24 November, 2014

The Alternative Hong Kong Christmas guide – do’s and don’ts!

24 November, 2014

Ho ho hello! So you clicked on a Christmas article, which means one of many things. You’re looking for where to buy a turkey, or if you’re oven deprived (who isn’t!), you’re looking for somewhere that’s open on Christmas day for traditional grub with all the trims. (Clue: happily, most places. Stay tuned for our upcoming Christmas Dinner: Eating Out Guide for more deets!). Or maybe you’re just looking for something that will make you feel better about the fact that you’ve hopelessly listened to your Michael Bublé Christmas album on repeat.

Well, you may be upset to know you’re in the wrong place. I’m not going to give you any of those things. What I am going to give are some handy dos and don’ts for surviving the Hong Kong Christmas season. Allow me…


1. Don’t leave your Christmas jumper ‘til the last minute!
If you haven’t already been invited to a Christmas jumper party, you will be. My advice? Order a Christmas jumper and order it now. At 2013’s Christmas jumper party, I dressed up as an old lady. Not on purpose. Having left it far too late, last year’s jumper run found me in the middle of Wan Chai market, bargaining with a trader for two of her finest sweaters. I had struck gold (and silver, red, green and purple as it happens) – it turns out old lady trends are remarkably festive all-year round. Some of them even have tinsel… While I cannot recommend these stalls enough for your Christmas jumper and/or waistcoat needs, if old lady jumpers aren’t your thing, order a real one now. Or prepare to be be greeted by four other people wearing the same H&M reindeer number as you. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. 


2. Do accessorise festively…
Ohh the weather outside is… actually quite mild. Damn. Coming from a temperate maritime climate (aka, it’s cold at Christmas), for me the season to be jolly always starts with the purchase of the annual winter coat. It’s like a rite of passage into the colder seasons and just the pick me up when the weather starts to bite. But given 22 degrees does not warrant a duffle coat with fur trim and pom poms (or so I’m told), it can be tough to get into the true festive spirit, at least as far as apparel goes. I’ve found that festive earrings and redder than red lipstick help to make up for it (check out our fave red lipsticks here).

3. Do buy secret santa gifts, plural!
If this is your first Christmas in Hong Kong, you should know that you need to start hunting down at least three secret santa gifts now – you’ll need them. Usually the reserve of office Christmas get-togethers, this will become a staple of your friends (i.e. newfound family) Christmas dinners and gatherings. Call me scrooge, but third time around Secret Santa can get a little old, so I say try ‘Stealing Santa’. This way you get to nab someone else’s gift, and let’s face it, that’s lots more fun. 

4. Don’t buy expensive wrapping paper!
If you’re looking for something a bit different than the usual rolls of christmas pudd adorned wrapping paper from M&S – that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for – look no further than the local shops selling paper for kindling. Gorgeously festive paper everywhere, at a pinch! This makes for very jolly, very Hong Kong, gifts. The shops are generally recognisable by the brightly coloured lanterns hanging outside, and are lining Graham Street and Wan Chai market. You’ll never look back…

5. Don’t get a tiny tree
We all know where to buy them (see our Christmas Decor Roundup here!), but do we know which one to buy? In my unofficial-but-nevertheless-very-serious Christmas rulebook, the bigger the tree, the more Christmassy things are. But given the size of apartments (see here for my thoughts on this!) people tend to buy the small’uns very fast and you’re often left with one the size of Rockerfellas, or Ikea’s finest fakes. I say forget the naysayers and buy the biggun anyway. You’ll find room for it somewhere, even if you have to move your furniture out. Who needs sofas anyway?
6. Do build up your stamina for Christmas cocktails!
You thought Hong Kong happy hours were dangerous – now imagine if happy hour was a whole season. Yeah. While hangovers are a festive affliction in many places, in Hong Kong, Christmas season breeds its own kind of excessive partying culture. I have no advice for you here, except drink water, be brave and drink as responsibly as you can. It’s a jungle out there.

Image #2 via Pinterest, Image #3 via Pinterest

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