Dressing Up The House For Christmas

So it’s Christmas and you want to decorate the house and make it seasonally welcoming for the guests you’re likely to have. There are no hard and fast rules for achieving a yuletide vibe, though a few tried and true colours — red, green, silver, gold — stand out. Also standing out? The classic focal pieces: wreaths, garlands and the Christmas tree.

While the core items never really change the materials, aesthetic and usage can. No one expects to see a bushy, eight-foot pine in a Hong Kong living room, though mini potted versions are springing up more often. With global warming officially official, the days of the snow-dappled pine could be numbered. In that vein, “hip” for 2015 is the white artificial tree (real trees are wasteful and have been falling out of consumer favour for some time). With a faux-snow finish, white trees are ripe for as much colour — in lights, baubles, tinsel — as a family can handle.

Also in is the wooden, or semi-faux tree (Hong Kong’s own TREE was at the front of this curve years ago). Constructed from driftwood stalks or reclaimed timber, the stiff wood is sturdy and was actually a tree at one time. Other favourites for eco-conscious options are trees made from recycled paper, which is more flexible and does a better job of imitating the conical tree shape.

If a tree is out of the question there are still scads of ways to do up the house without one. Garlands and ornaments are a good place to start, as garlands can be hung, draped or wrapped over or around almost any surface, doorway or stick-like object (lamp stands, table legs). For the truly inspired — and those with kids that can be put to creative work — attach multi-coloured baubles and balls to a skimpy garland and use that instead of the typical bushy green. Be careful though: one or two of these hyper-colourful ball garlands will do.

On trend this year is minimalist, simple two-tone. Pick your colours, say red and silver, and run with them and only them. It’s a decidedly more modern approach to the holiday and not to every taste, but the elegance inherent in “less is more” is often perfect for small spaces. Try pairing bright colours — blue and gold — with glass if you want to ease into minimalist modernism. Of course, the contemporary two-tone look can be achieved using a traditional colour (red or green), bridging the gap between old-fashioned comforts and new-fangled experimentation.

Like stockings? The fireplace mantle is the conventional spot for stockings, but that doesn’t mean they have to go there. Depending on the size and how heavy they are (maybe you’re taking that lump of coal to heart?) stockings can be suspended from doorways, bookcases, bedposts, windowsills and grates. And while you’re at it, dispense with stockings altogether and try oversized mittens, admittedly a hard find, but perhaps you know someone who knits, or have friends in Canada, the US or Northern Europe willing to express post a pair or two.

A table centrepiece is always a festive way to dress up a room in an understated manner for anyone with limited space. A reliable option is a wreath wrapped around a candleholder, perhaps scented (cinnamon, orange), which always gives off a warm, welcoming glow. A novel alternative, however, involves a clear vase loaded up with seasonal dried goods: nuts, cranberries and kumquats. If you’re very careful you can top it with a smaller candleholder to really show off the bright fruit and woody feel of the nuts (whole brazil nuts and walnuts are a good start).

The usual suspects — Homeless (www.homeless.hk), Indigo (www.indigo-living.com), TREE (www.tree.com.hk) and IKEA (www.ikea.com.hk) — can help with decorations at a range of prices points. For the more adventurous who enjoy more personalised items, hit Wonderland Wood Shop (48 Queen’s Road East, 2529 7786), meet all your leafy demands at AC Flower Gallery (www.acflowergallery.com) in Wanchai. Happy holidays.