Confessions of a professional Santa Claus
Professional Santa says he has a routine to ensure he gets into the spirit to bring Christmas cheer
While 'tis the season to be jolly and many are counting down to the holidays, December is the busiest month for Mr Ethan Liu, 23.
His job title says events executive for JNR Entertainment, but for almost every day this month, Mr Liu is known as someone else.
"I'm basically Santa Claus all of this month. It gets really busy during this season because we just get so many bookings," said Mr Liu.
Dressed casually in a black polo T-shirt and jeans when The New Paper spoke to him last week, he doesn't look like Father Christmas at all.
As if anticipating a question about his attire, Mr Liu let out a loud, bellowing laugh.
It's all in the clothes and the attitude, he said coolly.
Mr Liu, who has been in the job for three years, said it involves dressing up as different characters.
He makes up for his small size by stuffing his costume with cotton wool to get Santa's distinctive belly.
He said: "My body size and demeanour might not look like it, but when I put it on, I am fully committed.
"Each time I put on the costume, I really get into it, repeating, 'Ho, ho, ho,' to myself and singing Christmas songs."
But it takes more than just a plate of cookies to get this Santa to come visit. Mr Liu said that the first hour of his services costs $250, with a lower charge for each subsequent hour.
His appearances generally last for two hours but the events come so hard and fast in December that Mr Liu has two sets of Santa outfits. A lot of washing is involved, he said with a laugh.
He said: "It can be physically intensive because of all the stuffing in the costume. It gets so hot!
"I have to make sure the costume is clean before events."
When he is not Santa, Mr Liu dresses up as other characters, such as Pikachu, Spider-Man and Batman. Just like Santa Claus, some costumes have their own seasons.
Said Mr Liu: "During Chinese New Year, I dress up as the God of Fortune.
"In February, some people pay me to dress up as Cupid."
For every kid that is nice, Mr Liu said that there will be naughty ones, too. He noted that being Santa Claus is a continual learning process and he adapts accordingly.
He said: "Some kids will pull on my beard, some will say that I am a fake, but I generally just wave them off gently and distract them with presents.
"You would be surprised how often that works."
Dealing with difficult children might not sound like an appealing job to some, but Mr Liu said he has never thought about doing anything else.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
He said: "You just have to know who the audience is and what they expect.
"And you have to love it, too.
"Even if it is tiring and the hours are long, to me there's nothing more satisfying than seeing happy faces at events."
When asked which out of the many hats, or heads, that he wears is his favourite, he answered without hesitation.
"Of course Santa Claus. It's not like other mascots where I just stand around and look cool to have my picture taken," said Mr Liu, with a jolly smile.
"He is much more interactive and he's seen only once a year."