As senior designer at Design Intervention, Wendy Smith knows all the tricks of her trade. Here are her pearls of wisdom on how to make a home look fabulous during the festive season.
I am very traditional and never start decorating my house before December, but when I do I always start with the living areas and dining area. I have two living spaces to do, and the dining room. We entertain a lot during the festive period.
Which are your go-to Christmas decoration and accessories shops?
The Link Home and Robinsons. Robinsons is inexpensive and always has really nice quality items, and The Link has those special pieces that you don’t find anywhere else; a combination of both makes for a very glamorous Christmas. I have just updated some old decorations from Robinsons, but the rest I have had for years as they seldom get used and they do last.
Do you have any favourite pieces?
I am a great dog lover, so my Christmas pugs and dog sculptures are my favourites.
Are there any tricks of the trade to make a home look festive without spending oodles of cash?
Yes – using fresh flowers and leaves, and silk flowers too. This is the cheapest way I know to add a touch of Christmas to your home. A large floral arrangement can be inexpensive if you use a lot of leaves and berries. Leaves like eucalyptus have the most wonderful smell and cost $3 for a big spray. Combine this with a live Christmas tree and it can make your home feel and smell Christmassy from the moment you enter the door.
You can also hang a few decorations from a floral display, or sit a small decorative character in front of your display to create a focal point in the room.
Going large scale always works for me; find your biggest vase or stand and just keep adding until you get the required size and look you want. One large display in a room, or two matching arrangements at each end of a dining table, or on side tables on either side of a sofa, can make a big impact.
Another option is candles. Grouping together candles of different sizes, all in the same colour with a small central sprig of holly, is very elegant and sophisticated. Once Christmas is over you can remove the holly and still use the candles around the house, so this is a good-value option.
I also set the dining table weeks in advance and add a sprig of berries to each napkin holder. The berries don’t need water, stay fresh for weeks and can really help give a festive feel.
How do you spend your perfect Christmas day?
I always have a big dinner on Christmas Eve with friends and family, and my guests stay overnight so we can all spend Christmas Day together. We wake up slowly and late on Christmas morning; I get downstairs a little earlier and put on my favourite Christmas carols to set the mood. We then meet around the tree and exchange gifts over Champagne and fresh juices.
I ask all my guests to help prepare a Christmas brunch with everyone making their own favourite dish, then we sit and eat together. Brunch is followed by a slow afternoon around the television with a good Christmas movie.
Afternoon naps ensue, followed by a long bath, makeup and dressing up in a wonderful evening gown. I always pre-book my favourite restaurant and we all go out to eat. I find this helps to ensure that Christmas can be enjoyed by all, otherwise there is always some poor individual who has spent the entire period in the kitchen and finds Christmas quite exhausting.
Wendy’s Christmas Recommendations
Far East Flora
565 Thomson Road
6251 2323 | fareastflora.com
“Buy as an early bird and get great discounts. As long as you add some water to your tree stand, the trees last and last. They also offer a service to take the old tree away and dispose of it after the festive season.”
75 Loewen Road
6474 0441 | thepantrycookeryschool.com
“Pre-order your turkey at The Pantry and they will stuff and brine it all ready to collect on the day. They will even pre-cook it if you prefer that.”
Rabbit Carrot Gun
49 East Coast Road
6348 8568 | rabbit-carrot-gun.com
“Get your turkey, ham, mince tarts, Christmas pudding or pretty much anything else your heart desires for that special Christmas dinner.”
The Trenchard Arms
47 East Coast Road
“This has all the fun and feel of Christmas for your evenings, with special ales and Christmas cocktails.”
Robinsons (multiple locations)
176 Orchard Road
#05-05 The Centrepoint
6733 0888 | robinsons.com.sg
“My favourite for baubles and tinsel.”
Jason’s (multiple locations)
1 Claymore Drive
#01-01 Orchard Towers
6235 4355 | coldstorage.com.sg
“Jason’s is great for Christmas chocolates and selection boxes as they bring them in from the UK, so the chocolate tastes just like I remember from when I was a child.”
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
8 Sentosa Gateway
6577 6688 | rwsentosa.com
“They do fine dining upstairs, but I love L’Atelier, where you can book a group table and all share small plates of their wonderful dishes without paying the hefty fee involved with going and eating upstairs. It’s far less formal, too!”
Amy Brook-Partridge; photography by Jo Ann Gamelo-Bernabe