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Christmas Wonderland's virtual world.

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The Tokidoki snow house at Terminal 3.

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Orchard Road light-up.

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Giada's Holiday Handbook on how to create the perfect Yuletide bash.

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Fully-decorated fake trees at Tangs.

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Finbarr Fallon's splendid mural titled Sub/merged.

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Exuberant musical extravaganza Jingle Jangle.

Have a merry stay-home Christmas

With Christmas seven days away, here are as many ways to celebrate it in these challenging times.
18/12/2020 - 05:50

1. Christmas markets are back

No coronavirus is going to buck the trend of Christmas markets. Christmas Wonderland, one of the biggest in Singapore, has migrated online.

Not only are there over 50 vendors selling their wares virtually, the highly-interactive website (pictured) allows you to chat with Santa on a video call, send customised e-cards, sing Christmas carols, and join in multi-player games such as the Midnight Snowball Fight. Visit christmaswonderland.sg.

Another seasonal market online is the Fifty Fifti Fantastic Christmas. It features 100 female-owned Singapore enterprises selling food, fashion, fragrances and other products. You can choose different products from different vendors, have them packed them into one gift box, and get it delivered before the end of the year. Visit fiftyfiftisg.com.

But if you're going stir-crazy and determined to experience a physical Christmas market, check out The AC Festival Wonderland at 43 Tanjong Pagar Road. The upmarket pop-up features a curated selection of fashion, furniture and décor items such as French and Australian dresses, African woven baskets and Indian home accessories.

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2. Let it snow, let it snow

Can't travel to a winter wonderland? Well, you can still find snow on this tropical island. Changi Airport's Changi Festive Village boasts plenty of attractions, chief among which is its large double-storey Tokidoki snow house (pictured) at Terminal 3. Here you can ride on a snow luge, build a snowman and make snow angels. There'll also be snowfall in the evenings at Jewel's indoor garden, Shiseido Forest Valley and Canopy Park.

As a back-up, there's always the 20-year-old Snow City in Jurong East. Now you have to purchase tickets online beforehand and remain in your group of no more than five. But the 1,200 sq-metre snow chamber offers just the sub-zero temperatures that cryophiles miss.

3. Get a tree

If you haven't got a real tree by now, give up the idea of getting one from any of the nurseries. Unexpected demand plus pandemic issues have pretty much wiped out supplies this year. Nevertheless, there are plenty of great fake options available. And these would certainly be better for the environment, if you plan on reusing the tree every year.

Tangs has some fully-decorated fake firs (pictured) that are between 1.5 and 2.1 metres in height. Vanda Win and Pollyanna are two other great places to find one - but stocks are nearly sold out.

Online stores such as Amazon, Shopee and Wish are alternatives. Of course, if you already have a fake tree, you can spruce it with new baubles from the aforementioned stores, as well as Pine Concept, Mason's Home Décor and Ikea.

4. Explore subterranean tunnels

What might Singapore look like below ground? As the Singapore Art Museum undergoes renovations, its perimeter hoardings have been turned into a public showcase of commissioned art. The latest hoarding debuting on Friday features a large, splendid mural titled Sub/merged by artist Finbarr Fallon, which imagines a subterranean city hidden under the buildings of Bras Basah.

But that's not all: By scanning the QR code found on the mural, you'll be able to immerse yourself virtually in the underground warrens of tunnels, passageways and secret chambers. Alternatively, you can also check out the Sub/merged website.

5. Bring Orchard Road lights into your home

No Christmas in Singapore is complete without the Orchard Road light-up. And this year's light-up looks particularly lovely, with mistletoe and hollies in blue, green, white and gold stretched artfully between the street lamps.

But, if you're stuck overseas or prefer to avoid the Orchard Road crush, you can opt to view the lights online. The website created by the Orchard Road Business Association with main sponsor Hitachi allows you to "drive" from Tanglin Mall to Dhoby Ghaut and enjoy a 360 degree-view of the lights. Visit christmas.orchardroad.org/virtual/

6. Try out new holiday recipes

The Food Network has no less than three holiday cooking series inspiring you to make delicious Christmas meals and desserts. There's Giada's Holiday Handbook (every Sunday at 9.20pm, pictured) where the charismatic Giada De Laurentiis (granddaughter of legendary film producer Dino De Laurentiis) teaches you how to create the perfect Yuletide bash.

There's also Holiday Baking Championship (every Wednesday at 9.20pm) where pastry chefs compete against each other to whip up the perfect seasonal dessert. For sheer fun, though, there's Holiday Gingerbread Showdown (every Monday at 9.20pm) where food artists erect magnificent gingerbread houses you wish you were tiny enough to live in. (All shows on Singtel CAST.)

7. Blast on the entertainment

There's some great new Yuletide specials on Netflix this year, so you don't have to watch It's A Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time. The best of the lot is Jingle Jangle (pictured), an exuberant musical extravaganza about an unhappy toymaker (Forest Whitaker) who creates the most magical toys for girls and boys, once he learns to love Christmas again.

Also very good is The Christmas Chronicles 2, which brings back the delightful pairing of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as Santa Claus and Mrs Claus respectively. Meanwhile for Boomers still crushing on Dolly Parton, there's Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square, a Parton-penned musical about a homeless angel (Parton) who helps the town's Scrooge (Christine Baranski) change her ways.

But if you're looking for the perfect Christmas album to play throughout the long weekend, we recommend Carrie Underwood's first-ever Christmas album, My Gift, featuring eight traditional tracks and three original songs. A standout track is an Underwood and John Legend duet titled Hallelujah, which has a pandemic-appropriate message of hope, optimism and spirituality after a trying year.