Meet the unsung heroes who strive to ensure your Christmas goes with a bang!

Ho Ho Ho, you can almost smell Christmas in the air as you sip your Toffee Nut latte, see it all around you, thanks to dazzling light displays, and feel the excitement while sauntering through shopping centres playing carols non-stop.

Before you get sucked into the mad rush of getting gifts and planning big bashes, consider the individuals who bring joy to the world (and you) during this magical season, thanks to their tireless contributions. From dishing up delectable dinners and tickling your funny bone to instilling a sense of service, we salute the shining stars who are finessing your festivities.


Deck the hols…

Nicole Foo, 33, assistant vice president of advertising and promotions at Changi Airport, is a member of its Christmas decorations team. Mum to a 10-month-old baby girl, Le Xuan, she is married to Kelvin Tan, 33, a senior airport manager.

“The best Christmas present I’ve ever received was a plush bear my dad bought for me when I was 7 years old. We didn’t have much money then, so the fact that he’d ‘splurged’ on this gift made it extra special. To this day, it remains one of my most treasured possessions.

I’ve been with the airport’s 13-member strong-Christmas team since 2007 – our tastes include deciding on decorations, planning promotions and organizing fun activities for our visitors. We’ve really outdone ourselves this year – there will be gigantic 11m-high pineapple house boasting a multi-sensory light-and-sound show complete with snowflakes, plus a bouncy castle, storytelling sessions with Santa and stilt walkers. It’s certainly going to be a mesmerizing and unforgettable Christmas for everyone who walks through our doors.

Working in an airport has definitely fed my wanderlust. In fact, I had grand plans to visit Helsinki, Finland, the hometown of Santa, last year, because of the festive significance and also because I love snow so much! However, my plans were quashed when I found out that I was pregnant. This means I can only start planning again once my little girl is a bit older – who knows, she might even be travelling with a sibling by then!”


Let it show! Let it show! Let it show!

Preschool educator and entertainer Mark De Silva, 36, puts on the child-centric ToyBox Christmas Show with his creative partner Reuben Tupaz. Dad to 9-month-old Mia, he is married to Maria, 32, a senior writer.

“The first time I held Mia in my arms, I was already thinking about what my first Christmas would be like with her. It’s without a doubt, my most favourite holiday and coming from a musical family, as always, involved lots of singing and dancing.

I still vividly remember the day I told my dad I wanted to learn to play the guitar. He was so excited, he restrung his old guitar which he’d used when he played in a band during his younger days, and gave it to me with a little chord book filled with golden oldies.

Just watching their big smiles as they dance and hearing their crazy laughter when we crack jokes is reason enough for us to go on.

Now that I’m a dad, I feel like my life has come full circle, because I can now leave the songs that I’ve written and composed as part of the ToyBox Christmas Show to Mia one day.

Our audience is between the ages of 1 and 6 and we interact with them through song, dance, and puppet shows. Just watching their big smiles as they dance and hearing their crazy laughter when we crack jokes is reason enough for us to go on. The best pay-off is when they smother us with loving hugs and enthusiastic high-fives.

When Mia is a little older, we plan to bake cookies together as a family during Christmas. I’m not sure how helpful I’ll be in the kitchen so maybe, I’ll serenade them with carols while they bake!”

Click through to meet two more Christmas cheer givers…


Clause and effect

Primary school teacher Annemarie van Keulen, 37, is a volunteer with the Netherlands Charity Association’s (NCA) annual Charity Christmas Fair. Married to Remco Dadang van Keulen, 35, a commercial manager in dairy commodities, she is mum to Olivia, 1 and Jasmijn, 5.

“Life has been extremely good to me. I must admit. From being adopted as a 3-year-old Indonesia child by a Dutch family, to meeting my husband, also an Indonesian adopted by a Dutch family, to having two precious girls and moving to Singapore two years ago to start a new exciting adventure.

This is why I’ve always felt it’s important for me to give back to others and make a difference in their lives. So, I jumped at the chance to help the NCA with its charity Christmas fair. It’s such a magical place – vendors sell Dutch foods, homemade festive decorations, jewellery, clothes cards and a slew of unique knick-knacks.

It warms my hear to know that I can help so many people through this fair – it’s also a great way to instil a sense of service in my girls from an early age.

Attracting up to 400 people each year, the fair raises about $15,000, which goes to a variety of organistions. It provides food, provisions and cash for disadvantaged families, to support abused domestic and migrant workers, destitute ex-leprosy victims, babies in need of foster care, as well as services for pregnant women in crisis.

It warms my hear to know that I can help so many people through this fair – it’s also a great way to instil a sense of service in my girls from an early age.


You butter watch out!

Executive chef at the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa, Kamal Silva, 40, is in charge of the resort’s Christmas Eve dinner extravaganza. Married to Nympha, 40, a stay-at-home mum, he is dad to Sean 8, and Rachel, 10.

“Growing up in Sri Lanka, my fondest memories of Christmas is of traipsing through my grandmother’s farm to help her pick out live ducks and turkeys, which we later cooked for the entire family. Granny also made the best Christmas pudding.

No surprises that I grew up loving food, enjoying the camaraderie of dining together and appreciating fresh ingredients. And nothing thrills me more than creating dishes based on occasions and seasons, because I can use fresh, seasonal ingredients which grow in abundance during that particular period, that my dishes are of the highest quality.

This month, I’m busy perfecting our special Christmas Eve dinner at the resort. I’ll be using the finest seasonal ingredients imported from around Europe and Canada, such as turkey, chestnuts, cranberries and brandy.

I can’t wait to see the look on our guests’ faces when they walk into the restaurant to find a 78m mega-long buffet table teeming with more than 100 local and traditional Christmas dishes including cream-of-chestnut soup, roasted turkey and ham, pumpkin pie, as well as gingerbread cookies.

Working during this period means that I won’t be able to celebrate the festivities with my family. Still, we have plans to continue our annual tradition of unwrapping gifts minutes before the clock strikes midnight on the eve and having a family feast on the 26th, which will include my granny’s signature pudding!”

This story was first published in Mother & Baby December 2013.

Photos: File photos

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