Local shops bringing festival and merry cheer to the city
While Christmas might seem like the most abiding of holidays, with its traditions so time honoured as to be almost unassailable, the festival has, incrementally, changed over recent years. And in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. The dawn of online communications has not been great news for disparate families, with brief avatar-ed appearances trumping jet lag, airline cuisine and compulsory Covid testing.
But all is not lost. There is still hope that tradition is returning to at least one aspect of all-things Christmas – gift-giving. While, not so long ago, Amazon and Esty had stealthily become the go-to providers of presents for loved ones both near and far, there’s been a distinct shift of late. Suddenly, it’s once again de rigueur to buy your presents and Christmas trinkets locally and in person. Thankfully, for those in Hong Kong, this is one challenge many of the local shops and assorted other outlets are more than up to meeting.
The Anglo-Chinese Florist started as a small flower boutique in 1946 at a location that couldn’t appear more apt – Lyndhurst Terrance in Central, a thoroughfare better known to many as “Flower Street”. Inevitably, as you near this ever-popular outlet, the fresh aroma of Christmas pine will help you find your way. It offers a huge selection of high-quality Christmas trees, as well as a fine array of wreaths and lights, with prices varying between HK$900-3,600.
Today, as part of its commitment to quality, the florist prides itself on importing only the freshest trees, plants and flowers from Holland, South Africa and New Zealand. In terms of its special Christmas offering, its services range from creating small, bespoke multi-candle centrepieces to decorating 10-feet-tall Christmas trees from scratch.
Something special for the festive season is also promised by the Hong Kong-based food and beverage firm, The Pirata Group. As to just what makes its festive offer stand out from rivals, is its no reservations policy, meaning you’re always in with more than a chance of finding a table at one of its three outlets – Pici, The Pizza Project or Pane e Latte.
These three restaurants are big on holiday cheer and specialise in curated festive goodies that infuse the brand’s expertly prepared dishes and Italian treats with timeless holiday flavours. Make it a December to remember with one of their special festive goodies, with the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pizza, a particular favourite.
Ali Oli is Hong Kong’s oldest European bakery, and with Christmas fast approaching, its festive menu includes turkeys sourced from Italy and Canada for those wanting to step away from cooking and just relax during the holiday. It also provides such Christmas classics as mince pies, stollen, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.
The 36-year-old bakery offers some of the highest quality European and Western baked products, which perhaps accounts for its enduring reputation for maintaining a hugely extensive and innovative product list.
The perennially pastel-shaded pop-up store of the celebrity-beloved Vive Cake Boutique is opting to showcase its signature black sesame temptation and its complete collection of edible art, to a new range of wholly imaginative festive offerings.
The patisserie’s newest creation, the four-tier Prince Sesame Cake, is a must for lovers of nutty and slightly bitter-sweet sensations. Since 2014, the bakery has been known as the crème de la crème among Hong Kong’s bespoke dessert-makers and, as result, has accrued an enviable celebrity client list.
For four days only, The Murray Christmas Market is morphing into pretty much the perfect destination for any last-minute Christmas shopping. This will see the five star hotel transform into a marketplace full of all things Christmassy, with a vast array of festive lifestyle products, including food and wine, jewellery, clothing and more.
As if that wasn’t enough, the celebrity mystery guest Santa will be travelling from The North Pole to Hong Kong for photo opportunities and Claus encounters with young revellers, to complete this wonderful and festive experience.
(Text: Joseff Musa)