On the 12th day of Christmas: Traditional entertainment Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the pantomime, and this year the Hong Kong Players is staging Cinderella at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, until next Saturday, complete with outrageous characters, and lavish song-and-dance numbers ($180 children/$220 adults, www.hkticketing.com ). Uncle Dave, on the other hand, is going for one of the most popular and retold Christmas tales, with a production of Scrooge next Friday and Saturday at Grappa's Country Restaurant, Jardine House, Central ($150 in advance from www.hk ticketing.com or $180 at the door, includes a pizza buffet). For something more highbrow, take your budding ballerinas to Hong Kong Ballet's annual production of The Nutcracker at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre from December 18 to 26 (go to www.hk ballet.com for more information). The company is also hosting special activities for children during Christmas week, including hand-painting, photo opportunities with the cast, and a competition in which children dress up their favourite teddy bear, doll or action figure as a Nutcracker character. 11th day: Find a Christmas tree You can buy fresh fir trees from the flower markets in Causeway Bay (behind Jardine's Bazaar), Mongkok (Boundary Street), Stanley Market and selected Wellcome supermarkets. They cost $199 for a 1.2-metre tree, and up to $3,000 for a three-metre specimen. On the other hand, you can always opt for the cheaper, artificial varieties. A fun way of reducing costs is to make your own decorations. Pop some corn and thread on string as a tasty alternative to tinsel; make colourful paper chains; cut Christmas figures from cardboard and decorate with glitter and beads. Biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees, reindeers and Santa Claus also make good tree decorations (be sure to make a hole in the dough before baking). If you're stuck for inspiration take the children to visit the great trees in malls and hotels around Hong Kong - start with The Landmark in Central, Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong and The Peninsula in Tsim Sha Tsui. 10th day: Get creative It's not just tree decorations that can be made at home. Creating your own wrapping paper and gift tags is not only cheaper, but personal - and keeps the children occupied for hours. Wrap presents in newspaper, and finish by tying a velvet ribbon around the gift. Or wrap them in plain brown paper and stick mother-of-pearl buttons, feathers, fake flowers or sequins on the top. Shop for ribbons, beads, and coloured or metallic paper from the stores in Shamshuipo (head for Yu Chau or Nam Cheong Street) and encourage children to make gift tags with glittering snowflakes, stars and angels. Ninth day: Spread goodwill Become the family co-ordinator of an Angel Tree of Giving. Cut angel shapes from a piece of card and hang them on the branches of a tree in the reception of your apartment block. Each angel signifies an underprivileged or orphaned child and should then be taken home, decorated and returned with a gift intended for a child in need. As co-ordinator, you arrange to send the gifts and angels to an orphanage of your choice (visit the social welfare department website at www.info . gov.hk/swd). Some clubs collect wrapped gifts to give to children who will spend Christmas Day in hospital. Eighth day: Have a Santa party Get into the holiday spirit with a party. Plan some Christmas crafts, listen to carols and eat home-made goodies. To add a seasonal touch, arrange a visit from Santa - a dad dressed-up will do - with a bag of gifts. If you can't find a volunteer, put some carrots in a bucket (for Santa's reindeer), have the children close their eyes and think Santa thoughts. Tinkle some bells, replace the carrots with half-eaten ones, place some small presents on the table and let their imagination do the rest. Seventh day: Admire the Christmas lights Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world to take in the Christmas lights. Jump on the Star Ferry for an unimpeded view of both sides of the harbour. Or enjoy some free winter magic by window shopping at malls. Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing (winter magic hotline: 2844 5062) has a series of displays on a fairy-tale theme plus puppet shows, music and real snow. Sixth day: Visit Santa Claus You'll find him in several shapes, sizes and colours in numerous grottos posing for photographs and handing out gifts. All the big shopping malls have their own Santa, including Pacific Place in Admiralty, Festival Walk, and Times Square in Causeway Bay. Fifth day: Bake Many families have traditional holiday recipes so get together with friends and share them. Oliver's, Great, city'super, ParknShop and Wellcome stock their shelves with essential Christmas ingredients. To buy festive cookie cutters, pudding basins and muslin cloths, visit the Pan Handler in the Prince's Building, Central (tel: 2523 1672). Or take the children for a stroll along Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei, also known as Kitchen Street, for stores packed with decorative cutters, cake tins and icing kits. If you don't like cooking, buy a gingerbread-house kit from a supermarket. Fourth day: Tell Christmas tales Snuggle down with a plate of festive cookies and a Christmas story. This is a great way to share and explore the meaning of the holiday. POLLUX discount books in Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau (tel: 2873 6962), stock a large selection of wonderful titles such as Dream Snow by Eric Carle, Christmas City by Michael Garland and The Snow Bear by Piers Harper. Page One (tel: 2917 7252) and Dymocks (tel: 2826 9248) also have plenty to choose from. If you want a personalised touch, call Gem Books (tel: 2855 7352) and they will create a book for you with a Christmas story about your child, family and friends. For the older reader, try Jostein Gaarder's The Christmas Mystery, a magical book that follows the tale of a young girl and her role in the festive story - for children and parents alike. Third day: Sing carols There's no better way to drum up the Christmas spirit than carolling. Professional singing groups such as the City Keys ( www.citykeys.tripod.com/CityKeys2.htm ) tour shopping malls, including Times Square and The Landmark, performing much-loved carols from December 12 right up to Christmas Day. The Hong Kong Singers ( www.hksingers.com ) performs each Christmas Day at St John's Cathedral in Central, all are welcome and if you drop by at lunch time you might be lucky enough to hear them practising. If you want to join in, contact your local church. Most will have Christmas services filled with hymns and carols. St Stephen's is organising a carol service on December 19 in Stanley Plaza at 6.30pm. Second day: Share the real Christmas story There's no better way to understand the meaning of December 25 than with a nativity play. Check your local church notices for dates and times. Plays are usually organised by Sunday schools. St John's Cathedral Sunday School's Christmas Nativity Play is on December 21 at 9am, while St Stephen's Church in Stanley (St Stephen's College, 22 Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley) holds a service on Christmas Eve especially for children, at which gifts are donated to distribute to orphanages. Christmas Eve: Put your feet up Open a bottle of wine, warm up the mince pies, and settle down for some serious R&R before the pandemonium begins.