No idea how to dress your Christmas tree? Here are suggestions for every budget

With many stores offering discounts on festive decorations, now may be the best time to grab a tree and style it your way

There are 16 days till Christmas and if you have not yet decked your halls, do not worry. As department stores start slashing prices on Christmas decor, now might be the most wonderful time of the year to purchase your Christmas goodies.

For example, there is a 25 per cent discount on Christmas decorations at furniture and homeware store Crate & Barrel. And Metro is giving a 20 per cent discount on a selection of ornaments, wreaths and figurines.

Now is also a good time to buy a Christmas tree.

Fraser fir trees from North Carolina and Canada are on sale at Cold Storage. Trees measuring 1.5 to 1.8m cost $89 each and those measuring 1.8 to 2.1m cost $119.

A variety of artificial and live trees is still available at Tangs, which also has discounts of up to 50 per cent on everything from baubles and garlands to wreaths and table-top ornaments.

If you are unsure of how to style your tree this year, look to the malls and hotels for inspiration. There are trees for every taste - from traditional red and gold at the Fullerton Hotel to sparkly rose gold at Ion Orchard.

Replicating these looks at home does not have to break the bank.

The Straits Times asks the experts for the best tips to decorate a tree on any budget.


Work with baubles in different sizes and finishes to add variety and depth.
Work with baubles in different sizes and finishes to add variety and depth. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For $100: A pocket-friendly tree by Cold Storage

Beautifully decorating a Christmas tree for $100 might sound too good to be true, but it is possible with some creativity.

Ms Lilian Lim, store manager of Cold Storage Sime Darby, where live Fraser fir trees measuring 1.5 to 1.8m are on sale for $89 each (www.Coldstorage.com.sg/Christmastrees2017), shares how.

•Select a theme. "Pick one or two colours to focus on - red and gold, white and gold, or blue and white, for example, and select all the decorations within that colour scheme," she says.

• Garlands can be pricey, so after you have layered the lights ($24.90 a set), spiral a few metres of wide, sparkly ribbon ($8.90 a roll) around the tree instead. The ribbon acts as a frame for the baubles, which can fill the space between the rows.

•Maximise your budget by selecting sets of baubles which include a variety of finishes. Cold Storage sells 12-piece, single colour bauble sets with mixed matt, glossy and glitter ornaments for $8.90, for example. Combine with one or two eight-piece sets of larger baubles ($8.90 a set) and there should be enough ornaments to adorn the tree.

• Embellish remaining branches and fill the gaps with bows made from the leftover ribbon and real candy canes ($1.50 a piece). Secure them with green wire or ribbon.

• Christmas crackers are another inventive way to add a festive touch to any tree. The box sets ($19.90 to $29.90 for six) come in a variety of designs and colours of matt and shimmering paper, and are an excellent substitute for large ornaments.

•Ms Lim adds that one should let the tree shine: "If you have a live tree, there's no need to cover every branch."


Other than the usual Christmas baubles, consider using clip-on poinsettias to fill in the gaps and branches of artificial red holly as a tree topper.
Other than the usual Christmas baubles, consider using clip-on poinsettias to fill in the gaps and branches of artificial red holly as a tree topper. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For $300: A traditional tree by Metro

Mr Aznur Abdullah, head of visual marketing at Metro department store, walks readers through how to decorate a tree for $300.

Choose a style that will complement your home decor. Consider colours, shapes, symbols, patterns and even a particular mood you want to bring to life and make it uniquely yours by adding ornaments of sentimental value that showcase your identity, your hobbies and the people in your life who are most dear to you.

•When in doubt, go traditional. "A glamorous and classic theme is always well-received. Gold, red and silver tones are a timeless combination," Mr Aznur says.

• Keep costs low by buying a quality artificial tree that can be used year after year. A tree which has decorative elements included, such as the 1.8m-tall Verona pine ($199 at Metro) with pine cones and berries attached on its boughs, means that you can spend less on decor.

• Opt for plastic ornaments which are cheaper and easier to store than glass ones. These ornaments often come in affordable box sets with a mix of matt, reflective and sparkly textures, such as the assorted red baubles ($13 for a box of 12 ornaments) or the box of Christmas assorted ornaments ($33 for more than two dozen pieces).

•Metallic and glossy ornaments will reflect the tree lights, making the tree look more festive, and teardrop-or oval-shaped baubles add visual excitement.

•Clip-on poinsettias ($14.90 each) are a popular feature this year. Filling empty spaces with their large red flowers is a traditional touch with a modern twist. Ribbons, which cost anywhere from $12.90 to $50 for about 9m, depending on the style and width, can be wrapped around the tree or tied into ornate bows.

•When decorating the tree, start with your primary colour baubles, from big to small, then fill the gaps with the baubles in your accent colour.

• Add a tree topper for a finishing touch. You can opt for a traditional angel or star, but Mr Aznur recommends using a wreath, clips or fillers as toppers too, such as branches of artificial red holly berry ($15.90 each). "They are a great way to give the tree height and character."

•The Metro Christmas Trim Shoppe is open at Metro Centrepoint until tomorrow and in the atrium of Metro Paragon until Dec 31.


Using ornaments of various shapes makes the decorations on a tree look less boring, says Ms Jill Jeremiah Ng (top).
Using ornaments of various shapes makes the decorations on a tree look less boring, says Ms Jill Jeremiah Ng. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

For $500: A splurge-worthy tree by Crate & Barrel Singapore

Ms Jill Jeremiah Ng, visual merchandising manager for Crate & Barrel Singapore, shares her design process for this tree - themed around a Gramercy feel, inspired by the steel, glass and lights of New York City - which costs more than $500 to decorate.

•To keep your budget under control, mix precious ornaments, such as the glitter drop glass ornament handmade by glass artisans in Poland ($12.50), with mass-produced ornaments, such as the silver curl tree wire and glitter ornament made in China ($5.95).

•The tree is decorated in monochromatic shades of champagne, silver and gold. Because the ornaments are of similar colours, it is important to vary their shape, style and texture. "People have a tendency to choose all round baubles, but that can make a tree look flat. Having different shapes makes it less boring," she says.

•She also added visual variety by mixing reflective ornaments with ones made of fabric. The Elly the Elephant ornament, handmade in India of white wool felt with silver and copper embroidery ($23.95), adds subtle texture to the tree.

•Decorate with one type of ornament at a time to ensure proper spacing.

•Shimmering silver garlands ($9.95) were tucked into the branches to provide depth and background to the ornaments, so that the tree does not look bare and unbalanced. •

• She finishes the look by capping alternating branches with glass candle clips ($5.50). The electric candles illuminate the glass and glitter when lit, casting the tree in a magical glow.

•All prices are before a 25 per cent discount.


Guide to setting up a Christmas tree

PREPARE THE TREE

If using an artificial tree, fluff up the branches so that their tips are fully opened.

If using a live tree, saw off the bottom centimetre of the tree leg, which has often dried out in transit. This means it is harder for the tree to absorb water. Then, place it in the tree stand.

Fill the tree stand with water and top up the water at least once a day.

START WITH THE LIGHTS

Before you place the lights on the tree, plug them in and make sure they work. You do not want to finish decorating your tree only to realise that your lights will not switch on. You will have to take everything off and start from the beginning.

When you are wrapping the lights around the tree, you can start from the top or the bottom. Wrap them at a slight diagonal so that there is a gap between one row of lights and the next.

Push the lights into the branches so that there will be room for the other decorations. Leave the lights on as you decorate to see where the branches and gaps in decorations are.

FORGET TINSEL

Use ribbon or decorative garlands to add extra sparkle. Unlike tinsel, they are reusable and easier to clean up. Wrap the garland or ribbon around the tree in the same way as the lights, but place them closer to the tip of the tree branches so that they are visible.

BAUBLES

Choose ornaments in different sizes, shapes and textures, which add depth and visual excitement to the tree.

Mr Aznur Abdullah, head of visual marketing for Metro, recommends using 70 per cent simple ornaments, such as baubles, and 30 per cent thematic or detailed ornaments, such as clips, bows or handmade pieces.

The biggest baubles go on first. Apply them to the branches in a zig-zag - up, down, up, down - pattern around the tree, leaving large gaps between them.

Fill the space in between the large baubles with the medium baubles, using the same zig-zag method, followed by the smaller and irregularly shaped ones. Hang your ornaments and decorations at different points on the branches - not all on the tips - to add depth and interest.

The final layer of decorative clips, bows or fillers goes into the gaps - use cable ties or green wire to secure them.

•Tips from Mr Aznur Abdullah, head of visual marketing for Metro, and Ms Jill Jeremiah Ng, visual merchandising manager of Crate & Barrel Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2017, with the headline 'Dress a tree on any budget'. Print Edition | Subscribe