Tag Archives: Christmas

Shanghai Christmas 2013

I am amazed at how fast this year has flown by.  All of a sudden, (it seems!) it is Christmas once again.  Owen did most of our Christmas Shopping this year and I am very grateful for that.  Work has been so very busy that I have had little free time to juggle anything else with.

I rushed home from work on Christmas Eve so that we could all go over to Tim & Marie’s house for a few hours.  We were home by 7:30 so it was a lovely way to excite the kids enough without anyone getting over-whelmed!  For the first time, I forgot to take my camera (I am never without that usually!) so I have no photos from Christmas Eve.  However, it was the same group of Ex-pats staying in Shanghai over Christmas so we saw quite a bit of them!!  And, I remembered to take the camera to the rest of the events.

Once we got home, of course the children were excited.  We got mince pie cookies and brandy ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph.  They had had such a busy day that they actually went off to sleep relatively well.  Disaster struck at 12:30 though as Owen could hear voices coming from Isabelle’s bedroom.  I was already in bed, but Owen was downstairs.  Sure enough, Isabelle had woken up and then woken Oliver up and they both decided to start opening stocking presents that had already been delivered!  Oh no!  It was time for Daddy to have some stern words and send everyone off to sleep again until a decent time in the morning.  Goodness knows how Santa managed to sneak past Owen to deliver presents AND eat the cookie, drink the brandy.  It was quite the discussion in our house in the morning.

It was a leisurely morning opening presents, playing with toys and eating breakfast.  I absolutely enjoyed every minute of this precious morning.  Watching the kids excitement and pleasure at everything they opened and received was delightful.  They were also just as excited to watch Owen and I open our presents. They had managed to keep the presents for Daddy a surprise and he certainly was surprised this year!  He also totally surprised me and made me cry with his thoughtfulness – a perfect gift for me!  Tetley was also treated to a stocking full of treats:

I know I can get my head in there - I can smell goodies!

I know I can get my head in there – I can smell goodies!

I knew it!!

I knew it!! Yummy treats for a special girl.

Christmas Tree and kids  2013

Christmas Tree and kids 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

Family including Tetley Christmas 2013

We e-biked/biked around to Rob & Jen’s house at 12:30.  Our 2nd Shanghai Christmas and a repeat of our experience from last year.  This year, Rob and Jen hosted us in their beautiful home.  They had welcomed the Intercontinental Catering team into their kitchen and they had provided all the food for our Christmas dinner.  We were totally spoiled!  Again!!

Champagne ready on ice!

Champagne ready on ice!

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Turkey ready for carving (and ham, beef and sausages)

Salads for starters.

Salads for starters.

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes - yummy!

Pasta, seafood, vegetables, potatoes – yummy!

Desserts - mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit.  YUMMY!

Desserts – mini Christmas Puddings, fruit tarts, stollen, chocolate mousse log and fruit. YUMMY!

We were thrilled to share Christmas day Dinner with Rob and Jen, with their 2 children, Freddie and Theo, plus Kevin and Jane and their 2 children, Amelie and Joseph.  It was a huge feast and the set up was perfect.  1 table for the 6 children right next to the adult table!  Crackers and chocolates were extra treats on the tables for all of us:

The kids are all ready to eat!

The kids are all ready to eat!

Our Christmas Day "Emerald Family" Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

Our Christmas Day “Emerald Family”
Jane, Rob, Jen, Kevin, Sara & Owen
Isabelle, Amelie, Theo, Joseph, Freddie & Oliver

It was a long, relaxing, fun dinner.  We all made multiple visits to the buffet for plate refills!  Good conversation, good company and flowing fizz.  The kids wanted to swim after their food, so they were all in the pool for a dip and a splash.

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Oliver and Joseph firing off the water pistols!

Meanwhile, the adults were having fun too!

Jane, Jen and Sara

Jane, Jen and Sara

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Rob, Kevin & Owen

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

Oh, how we laughed through most of the day!

After the adults had finished eating and the kids had finished swimming, it was time to play Charades.  Lots of fun with all participating and some very funny gestures.

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Owen, Jane, Jen and Freddie

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

Freddie, Amelie and Isabelle (with her new mini Furby who talks non-stop!)

We all totally enjoyed our Christmas day with Rob, Jen, Jane and Kevin.  All too soon it was past 6:00 and time for us to get home to get ready for the evening get together.  We raced home, got changed and then arrived at Suzanne and Brien’s house to find the party already in full force.

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Suzanne, Jane, Marie and Mike

Jane and Mike have just arrived in Shanghai to start their new assignment.  They were both relieved to be welcomed into the Emerald Ex-pat family!  The wonderful thing about living like this is that everyone is in exactly the same boat and are super supportive, friendly and welcoming.

Brien with some of the boys!

Brien with some of the boys!

More friends to play with! Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

More friends to play with!
Lia, Isabelle, Siobhan, Seren, Oliver, Ciara and Caitlyn.

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

Rob, Tim, Marie, Jen, Owen and Sara

It was a wonderful Christmas Day celebration.  If you cannot celebrate with your family, then an Ex-Pat “family” get together is a great choice.

I am very grateful for our friends in Shanghai that make this whole experience so much fun and who are so supportive.

After a few too many glasses of fizz on Christmas evening, I invited a few friends over to our house for Boxing Day!!  So, we woke up late and then had a whirlwind around the house getting ready for people to arrive.  As the Chinese do not celebrate Christmas, all the shops were open and it was just another working day for all the locals!  This worked in our favor because I could run to the shop to buy a few snacks for our impromptu gathering.  It worked out well, with Marie and kids, Kevin & Jane plus kids and Rob & Jen plus kids stopping in for a few relaxing hours.  It was a nice way to close out Christmas 2013.

A bittersweet Christmas celebration…….

It is time for another Emerald Christmas celebration!  Kevin & Jane were hosting their annual open house this afternoon/evening and it was wonderful to celebrate with our neighbors.  However, this was also the last time for me to hang out with our good friends Matt & Emma, so was a little bittersweet.  They are off to their next Ex-Pat adventure in Bangkok, Thailand.  Isabelle and Oliver will really miss their best buddies:

These 2 are old souls.  They play together so well and really love each other.  Neither of them really realize that this is it…. :-(

These 2 are old souls. They play together so well and really love each other. Neither of them really realize that this is it…. 😦

Best buddies for last 2 years.  Thank goodness for technology - time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

Best buddies for last 2 years. Thank goodness for technology – time will tell if these 2 stay in touch with email and Face Time.

It was a wonderful afternoon/evening with excellent hosts – Kevin and Jane.  Everybody bought something to share (Isabelle had made cupcakes earlier in the day for us to take – and they were delicious!).  There was also plenty of fizz for the adults to enjoy!  The kids were in their element with loads of arts and crafts to do, plus movie time.  It was time for me to catch up with old friends before the mass departure for the Christmas break.

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew.  Celebrating Christmas a little early!

The Emerald (and Tiziano!) crew. Celebrating Christmas a little early!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

I actually managed to get in one photo!!

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years.  Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

These 4 have been as thick as thieves for the last 18 months/2 years. Isabelle is very upset that Ava is leaving, but it has not hit Oliver yet.

I will also miss Matt & Emma…..

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 - here we come!!!!!

Vacation in Thailand, part 2 – here we come!!!!!

What a wonderful time, catching up with old friends and new friends.  Many are about to leave for an extended Christmas break so this was perfect timing to wish everyone the best of the season.

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo - good times!

Sara, Marie, Jane, Emma and Jo – good times!

The kids thought that it was a fun time too!

A great group of kids!

A great group of kids!

Merry Christmas to all my Shanghai friends!

Party time – Emerald style…..

I have been travelling so much in 2013 and now I am trying to catch up on posts.  We have also had some issues with our internet access (it is the season of changing Party officials, after all!!)

The lead up to Christmas was full of festivity and there were lots of events that Owen and I were invited to.  Jane and JC hosted a Stars and Stockings Party which was huge fun.

Stockings and Stars!

Stockings and Stars!  Most of the girls showing off their stockings.  I just wore Star earrings!!

Some of the Boys

Some of the Boys

Thanks to plenty of champagne and some great music (Jane and JC's 14 year old son was DJ!) there was plenty of dancing.  And dancing in 80's style!

Thanks to plenty of champagne and some great music (Jane and JC’s 14 year old son was DJ!) there was plenty of dancing. And dancing in 80’s style!

And, remember this one?

And, remember this one?

It was a fantastic evening.  Not only was Jane and JC’s son the DJ, but he also tended bar for us all – mixing perfect cocktails dressed in a tux!  I am sure we all gave him some good stories for his friends!!

The party that kicked off the Christmas season celebrations!

The party that kicked off the Christmas season celebrations!

More Christmas parties the following weekend: friends from work on Saturday night and then Sunday was open house at Jane and Kevin’s house.  She had over 12 children all doing arts and crafts – decorating cookies, making Christmas tree ornaments and colouring.  It was loud and noisy with so many kids having so much fun.  It was a lovely relaxing Sunday afternoon catching up with friends, discussing Christmas plans, sipping mulled wine, eating mince pies and other traditional goodies.

Open House at Jane and Kevin's

Open House at Jane and Kevin’s

Shanghai Christmas

What a wonderful Christmas in Shanghai. We are so fortunate to have a large “family” of Ex-pats here who host so many wonderful events and look out for each other. The season started with a “Stars and Stockings” party at Jane’s house.  A fabulous night of laughter, 80’s dancing, great food and booze.

The next day, Isabelle and Oliver were at the Shanghai Expat Association’s Christmas Party at the 4 Seasons in Downtown Shanghai.  Even Santa came to visit them there! Kids from all nationalities from all over Shanghai were enjoying the festivities – so many crafts that the kids did not get through them all.  They came home laden with home made Christmas tree ornaments, gingerbread houses and presents from Santa.

Santa and Isabelle

Santa and Isabelle

IMG_8546

Santa and Oliver

On Christmas Eve, we were all at Marie and Tim’s house – with the same lovely group of people that we would be enjoying the rest of Christmas with.  This was a lovely relaxed affair and we were home by 7:30 pm ready to continue exciting the kids about an imminent visit!

Christmas Eve with Oliver

Christmas Eve with Oliver

Our Christmas Tree - ready with presents.

Our Christmas Tree – ready with presents.

Christmas morning the children woke up at 6:30am. We could hear squeals of excitement and giggles as they opened their stockings together.  They managed to contain themselves until 7:30 and then came in to “wake” us up.  We had a wonderful relaxing morning opening presents, playing with toys and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.

What could these possibly be??

What could these possibly be??

Just what we wanted!!

Just what we wanted!!

At 12.45 we walked around the corner to Lin and Nick’s house as they were hosting Christmas Dinner.  Nick works for Intercontinental Hotel group and they were catering it, so no-one had the burden of preparing the meal.  The staff had completely taken over the kitchen (using the garage as a staging area) and had even set up a bar!

Half of us at the table (bar is in the background).

Half of us at the table (bar is in the background).

We were 5 families in 1 house – 22 of us, including all the kids.  We had a fabulous meal – 5 hours at the table, laughing all the time.  The kids managed about 45 minutes of eating before they were all off playing together.  Again, it was so relaxing – no cooking or clearing up to worry about.  When you are so far from home with no family around, this could not have been a better celebration.

Daniel, Cai, Harry, Oliver and Luke.

Daniel, Cai, Harry, Oliver and Luke.

Lia, Isabelle, Amelie, Maddie and Seren

Lia, Isabelle, Amelie, Maddie and Seren

A choice of desserts.  The mini Christmas puddings were delightful!

A choice of desserts. The mini Christmas puddings were delightful!

What a wonderful group of friends to celebrate Christmas Day with.

What a wonderful group of friends to celebrate Christmas Day with.

After a brief 90 minute re-charge back at home, we were off to more friends – Suzanne and Brian’s, for the evening.  Another fantastic get together.

Boxing Day, and it was our turn to host.  The morning was a flurry of activity; cooking sausage rolls, legs of lamb and preparing for 30 people at our house at 3:00pm.  Our wonderful Ayi, Angela, was a huge help and stayed through the afternoon to help with the kids.  We had set up a craft activity area for them downstairs and some other friends had brought their Wii system for the older children to play upstairs.  While they were occupied we played our traditional Boxing Day “Dirty Santa” game.  Absolutely hilarious to see the tacky, gaudy gifts that people had found for less than 50RMB (£5/$7)!!  It was the perfect wind-down from a very hectic Christmas and we were cleared up before 10:00pm.

Jane winning Michael Fish fridge magnets in our Annual "Dirty Santa" game.

Jane opening Michael Fish fridge magnets in our annual “Dirty Santa” game!

All in all, for a very different Christmas, it was perfect.

Owen's fabulous Christmas Cake

Owen’s fabulous Christmas Cake.  Beautifully fed over the last 2 years and then beautifully decorated.  Better than any “professional” cake!!  It was YUMMY!

We decorated the house

Our house all decorated for Christmas.

Christmas at BISS

 

The children are certainly getting into the Christmas spirit at school.  Friday December 7th was a busy day at BISS.  In the morning Oliver had his Christmas concert and then we were back again in the evening for the school Christmas Carol Concert.

The concert consisted of 5 nursery classes and 3 Reception classes, all dressed in a different Christmas theme and singing their little hearts out!  I think they might have all been over-whelmed as they were on the stage in the Theatre with all the lights on them, and the Theatre was packed full of parents!  (Owen was in the UK and unfortunately missed his performance – thank goodness for video cameras!)

Different themes for different classes.

Different themes for different classes.

The Concert lasted about 30 minutes with lots of different songs about the Holiday season.  All the children were so good – singing loudly, sitting in the correct places and generally not much crying!  There were a few who got upset when they saw Mum or Dad!

Oliver's class were Christmas presents and he was wearing a lovely top underneath.  His costume was a surprise!

Oliver’s class were Christmas presents and he was wearing a lovely top underneath. His costume was a surprise!

Oliver had also had a trip to the post office last week to send the Christmas card he had made:

Oliver's Christmas card.  It arrived in our mail box after a Class trip to the Post Office!

Oliver’s Christmas card. It arrived in our mail box after a Class trip to the Post Office!

The inside of Oliver's Christmas Card.

The inside of Oliver’s Christmas Card.

We had Emma, Ava and Ethan over for dinner in the evening and then all of us climbed into our van to go back to school for the Carol Concert.  It was a lovely performance with all years involved.  We had a couple of dance performances – ballet, jazz and tap.  The band played a few songs – there is a very talented saxophone player who improvised one song!  And, of course, the different school choirs – from the very youngest (Rainbow Choir) up to Secondary/Senior school.  At the end, it was a sing-along for everybody with favourites like Silent Night and We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

There was even an interval so we could enjoy mince pies and mulled wine!

Ethan, Ava, Isabelle and Oliver at the BISS Christmas Concert.

Ethan, Ava, Isabelle and Oliver at the BISS Christmas Concert.