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A tropical Christmas
FOR the Chua family, December is the time when they escape from the tropics in pursuit of a winter wonderland holiday. Last year, that meant spending Christmas in Paris and Nice, soaking up the sights, sounds and flavours.
This year's plans to be in Tuscany have been put on hold, but they still managed to 'travel' - sort of. "We went on a staycation where we got to spend a few days away from home," says Sue Anne Toh, founder of NOVI Health, a healthtech startup. Her husband, Steven Chua, works in finance, and they have two children, Sophie, 11 and Sean, eight.
For them, overseas vacations are not only a chance for the family to explore new cities together, but they also dictate the theme of their Christmas decorations when they return home.
"We would pick up unique Christmas baubles from each country we visit and incorporate them into our home decor for the season," says Dr Toh. In 2018, the family went to Bali and Thailand, and South Africa in 2017.
"Since we can'tgo anywhere this year, we decided to deck out our tree with Singaporean elements," says Dr Toh.
She points to a bauble decorated in a Peranakan print, and a red-and-white bauble with Singapore printed across it, both of which complement well with the overall gold and silver theme for the tree.
As the couple also collects contemporary art and designer furniture, "theseasonal decor has to complement these in our home and not be too gaudy," she says. "We also splurged on personalised personalised accessories", referring to a Christmas tree ornament and customised wreath on the front door of their Cairnhill Road home.
The location of the Christmas tree varies each year, but this year, it stands in front of a wall that is filled with travel photographs taken by Mr Chua. "It is kind of ironic, but also significant to have the tree here," says Dr Toh.
To add to the festive mood, pots of poinsettias are placed around the living room, while the dining table gets a luxe touch with a tasteful centrepiece from local floral atelier, Floral Obsession.
The kids also help with the decorating of a second dining table. Last year, their parents emphasised sustainability and encouraged Sophie and Sean to be creatively minimalist.
They made a centrepiece out of Lego pieces and folded Christmas trees out of recyclable napkins. The candles on the table are reusable electric ones and the kids also decorated the candle stand with leftover icing fondant from the Christmas cake.
"We all loved their creations and the kids are repeating it this year," says Dr Toh.
The kids also putting together an advent calendar, writing down little acts of kindness to each other. "I felt very proud when I saw Sean staying up late one night to complete the calendar," says their mother.
For Mr Chua, Christmas is a time when family comes together. "It is more significant this year as we couldn't see each other as much," he says. His sister and her family usually come by, and they would feast on turkey, pasta, stew, black forest cake and mulled wine.
For the Chuas, this Christmas is also different because 2020 marks the last time they are decorating their Cairnhill Road home for the festivities. The family recently moved into their new home in Newton and are spending Christmas there. "It is twice the fun this year decorating for Christmas," says Dr Toh.
But regardless of where they are at, she adds, "Christmas is a reminder of how God shows love for us. We dress up our home for Christmas in a way that reminds us and our guests that this joy can be found everywhere in the world."