Take part in these awesome activities with your mini-me and make his merry-making count…

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Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive when you celebrate it with your little ones. In fact, one of the most beautiful things about this holiday is seeing junior’s excited response to the anticipation of this special season.

So, fancy fêtes and extravagant pressies aide, what really matters during the Yuletide is making magical memories for your wee ones. Here are 14 winsome ways to fire up your little fella’s interest in the festivities and celebrate Christmas as a family on a deeper level.

1) Countdown to Christmas

The best part of Christmas is, arguably, waiting for the day to arrive. As decorations and Christmas music fill the streets and shopping malls, help junior count down to the day with a homemade Advent calendar. Before December, make a paper chain of 25 alternating red and green strips of paper, then pen a little Christmas wish for the family on each piece. Each day, cut down one strip until Christmas arrives.

2) Decorate the home together

Putting up the Christmas tree is an age-old family tradition that can help your brood to bond. As you go through the different ornaments, pick your faves, or get the kids to add zing to your collection by using marker pens to decorate the baubles. Then, make an event of turning on the Christmas lights for the first time and watch your brood go, “wow!”. The best part? Knowing that the tree will be surrounded with pressies in the weeks to come!

Junior can also put up streamers and cut paper snowflakes to stick on the windows. Mum-of-two Pamela Heng, 37, says a highlight of her Christmas is when the family gets together to set up an old Nativity set as a centrepiece in the middle of the dining table. “It marks the start of the season and meals are just more special,” she says.

3) Read Christmas stories

Turn down the lights and cuddle up for a good read. Perfect picks for the season include The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C Moore, and The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

Putting up the Christmas tree is an age-old family tradition that can help your brood to bond.

4) See the lights

As a surprise treat, wake your brood up an hour after they’ve gone to bed, pack some snacks, then pile everyone into the car and drive down to Orchard Road to ooh-and-all at the glittery lights.

5) Make Christmas goodies

From gingerbread men to Rudolph cupcakes, your sweetie will love concocting sweet treats in the kitchen with you. Check out websites like Good Housekeeping, Pillsbury or Pinterest for brilliant baking ideas. Also, goodies like cupcakes and cookies make personalised Christmas gifts that’ll always be well received.

6) Donate

Nothing like the season of giving to remind your young ’uns that there are people in this world who are less fortunate than they are. He or she will have plenty of ways to give back ― just stroll down Orchard Road and you will meet several charity organisations in need of a helping hand. Another option ― donate to World Vision. Visit its “giving centre” page and scroll through the different items to select which one you’d like to drop your dollars for ― from $10 for a pair of sandals for a preschooler in Vietnam, to $14 for a solar lamp, so that a child might be able to study at night (blackouts are common) in India. Or go local and support a struggling student in Singapore by contributing money to his education bursary. Besides initiating your mini-me into the spirit of giving, he’ll get insights on how children in other parts of the world, including his own, are faring. This should make him more thankful for what he’s got.

Turn to find 8 more ways to add more magic to your Yuletide celebration!

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7) Volunteer

Countless options are available ― from volunteering at the Salvation Army as a Christmas Kettle bell ringer to helping out at the soup kitchen at Willing Hearts. With his involvement in prepping, packing and delivering meals to the needy, your peewee’s eyes will be opened to his less-fortunate brethren, even as he make memomories that will last a lifetime.

8) Sing out loud

Even if you aren’t part of a choir, you can sing festive jingles as a family. Put on your favourite Christmas carols (bonus points if daddy can play the guitar instead), dim the light and cuddle up in the front of the Christmas tree to sing about Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, or why you’re dreaming of a white Christmas. Don’t forget the hot cocoa!

9) Watch the sunrise

While staying up till midnight on Christmas Eve may be out of the question, since your sweetie gets cranky in the evenings, why not wake up early to catch a Christmas Day sunrise? Surely there isn’t a better way to start a magical day than on this bright note! In any case, the kids will be up early anyway to open their presents, so you might as well make the best of it!

Let your munchkins get their hands dirty with marker pens, glitter and finger paints to create a one-of-a-kind Christmas card for grandpa

11) Create a family tradition

Little ones thrive on routine and starting your own family traditions is the best way to create some excitement and anticipation. Lila Tamura, 29, mum to Jacob, 2, recalls that a huge part of her Christmas celebrations growing up was the “Christmas elf” – a stuffed toy her mum would display in various places in her home in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Lila and her sister would write their Christmas wish lists to Santa, “watched over” by the Christmas elf, who would report to mummy if their behaviour justified those gifts. “The elf has been packed away for years, but I’m looking forward to bringing it out for Jacob once he understands the concept of Santa!” Lila grins.

12) Shopping date

So that your tot fully appreciates the thought behind the enhancing of gifts, make this tradition more about the process than the results. Arrange a one-on-one shopping date with your sweetie and get him to pick presents for family members. Ask him questions like, “What do you think grandpa would life this year?” or “Would baby Joe want a new blankie or toy car?”. Stop for a sweet treat, too, to soak up the festive atmosphere in the malls.

13) Create meaningful gifts

Even better, make something for a loved one. Let your munchkins get their hands dirty with marker pens, glitter and finger paints to create a one-of-a-kind Christmas card for grandpa, or decorate a photo frame with stickers for a favourite aunt.

14) Take a look back

Together, write down memories of the year in a scrapbook, paste pictures, create drawings, and basically add any keepsakes that sum up the past year. Then write a New Year’s message to your family together, to prepare for next year. After this, gather the brood to reflect on this year’s memories, sharing chuckles over funny happenings.

Mum-of-two Georgina Lim, 30, crates a “secret” yearly scrapbook as the months go by and whips it out on Christmas Day, so that the family can enjoy a laugh tighter over the important moments and milestones. “It’s a great way to spend quality time together and bond. Plus, it makes a terrific keepsake!”

Yule Be Fine

Tops tips on surviving the season with kids.

TIP #1 STICK TO A BUDGET Don’t overspend on gifts, decorations and party food. Decide on the maximum amount you’d like to spend on each item and if possible, limit your purchases. Homemade gifts beat store-bought ones any day, and you’ll be amazed at how many festive decorations you can scrounge up from around the house.

TIP #2 ORGANISE CLEAN-UPS Before you host any bash, ensure your home is in tip-top condition to receive guests, so get your kids to help clean their individual spaces. But if all else fails, hire housecleaning help.

TIP #3 SHOP AHEAD You know how awful the Orchard Road crowds can get in the week before Christmas. So, make your gifts list in advance. Look for online deals – and make sure you factor in adequate time for delivery. If you absolutely have to go to the mall with the kids, ensure that they are well-rested and fed to minimise meltdowns. Avoid the weekend crowds and try to shop during office hours if you can.

TIP #4 PARTY ETIQUETTE If you’re throwing a party for extended family which is gathering at your place, don’t feel compelled to provide all the food, especially if you’re strapped for time. Suggest a potluck and everyone can bring a dish, or arrange for a buffet to be catered. But if it’s an informal get-together, finger foods like chips and dips are easy to prepare. Also, pay attention to the little ones to make sure that they are party-ready. Take note of when they need a bath or a nap. Plus, if you have guests staying over, remind your offspring of the general house rules to follow.

TIP #5 SAFETY FIRST Ensure that your celebrations are kid-safe. Keep breakables out of reach of toddlers, place delicate ornaments higher up on the tree and put away any candles and matches. When opening presents, discard or keep any little pieces of plastic or bolts or nuts away from grabby little hands.

Photos: iStock

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