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All I want for Christmas

Here’s how some people are spending Christmas in Hong Kong

What are your plans?

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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There’s no shortage of great things to do in Hong Kong during the holiday season, be it taking in the festive light displays or pigging out on a full-on Christmas feast with friends and family. As the city is aglow with seasonal décor and that familiar sense of festive revelry, we ask five Hongkongers from different walks of life to share how they hope to spend this special time of year.

RECOMMENDED: Still sorting out your holiday plans? Check out the best Christmas events in Hong Kong or look ahead to the hottest countdown parties for New Year's Eve.

Christmastime in Hong Kong

Sang Jeong, Head chef at Ichu Peru
Calvin Sit

Sang Jeong, Head chef at Ichu Peru

Originally from South Korea, Sang Jeong worked at Lima’s renowned Central Restaurante for three years before relocating to Hong Kong to head up H Queen’s contemporary Peruvian restaurant, Ichu Peru.

How are you spending your first Christmas in Hong Kong?
Since I work in the hospitality industry, I’ll be working. I remember one time when I was working in America for Sofitel, they gave me a day off on Christmas. I didn’t really know what to do. To be honest, for me, being in the kitchen is more comfortable.

What if you had the holidays off?
When I was younger, I always thought of spending time with my girlfriend. Now though, I’m thinking about spending more time with my family. These days, I don’t have much time to spend with them, so whenever I visit Korea for the holidays, I’ll go to restaurants with my family, or go camping with them and our dog, Thunder.

What do you plan to gift to your loved ones this year?
Whenever I’ve had a girlfriend, I always bought jewellery from Tiffany & Co. I think it’s a safe bet. If I had a girlfriend now, I might buy her electronics, something from Apple. I try to buy gifts that everyone likes.

What’s on your wishlist this year?
If I can get a gift, I want to drive a Lamborghini for a day. I have a license but I don’t really drive because I’m always work ing. In a fine-dining restaurant, there’s a lot of of competition. To survive, I always had to push myself in a low-salary condition. When I looked at celebrities, like singers or rappers, they have a lot of swag. I used to think, why can’t a chef drive a Lamborghini to his restaurant? I always imagined this.

Favourite Christmas song?
I like Christmas songs, especially Last Christmas. Whenever you’re on the streets around Christmas in Seoul, you hear this song. So if I listen to it, I feel like Christmas is coming but, at the same time, I’ll also feel a little homesick. I mean, in a good way.

What’s your go-to holiday food?
In Korea, I usually go straight for Korean barbecue. I love Korean barbecue, especially with my family. I also like Korean-Chinese food. In Korea, we call it Chinese food but I realised these dishes don’t exist in China, like jajangmyeon.

Elaine Li, Photographer and Instagrammer
Calvin Sit

Elaine Li, Photographer and Instagrammer

Hong Kong-born photographer Elaine Li has been capturing her hometown since she was 12. Her Instagram @lielaine, started in 2012, documents her urban explorations and fresh perspective of our SAR, and has close to 240,000 followers.

What gifts do you plan to give this year?
I’ll probably do a pre-wedding shoot. I’ve done a shoot as a gift for my friends before. I’ll also probably buy food, snacks and electronics. Just very nerdy things.

What’s one thing on your wishlist this year?
I never really want anything apart from cameras and drones – the DJI Mavic 2.

What’s your ideal holiday like?
I would like to travel more to rural parts of China. I was recently in Xinjiang for a week and that was really eye-opening. I’d like to travel to places that are not as popular, or at least not as well-known in the western world – places my Instagram followers wouldn’t usually see. I would love to go to places like Tibet and Yunnan, not only to see them for myself, but to share this part of the world to a mostly western demographic of Instagram. 

How are you actually spending it this year?
Most probably just catching up and meeting up with friends and family. That’s what Christmas in Hong Kong means for me. It’s the time that all of us are together in one place.

Favourite Christmas song?
My favourite Christmas song isn’t really a Christmas song but it’s the Half The World Away cover by Aurora from the John Lewis Christmas ad two years ago.

Go-to holiday food?
This is probably not your typical answer but because of [my family’s] yum cha tradition, dim sum is my go-to holiday food.

What makes Christmas unique in Hong Kong?
There’s Christmas vibes everywhere in Hong Kong. Every mall has people taking pictures with the decorations and the massive displays. You can see Christmas lights all around town. It’s extravagant. It’s great.

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Andy Tong, Interior Designer

Andy Tong, Interior Designer

With more than two decades of experience in interior and spatial design, Andy Tong is the creative mind behind some of the city’s most elaborate shopping mall holiday displays. He’s also worked on stage designs for numerous Cantopop stars, including Sammi Cheng and the late Leslie Cheung.

What’s your ideal holiday like?
I want to be away from the bustling city and to spend Christmas in Finland. Northern Europe has such a comforting vibe. It’s so festive, especially with the glass igloos.

How are you actually spending it this year?
I usually have to work during the holidays since I start planning for Chinese New Year once it’s Christmas time. It’s a strange dichotomy – even though it’s Christmas, I have to remove myself from reality and imagine the festivities for Lunar New Year.

Favourite Christmas song?
Wham’s Last Christmas. I’ve been listening to it since I was in the fifth year of high school. I’ll put it on for inspiration when I plan my Christmas displays, which I usually start doing in March or April. People might think I’m crazy for suddenly playing a Christmas song so early in the year.

Any holiday traditions you celebrate?
I’ll have a traditional Christmas feast with my family at a hotel. Afterwards, we’ll take a photo in front of a Christmas tree that’s surrounded with presents.

What do you plan to gift to your loved one?
I haven’t thought of it yet. I’ve given a watch to my wife before as a symbol of capturing a precious moment in time. But a gift doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. For example, I once decorated a Christmas tree with white LED lights and decorations that have a lot of sentimental value.

What’s one thing on your wishlist this year?
My wish is for there to be a Christmas-themed restaurant in Hong Kong. If any one wants to open such a business, I’ll happily help them design it for free.

Rex Yam, Co-founder of Doughnut
Calvin Sit

Rex Yam, Co-founder of Doughnut

One of the brains behind Doughnut, the designer backpack label, Rex Yam has turned the online business into a popular store, and fortified its role as a local hipster favourite in the span of a few years.

What’s one thing on your wishlist this year?
I wish for people to work hard to solve the climate-change problem. It’s a responsibility for everyone on Earth.

Whether you’re receiving or giving, what do you look for in a Christmas present?
There needs to be a mystery or surprise factor in a Christmas present. It shouldn’t be something you can easily pick up from a department store. People need to be genuinely surprised by what they find when they open the box.

What do you plan to gift to your loved one?
For my girlfriend, a proposal! I’ve recently done that.

What’s your ideal holiday like?
If possible, I’d love to host a party inside a European castle as it snows outside.

Any holiday traditions you celebrate?
Christmas is my favourite holiday. I write Christmas cards and do what every Hongkonger loves to do: look at the holiday lights. I’ve done this since I was young. You can truly feel the holiday atmosphere.

Favourite Christmas song?
There are two types. The first is Christmas jazz music and the other is McDull’s parody of O Christmas Tree. It’s hilarious.

Go-to holiday food?
A traditional roast chicken and steak. It’s the type of food that’s great for sharing.

What’s a must at a Christmas party?
Whenever I’ve hosted a Christmas party, whether it’s at a bar or a party room, I will always ask if there’s a Christmas tree.

Will Doughnut roll out any Christmas sets?
Yes, we’re planning to introduce a Christmas package or a travel set.

What other local brands or shops do you recommend for Christmas shopping?
I really like Earth.er, a shop in Tai O. It’s very environmentally friendly and most of the products are made from natural materials.

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Lemonade, Stray puppy
Calvin Sit

Lemonade, Stray puppy

Meet Lemonade. She’s one of the many dogs up for adoption at the Lifelong Animal Protection (Lap) charity, an organisation in Hong Kong looking to provide all sorts of animals with a good home. Every year, the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department handles between 5,000- 7,000 stray dogs and the majority of strays are put down if homes can’t be found for them. That’s why, especially during the holidays, the slogan ‘adopt, don’t shop’ is so important. Take it from Lemonade herself, who’s seeking nothing more than a place to call home
this Christmas.

What do you plan to gift to your loved one?
As an active and energetic pup, I promise lots of exercise thanks to my need for constant walks. 

What’s your ideal Christmas like?
Hopefully my new family will have a week off for Christmas, so I’ll have plenty of time for cuddles.

How are you actually spending it this year?
Seems like I’ll be having to spend Christmas here at the shelter with my other stray buddies. It gets a bit lonely, though…

Any holiday traditions you celebrate?
I look forward to eating wrapping paper on Christmas Day!

Favourite Christmas song?
Ben Folds Five – Christmas is Going to the Dogs.

Go-to holiday food?
Turkey leg, turkey breast, dark meat, white meat – I’m not really fussy.

What’s one thing on your wishlist this year?
To be adopted!

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