Sure, we love Christmas and all, but has there always been so much preparation involved? From gift shopping to home decoration, and from cooking to event planning, ‘tis the season to be stressed. But it doesn’t have to be that way—read on for some insider tips that show you how to make celebrating the holidays a breeze. Outsource Your Dessert Give your party desserts a personal spin with Choco You ( www.chocoyou.com ), a custom chocolate-maker that lets you choose everything from the type of chocolate (milk, dark, white) to the flavors (fruits, nuts, candies and even creative infusions such as chili powder and lemongrass) to the text on the packaging. Each basic bar starts at $50, and extra ingredients and toppings cost around $5 to $10 per item (unless you want gold flakes in your bars, which will set you back another $50). Once you’ve finished designing your chocolate, have them delivered straight to your door in around three working days. For the holiday season, Choco You’s even got some appropriately themed bars like spiced apple and “White Christmas” to match your party. Get Someone Else to Cook Does the thought of firing up an oven and cooking a Christmas meal from scratch fill you with ice-cold dread? Then get in touch with Hong Kong Personal Chef ( 6227-5730, www.hongkongpersonalchef.com ), which provides frozen gourmet meals that you just need to heat up to enjoy. Throughout December, personal chef Tom Burney’s (pictured above) meals will have a festive edge, featuring a turkey dinner with English Cumberland sausage pigs-in-blankets, freshly made cranberry and port sauce and homemade red wine gravy available from December 17 at around $120 each. He will also be offering wagyu beef Wellington with black truffle and a crispy light puff pastry at around $100 per portion, bottled red wine gravy, chestnut and bacon stuffing, and frozen, defrost-then-bake molten chocolate fondants at around $50 per portion. He also caters private events and designs calorie-based and dietary-specific meals. Burney delivers to homes and offices all over Hong Kong. Pay Someone to Decorate Your Home Whether you can’t be bothered to get your home in order for the holidays, or merely suck at decorating, help is at hand. Call in the professionals and have your place professionally decorated by Beau Monde ( 3/F, Block C, Eldex Industrial Building 21 Ma Tau Wai Rd., Hung Hom, 2765-3178, www.beaumonde.com.hk ), a decoration company that has brightened up hotels, malls and offices all over Hong Kong and Macau. Home decoration packages start at $7,800 and include a fully decorated 7-foot tree (choose themes and color schemes yourself), a wreath and a centerpiece for the table. Order a Tree, Get it Delivered Nobody likes lugging a gigantic Christmas tree around—and in Hong Kong, where few people have cars, you’ll have to wrestle it into a cab, up five flights of tong-lau stairs and then into your shoebox of a flat. But that’s a hassle easily avoided with the gracious help of King Fung Nurseries ( Lau Shui Heung Village, Lau Shui Heung Road, Fanling, 2643-6628, www.kingfung.net ). They will personally deliver your Christmas fir—plus pick it up when the season of merry is finally over and it’s all wilted and moldy. Another option that aids and abets the slothful is Chun Hing Garden ( Wong Nai Chung Road across from the public entrance to the racecourse, Happy Valley, 2572-6430, www.chunhinggarden.com ). Large and unruly or petite and sweet, they will deliver any tree to your house. It’s little things like this that make prepping for your holiday fetes a snap… leaving you more time to do important things, like prepare for doomsday. Bake a Festive Snack—The Lazy Way Everyone loves homemade cookies, but who’s got time to make ‘em from scratch? Local company We Are No Expert ( www.wearenoexpert.com ) sells beautifully packaged dry ingredients for cookies and muffins that come in a bottle. Simply shake out the ingredients (no measuring required), mix together with eggs, butter and milk, pop in the fridge, and then cut into cookie shapes before placing them in the oven—it really is that easy. The ingredients are all organic and healthy, so they make for guilt-free snacking, too. The organic fruity Christmas cookies, in particular, are sure to be a hit with both lazy gift-givers and receivers alike. If cookies aren’t your thing, be sure to try their muffins, the ingredients for which also come in a bottle. We Are No Expert also offers a range of organic skincare products. Prices for cookie and muffin ingredients start at $100. Order Your Beers Hosting a shindig and sick to death of mullled wine? Why not order in some specialty beers instead? The team at Hop Leaf ( www.hopleaf.hk ) is passionate about beer and wants to spread their love one carefully selected brand at a time. It stocks brews from offbeat places such as Numazu, Japan and Fort Bragg, California and has a Beer of the Month club to deliver its latest boozy finds to your doorstep (incidentally, this would make an awesome Christmas gift). Home deliveries arrive within three days of payment, but contact them directly if you’re looking for a quicker turnaround. The best part is that Hop Leaf delivers almost everywhere in Hong Kong. Run by a beer lovin’ ex-attorney from Los Angeles, Americraft Imports ( AmeriCraft Imports, 9311-3082; www.americraftimports.com ) stocks craft brews from American brewers who are reviving historical styles and blending new tastes. Selections include, but are not limited to: a dark spiced Anchor Christmas Ale; a malty hop Moose Drool Brown Ale from Montana; and the citrusy Wailua Wheat from Hawaii. Most six-packs will set you back $140. Orders can be made online or by phone. Deliveries will typically be made within one to three days following receipt of your order—and they’re now delivering to Discovery Bay. The Belgian Beer Company ( The Belgian Beer International Co. Ltd., Room 2-3, Block B, 13/F, Texaco Road Industrial Center,14-22 Wang Lung St., Tsuen Wan, 3520-4077, www.belgianbeer.com.hk ) carries some of the finest brews in Hong Kong, and once you’ve tasted them (most cost around $20 each) you’ll understand the enthusiasm. Delivery is free for orders of $800 or more to Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories (Tung Chung, the airport and outlying islands not included) and orders must be made two working days prior to the day of delivery, between Monday and Friday (except on public holidays). Payment is cash or check on delivery. Booze to your Door You can’t legitimately call anything a party until you get the booze flowing, so make sure you’re well-stocked with a couple cases of good, solid tipple. Slurp.Asia ( Room 1903, Tung Wah Mansion, 199-203 Hennessy Rd., Wan Chai, 3590-4472, www.slurp.asia ) carries everything from wines to beers to spirits, and you can get brands like Penfolds, Leffe and Johnnie Walker for as low as under $100 to as high as thousands of dollars per bottle. If you spend more than $1,000 on your first order, you’re entitled to $200 off. Get your orders delivered to your door, or alternatively pick them up at their Wan Chai office. Also try Wine Deals ( www.winedeals.com.hk ), a sort of Groupon-type site that showcases different wines at discounted prices each day. Each deal is structured differently, and some require minimum orders while others don’t. Currently, the cheapest deal on the site is a 7th Sense chardonnay from California at $98 per bottle. Different delivery charges apply depending on where you live. Post-Party Clean-Up OK, so your guests are trashed and your house is all in pieces—undoubtedly the signs of a successful party. But if you don’t do anything about the mess soon, the roaches and rats will invite themselves in as your next guests. It’s time to vacuum and wash and scrub and rub the whole flat down, and Merry Maids ( www.merrymaids.com.hk ) might be just the thing you need. These professional cleaners offer myriad products and services, but you’ll want to look at their Special Cleaning packages that include one-off deep-cleaning deals. Kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, floors and even windows are covered, and Merry Maids brings all the cleaning equipment straight to your home, so you don’t need to worry about stocking up on detergent, towels and sponges. Prices depend on the size of your flat and the length of service needed, but their rates start at $380 for the first hour, with progressive discounts on every four-hour increment thereafter. Sparkle Maids ( www.sparklemaids.com.hk ) is another part-time cleaning service that can get your seat cushions vacuumed, picture frames dusted, ashtrays emptied, linens changed, mirrors polished and floors mopped at a starting rate of $350 per hour. Simply fill out their online form and you’ll be one step closer to a trash-free apartment. How Convenient Whether you’re a terrible parent, a neglectful spouse or a crappy dinner guest, you’ll be able to find some last-gasp goodies in our favorite convenience stores. Booze is the order of the day at good old 7-Eleven , where you’ll actually find a few decent bottles amidst the alcopops and dusty bottles of King Robert. The Absolut Unique limited-edition vodka bottles ($199) are a solid gift for partygoers, while uncle Ho should be pretty pleased with a bottle of Chivas Regal ($368). For parties, the Yellowtail Pink Bubbles ($138) ain’t half bad either. There are also plenty of boxes of chocolate, from the ubiquitous Ferrero Rocher and Lindt Lindors (prices vary), to whisky-spiked chocolate bars ($39.90). For something festive, pick up a pack of foil-wrapped Lindt chocolate bears ($43.90). Toiletry sections in bigger stores offer shaving kits and mini hair clays, which make good stocking stuffers. There are more options for kids at Circle-K , where you can pick up jelly pops in the shape of Santas, snowmen and Christmas trees ($7.90). A Thomas the Tank Engine cookie tin ($125) will please under-fives. There are also family-friendly DVDs in some outlets. If all else fails, a Toblerone rolled up in a magazine is hard to beat. Both stores offer titles imported from the States and the UK at far better prices than at bookshops at their in-town stores. Add Some Snow Want to turn your party into a winter wonderland with zero effort? Japanese stationery store QIPS ( Shop 2002-2003, Miramar Shopping Centre, 132 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2317-6855, www.qips.hk ) sells cans of “Snow to Go.” All you have to do is add water, and the magical stuff will instantly fluff up, expanding hugely in size. It’s non-toxic and will last for weeks. $38-$138, depending on the size. A Quintessential Christmas Kitty Lam, head of members’ assistance at Quintessentially, the luxury concierge service, gives Lisa Cam a sneak peek into how Hong Kong’s high rollers do the festive season. HK Magazine: What are some awesome gift ideas that you’ve helped to organize for your clients this year? Q: We had an order for a trampoline, which we specially imported from the US. One gentleman ordered specially themed matching bouquets for his wife and daughter. The flowers will be delivered everyday for the twelve days leading up to Christmas. That was a really romantic gesture. HK: What local websites are best for sourcing Christmas gifts? Q: Edible Arrangements is one site we find very useful. They’re international and they cater to all sorts of occasions, especially for the festive season. Aesthetically pleasing as well as functional, their gifts are quite popular. HK: What special touches do you add to make your Christmas parties special? Q: We’re able to personalize every client’s request. At a recent client event, we created bespoke party favors for each individual guest. There were personalized towels with their names on them, custom luggage tags in each guest’s favorite color, and even their favorite fragrances. Another project we recently had was to offer members and non-members Santa visits to locations of their choice. At our clients’ request, we can also have Santa hand out personalized gifts. Of course, we need to get a lot of the information from our clients beforehand, but it’s well worth it. HK: What are the hottest Christmas tickets that your members are most desperate to get their hands on? Q: Tickets for “The Nutcracker”—every year. There are also a lot of last-minute travel requests. HK: What’s the most outrageous Christmas request that you’ve had from a member? Q: This example is more elaborate than outrageous, but we had a client who has a surprise Christmas trip to Australia and New Zealand planned for his family this year. The party of ten (including the domestic helper) will be flying business class the whole way and will have a tour guide and chauffeur to meet them the minute they land. A photographer has been hired so they will have professional photos taken of them the whole trip and everybody can be in the pictures. Last but not least, the ladies of the party will have Hermès bags waiting for them under the tree on Christmas day. This really is an extravagant vacation. HK: Are there any types of presents that are always guaranteed to be hits? Q: It’s all about communicating with the client and then gauging what that person would like. Chanel and Hermès bags are always popular with the ladies, while Hermès belts are also well received by gentlemen. Spa experiences are also a hit because both parties can go together and that’s always nice. HK: Which is the hardest group to buy presents for? Q: Definitely tweens between the ages of 8 and 12, when they are too old for toys and parents are wary of getting them electronic gadgets like the iPhone or iPad. They’re not at the age where they’re very fashion-conscious so buying them fashion items may not cause much excitement, either. Boys in that age range are particularly hard to cater for, but usually, after some research, the latest popular video game is a safe bet.