Christmas Craft: Have Fun Gift-Wrapping with Kids

It’s my favourite season of the year again – Christmas! Although we don’t get fluffy white snow here in Singapore, there is always a special atmosphere in the air that is full of love and giving whenever Christmas is around the corner.

That’s what I love most about Christmas!

In addition, we can get a chance to

… do many late-nights shopping,

… enjoy the beautiful light-up along Orchard Road,

… decorate the Christmas tree,

… spend time with family and friends,

… splurge on expensive gifts for our loved ones, and even ourselves!

Speaking of gifts, I like to wrap my own Christmas gifts to give them a unique personal touch. Of course, all the shops provide gift-wrapping services these days, but this is something personal that I like to do it on my own.

Getting the kids to help out in gift-wrapping raises their excitement level as Christmas approaches. From using commercial Christmas wrapping papers to making our own creative wrappers, getting the kids’ involvement also turns a mundane task into a family craft project.

We all know that kids love to get involved. To be a part of something important, and to contribute. And I think Christmas is the perfect time for us to get our kids involved in gift-wrapping and making personalized Christmas gift tags.

Even if their artworks may not look as appealing as those commercialized gift-wrappers, I think it’s alright because they at least had fun decorating and creating something together as a family. Nothing beats a present wrapped with love, little fingermarks and lots of laughter! I’m sure you’ll agree too.

Here are FIVE fun gift-wrapping ideas for you to get creative this Christmas – with your kids, of course!

Xmas Gift

You will need:

Newspapers, children’s artworks, scotch tapes, baker’s twine, Christmas gift tags, scissors, recyclable boxes or containers, paper bags, masking tapes, washi tapes, paints, stickers.

1. The kid’s artwork makes a perfect gift wrap

The kids will surely enjoy seeing their artworks on the packages they give to others, thus making them a perfect option for gift wraps.

So, start collecting some previous artworks from your child now. You can use the original or photocopy the artwork so you can re-use it. Wrap small gifts in the photocopied artwork with your child, it will surely add a personal touch to the gift itself!

2. Decorate our own paper bags

Paper bags double as a wrapping idea for homemade treats and smaller gifts. Instead of using plain-coloured paper bags, let our kids decorate the outsides of the bags with stickers, glitters, paints, paper cut-outs, felt or even jingle bells.

After the gift is placed inside the paper bag, fold over the top of the bag and punch a hole through the folded area. Thread a baker’s twine through the hole and neatly tie it to hold the bag closed. You can also decorate it with masking tapes. They add a beautiful finishing touch to the gift bags.

3. Make our own custom gift boxes

An old cereal box or other recyclable containers give us an option to make our own personalized Christmas gift boxes. We can either paint them, or wrap them in artworks or decorative papers. Tie a baker’s twine around the box as a final touch to the Christmas wrapping idea.

4. Recycle the newspapers

I can’t tell you how much I love the baker’s twine and newspaper look! It’s both vintage and modern, plus recycling is my priority. Even kids could do this! Print our own Christmas gift tags and tie them up using a baker’s twine for a beautiful finishing.

5. Make our own Christmas gift tags

Designing our own Christmas gift tags is certainly not an easy task to do. Thanks to the kind people at Fancy Girl Design Studio and Free Pretty Things, you can now download these beautiful Christmas gift tags for free.

Simply print them with a colour printer and add your own personal Christmas greetings, and voila, you’re good to go!

After all the crafting activities, please wash our hands with Lifebuoy antibacterial hand wash. Keeping our hands clean is our first weapon in fighting the spread of germs and therefore keeping ourselves illness free. Lifebuoy antibacterial hand wash protects the health of those we care for, all day long.

I hope these simple Christmas craft ideas add fun to your gift-wrapping this year by getting your kids involved. Hopefully, your packages stand out in the crowd too!

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Modesto’s Pizzeria at VivoCity: Review & Giveaway

Bon Giorno! On this lovely Sunday morning, I’m going to bring you to a beautiful restaurant that is perfect for a romantic dinner for two, or a special dinner with family, or even gathering with friends.

That is Modesto’s Pizzeria at VivoCity.

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A little bit of introduction, Modesto’s Pizzeria has been in Singapore for over a decade and their flagship outlet is located along Singapore’s busiest shopping belt at Orchard. The Italian restaurant chain has since expanded to four outlets in Singapore at Orchard, Elizabeth, Katong and VivoCity.

Modesto’s Pizzeria at VivoCity

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Modesto’s Pizzeria at VivoCity Shopping Centre has recently been relocated from Level 1 to Level 3. Its current location at the roof top of VivoCity has many advantages. Firstly, there is a beautiful view from the sky park and plenty of space for kids to roam around (if you’re seated outdoor). Secondly, the location is less crowded as compared to inside of the shopping centre.

If you’re wondering if this is a family-friendly restaurant, then the answer is YES! There are kid’s menu, high chairs and colouring sheets (colours are provided too) to keep the kids comfortable and entertained in the restaurant.

We went for a dinner on Saturday night. It was still drizzling, so we chose to sit indoor on the upper deck. The indoor dining area is separated into two decks. I would say that the upper deck is more suitable for families. The lower deck has high tables and bar stools, which might be difficult for children.

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This is my first visit to Modesto’s and I was intrigued by the ambience of this outlet. The interior lightning is moderately dim, which makes me feel so nice and cosy. The Christmas decorations are up in the restaurant, thus giving us a festive feeling that enhances our overall dining experience.

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There is a junior’s set menu at $12.90++ that comprises a drink, a choice of pasta or mini pizza and a dessert.

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(Sorry that the chicken wings looked a bit dark in this picture due to the dim lightning)

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Gamberetti Fritti

For the appetizers, we ordered the Alette Di Pollo ($17) – that’s my all-time favourite, deep-fried chicken wings and drumlets. They are so crispy and flavourful! We also ordered the Gamberetti Fritti ($16) – marinated prawns wrapped in the pastry and deep-friend. Both appetizers come with yummy home-made chilli sauce and tartar sauce.

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Zuppeta Pesce

For the soup, we ordered the Zuppeta Pesce ($18) – an assortment of fresh prawns, squids, clams and mussels, simmered in fresh tomato sauce. It’s not spicy, so the kids can totally enjoy this delicious fresh seafood and soup.

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Misto Carne

For the main course, the traditional wood-fired pizza is certainly not to be missed. We ordered a regular-sized (12-inch) Misto Carne – pizza with marinated chicken, spicy pork salami, chicken sausages and cooked pork ham.

The serving is quite huge, good for 2-3 pax. Little Edison was totally in-love with the thin-crust pizza! The only pizza that he has eaten before is at Pizza Hut, so he was raving for the thin-crust pizza so much because it is amazingly delicious!

The crust is firm and crispy, and it has a delicious combination of toppings: chicken, pork, sausages and ham. That’s what I like about it.

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Linguine Modesto’s

For the pasta, we ordered the Linguine Modesto’s ($29) under the Modesto’s Special Pasta category. It is flat spaghetti with fresh prawns, squid, clams, mussels, whole crab, anchovies, capers, dried chilli, garlic, white wine and fresh tomato sauce, cooked in traditional Italian Cartoccio style.

It was really ‘love at first mouthful’ – if such term do exists! Haha!

This pasta is really delicious and I highly recommend it. Its serving size is huge and good for twin-sharing too.

After a sumptuous dinner, we unwind with refreshing fruit juices and yummy strawberry milkshake for Little Edison. We had to skip the dessert because our tummies are already 150% full! You can judge from the amount of food that we ordered.

All in all, we really enjoyed our dinner at Modesto’s VivoCity. It’s been so long since I last had such a romantic dinner with V (and with Little Edison in-tow). I’ve to make a special mention for the excellent service rendered to us by the restaurant staffs.

After the dinner, V said “We should come more often, dear!” And I replied, “That’s for sure!”

If you’re thinking of giving this restaurant a try, here’s a good news for you. I have two $50 Modesto’s dining vouchers to giveaway to two readers.

Hop over to Our Little Smarties Facebook Page for details on this giveaway. Good luck!

For more information on Modesto’s Pizzeria, please visit their website or Facebook Page.

Disclosure: Dining vouchers for giveaway contest are sponsored by Modesto’s. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are honest and are my own.

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LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia – Bedrooms and Dining (Part 2)

The moment we arrived at LEGOLAND Hotel, we were ushered into a wonderful world of LEGO where everything is literally built with LEGO bricks. You’ll probably have the same feeling after reading my first post. As promised, I’ll bring you for a visual tour to the various themed rooms in LEGOLAND Hotel in this post.

Room Types

There are 4 different room types in LEGOLAND Hotel. Their sizes and capacities are depicted below:

  1. Theme Room – 35sqm (5 pax)
  2. Premium Theme Room – 35sqm (5 pax)
  3. Deluxe Theme Room – 50sqm (8 pax)
  4. Suite – 70sqm (8 pax)

All the rooms have theme park views, except the theme rooms (#1). Besides the view, the theme rooms have minor differences in its wall and door finishing. Part of the room is painted, as compared to the other rooms where all the walls have wallpapers. Please refer to the hotel website for pictures.

Pirate Bedroom View
[View from our room] We stayed in a premium pirate themed room with a complete view of the theme parks!

During the media preview, I understand that the price difference between the theme room and premium theme room can be as low as RM50 during the low seasons.

Pirate Bedroom 1
King-sized bed in our pirate room

All the rooms include a king-sized bed for adults, plus a separate semi-private sleeping area for children, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed, entertainment unit and LEGO toys. For deluxe room and suite, there are two bunk beds and two pull-out trundle beds.

Bunk Bed

All the rooms also come with a high-definition flat panel television, mini-fridge, coffee-maker, work-station, hair-dryer and complimentary toiletries. The toiletries provided are hand soap and 2-in-1 body shower and shampoo on wall-mounted dispensers (no miniature sized bottles).

Toilet

Toilet 2

All the bathrooms have standing shower, with no bath tub except the suite. The suite has two bathrooms – one with bath tub, and the other one with standing shower. The suite also has a living and dining hall.

Kingdom Room 5
Bath tub for suites only

Room rates start from RM400, depending on room types and seasons, and it includes breakfast for all pax. Theme park and water park tickets are to be purchased separately. Complimentary car-parking is provided for all guests.

Kids Fun

I’ve to make a special mention for the Treasure Chest (with a brick built monkey sitting on top) that is available in all rooms. There is a paper where the children need to solve some clues in their room to get the code to unlock the treasure chest. This definitely got Little Edison super excited, and of course, he managed to unlock the chest and get rewarded with some goodies.

Kids Fun 2
Goodies in the Treasure Chest
Room Themes

Besides the four room types, there are three different themes to choose from. And they are:

1. Pirate: You’ll see pirate bedding, curtains, skulls and cross bones, as well as a LEGO parrot.
[nivo-slider id=’Pirate’ theme=’light’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5475/11183926845_0d69231c95_o.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2823/11183926535_2460c922dd_o.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7335/11183926745_765df0ffe6_o.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5510/11183968926_93a0aaaa59_o.jpg’][/nivo-slider]

2. Adventure: You’ll see hidden treasures, scorpions, lizards and other jungle animals.
[nivo-slider id=’Adventure’ theme=’light’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7451/11183983914_c3315310c6_o.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3772/11184390456_587614cdd2_z.jpg’][/nivo-slider]

3. Kingdom: You’ll see bunting, shields, fire, and flags that meet the royal standards.
[nivo-slider id=’Kingdom’ theme=’light’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5513/11183969406_9906a005c9_z.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2819/11183969326_1548b81e76_z.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5508/11183927765_a75c2b1479_z.jpg’][nivoslides image_link=’http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5546/11183970006_5943362ff7_z.jpg’][/nivo-slider]

Hotel Dining

The hotel dining includes:

  1. Bricks Family Restaurant: It’s an all day dining, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in a buffet-style. It’s the biggest restaurant in the hotel, with a capacity for 465 guests!
  2. Gourmet Bricks Fine Dining: It’s an ala-carte restaurant. (Not opened yet during the media preview)
  3. The Skyline Bar: It serves drinks throughout the day.

Food

During our stay, we had our breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Bricks Family Restaurant. The buffet spread is impressive, and we really like the local nasi lemak, chicken curry, prawn sambal and tom yam soup!

Restaurant 2

The ice-cream corner is keeping our boy really busy.

Restaurant

Last but not least, you can get a chance to take pictures with life-sized LEGO figures during your meal! How awesome is that!

All in all, we really enjoyed our stay at LEGOLAND Hotel, as well as two days of fun at the theme park and water park. I’ve attempted to come up with a few criticisms, but I really can’t think of anything that did not meet my expectations.

Does that warrant a trip back any time soon? Certainly YES! We’ll be back again! For those of you who are planning for a visit this Dec school holiday, a quick word – GO FOR IT!

Click HERE to read my previous posts on LEGOLAND theme park. Visit Legoland Malaysia website at www.LEGOLAND.my for more information.

Disclosure: This trip is sponsored by LEGOLAND Malaysia. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are honest and are my own.

 

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LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia – An Overview (Part 1)

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To all of us – fans of the LEGOLAND theme park, we’ll be delighted to know that LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia opened its door on the 29 Nov 2013 to welcome guests from across the region. This is Asia’s first LEGOLAND Hotel which offers 249 uniquely themed bedrooms, and its opening also marks the complete transformation of LEGOLAND into a Resort.

Now, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort brings together a Theme Park, Water Park and Hotel in one LEGO® themed location with more than 70 hands-on rides, slides, shows and attractions. This is really exciting! It’s just an hour drive from Singapore customs to this unique holiday destination. And we have one more option on our holiday list now!

We’re truly grateful to be invited to the LEGOLAND Hotel media preview and be the first to stay in this hotel. And I’m equally excited to share all the details of this hotel with you today on my blog. Hopefully, if you’re planning a trip to this resort, this post will be helpful to you.

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The moment I saw LEGOLAND Hotel, I was like “Wow! This hotel looks like it’s built entirely with millions and millions of LEGO bricks!” What’s immediately striking is how bright and fresh the hotel looks like with its classic LEGO colour scheme.

Dragon

The entrance of the hotel is guarded by a huge, brick built dragon. It roars with smoke coming from its nostrils every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. Yes, the dragon never sleeps and if you happen to hear roaring sound, don’t be puzzled. It’s from the dragon.

When we stepped into the hotel reception, Little Edison was truly amazed and he went “Oh, I haven’t seen so much LEGO bricks in my entire life! Everywhere here is LEGO!” He was beaming with joy and excitement! That’s what I called a true child’s paradise.

Hotel Lobby - 1

Entering the reception area gives a great sense of what’s in store in the rest of the LEGOLAND Hotel. On the left, there is a huge 32-foot high pirate shipwreck with a LEGO river. On the right, there is a big castle guarded by a LEGO ogre where children can actually enter and play.

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It’s a perfect idea that at LEGOLAND, children don’t need to feel bored while waiting for their parents to check-in. They can immediately have some fun at the pirate shipwreck and castle.

Reception

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When you check-in, you’ll be impressed with the amazing display of 12,528 LEGO mini-figures behind the reception desk. A giant LEGO figure will cycle across the display, with magnifying glasses on the wheels. I simply love the attention to details that adds to the uniqueness of this hotel.

Shop

Children's Play Area All

There is a retail shop for guests to buy their souvenirs. There’s also a dedicated play area with more than 100,000 LEGO bricks. For toddlers, there is a special play area with bricks foams (softer in texture). Oh, have I mentioned about the Xbox 360 Kinetic in the play area? I think parents will have good fun too!

Garden

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There is a courtyard garden, swimming pool and children’s wadding pool in this hotel. There are also daily kids activities organized by the hotel staffs.

Bricks Family Restaurant

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Bricks Family Restaurant is the biggest restaurant in this hotel that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a buffet-style. The dining environment is wonderfully relaxed and spacious for children to move around. The furnishing is colourful and bright, and you’ll also see LEGO fun elements in the restaurant.

Lift Lobby

Once check-in is completed, the LEGO lifts will take guests to their appropriate floors. You need to scan your hotel key card to gain access to the specific floors (good security!). From the character-themed ‘disco’ lifts to the themed bedrooms and throughout the entire floor, the walls, carpets and doors are designed according to their themes. The three themes are Pirate, Adventure and Kingdom.

Lift Lobby (2)

One post is certainly not enough to share with you about this beautiful LEGOLAND Hotel. In my next post, I will take you to our premium pirate-themed bedroom. So, please stay tuned!

Please visit Legoland Malaysia website at www.LEGOLAND.my for more information.

 

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Twelve Fun Things to do Indoors on Rainy Days

When it has rained for days, and you’re running out of fun things to do with your kids, what would you do?

If you have young kids at home, it’s important to have a back-up plan so that they don’t sit moaning about how bored they are and start bouncing from the barstools to the walls.

Here are some of my favourite indoor activities for the rainy days, and I hope you have fun with them too!

1. Board Games

Snake and Ladder

Board games can keep children occupied for hours, while teaching them valuable lessons like following rules, fair play, taking turns, etc.

We like Monopoly, as it teaches Edison about counting money, owing, selling and renting properties. Scrabble helps to perfect his spelling and develops vocabulary. Snakes and ladders game, on the other hand, teaches him to count spaces, and accept rewards and consequences.

2. Indoor Sports

Bowling

Even if it’s raining and you’re dying to do something physical, you can try the following indoor sports. Bowling and indoor golf are our favourites!

  • Go bowling
  • Indoor golf
  • Basketball hoop games
  • Hula Hoops
  • Jumping on a trampoline

Some of these indoor sports games may cost a little more, but sometimes it’s worth paying it to end the boredom of being stuck at home.

3. TV

TV

Sometimes, you can’t avoid it and you just have to let your kids watch TV. I can totally understand it. Instead of giving them unlimited access to cartoon channels, why not choose some educational programs for them?

Some educational programs that I always encourage Edison to watch are:

  • Leap Frog Learning DVDs
  • Word World
  • Super Why
  • Ni Hao Kai Lan

4. Hand crafts and paintings

Simply grab some papers, glue, scissors, paints or colour pencils, and set up a table. Hours can be spent making really fun crafts and paintings with our kids.

5. Put together a puzzle

Puzzles have long been a favourite learning toy for children. Puzzles improve a child’s problem solving and reasoning skills, colours and shapes recognition, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. It’s also a great tool for fostering cooperative play.

6. Indoor toys like Lego and PlayDoh

You might be surprised at how these simple toys can bring joy to our children when we really sit down and play together with them.

7. Play dress-up

Let’s play some dress-up games at home, while we’ll be the photographer and let our children pose. Be ready to capture their natural smiles that best reflect the blissfulness of their childhood.

8. Read a story book

Rainy days are made for curling up in a good book. Read a story book and enjoy a cup of hot drink with our children, it’s relaxing and promotes good family bonding.

9. Organize a family album

Many happy hours can be spent going through old family pictures with our kids and re-organize them.

10. Hide and go seek

Never under-estimate the power of this old-fashioned game. They may not hide well, but they just love doing it.

11. Pull out an old toy from the store

If your kids are like Edison, they probably have boxes of old toys archived in the store that are no longer being played with. It can be great fun to pull out some old toys or let them rummage through them. There is something in these old toys that will surely delight them.

11. Electronics games

Living in the technology era, computer games are inevitable. Choose the educational games that are suitable for your kid’s age.

12. Cooking together at home

From baking cookies to cooking a meal, there are so many fun kitchen projects that will bring family members together. Start out slowly by having them to wash the vegetables or peel the potatoes. You can also ask them to taste the food and what they think the “recipe” is lacking, and then let them pick the spices or sauces that they think would make the dish even better.

It will bring the growing excitement about preparing a meal together on a rainy day!

I hope these few ideas will help you and your kids on one of those boring rainy days. Spending time with our children at home, and finding activities where everyone enjoys doing it together can bring a family closer together, and promises a healthy and happy family for now and the future.

Lastly, don’t forget to keep our family germ-free and stay one-step ahead of infections by using Lifebuoy antibacterial body wash and hand wash!

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