equally helpful places you can consider:
Established in 2015, ItsRainingRaincoats (IRR) relies on donations of pre-loved items that migrant workers need, including household appliances, old bicycles, clothes and toiletries. Psst - they're running a Christmas drive until 11 January!
You can also can simply donate an extra umbrella from your home, helping support their ONE Umbrella Drive (running till 31 December 2023).
Despite having so much textile waste, only 7 percent goes into recycling. Greensquare aims to increase that number by collecting recyclable textiles, selling those in good condition to secondhand textile importers in developing countries, while those that cannot be resold are recycled and sold as industrial cleaning cloth. They will accept only pre-loved clothes, shoes, household linen or accessories in good condition. Drop off at over 30 locations islandwide, here.