It is the busiest time of the year for just about everyone. Presents for family and friends, parties and invitations, shopping in busy high streets, cooking big meals, planning when to go to whom and when.
It can all be extremely nerve-racking and stressful! Ever thought of escaping? Why not take a holiday break, enjoy amazing ocean views, and plenty of sun and fun for the whole family?
You will only miss out on the stress, not on Christmas.
Santa travels too.
When many are dreaming of a white Christmas with the sleigh bells ringing, Father Christmas is never far behind. Luckily for children of all ages, he also makes it to Cape Town. Many of the shopping malls, especially at Cape Town’s well-known Waterfront or Canal Walk Mall will have a ‘Father Christmas stand’, complete with painted reindeers and of course a splendid Christmas Tree. Actually, the trees are already up as are many decorations, and of course, the supermarkets are full of all manner of traditional delicacies from all over the world.
Have your Christmas Cake and Eat it!
Panettone fills the shelves in Cape Town. It’s one of the most famous Italian Christmas cakes, a ‘sweet bread’ originally from Milan. Panettone is a delicious treat and its handy box packaging makes it great to take on a picnic.
All kinds of Christmas Cookies are traditionally homemade in Germany but you will find them in Cape Town shops together with the German Christmas Cake ‘Stollen’. This is a sugar-coated fruit bread that is served in slices and can be spread with butter or eaten as is.
Traditional Mince Pies with their origins in the UK, are widely eaten in South Africa at this time of year, although a Christmas ‘Plum’ Pudding might be more difficult to find and to cook. A South African Christmas cake will be full of dried fruit and spices and decorated with a topping of marzipan and white icing. Look out for a Cape Malay version, which is extra fruity and spicy, it can also have a flower design on top. Available at any time of the year and for those with a sweet tooth, South African Koeksisters are small cake twists made of fried dough and infused with syrup or honey. Lekker!
Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Family Day
Many European countries have their main celebration on 24th December. In South Africa, it is the 25th December and on this day you will need to plan early if you intend to eat out. Many restaurants will be closed, but of course, the beaches will be open so planning a family Christmas at the beach can be a really fun event. Pack snacks that remind you of your traditional Christmas but add a twist. Turkey or chicken sandwiches, mini sausages or sausage rolls, trout or salmon pate, or prawns on sticks with tasty dips. Cheese rolls or meatballs and of course a box of mince pies are a must.
Have the kids build a ‘Sandman’, write a Christmas greetings with shells on the beach or simply relax with that new book. Remember to pack sunscreen and a hat. Beach loungers and umbrellas can be rented at most beaches and vendors will bring cold drinks and ice creams to you.
The day that people took boxes of presents to others, on Boxing Day, is known as Family Day in South Africa. It’s a day when the Braai (the BBQ) is lit, while the children are busy with their new toys and the adults can enjoy a relaxed kitchen free day by the pool.
Cape Town Christmas Cruise
No visit to Cape Town would be complete without a sun-downer cruise. Fun and excitement for the whole family, the cruises depart from the Waterfront at regular times during the day, not only at sunset. Choose from a luxury yacht, a spacious catamaran, a harbour taxi or an authentic pirate’s ship.
Children can even dress as pirates as you set sail to explore. Don’t forget your camera, not only to capture the family fun but also the view of Cape Town from the ocean, as well as the amazing sunsets.
Make Plans with your Hotel.
Letting your hotel know your Christmas plans and wishes is important. Many hotel owners will arrange something special over the Christmas period. At Ocean View House, a special Christmas Breakfast Buffet will greet the guests and for the children, there will be a number of surprises.
Planning your days, making bookings for tours and restaurants and children’s activities will leave you free to relax and enjoy your holiday.
At Ocean View House your Christmas Eve will undoubtedly start with an amazing sunset and probably a sun-downer glass of bubbly enjoyed on your balcony or terrace. Book a restaurant for the family close to the beach in Camps Bay or closer to the Waterfront at Grand Beach. Make sure to get there in good time or you could lose your table. Unpacking Christmas gifts on the beach is a whole new experience for the young and the not so young.
But why carry armfuls of wrapped gifts around? Vouchers make great gifts, and if you are on a holiday, those packages take up valuable suitcase space and still need to be taken home too. Check if your hotel can organise vouchers for you. Ocean View House certainly can. A special spa treatment for mum, a surfing course for the kids or a tandem paraglide through the Cape Town skies for Dad. Not forgetting an outing on a real pirate ship or a close encounter with sharks at the Cape Town Aquarium. There are so many options that you are spoilt for choice!
Of course, a voucher for a romantic dinner at one of Cape Town’s award-winning restaurants would also be a sure winner and not as heavy on the pocket as you might expect. Add a cocktail and a bottle of wine to your meal but be sure to organise transport there and back. Uber is widely used in Cape Town and of course, your hotel or the restaurant can assist with taxis.
Happy New Year Cape Town Style
There are so many NYE (New Year’s Eve) parties happening in Cape Town, there is truly something for every taste. The city itself comes alive on the 2nd of January with a colourful display of costumes and lively music, all part of the ‘tweedenuwejaar’. The kids will love the parade of Minstrels and the happy atmosphere they create as they dance and play their way through the streets which are especially closed for the occasion.
Another great way to start the New Year is a trip on the cable car to table mountain. Let the children be on the lookout for the cute dassies or the lizards who sun themselves on large rocks. Take in the view of the ‘Mother City’ spread out before you and make a New Year’s Resolution to return to Cape Town.