My East Meets West Christmas Tree
"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year..." Are you just as excited as I am, counting down the weeks and days before we can finally put the tree up while shamelessly singing along with the Christmas hits on the stereo?
At chez Mode & Motif we always try to put the tree up on December 1 if possible. Our faux tree has been with us for a few years now. While it's tempting to get a real one (hmm that beautiful scent of pine) but I fear I'll have to resist because a) I can't bear the sight of abandoned trees on the streets that end up going to the landfills; b) I get sentimental so throwing the tree out would be traumatising; and c) frankly I don't want to clear the dropped needles every waking moment. That said, I appreciate not everyone has room / is willing to sacrifice their precious wardrobe space... so do consider your storage options if you want to go faux and go big.
When it comes to decorations, I like to try a different palette every year. Mr. M is all about the traditional gold and red but I am thinking otherwise. Perhaps being influenced by the hot climate, I am after a neutral, calming palette this year and will let the baubles do the talking. So this year it's all about muted gold with pops of yellow and blue.
Apart from the colour scheme, I want the decorations to tell the stories of our travels and life abroad too. Cue these precious hand-painted egg shells that I found in SALZBURG, AUSTRIA, a place that's close to my heart. They are sold in a cute little shop called Christmas in Salzburg in the old town (Altstadt). Every time I go back, I'll always go on a little pilgrimage and contribute to my growing collection... (it's kinda addictive, and you've been warned...)
A while ago, the lovely Emily (aka The Expat Mama) asked if I'd share some tips on affordable and stylish Christmas decorations for an article she's writing for The Finder Magazine Singapore. Not content just sticking to the same old high street resources, I've decided look for alternative ideas in the local neighbourhoods. Why not having a bit of East meets West this festive season?
Yes, I know... lots of naff, touristy gift shops there. But if you are patient and open-minded though, you might just discover gems where they're least expected. In fact I wandered into a beautiful antique shop East Inspirations and found these pendants made of broken pieces of 19th Century Chinese ceramic vases. And just 20m away from the shop (right next to the Sri Mariamman Temple), I found some good luck knots handmade by the stall keeper, Xiao Ming. Her creations are so gorgeous that I even bought a pair of earrings hopefully for the New Year's Eve party.
The Arab Street district is renowned for rugs, textile & haberdashery outlets, bars, cafes and indie shops. There I discovered Ming Sing Flowers, a wholesaler specialised in artificial flowers, wedding and seasonal decorations. I really couldn't resist these fabulous gold phoenix/birds. I also picked up a couple of coasters made of miniature Persian rugs from a carpet wholesaler and sewed them into parcels when I got home.
My final stop was Rumah Bebe, a stunning Peranakan shophouse that one must visit in the East Coast. Having a bit of Peranakan heritage in me (both grandmas being Indonesian-Chinese), I always feel strangely familiar with its traditional arts and crafts. The Peranakans are very proud of their mothers' home cooking (well, as in most cultures!) so I think these mini ceramic spoons are just perfect - to remind me of my heritage and how much I miss my granny's amazing cooking.
I'm in love with my modern eclectic, East meets West Christmas decorations this year. I stick to a palette of 2-3 colours to avoid things looking messy. But the end of the day, it's not about creating that perfect, uniform tree that you see in shopping malls and hotels, but a tree that's about your household, your family and your stories. I know these unusual baubles will bring us of a lot of fond memories and I cannot wait to add more in the years to come.
How will you decorate your Christmas tree this year? Please share your ideas below!
p.s. If you live in Singapore, don't forget to pick up a free copy of The Finder for more festive hosting and surviving tips from your expat insiders!
All images are taken by Cath unless stated otherwise.