A famous British poet who visited Hong Kong in the 1950s summed up his stay as one long experience of slipping into dinner jackets and jumping into taxis. The days of low-rise colonial buildings lining the streets of Central may be long gone but the joy of swigging cocktails on the social circuit lives on. This holiday season is no exception. A range of cool parties and must-be-seen-at-events are taking place, even if some of the celebratory fizz seems to be missing from the economic champagne. One of the first major events on the holiday calendar is an exclusive party for tenants of one of the city's biggest landlords, Hongkong Land. On the invitation list are residents of three of prime shopping plazas in Central: the Landmark, the Prince's Building, and the newly-opened Chater House. Slated for December 10 in Exchange Square, the event is expected to draw an all-star line-up of behind-the-scenes power brokers. 'If you think of the type of tenants who make up the Hongkong Land buildings, you have essentially most of the fashion industry and most of the big luxury brands,' says one of the event organisers. 'This type of event is not necessarily directed towards socialites, television personalities or pop singers. Within the tenant structure you get an amazing representation of the movers and shakers of the entrepreneurial and business world.' The Chinese International School's annual dinner, on December 18 at the Island Shangri-La, is another key event to watch, says Rachel Plecas, managing editor of Hong Kong Tatler Magazine. Legions of Hong Kong's elite have attended the prestigious Kowloon school, which means that some big names are likely to attend the annual feast. 'It would be the parents of children attending the school and people who have been involved with the school in terms of fund-rasing events and related endeavours,' Ms Plecas says. Other big events include the annual New Year's Eve parties at the Grand Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental. For Hong Kong's upper-crust, ringing in the New Year in five-star style is almost a family ritual. 'I have seen the decoration plan for the Grand Hyatt, and it is gorgeous. It is elegant and very sophisticated, as always,' Ms Plecas says. One noticeable trend in recent times is the number of new faces at these once-exclusive events. 'The Grand Hyatt gets a wide range of people because you purchase tickets, it's not invitation only,' Ms Plecas says. 'I think there are younger couples who want to dress up and feel they are doing something extra elegant for the New Year, and people who have lived in Hong Kong for decades for whom this is a traditional thing to do every year.' A more rarefied ambience can be expected at the annual dinner at the Mandarin Oriental. 'The Mandarin New Year's Eve dinner is something families who have lived here for decades do every single year,' says Ms Plecas. While many of the traditional celebrations are being conducted as usual, it is clear that hard times have had an impact on Hong Kong's reputation for hard-core night life. Francis Cheng, a columnist for the Chinese entertainment magazine Talkies, says fewer big rave parties are scheduled this year, largely because event organisers have been stung in the past year. 'Certain parties they did this year were not well attended,' says Mr Cheng, referring to large-scale raves featuring specially invited international DJs. 'That is why they haven't brought people in this year.' Barring last-minute changes, the offerings scheduled are falling far short of last year. On the radar for serious clubbers is the presence of an international DJ at the New Silk Road restaurant in Sheung Wan. The venue holds up to 1,200 people. Instead of large shows, many organisers are looking to host smaller gigs with a mix of local and international DJs. And instead of one-night extravaganzas, the trend is towards long runs, with a string of DJs performing over three evenings or longer, according to Gordon Cumings, a local DJ who goes by the stage name 'Yeodie'. At Liquid, in Central, local and international DJs will be featured every Friday and Sunday throughout December in a special programme known as 'The Colour Seasons'. Mr Cumings says many rave party regulars are feeling the financial pinch these days, and are opting for smaller-scale events at nightclubs. The cosy atmosphere of smaller venues also makes for a better show, as the audience seems to have tired of the big events held in what are little more than converted convention centres. Following a trend, Mr Cumings will be performing at several private parties, mostly for private clients, in the next month. 'A lot of clubs have been a lot more careful this year,' Mr Cumings says. He says one of the notable DJ events this season is a New Year's Eve party hosted by the group that owns the restaurants Viceroy, DV8, Milano and Saigon. The four venues, all located within the Sun Hung Kai Centre, will collectively offer dinner and DJ entertainment, under the title 'Hollywood Hunks and Bollywood Babes', throughout the evening. Another New Year's Eve special is the party spectacular scheduled at Gaia, the Italian restaurant on the piazza at Grand Millennium Plaza, 181 Queen's Road, Central. The countdown on the piazza will be held at the Grand Millenniun Bell Tower. As Hong Kong celebrates the arrival of the New Year with the chimes of midnight, partygoers can share the special moment with other venues around Hong Kong on the Grand Millennium screen. From then on, guests can dance the night and the morning away in the piazza - just the way the Italians do in Italy. Those with fun memories of last year's party at Va Bene, in Lan Kwai Fong, are planning to gravitate to the venue this year. Dinner will be followed by dancing, the midnight countdown, and revelling into the early hours to the latest disco sounds from Italy and around the world.