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Unwrapping my Christmas tree |

Sunday Lifestyle

Unwrapping my Christmas tree

FEAST WITH ME - Stephanie Zubiri - The Philippine Star
Unwrapping my Christmas tree
“Every tree tells a story,” says author Stephanie Zubiri-Crespo

My tree is full of sentiment — cherished memories from travels, gifted ornaments, stolen old ones from my childhood, milestone tokens.

Setting up the Christmas tree for me every year is like a ritual. It marks the beginning of Christmas in our home. I turn down the aircon to the coldest temperature possible and blast Christmas carols while drinking spiced tea as I lovingly open each well-wrapped ornament. My tree is full of sentiment —cherished memories from travels, gifted ornaments, stolen old ones from my childhood, milestone tokens and a few gawdy paper curiosities handcrafted by my own little elves. This was the first year I had a real Santa’s Helper as Sebastian was thoroughly invested in the decoration of our house and has, in fact, scolded me for it being not Christmassy enough. Maxi, on the other hand, has been content to play with the cute felt ornaments, resulting in a completely imbalanced tree with gaping holes and blank spaces from the middle down to the bottom. It doesn’t matter, because every tree tells a story and every year; even with the same ornaments, it tells a different story.

Each Christmas I try to make new additions to represent our current state. My current obsession with blue and white ginger jars has made an appearance on our otherwise very traditional red and green tree — representing the milestone of moving into our new home, which has been dubbed “The Blue and White Home” by my friends and family. I love how each tree is deeply personal and this tradition of featuring trees has become one of my favorite articles to write and I look forward to it every season.

“Childhood Whimsy” by Nicole Hernandez de los Angeles, model and influencer

“Childhood Whimsy” by Nicole Hernandez de los Angeles, model and influencer

 “My inspiration always stems from my kids. I try to involve them before I even put up or make any décor,” says Nicole. “They help me select and edit what goes on the tree and around the house. This year is a little more playful with mini Santas, reindeers and candy. Our style is entirely up to them and I think next year they want a superhero tree so I guess that’s a modern interpretation?” she says with a laugh. When asked about their traditions, she shares: “We always open gifts as a family on Christmas morning. And I involve my kids in helping me make decor for the tree and house.”

Chuchu Madrigal and Alex Eduque, philanthropists Photo by Jun Mendoza

“The Jungle Tree” by Pie Alvarez of Shop LCP and Loved by Pie

 “Since I live in both San Vicente, Palawan and Manila, I really love that dreamy beach and jungle vibe,” says Pie. “So, like my home, which is filled with tropical prints and animal wallpaper, I decided to make my tree jungle fantasy inspired,” says the vibrant young entrepreneur. When asked if she prefers a modern or classic Christmas, she replies: “I would say it’s a maximalist, non-traditional Christmas! How often do you see a tasseled elephant topper, unicorns, llamas, monkeys, shrimp cocktails, and even lobsters on a Christmas tree?” Her traditions include buying a fresh tree and “putting up old and new decorations and decorating it with friends and family.”

“The Jungle Tree” by Pie Alvarez of Shop LCP and Loved by Pie

Chuchu Madrigal and Alex Eduque, philanthropists

For the past two holiday seasons, the mother and daughter team have been abroad and are looking forward to being back home this Christmas. “So we are back to the age-old tradition of noche buena on Christmas Eve, and opening gifts on Christmas Day,” shares Alex. “I think more than any of the festivities, or no matter where in the world we are, our tradition is simply being together as a family, and that’s the tradition that’s been for as long as I can remember.” Every year they love choosing a specific theme for their Christmas tree. “The Christmas carol Hark the Herald Angels Sing inspired our tree this year. I worked with pieces and ornaments from the past years that could still be used, and upcycled some other pieces by reworking them a little, but without compromising on the overall grandeur of it all,” she says of their golden tree. “I grew up always looking forward to Christmas because of the huge tall tree my Lola would set up, and since my mom has let me do it, and after years of looking, I finally found a tree that could compare. This year we used gold trumpets and mirrored parol like stars. I wanted something local and close to home and to really celebrate the spirit of Christmas which is the birth of Jesus.”

“Contemporary Classic” by Grace Baja, of Grace Home and

“Contemporary Classic” by Grace Baja, of Grace Home and

 “Ever since we built this house, we’ve used the colors gold, bronze and copper on our Christmas tree to give it that non-traditional and yet still classic and elegant look that can go from year to year,” shares Grace.  “I’m not really a big fan of the traditional green and red or the very trendy or too-kiddie look on trees. My style is a combination of both modern and classic. Each Christmas Eve we go to Mass, followed by noche buena with the family at exactly 12 midnight. We then open our gifts around the tree.”

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