1. 21 On Rajah
Forget the usual baubles and tinsel. Instead, 21 On Rajah is shaking things up this festive season by opting for décor that’s reminiscent of a souq (Arabic bazaar). The restaurant’s decadent yet affordable buffet spread is, accordingly, Middle Eastern in flavour. You and your family can look forward to mouth-watering dishes such as turkey stuffed with yogurt and cranberry sauce, and stewed minced beef with dates and spices. Plus, you’ll get to feast while having carollers serenade you with popular Yuletide hymns. Now, how’s that for Christmas with a twist?
When: December 24 and 25
Where: Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park, 1 Jalan Rajah
How much: From $45++ per adult and from $22.50++ per child
Tip! If you’re thinking of heading down on Christmas Day, go for the dinner buffet, which is slightly more affordable than the brunch option.
2. HaHa Thai
For a casual yet intimate dinner for two, consider HaHa Thai, which is offering a festive set menu comprising a Christmas platter (spring rolls, fishcake and fish tofu), tom yum seafood soup, boneless chicken wings, green curry chicken, deep-fried seabass, olive fried rice, Christmas gems, a mini log cake and two glasses of wine – all for just $99++. Plus, the café’s photogenic industrial décor (think brick walls and exposed piping) is a huge plus.
When: Till December 31
Where: Ngee Ann City
How much: $99++ for two pax
Tip! If you think that the restaurant’s a la carte menu will be more wallet-friendly, think again. The Christmas Set is actually valued at $186.70 in total, so it’s just about as value-for-money as you can get!
3. Joe & Dough
Head here for extremely affordable, Christmas-themed light bites, such as the Santa Christmas sandwich ($9.80), which is stuffed with smoked turkey ham and apple-cranberry sauce, and butterscotch latte (from $5.60). Kids will absolutely adore the Hansel & Gretel gingerbread man ($3.50 per piece).
When: Till December 31
Where: Various outlets in Singapore
How much: From $3.50
Tip! Don’t count on the food here to fill you up; instead, have a full meal beforehand before heading here for an afternoon snack and a cuppa.
4. The Chop House
The Chop House’s December menu sounds decidedly festive, with affordable items like turkey quesadillas ($20++). For something even more decadent, opt for the restaurant’s Christmas platter, which also includes poached Norwegian salmon and barbecued prawns, alongside truffle potato salad and coleslaw. While it comes with a rather hefty $98++ price tag, it feeds a family of three to four comfortably, making it worth every cent.
When: Till December 31
How much: From $14++
Tip! If you’re dining with a large party, consider bringing your own bottle of wine. While corkage will set you back $30++, it’s still more value-for-money than purchasing in-house liquor..
Christmas doesn’t only have to be about the food. Bona fide coffee connoisseurs will be pleased to hear that Pacamara has created a special Christmas blend, with beans sourced from Fazenda Progresso in Brazil, Neiver Samboni in Colombia, and Dumerso in Ethiopia. You’ll enjoy tasting notes of plums and raisins; plus, from just $4 for a long black, it’s an incredibly wallet-friendly way to channel some festive spirit.
When: Till December 25
Where: 185 Upper Thomson Road
How much: From $4
Tip! If you’re still looking for Christmas presents for your fellow coffee-loving buddies, look no further. Pacamara stocks products like tumblers and French press beakers; if you purchase three or more items, you can get them gift-wrapped at no additional cost.
6. Christmas Wonderland
Photo by Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay
Singapore’s largest Yuletide fair just got even bigger this year, spanning a whopping 35,000 square metres across Gardens by the Bay. Marvel at the resplendent Luminarie light sculptures (all 55 of them!), go ice skating at the Ice Palace ($12 per child/adult for a 30-minute session), and feast on finger food like churros and fries at the Festive Market. The kids will also love the carnival game stalls (from $4 per game) at The Fairground, where they stand to win adorable plushies.
Where: Gardens by the Bay
When: Till January 3
How much: Free admission, but charges apply for certain attractions
Tip! Instead of spending money at the game stalls, you can simply watch other carnival-goers trying their luck – their reactions can be quite amusing! Plus, this means that you can skip the long queues at the token exchange booths.
7. Christmas by the River
Photo by IFC Singapore
This year’s iteration of Christmas by the River promises fun for the whole family. While several concerts are already over, you can still look forward to a stunning music and light show – called RIBbon @ Read Bridge – every Friday and Saturday evening at the said bridge at Clarke Quay. The kids can also participate in cookie- and cupcake-decorating classes and watch magic shows on weekends at Clarke Quay Central.
Where: Clarke Quay
When: Kids’ activities till December 27 and RIBbon @ Read Bridge installation till January 3
How much: Free
Tip! If you crave for a tipple or two while at Clarke Quay, bars like Highlander, Octapas and Paulaner are offering a 50 per cent discount on drinks during happy hour, from now till December 30.
8. Christmas on a Great Street
Orchard Road’s annual light-up, called Christmas on a Great Street, is always a magnificent sight to behold. The malls along the shopping belt deck themselves out in festive baubles – from huge bows to mechanical reindeers – and the decorations seem to get more impressive every year. Stroll along the street hand-in-hand with your significant other, under the canopy of glittering lights, for an undeniably romantic evening.
Where: From Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura
When: Till early January
How much: Free
Tip! Bring along your camera to capture the kaleidoscope of lights along the street (as well as a selfie or two, of course!). Print your shots and frame them – it’ll make for a thoughtful yet affordable Christmas gift for your significant other.
9. Celebrate December
This December, Esplanade is conducting a slew of free music performances, craft workshops and other exciting activities, as part of its festive celebrations. Pen your New Year wishes on a bell charm, learn how to make a mirror-image postcard, and more! There will also be story-telling and craft sessions especially for kids. Check out the full activity schedule online.
Wben: Till December 31
How much: Free
Tip! If you’re still searching for Christmas gifts, don’t forget the check out Esplanade’s mall promotions. Shops like Nambe are offering up to 80 per cent off selected items.
10. Marina Bay Singapore Countdown
Ring in 2016 in style at the 11th edition of the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown. Ooh and aah at the spectacular eight-minute firework display, and pen your hopes and dreams on wishing spheres at 21 wishing stations around the island. If you’re willing to splash out some cash at the countdown, check out the Celebrate 2016 concert at The Float @ Marina Bay – tickets cost from $38 for free seating.
Where: Various locations around Marina Bay
When: December 31
How much: Free for non-ticketed events
Tip! The firework display will span the entire Marina Bay for the first time ever, so you can watch the pyrotechnics from more locations around the bay. We’d especially recommend viewing them from the Jubilee Bridge, which opened just this year.