SHOPPING is a national pastime in Hong Kong - and this is a blessing at Christmas, when you can buy something for everyone without venturing outside a single mall. The problem is deciding which shopping mall to visit to get the best gifts within your price range. We visited a few to size up what was on offer and give a tip on some of the best stores in each centre. Pacific Place in Admiralty is a favourite. Conveniently located on the MTR, and within walking distance of Central, it has the added feature of several taxi stops for when you are loaded up with gifts. The downside is it is always crowded, particularly at weekends. Featuring a wide range of stores, it caters for those who have to watch their spending as well as those who want to make extravagant gestures. A key shop for British expats is the traditionally British, Marks and Spencer. A stroll around the food department will bring on nostalgia and get you in the mood for Christmas like nothing else can, especially when you see the traditional ''comfort-food'', such as pudding, deep-filled mince pies and biscuits in festive red-and-green tins. M & S is also guaranteed to provide sexy stocking-fillers - lingerie, men's underwear - in European sizes. Shoppers looking for gifts at the upper end of the market should visit Lane Crawford, which has everything from clothes to crystal. For more modern items, try Seibu, the Japanese department store. It caters to a broad market; students can buy novelty pens or writing paper, and businessmen can pop in for a designer scarf for their wife. The food department downstairs has interesting nibblies for pre-Christmas cocktail parties. The Sock Shop is a fun and sexy place to shop for Christmas. A groovy pair of socks or wildly-patterned stockings is an inexpensive but personal gift for your loved one. And if you are looking for something more sedate, Jumbo B Grade has books, from the latest best-seller to a hardback reference book on marine biology. Cityplaza, in Taikoo Shing, is a slightly down-market version of Pacific Place. It has more smaller individual boutique-type shops, as well as big chain outlets, such as Esprit. Shopping for clothes is enjoyable in Cityplaza. Esprit has a good shoe collection, Episode is nearby and there is a large Calvin Klein store that stocks everything from underwear for men and women to shirts, stretch jersey tops, sweaters and jackets. Calvin Klein underwear makes an ideal gift. It is trendy, especially since pop star Marky Mark and super-waif model Kate Moss took over the promotions, and also comfortable and of good quality. Muji, a Japanese store, is designed around Kan Ketsu - the Japanese concept of simplicity. (There is also a Muji inside Seibu in Pacific Place.) It stocks a great range of medium-priced shirts, T-shirts, stretch tops, and pyjamas, as well as bric-a-brac like photo frames. Uni is another Japanese department store. It sells clothes, kitchen ware, household goods, bathroom fixtures, electronic equipment and food. For unusual and interesting ''ethnic'' gifts, try Amazing Grace for its candles, cushions, and carvings. Bored shoppers now have a new lease of life, with the opening of the mall at Times Square, in Causeway Bay. It brings some order to the chaos of shopping by organising its stores on different levels. The first three floors sell clothes and are divided up into City Glamour on level one, Suits and Dresses on level two, and Casual Living on level three. Above them are Leisure and Pleasure, and Electronics World. Times Square has some interesting features: one store devoted to Shu Uemura cosmetics; an area catering to Hong Kong's trendy Doc Marten-wearing teenagers that includes D-Mop; Bang Bang and the D. Shop; and a new branch of food and household goods specialist USA & Co from the United States. Best of all is the Tower Records store, which has almost anything you could ask for, from international pop, to techno, jazz, soul and country and Western. On Kowloon side, Ocean Terminal - which is part of the Harbour City complex near the Star Ferry - is a huge and sprawling affair, but it is worth getting lost in its maze of store-lined corridors to find unusual gifts. This centre features specialist boutiques and shops, for example The Living Place, which sells great household products - from bright yellow ceramic sunflowers to wrought iron bedsteads. You can find gifts for men in the Ralph Lauren Polo store and buying for children will not be a problem once you discover the huge Toys 'R' Us store. The centre is connected to the Omni Hotel where there are many shops that cater to tourists - jewellery, watches, leather baggage and accessories are all easy to find, as are traditional Hong Kong Chinese arts and crafts.