A white Christmas isn’t likely in Beijing, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego holiday traditions altogether. More and more local Chinese are adopting the holiday – a fact that many retailers are keen to capitalize on. Garlands, lights, ready-made turkeys, Yule logs, gingerbread houses, Christmas stockings, and even real pine trees can be found with just a little bit of persistence. Plus, we show you where you can indulge in traditional winter activities like ice skating.
The Christmas Tree
It’s tempting to cave in and buy one of those plastic Christmas trees from Carrefour or Wal-Mart, but there’s nothing quite like the scent of a real evergreen. Luckily, Bethel China is offering real Christmas trees this year. A medium-sized (4-6ft) tree costs RMB 700 (RMB 850 with delivery) and a large (6ft and up) tree costs RMB 1,000 (RMB 1,200 with delivery). Bethel will even pick up and replant the trees after Christmas for RMB 200 (medium trees) or RMB 300 (large trees). If you’d rather do away with the tree altogether, you can also sponsor a tree for the same price; Bethel will place one in each of their children’s homes and at their school for blind youth.
Liangma Flower Market carries real, potted Christmas trees from Northern China that range in height from 1.5m to 3.5m. The smallest ones go for RMB 300-400, while the largest can reach RMB 2,500 and over. Call Mr. Si at 135 5239 9404 (Chinese only) to inquire about prices and arrange for delivery.
In Shunyi, most of the tree displays at Beidong Floriculture Garden are artificial, but the real green giant can be purchased roadside near Capital Paradise and Piazza Cafe.
Good decorations give the holidays a magical touch. Find shimmering snow globes, scented candles, and festive garlands at home decoration chain Hola or head to one-stop shopping haven Tianyi Market (pictured above) in Fuchengmen. Tree ornaments, stockings, seasonal tableware, window decorations, and wrapping paper can be purchased at Ikea.
Liangma Flower Market and Laitai Flower Market in Liangma Qiao carry traditional winter greenery like poinsettias. The market offers delivery by flatbed bicycle or mianbaoche for a fee (varies according to distance). Shunyi dwellers can find festive flora at Beidong Floriculture Garden.
Christmas isn’t complete unless you’ve got a house full of friends and family drifting into a post-dinner slumber. Recreate that feeling at home with pre-ordered and pre-cooked feast items, or buy your own and make it yourself. With four locations across Beijing, A Food Affaire is a full-service deli and catering service started by Canadian Simon Gauthier. Find complete turkey dinners, juicy pork roasts, and a traditional apple pie based on Gauthier’s very own family recipe. A Food Affaire has branches in Sanlitun, Lido, and Chaoyang Park.
In Sanlitun, French butcher Boucherie Michel sells cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork. A pre-cooked 6kg turkey from the US costs RMB 108 per kilogram and must be ordered a week in advance. Roast chickens are available daily for RMB 58 per bird. You’ll also find French-style hams, wines, quiches, coq au vin, merguez sausages, and more.
In the Chaoyang Park area, Chef Too offers whole, fully-cooked turkeys to go. A 12-14lb turkey costs RMB 1,280, while an 18-20lb turkey costs RMB 1,980. The price includes side dishes such as mashed potatoes, carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, and apple or pumpkin pie. Chef Too requires one week’s notice and a deposit of RMB 500. Also near Chaoyang Park, Schindler’s Food Center has a hearty selection of meats, including German sausages, cold cuts, beef, pork, chicken, and more. The supplier carries both cooked and uncooked turkeys ranging from 6-10kg. An uncooked turkey costs RMB 45/kg (local) or RMB 48/kg (US imported), while a cooked turkey costs RMB 108/kg (local) or RMB 118/kg. Roast turkeys must be reserved at least three days in advance.
Located between Sanyuanqiao and Liangma Qiao, Sanyuanli Market is always a reliable source for beef, lamb, veal, fish, and poultry. However, its true value lies in the dizzying array of imported and hard-to-find cheeses, spices, canned goods, and vacuum-packed meats at competitive prices. If you’re missing that crucial ingredient, Sanyuanli is a great place to look.
In Sanyuanqiao, Haidian, and Shuangjing, German megastore Metro Cash and Carry offers wholesale prices on everything you could possibly need, including feast items like Norwegian salmon and turkey. Individuals can apply for memberships too.
In Wangjing, locals can visit Nanhu Market. Known as the “Big Blue Hall” because of its distinctive blue roof covering, Nanhu Market has a markedly Korean influence. Aside from fresh meat, veggies, and Western foods, visitors can expect to find kimchi, Korean snacks, fish-shaped cakes, and more.
In Shunyi, Michael’s Place Italian Ristorante is once again offering ready-made turkeys for the holidays. A medium turkey costs RMB 666 and is suitable for four to six people, while a large turkey costs RMB 888 and is suitable for eight people and up. The restaurant requires three day’s notice, and can deliver.
Baode Home Delivery also delivers straight to your door. Browse quality beef, poultry, pork, lamb, seafood, and other imports on their website; a 6kg turkey from the US costs RMB 318. Delivery is free for orders of RMB 500 and over within Fifth Ring Road and Shunyi. Orders that don’t fulfill these conditions are charged RMB 30 per delivery. Allow at least one day for delivery, especially during the holiday season.
The Gingerbread House
These whimsical candyland masterpieces are good for both eating and decorating. For all the crafty folks out there who don’t mind sticky fingers, there are some fun gingerbread kits available at Ikea for RMB 20 that can be assembled yourself. You can even use graham crackers and extra frosting to construct additional features on your house! If you would rather leave the gingerbread to the professionals, there are plenty of options: Hilton Beijing, Comptoirs de France, Grand Hyatt, South German Bakery, and Kempi Deli – all offering beautifully-made gingerbread houses for the holidays.
Until Houhai Lake freezes over, there are a number of indoor rinks to practice your figure eights. All Star Champion Skating Club in Solana was founded by Chinese figure skating gold medalist Wang Rui and gymnast Li Ning. The 800sqm ice rink is a popular place for both casual and professional skaters. Teens can take skating classes, while more serious athletes can apply for coaching from the Chinese national skating team. Located in the CBD, Le Cool is a good spot for both kids and adults to skate for fun during the week. Take heed; Le Cool tends to get quite crowded on weekends and holidays. Sadly, Ice Zone in Shunyi has closed since last winter. However, families can still skate outdoors at Dragon Bay Villa once the ice freezes over. Like Houhai, Dragon Bay has some ice chairs available.
A Food Affaire
1) Daily 8am-11pm. 1/F, 5 Xingfuyicunxili (inside April Gourmet), Chaoyang District (135 0107 1114) 朝阳区幸福一村西里5号1层绿叶子食品店内
All Star Champion Skating Club 全明星滑冰俱乐部
Mon-Fri: RMB 40/30min (10am-6pm); RMB 50/30min (6-10pm). Sat-Sun and holidays: RMB 60/30min. Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park, 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu., Chaoyang District (5905 6328) 朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾国际商区首层
Baode Home Delivery
Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Rm A3058, Zhanhua Building, 15 Gongti Donglu, Chaoyang District (Ordering Hotline: 400 687 3663, Information: 6503 3008, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.baodefood.com 朝阳区工体东路15号展华商务A3058室
Beidong Floriculture Garden 孙和大北东花艺苑
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm (summer); 9am-5.30pm (winter). 150m south of Sundahe Qiao, Jingshun Lu, Shunyi District (8459 3093) 顺义区京顺路孙大河桥南150米
To pre-order a Christmas tree, email email@example.com or call 135 223 66 343.
Daily 9am-8pm. 1/F, Jiezuo Dasha, Xingfucun Zhonglu, Chaoyang District (6417 0489) 朝阳区幸福村中路杰座大厦底层
Chef Too 美西西餐厅
Tue-Fri 11am-2pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-3pm, Tue-Sat 5.30-10pm. Opposite Chaoyang Park West Gate 3, Chaoyang District (6591 8676) 朝阳区朝阳公园西门（3号门）对面
Comptoirs de France 法派
1) Daily 7am-8.30pm. 1/F, Bldg 5, Hairun International Apartment, 2B Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (5135 7645) 朝阳区将台路乙2号海润国际公寓商业5号楼1层 See Directory under Family Dining for more locations.
Dragon Bay Villa 龙湾别墅
Area 21, Wenyu River Villa District, Houshayu Town, Jingshun Lu, Shunyi District 顺义区后沙峪镇温榆河别墅区21号地
Grand Hyatt 东方君悦大酒店
1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng District (8518 1234) 东城区东长安街1号
Hilton Beijing 北京希尔顿酒店
Daily 24 hrs. 1 Dongfang Lu, Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (5865 5000) 朝阳区东三环北路东方路1号
Daily 10am-10pm. 1 Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng District (6772 8007) www.hola.com.cn 东城区东直门南大街1号
Daily 10am-10pm. 1 Taiyang Gonglu, Dongbahe (northwest corner of Siyuan Qiao), Chaoyang District (800 810 5679) www.ikea.com.cn 朝阳区东坝河太阳宫路1号（四元桥西北角）
Kempi Deli 凯宾美食廊
Daily 7am-10pm. 1/F, Kempinski Hotel, Chaoyang District (6465 3388 ext 5741) 朝阳区凯宾斯基饭店1层
Le Cool 国贸溜冰场
Mon-Fri: RMB 30 (10am-6pm); RMB 40 (6-10pm). Sat-Sun: RMB 50. Price includes 30 minutes of ice skating and the equipment rental fee. Daily 10am-10pm. B2/F, China World Shopping Mall, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6505 5776, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.lecoolicerink.com朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸地下2层
Laitai Flower Market 莱太花卉市场
Mon-Thu 9am-6pm, Fri-Sun 9am-6.30pm. 9 Maizidian Xilu, Chaoyang District (6463 6145) 朝阳区麦子店西路9号
Liangma Flower Market
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm. South bank of Liangma River, 758 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (6504 2446, 6462 1656) 朝阳区东三环北路758号燕莎商城南亮马河南岸
Metro Cash and Carry 麦德龙
1) Daily 6am-10pm. 111 Jingshun Lu, Chaoyang District (8455 6888) www.metro.com.cn
朝阳区京顺路111号; 2) Daily 6am-10pm. 1 Xinjiangongmen Lu, Haidian District (6286 9888) www.metro.com.cn 海淀区新建宫门路1号; 3) Daily 6am-10pm. 35 Dayangfang Lu, Chaoyang District (8738 6888) www.metro.com.cn 朝阳区大羊坊路35号居然之家旁
Nanhu Market 南湖市场
Daily 7am-6pm. Nanhu Nanlu, Wangjing, Chaoyang District 朝阳区望京南湖南路
Pinnacle Plaza 荣祥广场
99 Yuxiang Lu, Tianzhu, Shunyi District (8046 2500) 顺义区天竺开发区裕翔路99号
The Place 世贸天阶
9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District (6587 1188) 朝阳区光华路9号
Sanyuanli Market 三源里市场
Daily 5am-7pm. Shunyuan Jie (opposite Jingkelong Supermarket, west of Sanyuan Dongqiao), Chaoyang District 朝阳区顺源街（三元东桥往西京客隆超市对面）
Schindler’s Food Center
Daily 10am-7pm. 15 Zaoying Beili, Chaoyang District (6591 9370, email@example.com) www.schindlers.com.cn 朝阳区枣营北里15号
South German Bakery德南面包房
Daily 9am-10pm (restaurant), 7am-10pm (bakery). 27 Lucky Street, 1 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District (5867 0201) 朝阳区朝阳公园路1号好运街27号
Tianyi Market 天意市场
Daily 7am-6pm. 259 Fuchengmen Waidajie (6831 7199) 阜成门外大街259号
This article is excerpted from beijingkids December 2012 issue. View it in PDF form here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where you can pick up your free copy.