Liv Magazine December 2021

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DECEMBER 2021 | l i v - m a g a z i n e . co m LIV MAGAZINE

Mindful Little Christmas Here’s how to bring joy back to the festive season

WIN: A two-night staycation at K11 ARTUS and an Apia Honey gift set on page 14!

DECEMBER 05 Editor’s Letter

LIV | NEWS 06 Hot Right Now

New happenings on the wellness scene

10 Fresh Cuts

Farm-to-table restaurants in Hong Kong

15 Review

A 2-in-1 HydraFacial and microneedling treatment

16 Community

Q&A with eco-activist and filmmaker Joanna Bowers

50 Mindful Christmas

How to embrace mindfulness and find meaning during the holidays

LIV | MORE 56 Beauty

The best winter weather spa treatments around town

58 Home


Locally-made unique art gifts

60 Family

Help your kids regulate their emotions and tantrums


19 Gift Guide

Festive gifts and surprises, from our preferred partners







ecember is here again, which means that we’re approaching the end of our very first post-pandemic year! To me, that feels like a moment to really be thankful. This time last year, we weren’t sure how the world, let alone a densely populated hub like Hong Kong, was going to emerge from the worst public health crisis we’ve ever known. But here we are 12 months later, and life is slowly getting back to normal. Of course, we’re still living with travel restrictions, costly quarantine stays and pesky mask requirements. But after the year we’ve had, I’m personally trying to be better about noticing the good things in life instead of fixating on what hasn’t come back to us yet. That inspired the idea for this year’s Christmas cover story, which is all about staying present during the festive season. The holidays are an insane time of the year, as we all load up our calendars with engagements and obligations. It’s not uncommon to take on so much that before we know it, we’re surviving the season rather than savouring it. The best way to inspire a little more holiday cheer? Practising mindfulness! We talked to some of our favourite local wellness experts about how we can cultivate more meaningful moments this holiday season; read more about that on p.50. Turkey and all the trimmings are a highlight of the holiday season, but our Christmas dinners come with a carbon footprint that we should all try to be aware of. To offset all the imported foods we’ll probably be indulging in this month, try also supporting a Hong Kong restaurant committed to using hyperlocal produce and ingredients. You can find our best suggestions on p.10. You can also browse locally made artwork and handicrafts on p.58, find out where to try the best beauty treatments for winter weather on p.56, and flip through page after page of fab gift ideas in our Gift Guide (p.19). Happy holidays, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 365 days brings us all!


Ziggy Makant explains how to use our body’s five senses to navigate temper tantrums on p.60.

Liv OG Kate Springer pens her final column (sob!) on p.58, with the best spots for locally made art and handicrafts.

Tanya Parmanand chats with filmmaker Joanna Bowers to learn about Hong Kong’s circular fashion innovators on p.16.

Aarohi Narain highlights local restaurants with sustainably sourced menus on p.10, for a more carbon-conscious holiday feast this year.


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Send invites and info to: Makerhive, 10/F, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Kennedy Town PUBLISHER SARAH FUNG HEAD OF PARTNERSHIPS ANSHU RIJHWANI PARTNERSHIPS MANAGERS CHARU MATHUR, EVA YOE EDITOR CARLA THOMAS SOCIAL MEDIA JO ROBINSON SPECIAL PROJECTS STACEY MARCELO ADMINISTRATOR JASMIN BLUNCK GRAPHIC DESIGN TAMMY TAN CONTRIBUTORS KATE SPRINGER, ZIGGY MAKANT, TANYA PARMANAND PRINTED BY GEAR PRINTING LIMITED, ROOM B, 3/F, DERRICK INDUSTRIAL BUILDING, 49-51 WONG CHUK HANG ROAD, ABERDEEN ‘‘Liv Magazine’’ Copyright 2021 Liv Media Limited. The content provided here is the property of Liv Media Limited and may not be reproduced in any part without the written permission of the Publisher. The information provided by Liv Media Limited’s contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or the company. The information provided by Liv Media Limited, or its staff, advertisers and contributors is given in good faith; readers should gather more information before making the decision to purchase any goods or services highlighted here. Liv Media Limited will not be held responsible for any action, omission or error resulting from actions taken on the basis of the information provided here. Please seek the approval of a doctor before following any health advice.


Cool Stuff



This month, skip the store-bought Christmas crackers and stock up on an ecofriendly, socially conscious alternative instead. Local social enterprise, Pinehappy, offers holiday crackers made with recycled paper, and filled with gifts you’re meant to actually keep and use - as opposed to chucking in the bin as soon as the riddles are all read aloud. Think artisanal soap handmade by victims of human trafficking and handy satin scrunchies. Pinehappy also partners with local NGOs, The Nesbitt Centre and The Pivot Centre, to employ adults with intellectual disabilities, who are all paid a fair wage to assemble these festive table decorations, plus the crackers come in an eco-friendly reusable tote bag. Looking for a fun holiday crafting activity to do with the kids? Pinehappy offers DIY Christmas cracker kits, so you can actually personalise your crackers for each dinner guest. Ready-made crackers cost $275 for six, or $140 for the DIY version.


Cool Stuff

GOING UP Christmas Markets


There’s nothing more Christmassy than a well-crafted (or dilapidated, depending on your skills) gingerbread project! Gingerbread For Good is a super fun and festive pop-up taking place in December, and it benefits the city’s most vulnerable communities. Local NGO Cookie Smiles has partnered with fashion boutique JOYCE, enlisting 12 of Hong Kong’s most prominent chefs and culinary figures to create their own gastronomic spins on gingerbread men. The limited edition treats are available at the New World Tower pop-up from December 6-23, with all proceeds going to ImpactHK, as well as Splash Foundation, Shine Skills Centre, and the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association. Some variations we’ve been told to expect include a rich chocolate red velvet cookie with traditional flavours from Cookie DPT, a baijiu five-spice gingerbread man, and a savoury rosemary molasses and sea salt concoction from Salisterra at The Upper House. JOYCE, G/F, New World Tower, Central, 2810-1120,


Mega-chain Watsons just opened its largest store ever over in Causeway Bay, and it’s a few rungs up from your average neighbourhood pharmacy! For starters, the new Yun Ping Road location takes up a sizable 8,000 square feet, spread out over three floors with expanded product and service offerings. Shoppers can peruse the well-stocked beauty department, complete with in-house makeup artists, eyebrow shaping services, and an AI foundation matching tool to match your complexion. The flagship shop is also trying to put sustainability at the forefront, by offering more clean beauty options and a refill station for selected bulk beauty products. The new location also offers the brand’s first TCM clinic, a proprietary nutritional supplement programme, and orthodontic services from at-home dental care company, SmileDirectClub. 44-48 Yun Ping Rd., Causeway Bay, 2259-3015,

After widespread event cancellations last festive season, we’re looking forward to strolling through a crowd with the scent of glühwein wafting through the air again.

Disney+ A whole new world of our fave classic childhood films are ready to revisit, now that Disney’s streaming service is finally available in Hong Kong! And just in time for the holidays!

Festive Fast Fashion We love an ugly Christmas jumper, but not when they end up in the landfill after being worn twice. Save your kitsch for next year and do the planet a solid!

Quarantine PTSD We wanna do our part to keep the city safe, but as more and more quarantiners report after-effects like social anxiety, brain fog and fatigue... we’re left wondering at what cost?



Retreat NOV E M B E R 1 7- 1 8 , 2 02 1


he Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin provided the perfect backdrop to our second Liv Well Retreat, a one-night wellness staycation set in the mountains of Sha Tin. Liv readers checked into their rooms and picked up their welcome packs featuring treats from LUSH, Orka Wellness, WandGlow, Divine Indulgence by Monica, Sweaty Betty and Mohlia. Then, they gathered in the hotel’s secret garden for an opening ceremony led by spiritual healer Coco Alexandra. After a guided meditation, guests were asked to set an intention for the retreat, before drawing an oracle card that gave them some much-needed insight and focus. Then, guests were directed inside for a creative art session led by Simi Mohinani of Mohlia, using

preserved flowers to create unique artworks on canvas. Afterwards, the retreat co-host, community connector and coach, Doris Au-Yeung, led a sunset yoga flow on the outdoor terrace. There was still time during the day to check out the Wellness Market, with treats on offer from Divine Indulgence by Monica, Orka Wellness, Smile Center and Mohlia. A delicious western-style semi-buffet was then served, followed by an essential oils workshop and sleep talk by Emilie Ducummon of Essential Mind Coaching. After that, guests had the option to head off to bed, or watch a movie on the outdoor terrace. The next morning guests woke up early to join

a mindful intimacy talk and yoga class led by Viv Kan, before helping themselves to the sumptuous buffet breakfast at the cafe. After breakfast, guests had time to chill, rest, swim or spa, before lunch was served at Sha Tin 18, with an insightful gut health talk from Nobin K.John of Orka Wellness. The retreat concluded with a mesmerising sound bath from Yinki Wong, who combined crystal singing bowls, guided meditation and singing to leave everyone feeling refreshed, relaxed and grounded. A huge thank you to all our partners and guests who made the retreat such a hit! We look forward to welcoming you to the next event.





TO DINE OUT IN THIS FESTIVE SEASON The holidays are undoubtedly a time of excess, but have you ever considered how that might affect more than just our own waistlines? Festive meals with meats, cheese, wines and more are usually shipped in from around the world, leaving a heavy carbon footprint in the process. This year, create a more ecologically friendly holiday feast by keeping it local and supporting these restaurants that place sustainability and local producers front and centre. By Aarohi Narain

The Chairman

Book early to get into this sought-after establishment, a Cantonese farm-to-fork feast that’s unlike any other. Not only does the restaurant grow its own produce on a farm in Sheung Shui, where its meats are preserved and its pickles prepared, but it also partners with small farmers in Yuen Long, guaranteeing fresh, hyperlocal vegetables. All of its pork, chicken, fish and shrimp are sourced locally, too. Think crispy pork belly rice cakes with chrysanthemum sugar, Sichuan spicy lamb spare ribs, and cherry tomatoes pickled in a basil reduction - our mouths are watering just thinking about it. From $828 per head. No.18 Kau U Fong, Central, 2555-2202,



Yin Yang Coastal

The farm-to-table scene in Hong Kong arguably began with the Cantonese concept Yin Yang Coastal, helmed by chef Margaret Xu Yuan. First launched in 2008, the restaurant has developed into a private kitchen today, located in a beachside house in Ting Kau Village. Ying Yang’s emphasis on organic and local ingredients sets it apart from the crowd, creatively interpreting fishing village-style cuisine, with flavours and techniques of Hakka cuisine. This year’s Christmas menu includes lobster flambeed with homegrown organic tomatoes and Hong Kong-style cheese sauce and a homemade watercress gelato. From $1,200 per head. House 117, Ting Kau Village, Ting Kau Beach, Tseun Wan, 9784-2280,

Posto Publicco

New York Italian osteria Posto Publicco embraces seasonal menus in a bid to reduce lengthy supply chains and using imported, hard-to-find ingredients. The chefs and owners have forged relationships with local farmers to keep their changing menu predominantly local, sustainable, and traceable, which we love to see. G/F, 28 Elgin St., Central, 2577-7160,

Asaya Kitchen

Mediterranean-focused food with a health and wellness flair - that’s Asaya’s niche. Under the auspices of Rosewood’s global Partners in Provenance programme, the restaurant works with growers and producers in Hong Kong to source local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients wherever possible. This year’s Christmas offerings include black cod with smoked chestnuts and chanterelle mushrooms, pumpkin veloute with winter black truffle, and cinnamon tart with maple syrup and banana ice cream. Starts from $988. 6/F, Rosewood Hong Kong Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 3891-8732,

SKYE Gastrobar

The Park Lane’s SKYE Gastrobar offers more than just a stunning skyline view. It’s also committed to sustainable seafood, offering only the finest catches, most of which are locally farmed or caught. Much of their produce also comes from local organic producers, and the restaurant even has their own rooftop garden and an in-house hydroponic growing operation. 310 Gloucester Rd., Causeway Bay, 2293-8888,


The city’s only restaurant bestowed with a coveted Green Star for sustainable gastronomy, Roganic is a leader in Hong Kong’s sustainable culinary space. To cut down on imported ingredients, the kitchen grows its own microgreens, leafy greens and herbs in-house, and sources produce from local suppliers like Zen Organic Farm, Wah Kee Farm, and New Age Organics in the New Territories. The full tasting menu ($1,080) here is a perfect shout for the holiday season, featuring 10 courses of delights including truffle pudding with birch sap, stout and lincolnshire poacher, and seven-day aged local pigeon with maitake, beetroot and preserved blackcurrant. UG08, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Rd., Causeway Bay, 2817-8383, 11



Vegan cheese is having a moment in Hong Kong right now. The newest plant-based cheese brand to join the party is Nuteese, Hong Kong’s first aged vegan cheese line. The dairy- and glutenfree products are made primarily from activated cashews, which are then aged in a cellar for 21 days for a more intense and complex flavour that the discerning fromage aficionado is sure to appreciate. Nuteese is offering Christmas hampers for the festive season, which include everything from their signature flavours, like Merry Cranberry and Truffle Hunter, to gluten-free crackers, Champagne and Christmas crackers. If you’re looking to consume more consciously this holiday season, this is a great place to start! Hampers start from $1,188.


Just in time for the holiday season, one of our fave vegetarian kitchens is back in action! After closing for renovations, VEDA is reopening its doors this month and we can’t wait to check out some of the newest additions, from a dog-friendly terrace offering a daily “Puppy Hour” (3-7PM) to a pastry counter selling treats by Alive Foods. Even more exciting is the promise of a brand new free-flow brunch: VEDA’s Champagne Brunch ($598) include two hours of Perrier-Jouët, wine, beer, and a specialty cocktail, not to mention a six-course of delicious veggie plates and a free-flow dosa (think South Asian crepes) bar. 2 Arbuthnot Rd., Central, 3755-3067,


There’s a new healthy dining spot in the middle of Central, but it’s not what you might expect! Carbon is a new 8,000-square-foot hub perched right on the top of Pottinger Street’s H Code. At night, it’s a club serving hip-hop and live music, but for lunch and dinner it has a surprisingly comprehensive - and delicious! - health menu with lean proteins, superfood smoothies, and low-carb and plantbased options galore. For starters, think watermelon tartare with beetroot sorbet and Thai salad, or for mains, a lean grilled beef with mushrooms, broccolini and nam jim jaew dipping sauce; or an amazingly juicy chicken with roasted carrots on a bed of kale. What’s more - the venue will be hosting regular wellness events on their amazing rooftop. Watch this space! 26/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger S., Central, 12

This holiday, let’s start embracing our pleasure together!

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GIVEAWAYS Visit for a chance to win!

Free stuff!

WIN: a two-night experience at K11 ARTUS Especially for the festive season, we’ve got a mindblowing giveaway up for grabs: a glimpse of living with art with a two-night stay in a two-bedroom Harbour View Residence at K11 ARTUS! The package features a fascinating Resident Art Tour, where you can discover disappearing Chinese craftsmanship through the K11

Craft & Guild Foundation. The stay also includes a set breakfast for four at The Commune, a complimentary PT session for two, access to the outdoor heated infinity pool overlooking the harbour and state-of-the-art 24-hour fitness centre. The prize is valued at $18,480.

WIN: a gift set from Apia Honey Sustainably sourced in Western Australia’s untouched wilderness, Apia Honey came across our radar last month, and we are so here for their antimicrobial properties that rival New Zealand’s manuka honey. Plus, they’re absolutely delicious! Courtesy of Apia Honey, we have a four-piece gift set up for grabs, comprising a jar of jarrah honey, a jar of marri honey, and two tubes of organic jarrah honey balm, made with honey, beeswax, avocado oil, kakadu plum and other natural botanicals. The whole set is worth $1,480 and we have one set to give away.

Enter at before December 30 to win! 14



Liv checks out the newest workouts and wellness trends SPONSORED

ULTIMATE RADIANT GLOW EXPERIENCE AT SENSE OF TOUCH The Buzz: A marathon treatment at two-and-a-half hours, Sense of Touch’s two-in-one treatment combines a HydraFacial with their new SkinPen precision microneedling treatment. Sense of Touch is currently the only spa offering this treatment in Hong Kong. The Treatment: We commence with the four-step HydraFacial, which is designed to infuse hydration simultaneously as you resurface the skin, meaning your skin is nourished and not stressed by the treatment. The therapist also used some LED light therapy to address some spots and pigmentation. After we finish, the 90-minute SkinPen microneedling begins. The SkinPen uses tiny needles to create imperceptible lesions in the skin, which in turn promotes collagen production and healing. In addition to improving the appearance of

wrinkles, it also works wonders on acne scars. Sure, it can be a bit uncomfortable, but who said looking good was easy? The Verdict: OMG - the results! After this marathon session, our skin was glowing from the inside out. If you’re worried about looking like a human pincushion after the microneedling, don’t - we looked relaxed and refreshed with zero downtime required. For serious results addressing bigger problems, more than one session is recommended. Cost: Deluxe Hydrafacial: $2,580 (trial price: $2,080); SkinPen: $2,980 (trial price: $1,980). Combine both treatments for $3,680. 1-5/F, 52 D’Aguilar St., Central, 2526-6918, 15



with Tanya Parmanand




Released last September, reFashioned is a Hong Kong documentary highlighting three people working to reduce waste in the local fashion industry. We spoke with director Joanna Bowers about the project.


ocumentary filmmaker Joanna Bowers first came to prominence in 2017 with her award-winning film, The Helper, a film exploring the diverse stories of Hong Kong’s migrant domestic workers, their personal sacrifices, and their status and role within the city’s social makeup. For her next project, the director chose to dive into the world of fashion. Her latest film, reFashioned, Bowers documents the inner workings of individuals in Hong Kong working to promote circularity in the city’s famously wasteful fashion industry. “I feel like our generation is so culpable in the environmental impact of fast fashion, and it’s only logical that we play an active role in finding the solutions,” explains Bowers. “The three individuals featured in the film were great examples of very different people acting to solve the problem, and hopefully capable of inspiring others to take action too.” One of the people portrayed in the film is Edwin Ken,


who approached Bowers in January 2018. Keh, a scientist at the Hong Kong Research Institute for Textile and Apparel (HKRITA), wanted to collaborate with her on her mission to raise awareness of the global fashion chain and its excesses. “I was looking for characters for my new documentary,” says Bowers. “Edwin was the prime example of an individual who had no experience in the fashion industry beforehand; he was coming in as a lay person who just wanted to effect change.” Keh and his team at HKRITA had developed two new technologies to encourage recycling of blended fabrics, which has historically made it difficult to recycle secondhand clothes. Most garments are made with a complex makeup of different materials, which cannot be easily broken down and separated for re-use. Even a 100% cotton t-shirt contains things like labels and sewing threads, which are usually made from another material like polyester.


Keh’s new recycling processes have since been adopted by major fast fashion brands like H&M, making it a major leap forward in fashion circularity. “His concept is providing local solutions to recycling challenges in fashion,” explains Bowers. “The entire process occurs here in Hong Kong so the new garment can be used locally.” The film also follows Sarah Garner, founder of the preloved children’s clothing brand, Retykle (, and Eric Swinton, whose social enterprise V Cycle (vcycle. helps brands like K11 and Lane Crawford to upcycle their plastic waste. “I partnered with Sarah, Edwin and Eric because I feel like they’re the untold stories of the sustainable fashion community,” says Bowers. Elevating the voices of individuals like Keh, Garner and Swinton is an essential step to changing attitudes towards fast fashion, believes Bowers. By showcasing their work, she hopes to inspire people to do their own research into how shoppers can consume more sustainably, something that is thankfully becoming easier in Hong Kong. “Lots of people don’t realise how many options there are in Hong Kong to purchase second-hand, or recycle their clothes,” says Bowers, citing retailers like Vestiaire Collective, HULA, and Retykle who specialise in high-quality, pre-owned fashion items. After the film’s premiere in September of this year, Bowers says that she hopes reFashioned is able to find a home on a streaming platform, like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Joanna Bowers

Edwin Keh

“The movie may be set in Hong Kong, but it’s undoubtedly a global issue and one that has expanded well beyond the limits of our city,” she adds. Bowers’ ultimate ambition for the film, however, is to simply get viewers to question their daily habits of consumption. “Ask yourself whether this is an impulsive purchase, or something that you really need,” she says. “Are you aware of the production process behind what you’re buying? If it’s just for one occasion, could you rent something instead or borrow it?” Tanya is a full-time law student and freelance writer, whose work has appeared in Lifestyle Asia, Honeycombers, and more! She covers eco-friendly initiatives, charities and NGO news for Liv. Send tips and pitches to


Sponsored Feature


FLOG IT As a gym operator, imagine a class booking app that delivers quality customers and offers a transparent pricing structure, where you control which classes you release. That’s exactly what Hong Kong-headquartered app Flog offers! We speak to founder Hiroka Lee about why she’s determined to disrupt the fitness scene. Q How did the idea for Flog come about? I originally set out to create a LinkedIn-type directory for PTs and fitness instructors in Hong Kong, but quickly pivoted to a new model after speaking with hundreds of people in the fitness industry. They were struggling to sell unused spots despite there being various booking apps in the market, and so we decided to hold off on creating a database and instead build an app that could help them sell those spots. Q Aren’t there already class booking apps on the market? I’ve used booking apps in the past and had a few challenging experiences, where gym staff were not welcoming. At first I was upset but after speaking with hundreds of studio owners I kind of understood why they were acting the way they were - the apps were

delivering customers who didn’t respect the gyms or the classes, and some customers were even coasting on unlimited “free trials” by using different email addresses. So we decided to look for a solution that would provide a better experience for gym owners - and that was to create an app geared towards corporates. Q How does that work? So far we have signed more than 18 corporate accounts to Flog. HR managers can choose a package of either $500 per month per user for five classes, or $1,000 per month for 10. Users have to register with their work email address, which means that they need to respect the studios as they’re representing their company. Any company with more than 20 employees can join, and our average is around 50. Q How do the companies benefit from joining Flog? One problem that HR departments face is how to show concrete results. We offer a dashboard that HR managers can access to show which of their employees are joining which classes. This can help them incentivize or encourage fitness among their staff. We can also work with HR departments to create wellness events and programmed in their office. Q What kind of benefits do you offer your gym partners? We are very glad to have 68 studios on our books, and we aim to sign up 100 by March. Our pricing is very transparent - operator keep 80 percent of the revenue and we take 20 percent commission - and they have full control over which classes they release. What’s next for Flog? We are excited to be making inroads in Japan, and plan to launch the app in Tokyo next year. Watch this space!


Here's what you'll find in JENG! this month

YUMMY GUMMY Popping vitamins just got fun with these tasty supplements from YouVit for both adults and kids.



Drink to skin health with this peach-flavoured collagen-, antioxidantand peptide-packed drink from Glowagen.

Dangerously moreish, these poppadoms pair perfectly with a festive tipple.


Stash these yummy bars from Tropeaka in your gym bag for a quick post-workout refuel.



Spice up your life with this fragrant mulled wine kit from House of Wreath. Also good for a festive G&T!


Keep your hair out of your eyes with this beautiful knot wrap from SOL the Label.



Never tried barre? Give it a whirl with complimentary class voucher from WeBarre.

Practice your underthe-mistletoe pucker with this chic shade from Fenty Beauty.


Skip the booze and drink up with these pretty cans of premixed mocktails from Lyre's.


If you haven't yet added niacinamide to your skincare routine, get your hands on this formula from Good Molecules. You'll thank us later!


Keep these for yourself - a mini set of festive choccies from Valhrona.

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Cover Story




Feeling the festive frazzle? Make it a more relaxing holiday this year by embracing authentic connection, conscious consumption, and gifts imbued with meaning. This is your guide to a more mindful Christmas. By Carla Thomas


Cover Story

T S eb astian

r Droesle

The reward [of mindfulness] is being able to engage with each other in harmony.

he festive season is often a whirlwind. From braving Christmas crowds at the shopping mall and supermarket to getting your home holiday-ready, cooking up a family feast, wrapping presents, sending out cards, keeping the kids entertained - the list goes on and on, and that’s on top of your regular routine and everyday responsibilities. It’s enough to make anyone check out, running on autopilot from one task to the next on your holiday to-do list. But that approach comes with a cost, according to mental health experts. “When we are not present with all of our senses, or when we get ahead of ourselves, our mindfulness suffers,” says Sebastian Droesler, a Hong Kong-based counselling psychologist and mindfulness coach. Droesler explains that in any culture, important holidays can put a strain on families and relationships. Harnessing the tool of mindfulness, however, is an easy and effective way to head off those negative, often unanticipated, byproducts of the Christmas rush.

“Being mindful means paying attention from moment to moment without judging,” says Droesler. “The reward is being able to engage with each other in harmony without being carried away by our minds.” Preparation is key when it comes to maximising the benefits of mindfulness. It’s not something that happens overnight, or automatically. Still, by setting small and manageable goals that we stick to consistently, we can build more meaningful moments and connections over the holiday period, rather than feeling like we’re just getting through it. Depending on who you are, mindfulness can mean a wide variety of things, from grounding in the moment to savouring a meal, connecting authentically, practicing quiet moments of self-reflection, or consuming more consciously. To better understand all the ways we can make our Christmas more mindful, and ultimately joyful, here are some of the best ways to integrate mindfulness practices during the holiday season.

Mindful Connections

The festive period is all about spending plenty of time together - for better or for worse. We’re all guilty of planning things back-toback, whether that’s Christmas lunches and dinners or phone calls with relatives abroad. But when we overextend ourselves, we stop showing up the way we should when it comes to those we care about. Viv Kan is an expert in mindful intimacy, and she specialises in building better connections with loved ones. She says that investing in authentic and genuine interpersonal bonds is more than just getting some face-time in; it’s about real awareness - something that many of us struggle with when we’re pressed for time or overstimulated. “Connecting more mindfully means being present and truly listening. We sometimes forget that connection and intimacy begins with providing our full awareness,” she explains. “And that’s essential, because ultimately the quality of our relationships determines our life satisfaction.” Here are some of her favourite ways to stay mindfully connected over the holidays:

1. TAKE IT EASY AND UNDER-COMMIT YOURSELF “I am guilty of planning things 24/7, and I’ve learned how draining it can be,” says Kan. “Our energy is limited, and even more so throughout the holidays. Reserve yourself for the select few events with people that align with your life's purpose.”

Viv Kan


Cover Story

2. LEARN HOW TO BE QUIET AND JUST LISTEN “I know it sounds simple but it's so hard!” Kan laughs. She suggests spending a minimum of 10 minutes in silence every day to train your mind to be aware of your thoughts. You’ll notice your inner dialogue, judgements and preconceived notions - all of which help us to become more self-aware, especially while connecting with others.

3. TAKE TIME TO HAVE A DEEP CONVERSATION Once you’ve gotten small talk out of the way, show the people around you that you’re genuinely curious about understanding who they are. Challenge yourself to ask questions that inspire more meaningful conversations, whether that’s one-on-one or even around the dinner table. Kan suggests asking what someone is grateful for at that moment, or what small or big win they’re celebrating that week. Know someone who’s not a big talker? Give them a hug instead!

Mindful Eating From decadent turkey dinners to cheeky cheese plates, ubiquitous chocolate trays, and hourly trips to the fridge to snack on leftovers, it’s too easy to over-indulge over the holidays! And while there’s nothing wrong with savouring a second savouring of Christmas pudding, if that’s what you really want, we still want to be mindful of what we’re consuming. Heaney Banks is a wellness and habit coach, and advocates using the body’s cues to guide how much we eat and drink. Banks says that the holidays used to cause her stress and overwhelm, feeling as though 52

4. MAKE SPACE FOR DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. Tempted to jump in and speak your mind when a family member brings up politics over Christmas dinner? Kan says there’s much value in learning how to pause before you react. “My clients often grapple with what’s known as ‘closeness communication bias’, or the tendency to assume that people we’re close with will say or react based in line with our own beliefs about them,” explains Kan. The best approach is pausing and thinking before you speak, even if you don’t agree with them (which is fine!). “Show that you’re interested in understanding their perspective by asking thoughtful questions that don’t start with ‘why’,” suggests Kan, adding that “why” questions may make people feel as though they must justify their beliefs, which can lead to defensiveness.

she was “yo-yoing” between indulging and later trying to make up for it. Hea ney Banks “I have since let go of trying to be perfect and ‘eating healthy’ throughout the holidays,” she explains. “Instead, I honour my body by eating intuitively while celebrating the holidays with friends and loved ones.” Here’s some of her best strategies for eating more mindfully this Christmas.

Cover Story

1. LET GO OF AN “ALL-OR-NOTHING” MENTALITY Many of us approach Christmas as a time for final indulgences ahead of the dreaded New Year’s resolutions. This mentality actually leads to more overeating than we probably would have done anyway, explains Banks, and can leave us feeling out of control. Instead, embrace moderation; just because you ate a whole chocolate orange to yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have a salad before January 1st!


2. REMEMBER TO CHECK IN BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER MEALS Get to know your body cues. This can take a bit of extra awareness around the holidays because there’s more going on around you. But a simple pause or a few deep belly breaths before you eat helps to assess your true hunger levels. Banks also suggests paying attention to how your body feels as you’re eating. How does the food taste? Is it good? Are you satisfied? Not only are you really experiencing your food more, you’re bringing awareness to your fullness cues. Be present, taste each bite, and eat to satisfaction.

“Food is a love language for so many and a lot of my clients who struggle with food and their bodies feel the extra pressure from their family to eat more over the holidays,” says Banks. Learning to set boundaries and feeling comfortable sticking to them helps communicate to your friends and loved ones that your body is feeling full - and it’s important to respect that. If saying “no” feels too difficult, remind yourself that you don’t have to finish what’s on your plate. Save what’s left for later, when you’re hungry again.



“Oftentimes, people try to save their appetite for the big holiday meals - this simply does not work,” says Banks. Much like shopping on an empty stomach, this will lead you to your body feeling over-hungry and deprived. This causes us to be not fully present with our food, because we’re eating to satisfy our hunger instead of being able to fully enjoy each bite.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if you overindulge. Banks says that it’s completely normal to eat past the point of fullness during the holidays, so forgive yourself when you do. If you catch yourself in the moment, try and remind yourself that the food will be there later and you can always treat yourself in the future if you still want to. 53

Cover Story

Mindful Gifting

This year, challenge yourself to be a more conscious consumer. Shop for gifts that are more meaningful for the recipient, minimise impact on the environment, and truly come from the heart. Here are some ideas to give more mindfully this Christmas.



Give your loved ones a gift certificate for something that they’re in need of. It could be gardening, cooking, babysitting or doing a photoshoot free of charge - anything that helps make their life that little bit easier!

Skip the wrapping paper and plastic packaging this year. Go for a zero-waste Christmas hamper for a present that’s mindful of the planet, too.

PRIVATE LESSONS If you’ve got a skill that you’re comfortable sharing - think playing the guitar, doing yoga, knitting, swimming, even roller skating - then why not gift your expertise? Give someone you love an hour’s uninterrupted time to learn from you. Not only does it save you both money, it’s a great way to squeeze in some quality time and enjoy each other’s company.

DONATE TO CHARITY This is a great option for anyone that falls into the “already has it all” category. Instead of splashing out on something in order to impress them, make a donation to a charity aligned with a cause they care about.

SUPERBEE: this luxury zerowaste hamper contains eight eco-goodies, from reusable beeswax wraps to bamboo toothbrushes, crocheted dishclothes, and organic handcrafted chocolate and coffee. GIFT HAMPERS HK: this Hong Kong company offers a range of “plastic-lite” hampers, designed to offer plastic-free and zero-waste gift options, with minimal packaging that can also be recycled.

GET PERSONAL(ISED) These days, there are customisation services on everything from T-shirts to tumblers, bar glasses to bags. Here are some ideas for personalised gifts this year: CRUDO LEATHER CRAFT: a large selection of leather goods, including jewellery, wallets, belts and keychains, as well as metal bracelets, necklaces, cufflinks and even sunglasses that can be personalised with your message.

PHOTOBOOK HONG KONG: a local company that makes beautiful keepsake photo books, as well as canvas frames, calendars, mugs, stationery and more - all completely customisable with your images and messages. LOVINGLY SIGNED: gorgeous bespoke gift hampers for infants, with options to personalise everything: towels, robes, blankets, onesies and even Jellycat toys.



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News from the beauty aisle


COLD WEATHER TREATMENTS TO TRY THIS SEASON Check out some of these cold-weather spa treatments in Hong Kong, perfect for addressing winter’s most common skin and health concerns. By Aarohi Narain

Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Plateau Spa

LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE THERAPY With common colds, the flu, and other illnesses abounding in winter, everyone can benefit from a little immunity boost. Lymphatic drainage therapy encourages the movement of lymph, our body’s germfighting fluids, around the body. It can also help relieve pains and aches. BOOK IT: Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Plateau Spa ($1,100 for 60 minutes) Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 11/F, 1 Harbour Rd., Wan Chai, 2584-7688,

PARAFFIN WAX TREATMENT Between hand sanitiser and cold air, our hands can find themselves sapped of natural oils in the winter. Paraffin wax is a natural emollient, which helps to heal skin


that’s lost its suppleness, and also removes dead cells to leave behind a soft, healthy epidermis. Plus, dipping your hands and feet in warm wax is oh-so-soothing. BOOK IT: Paraffin Manicure at Paul Gerrard ($330) 2/F, Wah Hing House, 33-35 Pottinger St., Central, 2869-4408,

DEEP CONDITIONING Cooler temperatures call for more intensive hair care solutions to keep your locks shiny and healthy. Opt for a deep conditioner to put a bit of bounce, shine, and overall oomph back into your hair, like the threeapplication deep conditioning treatment at W52. BOOK IT: Japanese 3.1 Conditioning Treatment at W52 Hair and Nails 4/F, W Place, 52 Wyndham St., Central, 2217-0644,




Warm and soothing, a hot stone massage in the dead of winter is the ultimate relief. Smooth and flat basalt stones are placed strategically, usually along the spine, for holistic relaxation and pain relief. While some treatments use only heated stones, we like how Chuan Spa employs an interplay of warm and cool to achieve an ideal balance of yin and yang. BOOK IT: Stone Therapy at Chuan Spa ($1,275 for 90 minutes)

Missing your daily dose of Vitamin D with the shorter days? Check out light therapy, which works by inhibiting the excess melatonin that our bodies tend to produce in the winter. Bonus: light therapy also has some amazing beauty benefits, like restoring firmness and elasticity and boosting skin’s brightness.

41/F, Cordis, 555 Shanghai St., Mong Kok, 3552-3510,

BOOK IT: Soothe & Glow Facial Regeneration at EstheClinic ($XXX) 16/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 3615-0919; Shop F, G/F, King’s Hill, 38 Western St., Sai Ying Pun, 2612-1388,



Portuguese for “quiet nook”, Recanto is a new spa on Wellington Street in Central that we’re looking forward to trying out. Promising a haven of sleek serenity and bespoke treatments, the beautifully designed space is all about escaping from the fray, with luxurious interiors, relaxing energies, and indulgent wellness experiences. Treatments are designed to heal the body and balance energy flow, in line with Chinese medicine and its principles. For instance, the Body Magnetic and Lymphatic Drainage Massage ($528 for 50 minutes) combines a house blend of aromatic oils and a magnetic three-pronged tool to improve lymphatic flow; or try a detoxifying foot steam ($198 for 40 minutes) with a herbal blend from a local Chinese apothecary that promises to improve circulation and restore balance. For CBD converts, there’s also a body massage with CBD oil ($528 for 50 minutes) on the menu. A perfect place to duck into for a little pampering this winter. 3/F, 28 Wellington St., Central, 9889-9572,




with Kate Springer


his holiday, I am on the hunt for thoughtful gifts for the home. And there’s nothing like locally made artwork to brighten up an indoor space and celebrate talented Hong Kong artists simultaneously. Watercolours, ceramics, block prints, abstract paintings, maps, fine photography - you’ll be proud to give (or receive!) these artsy gifts.


For those with a penchant for photography, this is the gallery for you. Established in 2017 by Madelon de Grave, Bamboo Scenes specialises in local photographic art - think undulating mountains in the New Territories to neon-lit street scenes, colourful architecture and epic drone shots. This holiday, Bamboo Scenes is offering a wrapping service to ensure your gifts arrive in style and every order placed before December 31 will earn a voucher worth 10 percent to spend in the future.


If you frequent handicraft markets in Hong Kong, you may have come across Alvin CK Lam’s watercolours. He loves to paint on location in everyday places around the city, from wet markets to alleyways, barbershops, artisan workshops and more. Brimming with colour and detail, his collection “Unspoken Stories, Unsung Heroes" feels like an ode to Hong Kong and will warm the heart of anyone who loves this city. While Lam also takes commissions, he’s usually booked in advance so plan ahead.


Designed to uplift and heal, Bridget Bradley’s abstract expressionist paintings will fill any room with new energy. When it comes to gifting, the New Zealand native recommends her new “Little Luxuries” collection. Painted on archival paper and sealed with UV light protector, each one-of-a-kind piece comes alive with texture, neon colours and movement. Bradley also signs her work and provides a certificate of authenticity. 58



Founded by fashion designer Grace Tong in 2015, HIUCHI specialises in handmade pottery. Inspired by poetry, the studio’s artisans hope to encourage us all to slow down and appreciate the beauty of art - hence the calming ceramics colours and patterns. Not only can you purchase handmade vases, mugs, bowls and tableware sets, but HIUCHI also offers hands-on workshops for an experiential gift.


Marion Decroocq, a Hong Kong-based French artist and printmaker, specialises in Indian block printing - albeit with a twist. She plays with colours, celebrates nature and finds endless inspiration from everyday life in Hong Kong. Painstakingly crafted using solvent-free inks, every handmade piece is unique and comes with a locally-made frame, signature, number and certificate of authenticity.


A long-time favourite for watches and leather goods, 15squarestreet boutique recently underwent a rebranding. Now known as “Tiny Island”, the shop stocks handmade prints and quality souvenirs - think silkscreen-printed maps of Hong Kong neighbourhoods and tasteful prints of sampans, junks and the Star Ferry. Just in time for the holidays, owner and designer Alexis Holm has added two new multi-coloured silkscreen prints of the tram (“Westbound Tram” in green, “Eastbound Tram” in red), which make a perfect pair for any home.

P.S. I recently moved to Philadelphia in the US, and this will sadly be my final column for Liv. It’s been a joy being part of the community for the past six years - thank you for reading! Kate Springer is a Hong Kong-based lifestyle writer who contributes to Vogue, CNN, Home Journal, Tatler, BBC Travel, Forbes Travel Guide, Fodor’s, Vice, and more. You can follow her on Instagram @katespringer. Send news about exciting home and design stories to




with Ziggy Makant




n our family, mental health is just as important as physical health. Conversations around our feelings, how we experience them, and how to express them through words and movement, is the norm in our household. Take, for example, the dreaded tantrum. Whether it’s a toddler, teenager, or an adult having a full-blown meltdown (holiday stress can bring it out of anyone), a temper tantrum is a build-up of emotions that just needs to be acknowledged and released. As a grownup, I can regulate my emotions by practising breathwork and meditation, journaling, or doing some endorphin-releasing exercises, like yoga or hiking with my dog. This also helps me to stay calm as a parent, so I can hold a safe space for my family’s emotions. Children, however, will need their own kid-friendly strategies and resources. I find that using the five bodily senses helps kids to ground in the present, and start learning how to selfregulate their emotions. Here are three ways we practice this in our home when a tantrum looms on the horizon:






Sometimes all our kids need is a comforting squeeze to let them know they are loved. Not only does it send a message that everything is OK, it releases feel-good hormones, like oxytocin and dopamine, which naturally calm the nervous system down. Consent is important here though; remember to always ask first, or just gently remind them: “I’m here when you are ready for a hug.”

Visual resources have helped my children navigate naming their emotions as they develop, helping both me and them understand their needs better. This can include storybooks about emotions that they can grab off the shelf, a mood chart on the wall, or flashcards that describe their internal state.

HEAR: RECORD YOUR OWN AFFIRMATIONS OR MEDITATIONS My son and I recorded ourselves repeating his chosen affirmations: “I am strong”, “I am gentle”, “I am helpful”, and “I am safe”. He uses the audio to ground himself, and self-regulate before an explosion happens.




Nothing like a good stretch and some deep belly breathing to restore the mind, body and soul! Here are some of my son’s favourite yoga poses to practice at home. Try counting to five slowly in each pose, and remember to breathe!

2 1

LOTUS MUDRA Sit cross-legged, either in full lotus if you can manage it, or just one leg at a time. Place your index fingers and thumbs together and rest the hands palms up on your knees, or bring your hands to a prayer position in front of the heart. Ask your child to count 10 slow inhales and exhales, focussing on the breath. For a challenge, try binding the hands behind the back to hold on to the opposite foot!


TREE POSE My son’s favourite balancing posture - he loves to swing his arms around and pretend he’s falling over! If your foot doesn’t reach the inner thigh, practice balancing it on the calf instead (never at the knee joint). Experiment with your hand positions to make it harder: at your heart centre, extended overhead, or incorporate a twist.

PARTNER BOAT POSE This one gets us giggling because my legs are so long, and his are so little. Balancing on your sit bones, extend the legs outwards and try to join hands with your partner. See if you can synchronize bending and extending the legs while you sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”!

Ziggy is a Hong Kong-based mum of two, pre- and postnatal trainer, micro-influencer, and co-host of the Mom Body Soul Podcast. She loves all things motherhood, sustainability and parenting. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @zig.fitmama or reach out to say hello at for FitFam leads and pitches!


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Festive Market ... AND FOOD DRIVE!

Shop your favourite local wellness and lifestyle brands in the heart of Central, and drop off packaged food to distribute to people in need


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