THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN EVER GIVE YOUR CHILDREN (and no, it doesn’t come in a box)
Late post. Given all the events last Christmas, the overseas relatives coming home, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it has admittedly been a struggle for me to get back at the table and start pounding away at the proverbial typewriter.
But now that December has come and gone away, I’m down to a more reflective mood. If time is the most important resource of anyone, I wonder, how well did we spend ours last Christmas?
Let’s see: last Christmas, I had countless dinners with my family from both sides, went outdoors to play with the kids, spent a night at my parents’ house, and had a staycation in a hotel. The common denominator here is that I spent all this time with my kids and family.
Sneak preview of Stanley’s Harrods Christmas. More details below!
I read somewhere that 90% of parenting is showing up, and as I grow older and observe my kids growing as well, this rings too true to me to be false. You have to be close to the action. To keep your ears to the ground. Because the first step to solving a problem is awareness. The first step to being a parent is being there.
What is troubling to me is my kids’ obsession with toys. Yes, Christmas is all about presents, but isn’t there such a thing as too much? Every time we go to the mall nowadays, I hear the constant refrain, “Mommy, toys?”
Then it struck me that it doesn’t have to be this way. It occurred to me, maybe the kids just want something else but don’t know how to express it. Maybe this is just their way of asking for the things far more important that only an adult can discern: attention, care, quality time, family time.
And so bit by bit, I started to change things. Instead of toys, we bought board games. Board games are great at facilitating fun family time, and it accomplishes this without the need for a screen or a keypad. And boy did we have loads of FUN last Christmas playing these board games. I’ll talk more about this in another blog post.
A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points. Maybe if you tilt your head and looked at something from an angle, the world would look different.
So remember, the next time your child tells you, “Mommy, I want a [insert name of latest toy here]”, maybe what he or she is really telling you is,
Mommy, I want you to spend more time with me.
And that is the best gift you can ever give your child.
Stanley Nathan looking up at big sister Sofia! These are the moments to live for.
Thank you to Delightful Little Darlings for these wonderful images!
THE SECOND BEST GIFT
The second best gift you can give your child is memories.
My friend and client, Mommy Irene, is crazy about teddy bears. She is so enamored, in fact, that we designed a Teddy Bear-Princess themed party just for her first-born, Sofia!
But this time around, since baby Stanley was born December, Mommy Irene thought that it would be apt to do a Christmas-themed party for her son. Our initial thought process was this:
Christmas. Christmas Village would be cute. But we love bears. So Christmas Village theme + Bears? Bears dressed up Santas?
And then it occurred to me that there was something more original here hiding in plain sight, an angle that has Christmas, bears, and something more with it:
A Harrod’s Christmas.
Stanley Nathan’s Harrods Christmas
What I love about this theme is that it’s multi-faceted. From just two words, you get the famous Harrods Bear, snow falling in the city, holiday rush shopping, Christmas lights on Oxford St., and a generous dollop of British to boot.
The famous Harrods Bear
The greatest thing about being an artist or a designer is seeing what is in your mind’s eye come to life, in the full-HD splendor of real life:
For the stage, I wanted to create a feeling of wonder and grandeur, thus the extra high facade of the Harrods store, with these dressed, sophisticated bears milling about in front.
GRAPHIC DESIGN AT ITS FINEST
A little known secret is that I do most of the graphic design for Party Magic’s events (except for the invitations). This is why managing Party Magic is a constant juggling act of my time: I have to subdivide my day into chunks where I attend client meetings, supervise the workshop, coordinate with suppliers, research, conceptualize, and design.
It’s a good thing that I also had a lot of help in the form of our resident graphic designer, Pat the Lion, who was absolutely masterful in creating this invitation for Mommy Irene:
Unfortunately, Pat had to leave the company for personal reasons. She will be sorely missed!
For my part, one of the elements that I enjoyed designing were the “marketing collaterals”, which can be seen thru the posters hung on the ceiling:
If the design aesthetic seem somewhat familiar to you, there is a reason: I purposely patterned the typography of Stanley’s name to that of Hamley’s, another famous UK store specializing in toys!
I find this aesthetic to be as fun and whimsical as you can be without bordering on becoming tacky.
DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS
The photo-op area was an absolute dream.
I wanted to bring the Polar Express to London, thus the huge 3D train beside a train stop. Oh, and there’s the 3D bear conductor!
The train stop was especially useful and was a great place for the family to take pictures:
For the centerpieces, I wanted to emulate those luxurious telephone booth-shaped biscuit canisters of Harrods:
The famous biscuit canisters of Harrods
The other tables meanwhile had these subway signages based on famous places in the UK:
Stanley’s cake was an absolute masterpiece!
I am deeply grateful to have played a part in the planning and design of this party. The happiest of birthdays to our dear Stanley!
Here’s to creating more memories.