Santa's New Elves

Santa's workshop is anything but shipshape: sacks of bell-shaped ornaments cascade from tabletops, plastic buckets leak cartoon-colored chemicals onto the cement floor, and scattered tinsel is everywhere. Ding Hangjuan, a 43-year-old former peasant, kicks through the Yuletide wreckage. Ding set up her ornament factory in an abandoned schoolhouse six years ago to manufacture decorations for Christmas trees in the U.S. This year, Ding's 400 workers labored overtime to supply a brand-new market. "My buyers were once foreigners, but now 10% of what I make stays here in China," she says.

Ding's prosperity is shared with just about everyone...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!