Tag Archives: Christmas

Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Christmas Tree Trends

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Christmas 2012 saw the emergence of bold new trends in decorating the classic Christmas tree. Playful colors blended well with the most extraordinary of ornaments: starfishes, feathers, and family photos. These five creative Christmas tree trends shaped the past season and are bound to inspire you yet again.

Inspiration #1: The Rainbow

Highlight your white Christmas tree with loud colors. Break the rules by selecting not only two complementing hues for your overall look but an entire rainbow of it. Layer your ornaments by putting Christmas balls of the same color together to reflect a spectrum of hues. This creates a cascading of colors that is harmonious and not heavy on the eyes.

Eclectic Family Room design by Chicago Martha Layton Smith

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Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Top Five Most Expensive Christmas Trees

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Christmas trees are now a fixture in holiday celebrations all over the world. The Christmas tree has come a long way from its roots in early modern Germany. Acquiring popularity in the 19th century, the Christmas tree tradition has spread to almost every part of the world, thus leading to the production of a variety of Christmas trees—some traditional, unusual, spectacular, and with our list, downright expensive. Take a look at some of the most expensive Christmas trees ever made, proving that the fruit-and-candle decorated trees of times passed have come a long way.

1. Christmas Tree at Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Image by Lars Plougmann via flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The United Arab Emirates is known to have a taste for luxury with its 7-star hotels, ultramodern architecture, and numerous high-end establishments. It is no surprise that one of the most expensive Christmas trees can be found in this part of the world. The Christmas tree at the Emirates Palace Hotel in the capital of Abu Dhabi is worth millions, worthy of the UAE’s reputation for luxury. The tree itself is natural but the precious gold, diamond, emerald, and other expensive decorations make this 13-foot tree a true gem, worth well over $11.4M.
2. Christmas Tree by Soo Kee Jewellery Shop, Singapore

Singapore is fast becoming a true diamond of Asia and in a timely fashion, it has produced a spectacular 20-foot tree that is an enchanting piece on its own. Soo Kee Jewellery created a dazzling Christmas tree that looks at most delicate and otherworldly with its sparkling silver tone and intricate details. Around 21,798 precious diamonds make up the tree mixed with approximately 3,000 or so crystals to enhance the dazzle factor. This enchanting piece, worth $1M, can be found at the upscale Bugis Junction in the island state.

3. Christmas Tree by Ginza Tanaka Jewelry, Tokyo, Japan

Ever fancied a Christmas tree made of 24-carat gold? Japan jeweler Ginza Tanaka, who specializes in gold jewelry, made such an item three times! The first luxury Christmas tree they made stood at around 2 meters high and cost a staggering $850,000. Trumping that, they made another Christmas tree for a different year costing $1.9M. More recently, in line with the commemoration of Walt Disney’s 110th anniversary, another golden Christmas tree was commissioned, this time worth approximately $4.2M and featuring well-loved Disney characters as points of interest.

4. Christmas Tree by Steve Quick, Chicago, IL, USA

What started off as a bid against cancer became one of the most expensive Christmas trees in history. Steve Quick, a company based in Chicago, IL, created a tree from solid 18-karat gold. A 4.52- carat stone set in a star made of platinum sits atop the golden tree, while200 carats worth of diamonds and diamond-briolette ornaments were added to complete the über de luxe piece worth around $500,000. The Christmas tree was eventually auctioned off and the proceeds went to the American Cancer Society—a luxury for a cause.

5. Christmas Tree at Sofitel London St. James Hotel, London

At first glance, one might think the black tree at the Sofitel London St. James to be an unassuming piece. It is visually appealing, yes, but upon closer inspection, a guest would get to see why the tree is able to command such a price. Hanging on the tree “branches” are bottles upon bottles of 24-carat containers filled with small amounts of the high-end Grand-Champagne Cognac Louis XIII. This creative addition explains the hefty $55,000 price tag.

Jessica | Balsam Hill Designer

Feature Interview: Elizabeth Copeland of Water Rolls Uphill

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Throwing an elegant Christmas get-together may seem daunting, especially with the costs involved in making the party truly an affair to remember. The winner of the Balsam Hill Blog Contest, Elizabeth Copeland of the Water Rolls Uphill blog gives us pointers on how we can pull off an elegant gathering without spending an exorbitant amount of money on expensive decorations and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Since Elizabeth started blogging in 2008, she has been sharing family recipes and organization and homeschooling tips with her readers. Learn more about how this stay-at-home mom keeps her home sophisticated and chic without stretching her budget.

You seem to love cooking! What’s your favorite homemade holiday dish?

I do really enjoy cooking, and sharing my best recipes.  This year, we are going to attempt a yule log cake (buche de noel), previously we’ve only done sponge cake, rolled and filled with home-canned jams.  The children are really looking forward to making the meringue mushrooms and iced holly designs.  I’m a bit worried, to be honest!  A few years ago, I shared my new favorite sweet potato and butternut squash pies that were a big hit with the extended family.

Having three young children at home seems challenging. How do you keep your space organized and sophisticated yet still kid-friendly?

I keep my home clean and organized by creating a designated place for items and making sure to regularly go through our belongings to cull items that are outgrown, unloved, or would be of a greater benefit to others.  The children help to keep all of their belongings in their designated homes.  Our home isn’t ultra-minimal, but we don’t have a lot of clutter so that helps.

Christmas is probably one of the busiest times of the year. Do your kids help you with decorating? If so, is there a particular project you especially enjoy doing with them?

My children love to help decorate the tree and mantle, write messages and draw pictures in our holiday cards, and really enjoy being in charge of the Christmas lights.  We are all looking forward to creating beautiful new ornaments every year going forward, to slowly replenish the destroyed ornaments from last year’s tree falling mishap.

Can you share a fun holiday DIY project you’ve made in the past few years?

This year I sewed matching Christmas pajamas for the three kids.  For the first time, we made a gingerbread house and then ate it that night for dessert.  In addition, we had a lot of fun making Jesse tree ornaments together for an ornament swap with families from our homeschooling group.

Do you frequently make decorations for your home? Are there any tips you’d like to share on how you can make elegant DIY décor?

The children have a large painting that I framed and stretched canvas on from scratch featured in the dining room, as well as some nice paintings in the living room.

Photo by Elizabeth Copeland


The children helped to pick out the nativity and we were gifted the bugle and Christmas stockings. Everything on the mantel together was around $80, gifted items excluded. There are lots of tutorials out there on how to create beautiful objects, and while I can recreate some of the really lovely things, I find that sometimes it’s just less stressful and less expensive to splurge on a piece that I love. Picking one splurge item, like the nativity, and then designing around it (everything else totalled was $25) helped to create a pretty look without breaking the budget.

Do you have any elegant Christmas party stories to tell or Christmas decorating tips to share? Post your comments below and let us know!

Balsam Hill | Balsam Hill Editors

Asian-inspired Christmas Decoration Ideas

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With Asian themes conquering the global scene, Asian design philosophies have spilled over into Christmas home décor as well. Looking to bring the flair of the East into their homes, many American families have turned to applying Asian fusion principles to the traditional Western picture of Christmas. So whether you’re passionate about the East or are just looking for new ways to decorate your home, try these easy tips on how to incorporate Asian elements into your design:


Deviate from the usual red and green Christmas color palette. Bring Asia to your home by incorporating shades of muted gold and pink into your designs. These muted colors work best in setting the mood for Asian-inspired décor. Wrap your presents in light pink or red wrapping paper and tie a gold ribbon around them. If you can, knot the ribbon to emulate a traditional Japanese paper fan. In place of the usual bright red, green, and gold Christmas balls hanging on your tree, consider changing the colors to pastels as well. A mix of pale yellow, pink, green, and blue ornaments makes a great combination.

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