For Monica Anne Lie, the most wonderful time of the year begins on November 1, when the jewellery brand owner gets a head start on her Christmas decorations. She would love to get into the Christmas spirit earlier, but “the beginning of November is when it is socially acceptable to have your tree up”, laughs the founder of The Ordinary Co.

Together with her equally festive-centric husband, Justin Koh, she spent two weekends dressing up their 110 sq m apartment in the suburbs.

Monica Anne Lie

Prep work starts as early as September, when Monica starts shopping online for baubles, ribbons and other decorative items. Online store Taobao is a good source although she’s had to seek refunds for items that didn’t arrive in perfect condition.

But “I do order extra and shop early, so I don’t have to scramble at the last minute,” she says. Other than that, her other go-to Christmas shops include Ikea, SKP and Far East Flora.

She’s reviving a childhood tradition that she and her sister shared when they were both in charge of Christmas decorations at home. Adulthood put an end to it, of course, but now that she and her husband have a home of their own, she is starting the tradition again.

She certainly doesn’t hold back either, going by the elaborately dressed interiors. For her efforts in designing a gold and silver theme for her 7 ft tall tree last year, she won US$1,000 in a tree decorating contest organised by the company she bought her tree from.

“It would be nice to have a live tree, but I went with a plastic one because I feel it’s more sustainable,” says Monica. She bought hers from Oncor Tree, which scores brownie points with her because the trees are all made from recycled plastic and can last for 30 years.

Monica is not sure if she’ll take part in the same competition this year but, if she did, she would top it with her stunning mix of silver and white baubles, poinsettias and ribbons. Her tree topper is one which she fashioned out of silver tinsel and dried flowers.

She’s not a trained decorator but she gets a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. So much so that she already has in mind the themes for the next two Christmases. For Monica, more is more when decorating the tree, but she prefers muted and traditional Christmas colours. She also prefers having bigger baubles and wider ribbons, which she says “helps to create volume and drama, and gives the tree a more fashiony look”.

Gold and silver stars hang from the ceiling in one corner of the home. For the dining table, she has set up a wintry look with a beige throw, white table cloth, wreaths, vases filled with stalks of berries and candles. It also doubles as a background for photography, when she shoots products from The Ordinary Co. for her Christmas gift guide.

Monica started selling her own handmade jewellery when she was 16. Six years ago, after graduating from university, she started The Ordinary Co. The festive season has kept her so busy that she hasn’t had time to do her own Christmas shopping. Most of her customers are Singaporeans, but she is also gaining an international audience.

The stress of fulfilling Christmas orders aside, she is looking forward to having her friends over for the festive season. With fewer people allowed to visit any household, Monica will be holding more smaller parties so that she can accommodate all her friends.

The couple will spend three days cooking, with turkey, ham and macaroni and cheese the must-have items on their menu. They also have their own Christmas playlist with jazzy tunes. “Everyone gets excited when Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You comes on,” says Monica.

Monica prefers having bigger baubles and wider ribbons, which she says “helps to create volume and drama, and gives the tree a more fashiony look”.

She often gets asked about her Christmas decor from her followers on Instagram, and shares tips on her page, @luxmondi. The decor comes down after the 12 days of Christmas, and while she would love to keep all the festive trimmings, she does sell some of them away. After all, she will need space when the next November rolls around.

What she loves most about Christmas is the wintry vibe, despite being in tropical Singapore. “The weather gets a bit cooler, and I like snuggling up on the sofa, sipping on homemade peppermint hot chocolate,” she says.

Photos courtesy of Monica Anne Lie.
This Article was first published by The Business Times.