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How Shanghai's Community Is Celebrating Christmas 2020

We asked friends in Shanghai what they plan to get up to this festive week
By Dec 24, 2020 Community
Christmas plans is a time for eating, drinking and making merry with family — which for many of us involves jumping on a plane bound for the homeland. But not in 2020, no. This year it's all about doing Christmas Shanghai-style. For some people, it's the very first time. For others, it's business as usual.

So we did a quick call around to our friends for a little inspiration — maybe a little sympathy — and asked how they're celebrating this year and how/if it's different from previous years.

Here are some of our favorites:

Theresa Hudzinski

Shanghai Disney Resort, Senior Manager, Workforce Management


How are you spending Christmas this year?
In past years, right about now, we would be battling jetlag in Upstate New York, trying to fit in as much family time as possible before heading to Michigan for round two! So this year is quieter and more serene, although, perhaps a little more chaotic as we prepare for just the four of us: baking Christmas cookies, lots of Christmas markets, and lots of singing … of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” over and over and over. With a few days left, hopefully, we can make some fantastic memories that ease the separation a bit better.

What are your hopes for 2021?
My hope for 2021 as we continue to navigate this reality is that we can kiss and cuddle our loved ones in person at least once. I have said this year has been about “Thriving Forward, While Standing Still” and I'm grateful for the incredible opportunities that actually may not have been possible otherwise.

Fiona Lau and Kain Picken

FFIXXED STUDIOS, Co-Founders


How are you spending Christmas this year?
We're having a big Christmas party at our apartment, similar to previous Christmases, but bigger! More decorations, more food, more gifts, and more people — we've got about 25 confirmed so far. I figure our apartment can hold about 12 people in a comfortable party setting, and 15 is the maximum we can have before it gets weird. 


What are your hopes for 2021?

Like most people, we’re just happy to put 2020 behind us. I just hope there’s no major catastrophes in our life. That's where the bar is set for 2021 right now.

Lexie Comstock

Strictly Cookies, Founder


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I’ve arranged a bunch of virtual celebrations to make up for not being *physically* with my family and girlfriend this year, starting with a Christmas movie screening at 8am my time (I am clearly dedicated to this idea). I usually make it back to the states for Christmas, so it's definitely a bummer to be without them, but I’m excited to celebrate with Shanghai family (and my dog Mario!!) by watching Christmas movies while eating Homeslice’s Christmas pizza, among other equally fantastic things.

Lilian Shen

Zmack Shanghai, Artistic Director


How are you spending Christmas this year?
We don’t have many Christmas traditions in my family, but as a kid I used to stay up till 6am to organize scavenger hunts and obstacle games for my two little sisters on Christmas Eve — one of my best memories of my childhood. I just really wanted my sisters to have a great time and for the family to be together and share some laughs. My sisters are older now and in college so I don’t get to see them every year but last year we had a family trip to Singapore, and that was nice, to have the family together. Of course this year my sisters are stuck in the US so they will be celebrating Christmas there and us, here.

What are your hopes for 2021?
I think in many ways, 2020 put a lot of things in perspective for me. A lot of systemic issues surfaced and many people have called it the “tipping point”. So let’s tip! I just hope in 2021 we really take a step back and remember the important things in life: loved ones, mental and physical health, and being kind and compassionate to one another.

Hannah Keirl

Spirits Box, Founder


How are you spending Christmas this year?
Growing up in Australia, Christmas meant prawns, beach, cricket, and surfing. If you’re down at the beach at 9am, you can see Santa and his elves catch a wave or two. The extended family comes over and we eat too much, drink too much, and someone ends up with really bad sunburn. This year though, I’m heading to Changbaishan, China with friends for a (very cold) white Christmas! From 40*C to -21*C…

What are your hopes for 2021?
I’m looking forward to 2021 being an adventure. Slightly less of a rollercoaster ride, and more of a dive in and learn to swim type of year.

Chris Foste

Shanghai Brewery House


How are you spending Christmas this year?
Usually, this is the time of year I head back to the USA and be with family and friends, but due to the recent travel restrictions, I'm staying in Shanghai this year. I'll be celebrating at home with some friends on Christmas Eve, but on the 25th I'll be in full Santa attire, greeting all the good boys at the Tacolicious Christmas Party, then getting medieval with the Inferno Medieval Christmas with Anarkia Kitchen and Hoop & Horn Mead!

What are your hopes for 2021?
My greatest wish for 2021 is for travel to open back up. Not only would I like to move around the world, but also to support the struggling tourism business. Support your local bars and restaurants! We need good food and drink to survive this year of slow business!

Got a Christmas movie to recommend?
Any Rankin & Bass flick is great for relaxing on a crisp winter's evening, but Home Alone is my go-to Christmas movie that brings a mischievous smile to my face. Lastly, if anyone says that Die Hard isn't a Christmas movie, then get out of here! The climb up Nakatomi Plaza is a holiday classic!"

Ash

Green Initiatives


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This year we are getting away from all the big fancy Christmas dinners and parties and heading out to the countryside to celebrate a quiet festive season with close friends and family. We will be doing a healthy but delicious plant-based lunch, cooked with a lot of love. We have decided not to shop for unnecessary presents, but rather give each other the gift of time and conduct a special activity together.

What are your hopes for 2021?
2020 has made us introspect and rethink the way we live our lives. Hope we can all realize our newfound dreams and passions and flourish in 2021.

Got a Christmas movie to recommend?
Joyeux Noël a 2005 epic war drama film based on the Christmas truce of December 1914, depicted through the eyes of French, Scottish, and German soldiers.

Grant-Oh

The Pearl


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This year like most, I’ll be here in lovely Shanghai. I plan to spend my Christmas at The Pearl, of course, for our annual sold out Mrs. Claus’ dinner show and the Rockbund Christmas market staying warm with their Gluwein. Normally I would be home in Canada visiting family and enjoying all my mother’s amazing baking. Butter tarts, gingersnap cookies, kringla…a Danish party my fathers used to make. As kids we celebrated on Christmas Eve with a large family dinner of Turkey, Ham, etc.. and were able to open some of our presents and not waiting until morning which always made my friend’s jealous. Last few years we would spend Christmas at my oldest brother’s home in Nordegg in the Canadian Rockies. Cool clean crisp air, snow, deer, cougars and bears, Oh my! But like of us here, we are very fortunate and lucky to be here in Shanghai where we can still enjoy our lives freely.

What are your hopes for 2021?
For 2021 I hope the best for the world. 2020 has been devastating for most, so I hope for normality to return for them. For me, I’m truly excited for 2021. After 3+ long years of hard work The Pearl was finally granted full China Agency status. This allows us to create music and arts festivals and license other venues across China. After my years with MTV, I’ve always dreamed of a Blues and Rock festival in China…. might be one step closer to that goal. I’m truly thankful to the Pearl team, our Red Stars band and our ever growing collection of amazing talent.

Gerie de Pater

Home Sweet Home


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I'm Dutch myself and my wife is American, so our Christmas tradition is a bit of a mix of Dutch, American and Chinese culture. Christmas eve we'll have a nice evening together as a family. The last couple of years we've ordered a big ham dinner from one of the local hotel restaurants which is a great deal and gives you leftovers for many days after! We'll also open the presents our family from the US sent us. Christmas Day we normally attend the Christmas service at Hengshan Church, but since Covid the international services haven't received permission to convene yet. We're attending a smaller Christmas Celebration instead and will go out for Chinese hotpot afterwards! The rest of the day we'll spend at home, watching Christmas movies. On Saturday we'll have our regular Home Sweet Home outreach for the homeless to provide some warmth, a meal, shower and clean clothes for those less fortunate!

What are your hopes for 2021?
Of course I hope, like everybody else, that some of our world's immediate problems will be solved, especially meaning the Covid crisis. I also hope that from the Christmas story we'll learn in our daily lives not to treat God as a passing stranger or one-day visitor who can come when it's convenient to us when we need Him, but to know that He came to live among us and within us for every day of our lives!

Jeffrey

BonBon LGBT Community


How are you spending Christmas this year?
Normally I’d have a feast prepared by mom on Solstice, then on Christmas Day would spend it with friends. This year, I’m going to a Taiwanese private kitchen for Solstice. As for Christmas, I love tree decorating party. Everyone brings something to decorate the tree. We make ginger bread cookies, and mulled wine.... play board games. Last week, I went to a fundraising event for SCMC & Hearts to Hearts. SCMC is a red ribbon nonprofit providing HIV testing kits and resources. Hearts to Hearts is another nonprofit organization funding operation costs for kids with cancer. This week, I’m going to Curfew, a rainbow friendly cocktail bar by iAPM, and also throwing a Bonbon party at The Cut Rooftop on Saturday!! Will be shaking and twerking to the holiday anthem, All I Want For Christmas Is You!!

What are your hopes for 2021?
WORLD PEACE. lol Very much looking forward to counting down for Gay Games Hong Kong 2022!!! Gay Games is a 9-days international world-class diversity festival with multi-sports, arts & culture events and opening & closing ceremonies organised by the LGBTQ+ Community every 4 years. This is the first time in Asia!!

Got a Christmas movie to recommend?
All time favorite Christmas comedy is Home Alone. Then recent favorite is Frozen - who doesn’t love watching a queen erect an ice castle in silleoutte dress, high heels, drag makeup & hair!?

Mike Golden

Founder & President, Brandigo China


How are you spending Christmas this year?
We typically spend Christmas either at home in the States, or with our friends in Europe. This will be the first Christmas in two years away from our close friends in Bavaria – where we typically enjoy healthy glugs of glühwein, morning beers, and Christmas Eve carols in German (which I don't speak, so literally a “silent night”).

This year we’ll travel to Xishuang Banna in Yunnan Province, just an endangered elephant ride away from the Thai border. We’re replacing our slightly misplaced German traditions with a healthy dose of our close international friends from Shanghai – many of whom are relatively “new” friends made during lockdown. Cases of French wine are already being trucked South by incredibly competent Shunfeng couriers, my own version of Santa’s finicky reindeers.

What are your hopes for 2021?
Tony Robbins asks: “Are you living your primary question?” This is your internal question that unconsciously drives your actions and creates certain outcomes in your life. For me, it’s about making my family happy. My actions next year will be to drive that, which means I will be one busy elf. This includes my sincere prayers for immediate and extended family to live long, happy lives – it has been a very difficult year in that regard.

Got a good book to recommend to read (or gift!) this Christmas?
It’s time for a bit of escapism, and why not start with the recently departed, and sadly missed author of the world’s best spy novels? I’ll be re-reading John le Carré’s oeuvre, starting with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It may not, precisely, be a Christmas-oriented novel, but one thing COVID has taught us is to not worry about what other people think, to absorb Tony Robbins, and to find your inner French-wine-delivering reindeer vibe. Rudolph’s red nose? Probably a Chateau Margaux that fell off the sled.

Daniel de Smeth

Co-Founder & GM at Highlite


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I have been celebrating Christmas in a bunch of ways this year. I’m about to attend a vegan Christmas, on Friday I will go for a Beijing Duck Christmas, and I have already celebrated Dutch Christmas (Sinterklaas). It’s cool to see that everyone comes together like this now that we cannot leave! Busy times

What are your hopes for 2021?
Like probably most people, I really hope international travel can get back to normal. Also, I hope these vaccins can make a serious impact. For the industry I work in (Food & Beverage) we have been relatively lucky here in China - I hope the industry abroad can also recover back to normal as much as possible, because they have been hit hard.

Got a good book to recommend to read (or gift!) this Christmas?
I just got recommended to watch “The Holiday Movies that Made Us,” a short series (only two episodes) about how some of the most popular Christmas movies are made. They made an episode about “Elf” with Will Ferrell that I am going to watch.

Shane Benis

CEO, China Sports Promotions


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I’ve spent many a Christmas in Shanghai going into my 15th year, so this isn't a new experience for me! Some years I head to my mums in England, some to my dads in Uganda. This year I'll spend it here in Shanghai like many of us, both hesitant and unwilling to travel. Christmas in my family is about getting people together, cooking, entertaining, and laughing. And that’s what I try to do for my community when I spend Christmas here. It's a bit of a busy schedule the next 3 days.

On Thursday night I’ll be cooking dinner with Alex Monteaux and some friends. I’m responsible for the roast lamb which is a family recipe, and if it’s cooked right it’ll be so soft the guests will need a spoon, not a fork. I’ll then be at the Broken Dagger’s Thursday night thing, being dragged into some sort of adventure by Geo. If you don’t have plans and fancy a drink or two with some interesting characters, come! His menu is amazing.

On Christmas morning, I'll be with a little group of friends at Tomatito’s sexy Christmas brunch playing some music with my brother Pete. If you haven’t been to Tomatito, the team there always create a wonderful atmosphere and their food is just fantastic. On Christmas afternoon, am heading dressed up as Santa to a friends house. You know you’re getting old when it’s you going as Santa.

And finally on Boxing Day, I’ll be at VUE Bar at Hyatt on the Bund for their Boxing Day party. Should be a good crack!

Pretty busy right!?

What are your hopes for 2021?
Um, I’d like to be able to plan past 2 months ahead of time. I really hope these vaccines make a difference and provide some stability to everyones lives again. No corona would be nice, open travel would be nice, opening CNN and not seeing an American presidential scandal would be nice, bringing Brawl On The Bund back would be nice. Little things.

Got a good book to recommend to read (or gift!) this Christmas?
I’m re-reading two all time greats: Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl and Shogun by James Clavell. I also just started watching Your Honor with the guy from Breaking Bad.

Charlene Liu

Co-Founder of ShanghaiPRIDE, Q-Events, Ladies Who Tech, and D&I Consulting


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This year is different because I won't be spending Christmas with Mommy in hot Malaysia. I will be headed to iAPM for Wonder Woman 1984 with some lesbian/bi friends (of course) on Christmas Eve, then we will drink at Il Vino unti the next morning because there will be no way to get home at night. After a quick nap, we (the same crew and a tag-along gay friend) will be headed to Guangzhou to visit relatives and for a foodie trip and Shunde to vist Qinghui Garden (formerly home to my grandmother's).

What are your hopes for 2021?
I want/hope more people around the world understand the need to be social distancing and wearing masks, and be more OCD when it comes to hygiene. Of course, I hope to have more business for my new startup projects. Last but not least, if it's not too much to ask, for our colorful pride season to be back.

Ian L aka Heatwolves

Love Bang Co-Founder / InkSight Co-Founder


How are you spending Christmas this year?
When I was five, I got Zelda: A Link to The Past for Christmas and then I cried because I didn’t want Christmas to end. I will also play Nintendo this Christmas, but this time it’s Overcooked 2 with my girlfriend and maybe Ringfit Adventure. Maybe I’ll go for a bike ride on the Pudong Riverwalk because I finally got a helmet. I’ll probably re-read and highlight a few key passages in the autobiography of Gucci Mane and possibly start reading Proust. I would also like to eat some Reese’s peanut butter cups, take a bath, listen to some records, and talk to my family back home. Also I’ll make a donation to the food bank back in my hometown, Kalamazoo. Maybe go see Wonder Woman.

What are your hopes for 2021?
I hope we all remember the lessons we learned in 2020.

James Dunn

Executive Director, British Chamber of Commerce


How are you spending Christmas this year?
For obvious reasons, this Christmas will be a little different as we won’t be able to spend it with family back in the UK. Though as most expats are in Shanghai over Christmas, we’ll be spending Christmas Day with friends - most of the food and trimmings are sourced from Breakfast Champion - so a huge shout out to Andrew and the team for the grub. For Boxing Day, we’ll be traveling to Wuhan to get married!

What are your hopes for 2021?
Probably wishful thinking, but the hope would be for the world to return to some form of normality, at least by year end so we can visit our families back home. There are still many families separated and the hope is that they can be reunited by Xmas next year.

Matthias Terrettaz

General Manager, Bvlgari Hotel


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I will be celebrating at the hotel with our guests and colleagues and as well at home with my wife and daughter over a nice meal. This will be just like all the previous year for me as in my industry I always need to balance this celebration between the hotel and my family.

What are your hopes for 2021?
I have many wishes for 2021, indeed I hope the epidemic situation around the world will improve and it will be easier for all of us to travel across borders once again

James Heller

US Consul General, US State Department


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I typically spend my holidays with my wife and two kids. However, COVID19 upended those plans this year. So I’ll be spending the holidays in this great city, with my wonderful colleagues in our consulate community. I will definitely miss spending the holiday season with my family.

What are your hopes for 2021?
My hope is for the prompt and successful worldwide deployment of COVID19 vaccines, and for everyone to have a peaceful and prosperous 2021.

Kelly Lee

Owner, Liquid Laundry, Boxing Cat, etc.


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This year Christmas has been one party after another. I guess because most people are here and everyone wants to celebrate the fact that we’re able to celebrate. After being in Shanghai 16 years (!) this is the first year I’ve had a real, real Christmas tree. Most of the reason for that is because of our 2 ½ year old daughter Alba. Amazing what having a kid will make you do!

We’re celebrating Christmas by having a couple of families over for a big Christmas Eve meal at home. A luxury when you’ve been in the industry as long as I have. When we’re done eating the 2 Uruguayan M7 Tomahawks (thanks Luis!) and 200g of caviar from Qiandaohu (because why not), I am sure we’ll chase the kids around until just a wee bit past 8:30pm and then all of the families will be forced to evacuate back home for bedtime.

What are your hopes for 2021?
A return to the person formerly known as Kelley Lee.

Renee Gian

Marketing & Admissions Director, WISS


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I’ll be here in Shanghai with my son. We usually travel back to our home in Cairo, Egypt to spend time with our extended family there. This year, we’ll have lots of relaxing, time with friends, and catching up on TV series! We're doing the Christmas dinner at Liquid Laundry this year, and plan to visit the Jing'An Christmas Market, and ... NYE at The Apartment (not with my son though!.

What are your hopes for 2021?
I’m sure my hopes are similar to most people’s... health and happiness. (And travel...?)

Craig Willis

Mr. Willis , BOR Eatery, La Strada, Mi Thai, Henkes, Bang, and Something (coming!).


How are you spending Christmas this year?
I will be serving Christmas Lunch at mrwillis - it’s a big day and a lot of fun - our shanghai family & friends and even Santa may pop in! I usually go home in January for family beach time - this year I’m thinking to take a break at the Bivou in Lijiang - got a lot of newspapers to read!

What are your hopes for 2021?
In 2021 I hope we can travel again. I realy want to take Dot to see Venice and Rome !

Jeff Wong

General Manager, Portman Ritz Carlton


How are you spending Christmas this year?
Previously, I used to travel oversea with my friends and celebrate together. However, due to the pandemic we have changed our plan and celebrate Christmas in our apartment with traditional Christmas dishes such as homemade roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and mulled wine, inviting some of our close friends for gift exchange.

What are your hopes for 2021?
I am hoping for a safe and peaceful life for everyone around the world. No one will suffer from any unpredicted challenges whether in personal or professional perspective. Everyone is able to travel anytime, anywhere under safe condition.

John Hsiang

Clinical President of Jiahui International Hospital


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This year, I take the 24th and 25th off, spending time with my wife, exploring Shanghai, enjoying some good food and wine. This is my first Christmas in SH. In the past few years, I went back to Seattle for the Christmas, my kids would also come home to join us, but this year they will stay where they live to avoid traveling.

What are your hopes for 2021?
My hopes for 2021 probably the same as many people. i) international travelling back to normal, or at least 90% normal, ii) COVID-19 under control, iii) US-China relationship back to what it supposed to be, strategic competitor, definitely not enemy.

Alexander Weng

Managing Director, SmartShanghai.com


How are you spending Christmas this year?
This is the first Christmas that I’ll spend in Shanghai, after being here for 17 years. My wife has been doing a great job replicating my hometown Christmas experience as far as possible. We got a nice Christmas tree in our apartment and followed the German tradition of having an advent wreath in our home where we light one candle every Sunday leading up to Christmas. The Christkindlmarkt market was helpful to get me into the Christmas mood too, David is doing a fantastic job creating what I believe is the closest to a German traditional Christmas market. I don’t go to church much, except for Christmas and Easter, so my plan is to head out to the Sheshan Marian Basilica, a beautiful 1920's church build on a small hill in Sheshan on Christmas day for a church service and a walk in the parks surrounding it. Christmas eve it’s a family tradition to have a very simple dinner, usually just potato salad and a simple fish, then Zoom call with the family back home.

TELL EVERYONE

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