Whenever I attend a Chinese wedding banquet, I find myself transformed into a programs organizer; although not for the occasion but for Hannah.
A Chinese wedding banquet is typically an eight-course dinner that starts at 8pm (if you’re lucky) to around 10.30 or 11pm.
Getting a child to sit through the banquet (or long enough to let you have a proper meal) can be a challenge for young parents. It doesn’t help when the dinner is held way past their bedtime.
Although, halfway through dinner, you’ll usually see children running around, I try to have Hannah by our side so that the parents could eat in peace. Yes, it’s kind of selfish on our part but I find it distracting when children are monkeying around dinner tables.
So, I came up with a few survival tips, which thankfully, saw us through several weddings so far.
Night before wedding dinner
1. Usually at bedtime, I’ll share with Hannah what’s going to happen the next day. We’ll talk about whose wedding it is, where it will be held, how long it could last, and if there are people she knows who will be there.
2. We’ll choose the attire she wants to wear for the wedding, and the expected behavior to have for tomorrow.
3. We end off the conversation with a simple prayer for the couple and God’s blessing over the occasion.
Things to bring
In the event we are seated directly under the air-conditioning vent.
Hannah takes her dinner (usual schedule) before we leave for the wedding. She’ll have her evening snack and drink at the dinner.
3. Books, toys, activities to occupy the child
I’ll bring some of Hannah’s favourite books, art materials like crayons and a sketch book, and a few toys e.g small pull-back cars or dolls.
I’ll rotate the items for every wedding (sometimes we go to at least 2 weddings in a month). It could be a sticker scene, mini jigsaw puzzles that you can get from Daiso, or a bag of self-inking stamps that you can get from a party store (seen those at Bras Basah selling 50 stamps for $5).
During the wedding
1. Try not to be seated too early.
The earlier you’re seated, the more likely the child will fidget early. We mingle around with friends, relatives or other children at the reception area. It’s a good time to make new friends and to do some catching up.
Games like “Simon Says” or “Follow the leader” are good distractions to play while waiting for the food to arrive and having the child seated.
3. Last line of “defense” – the phone
I’ve seen many parents occupy their children’s time with the phone or iPad throughout the dinner. I don’t blame them as it’s the easiest entertainment to get them seated throughout the evening. But I try to minimize this unless, we’ve exhausted everything and we are still not done with dinner.
One of our most used application is Little Writer. It is an application that teaches a child to trace letters, shapes and numbers.
Hannah also enjoys using Abacus – Kids Can Count! to count up to 15, and doing simple math prompted by the application. So, for example, the counter shows “4”, Hannah has to push four beads to the right. Then the counter changes to “2”, she has to subtract two beads by moving them to the left.
Another fun application is Build It Up. It allows the child to stack discs or blocks based on size. These three applications are all free to download and there are in-app features you could purchase.
Hopefully with these tips, you get to enjoy your food and have a more relaxing time at your next Chinese wedding dinner.