While people are choosing decorations for Christmas trees and gifts for relatives and friends, their children have only one thing on mind – Santa Claus and the gifts he is likely to bear.

In Ho Chi Minh City, many supermarkets, shops, restaurants, and amusement centres are offering customers free delivery of gifts by Santa during the Christmas week.

Tourist company Lua Viet Company said the number of customers asking for men made up as Santa has increased rapidly in recent years. It chooses tubby people for the role because kids expect a plump Santa. Other companies like Funny Day and Vietnam Tourguide are also offering this service.

Most companies charge 100,000-200,000 VND (4.7-9.5 USD) for a visit, with the figure doubling on Christmas Eve. Some companies offer special services for 500,000 VND with 10 Santas, two fairies, and a sleigh.

This year a large range of locally made Christmas gifts and ornaments is available. A Christmas tree with eye-catching decorations costs between 300,000 VND and 900,000 VND; a wide variety of locally-designed cards are available at an average price of VND10,000. Kinh Do, Givral, Brodard and Hy Lam Mon bakeries offer all kinds of Christmas cakes and candies starting at 120,000 VND.

Restaurants and hotels have announced special deals including food and music, fashion and magic shows at around 1 millionVND (50 USD) for adults and half that for children. Charity organisations and individuals have been donating medicines, gifts and toys to disadvantaged children in hospitals and shelters.

Eight roads to shine before Christmas

Before December 22, eight streets in the downtown and the gateways to Saigon will be filled with light to welcome the festive season with meaningful themes, Vietnam Net online newspaper said, quoting sources from the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism which is assigned to decorate the streets.

This year the design of street light is assumed by four companies. Each road will be designed with a different theme and a different color. For instance, Dong Khoi street will be decorated with yellow light, the color of apricot flowers, under the topic “The Southern Land”.

Le Loi street will be decorated pink under the theme "National Industrialisation - Moderniation". At a request of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, light decoration on these roads will be maintained from December 22 through January 5.

The Truong Son - Nguyen Van Troi - Nam Ky Khoi Nghia roads will be dedicated for diplomacy and integration, so they will be decorated with Saint Giong riding a horse, with a bamboo on his hands, presenting the tradition of fighting invaders for the country’s independence.

Pham Ngoc Thach road and the Turtle Lake will be decorated with the theme "Youth and Ambition".

Ton Duc Thang street will be lightened up with the theme "Vietnam’s Sea and Islands". Nguyen Hue and Le Duan roads will be decorated with the topics "Thousands of Flowers Offered to Uncle Ho" and "Peace - Independence - Unity".

According to Tri Viet, one of the four street light designers, only modern LED lamps will be used for the safety. "Saigon street lights this year will be entirely comparable to Singapore," a Tri Viet’s representative said.

Galloping horses come to Nguyen Hue boulevard for Tet

The image of galloping horses will be transformed into a flower decoration on Nguyen Hue Boulevard from January 28 to February 3 (or from the 28th day of the 12th lunar month to the fourth day of the first lunar month).

According to the organiser, Saigontourist, this year’s event will have the theme “Ho Chi Minh City-My love” with three areas.

The first is Dong thoi gian (Flow of time) where there are galloping horses carrying a flower carriage shaped like a clock. It represents the New Year and a spirit of moving forward. Along the entrance there will be giant apricot flowers to welcome visitors. There will be other decorations such as numerous flower baskets hanging on a line of coconut trees.

The second section, at the intersection of Nguyen Hue boulevard and Nguyen Thiep and Mac Thi Buoi streets, is a display of various kinds of flowers from Dalat.

The third area at the corner of Nguyen Hue and Ton That Thiep is a globe surrounded by a carpet of colorful flowers, stylised clocks and people’s hands.

A new feature of Nguyen Hue Boulevard Floral Exhibition in 2014 is an exhibition of vegetables and fruits meticulously carved by hotels and restaurant artisans under management of Saigontourist. Additionally, it will be turned into a boulevard of lights from December 15 to February 6.

The floral exhibition and lighting decoration is organised by Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and Saigontourist with sponsorship from Suntory PepsiCo Vietnam, Van Thinh Phat Group Holdings, and Time Square Vietnam, among others.-VNA