Amidst the financial stress, Christchurch woman, Belle Talia’uli decided to rethink Christmas giving for her family… and the result was unforgettable.
After moving to Rolleston in 2019, Belle found she’d spent their Christmas savings on relocating.
Two days out from Christmas Day Belle began to stress. When she reached out for advice, the solution soon came to her.
“Everything everyone loved about Christmas were the memories. People couldn’t recall what they got, but they could definitely tell you about everything they had done.”
When she asked her older sons what they’d like to do for Christmas they mentioned visiting a beach – an ode to their Tongan roots.
“My husband is Tongan and Christmas in Tonga is very different to a traditional Kiwi Christmas. A Tongan Christmas is church, followed by big feed and an afternoon spent chilling on the beach.”
Belle asked her eldest to identify any local beaches, rivers or lakes. It snowballed into a book of beaches to visit.
“It’s kind of like a beautiful meshing of my husband’s and my childhood woven together.”
Belle created her book on seven beaches, each detailed with where they were and what made them special.
There was also a letter from Santa, with photos of elves holidaying on the beaches.
“They were really excited about seeing something new,” says Belle.
Belle and her family then spent the summer ticking off all the beaches in the book on weekends.
“I love that we created memories. As parents we’re always so busy, and the kids are busy too. But when you have an activity you can go and do together, when everyone’s engaged, that is the gift – and it’s become shared.”
“There are no phones, no TV, and no technology taking over. I even love the car ride there! That’s where memories are made… not in tangible gifts but experiences, enjoying the journey and being in the moment.”
This year, Belle’s boys suggested they would like to do something again – and she has had another light bulb moment.
“I’ve created a scavenger hunt – something I loved to do as a kid. It will take the boys around Christchurch to help them explore the city more. This year it’s about keeping it local and getting creative. The challenges are open to interpretation and will allows the kids to let their imaginations run wild. It’s about recreating that magic and whimsical feeling of Christmas.”
“Christmas is all about giving. Yeah gifts are great but they’re forgotten a week later. In giving the boys experiences, we’re creating memories and tradition ourselves.”