Pretty homes for Christmas

Here are four well- decorated homes

Christmas Chic

Ms Laura Ong, 54, is a stickler for details. She believes that the nativity scene, which depicts biblical characters Joseph and Mary looking at baby Jesus lying in a manger, should not have the baby in the picture until Christmas Day, which is believed to be his birth day.

The nativity scene forms part of the Christmas decorations at her home every year. And yes, baby Jesus appears in the set-up only after midnight on Christmas Eve.

However, the housewife made an exception when Life visited - she placed the baby among the decor for the photo shoot.

She says: "We are Catholic and every Christmas, we remember the coming of our Messiah born into this world to save humanity. Christmas is more important to my family than Chinese New Year."

A wreath hangs above the island counter in the kitchen. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Home is a 21/2-storey semi- detached house in Serangoon Garden with husband Max Lee, 56, who owns a mechanical engineering firm, and their two children, Andrea, 25, and Joshua, 19.

Ms Ong remembers her mother decorating the Christmas tree since she was about four years old. "It was a joy to do the decorating together," she says.

Now, her own family decorate the house together every Christmas. They have a traditional theme every year, with natural colours such as green, red and brown with "a touch of bronze and glitter".

The restrained use of dried branches, leaves and flowers throughout the first storey adds a rustic yet elegant look.

A centrepiece of red berries and green leaves in a vase sits on the dining table, with pine cones and electric candle lights beside it. The corners of the mirrors in the hallway and dining area are also decorated in a similar style.

She declines to say how much the family spent on the decorations.

Most of the items are reused from previous years. For instance, the pine cones collected from trips to the United States and Italy are as old as 25 years. And the white plaster nativity scene that sits atop a cabinet in the front hallway was rescued from the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, which the family attends. The church had wanted to throw it out a few years ago.

Her husband and son are in charge of lugging the real Christmas tree into the house. This year, the family has a 3m-tall tree in the living room, which they bought for about $400. It was so tall that even with a ladder, no one in the family could reach the crown to place the star topper. A 1.85m-tall family friend had to help them.

The family attends midnight mass on Christmas Eve before holding a huge party at their place on Christmas Day, when they invite their church's 30-member youth choir to sing.

She says: "We always have friends and family join us for a feast - each of us will cook and add a dish to the table until it is full."

He loves singing angels with candles

The 2m-tall Christmas tree (above left), which scrapes the ceiling, at Vincent Choo's flat in Potong Pasir.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

After amassing Christmas decorations for about 10 years without being able to display much of the collection in his home, senior graphic designer Vincent Choo is finally able to make his four-room HDB flat in Potong Pasir look extremely festive for the season.

Out of respect for his Taoist parents - his mother died in 2005 and his father died last year - the 41-year-old Catholic had never put up such dramatic decorations at home, only displaying the tree and the nativity scene.

Previously, the bachelor channelled his Christmas creativity towards helping to decorate his church, the Church of Saint Francis Xavier in Serangoon Garden.


Sharing precious memories

Retiree Dorothy Tessensohn at her Jervois Road apartment with her battery- powered dancing and chuckling Santa Claus figurines.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Among the many Christmas decorations retiree Dorothy Tessensohn has kept for many years, a 1m-tall angel figurine holds special meaning for her.

"I fell in love with her beautiful face," she says.

After her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour 13 years ago, she had seen the angel in a department store in Perth, Australia. It has wings that flap gently when it is turned on.


Bringing the family together

Mr Philip Seah and his wife Christine Chan in the living room of their two-storey, semi-detached house in Telok Kurau.ST PHOTO: TK RAJU

Many years ago, Mr Philip Seah and his eldest child, then a toddler, set up the Christmas tree one night while his wife was out. It was a sweet gesture meant to surprise her.

When Ms Christine Chan returned home, she gave him a "big scolding" and he had to take down the tree and ornaments and put them back in the box so that they could set it up together as a family the following weekend - a tradition she values dearly.

Indeed Mr Seah, 60, says: "Decorating the house has been instrumental in bringing the family together."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2015, with the headline 'Pretty homes for Christmas'. Print Edition | Subscribe