WHEN I was a kid, our home would be filled with parties and family get-togethers during the holiday season. It’s because my sister’s birthday is on December 23. It was also time for family rituals, like my dad’s unfaltering observance of 5 am Simbang Gabi (midnight Mass), to which I would accompany him sometimes; and the kids being allowed—only until December 31—to play mahjong. My dad would allow me to drink champagne. For food, Cunanan Catering was a staple. Tita Paring’s suman latik (sticky rice) and sugar-coated ham with pandesal (local breakfast rolls) were always there for both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Today, Christmas get-togethers have extended to more gatherings among family and friends. I’ve always loved hosting them as a way of saying thank you for meaningful friendships. I love creating activities for my kids and our friends’ little ones, this in the hope that they will slowly build their own friendships.
Below are some preparation tips on food, décor and activities I have planned this Christmas:
BELOW are some of the dishes that I plan to order this holiday season.
- Pepita’s—Paseo de Magallanes, Makati, 0917-8660662. Dish: Cochinillo with Truffle rice
- Magic Kitchen—17 Penelope Lane, Acropolis, Libis, 0917-8485228. Dishes: Lasagna and Paella
- Terry’s Kitchen—7 Apollo Street, Acropolis, Libis, 0917-8427311. Dishes: Baked Salmon, Cereal Prawns, Salted Egg Shrimp
- Plaza Ham—Ground Floor, SM Megamall A, 637-9261, Dish: Bone-in Ham
- Andy’s Good Eats—3 Hydra Street, Bel Air III, Makati, 0917-8158631—Dish: Hainanese Chicken
- Mario’s Restaurant—191 Tomas Morato Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, 372-0360. Dish: Canonigo (Dessert)
- Tita Paring’s—Greenhills Shopping Center, Robinsons Magnolia, The Landmark Makati. Dish: Suman Latik (Sticky rice with special brown native sauce)
BELOW are my collaborative efforts with the household staffs in decorating our place. They have filled the house with Yuletide spirit through their initiative and their enthusiastic creativity.
ROSES IN A ROW. Find a flat circular or square vase; cut a square from a flower foam; cut the stems up to 1 1/2 or 2 inches depending on how high your vase is; line up the roses vertically on the first line. Then line up the first row. Continue filling up the rows. Last, put baby’s breaths around to cover the flower foam.
OTHER FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS. My preference this year are carnations. I picked red and green for the holiday theme. Just a tip: It’s better to buy them two days before your event when they are still budding. It is also nice to have floating candles and petals of small chrysanthemum blooms. Chrysanthemums have so many colors to choose from, so it is easy to match with your room décor.
FRUITS & FESTIVE PLATTERS. I love using green apples as décor. I also love festive platters to serve chips and chocolates in. These platters are from Crate and Barrel.
KIDS FUN TABLES. This is my favorite. I always keep stock of party goods for kids. The colored plastic goblets, tissues and straws are from Target US. The little ceramic saucers and plates are from Ikea. I bought them for Meagan when she was 2. I now use them for parties to put treats on, like chocolate sticks and marshmallows. It’s a hit with toddlers.
GAMES & ACTIVITIES
THESE are the activities I have personally tried with kids from 4 to 11 years old.
CHRISTMAS CRAFTS. I like Create-It-Yourself toys that serve as souvenirs after.
CHRISTMAS DICE GAME. This is a customary game during the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. Since my daughter’s friends from her summer camp have not experienced playing this yet, I decided to do a Christmas version. Instead of moon cakes as prizes, I prepared simple snacks and art supplies. For instructions, check out goo.gl/3jDZnc.
“VALUES” DEBATE & POSTER-MAKING CONTEST. Following my columns over the past two weeks, I actually tried a values debate in one get-together where the kids were 11 years old. The debate was regarding grit and empathy, and which was more more important in life. For another get-together, where the kids are from 4 to 11, I paired them with one younger child and one older child for a poster-making contest. I got a Crayola Art Case with colored pencils, markers and crayons all in one along with colored construction papers.
SARDINES. This is a reverse hide-and-seek. One person will hide, while other kids will count from one to 30. When a person finds the person hiding, he or she stays in that place. The last person who finds the hiding place will hide in the next round.
This Christmas season has been off to a great start with all the laughter that filled our home over the last few days. It definitely made all the planning worthwhile. I’m looking forward to more festivities in the coming days.
Creative fun truly goes a long way. Advanced merriment to everyone!