I originally wrote this post in December 2018 on my Minimaluxe website, but I’d like to transfer it here since we use it every year as a basis or guide for when we decorate here in Manila.
WHITE CHRISTMAS TREE
After seeing an insanely gorgeous white and pastel Christmas Tree on Instagram two years ago, I had an AHA moment, thinking “Christmas Trees don’t have to be green. I can have a White Christmas Tree!” I then checked Lazada (the Philippine’s local version of Amazon) for one and found a 5 foot small tree. It’s small, and I would even say, “sparse” if not decorated properly, but it totally works for my all-white space.
TIP: When buying online, make sure to have a measuring stick or tape and visually check how big an item is. Lazada is not as transparent as Amazon when it comes to size and many buyers are often confused when they receive an item that is much smaller than what they imagine based on the photos.
See the DMNL Team putting up the tree and decorations!
TIP: If you have a a toddler (whose self-control part of the brain is not yet fully formed) I recommend having the breakable glass ornaments in the higher parts of the tree. I have the metal and wooden ornaments in the bottom.
Because the tree was quite spares with hallow interiors (no leaves!), it was perfect for my heavy glass and Philippine-made mother-of-pearl balls. We hung them inside the hallow tree because
- The thicker metal branches inside could carry the heavier balls
- The fragile and expensive balls are protected from my son
- It gives depth and makes the tree look more magical with hidden treasures inside
Doesn’t it look magical peeking inside?
Small golden Christmas decor with some fairy lights make a big impact on my white shelves. I got my small Christmas Carousel here, but my friend go hers from Kikki K a few years ago. It’s called a KerzenKarussell in German, and it spins around when you put a tealight candle underneath. You can also order online here or here.
Germany is home to the finest Nutcrackers on earth and though you will find a lot of cheap China-made ones everywhere for only about $10, the real handmade ones from Germany are a world apart. Each detail is lovingly handcrafted. They are symbols of good luck, according to German tradition, frightening away evil spirits. Learn more about Nutcrackers.
I visited many Christmas Markets in Germany before I found a gold and white one by Christian Ulbricht. It was a splurge, but it really makes me happy every single time I take it out for Christmas and every time I see it. I also know that it is something that can be passed down for generations and it goes with my “few but better” ethos. So when I saw this Nutcracker in Dresden (Founded in 1434, it is one of Germany’s oldest documented Christmas markets), I knew it was for me. And a great keepsake for visiting such a historical Christmas Market.
Creating vignettes throughout our home, makes each corner interesting to look at. I remember the time that we could only afford a bucket of these tiny little stars, gifts and pinecones, and now we just use them to sprinkle some Christmas cheer on to our existing Scandi shelves.
Our snowglobes also come out during Christmas time, and believe me it took several years before I found a gold and white snowglobe, but these days with Amazon and online shopping, there are so many more options! Snow globes aren’t exclusive to Chrismtas but finding ones that we can proudly display during this season adds to the Christmas Magic. And seeing the twinkle in our son’s eyes when he looks at it, is priceless!
Christmas balls don’t exclusively have to be hung on the tree. Here we Christmas balls from Crate and Barrel to add a snowy element to our vignettes. We used hooks that don’t cause any surface damage to hang it in the shelves. The hooks can then be easily be removed after Christmas or we can use them to hang something else.
PICK A THEME THAT’S ‘YOU’
When choosing Christmas Ornaments, think of a theme that you love. You can use Pinterest to create an inspiration board, like this. Decide on a color theme that you will love for a while – not based on trends, but truly your own personal taste or style – because following trends is expensive and not really part of the MinimaLuxe lifestyle that encourages sustainable, well-made investments.
I’ve always loved gold, as you can see from how our decor has changed over the years from our little starter tree in Jakarta, to Berlin and then Manila. So I’ve stuck to it. Variety is over-rated.
- Our first Christmas as a married couple in our first home, Jakarta
- Another Gold Christmas in Jakarta
- Gold Christmas Decor in Our Berlin Apartment
Nothing says welcome, than well-executed entryway decor. I personally designed my modular teakwood furniture, so that it would look built in wherever we move. It’s really the best decision ever, because we look settled, no matter where we go. See our entryway in Jakarta and Germany look.
We aren’t allowed to put any nails or hooks in our condo exterior, but since we are using damage free hooks, I felt it was okay to hang a mini glittery wreath to finish of this vignette. Love the Philippine-made sinamay tree and balls. Just add a little tinsel and some led lights inside the balls and it’s totally festive!
The gold lamps and tealight holder house are everyday decor, so we spruced it up with a Christmas lantern from S&R last year. And again, a little tinsel goes a long way.
I have a funny story about these beautiful lights that adorn our door interiors every year. Shopping in Germany wasn’t as simple as it seems, because everything is in a foreign language. Add that with the crowds, then it can be quite a challenge, despite our trusty Google Translate app.
Because our Christmas Tree in Jakarta was tiny, we needed more lights for our 6 foot Nordic Fir Tree in Berlin. We needed a much bigger tree because our AltBau (100 year old apartments) had really high 5foot ceilings. So my husband went off into the cold winter day with the assignment to buy a longer string of lights. After leaving BauHaus disappointed (many Germans still use real candles to light up their tree) he went to Karstad and KaDeWe, more luxurious department stores in Ku’damm and decided to splurge on a box of Christmas Lights with 300 LED bulbs. He did not think to test or check them before he paid, and arrived home proudly announcing he found a string with 300 lights and that must be enough to cover the rest of the tree!
The one thing he forgot to ask is how long the string was, because it was super short, and all the bulbs were concentrated on a few feet. Poor guy spent 4 hours going back and fourth to different stores and he was super tired and hungry by the time he got home and realized it. But we totally made it work. You an see the picture of our first real Christmas Tree here.
Life abroad is never as easy as it looks through the lens of Instagram or Pinterest, and simple chores like this can take many more hours just because of the language and culture barrier. placed the clustered lights on the trunk on top to make up for it being a bit bare.
I used to place Christmas decor on our table top, only to realize that it really wasn’t my style. I like to have a clean table, with maybe a few low tea light candle holders, because we eat family style with all the food in the middle. I find it tedious to remove the decor each time we eat. So instead of decor, I make our table more festive by changing up the cutlery and using some servingware that has some gold in it. Will take a picture and update this post tomorrow.
The gold cutlery was a Christmas gift from my husband on our last Christmas in Berlin. I kept on eyeing the gold set in my favorite Scandinavian shop in our neighborhood. So he surprised me with it for Christmas. I’m really happy that he did because it changes the look of our table during the holidays, and it’s something that we can keep and use for years to come.
BELEN OR NATIVITY SCENE
A Christmas home for Filipinos is never complete without a belen. I sold my first belen before leaving Germany, because I decided to invest in a toy belen that my son would be able to play with for years to come. I thought long and hard because they were not cheap – the whole set cost me about 100 Euros but I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing keepsake of Germany.
These handmade wooden toys of the Nativity Scene from Ostheimer. They have been making the highest quality toys for children, entirely made by hand, for decades. From the wood to the paints, I can be sure that everything is safe for my child to play with, without any toxic finishes or wood that has been treated by pesticides.
It was a splurge no doubt, but it brings so much joy to our family every year and our son learns about the baby Jesus – the entire reason for all the Chrismtas festivities – through imaginative play.
TIP: The secret to a happy toddler is to have his own Christmas section on our shelves. This way he doesn’t try to climb to get the decor on the higher shelves, and he feels totally involved with his own mini Nutcracker and a little pail to bring around his belen. I bought a cheaper Nutcracker on Amazon because he was touching the German nutcracker so much that the beard was turning dark. LOL!
We may not have snow, and the sun may beat down like it’s summer, but we can still have a White Christmas in the tropics! Hoping that this post inspires you to have a more MinimaLUXE #CrapFreeChristmas! Happy Holidays everyone!
UP NEXT: Christmas Parol Alternatives When Living Overseas
* I am an Amazon affiliate, but all opinions are my own