Trimming a Malafied Christmas Tree

In case you haven’t figured it out, I love Christmas. I’m not like Molly Shannon’s character in The Santa Clause 2, but it’s definitely my favorite time of year. And, like many people, my favorite Christmas pastime is trimming the Christmas tree. As a tradition, my mom buys me a new ornament every year (sometimes, I’ll find one or two on my own as well). My Christmas trimming collection now includes 30 years worth of ornaments – each, representing a different year of my life. It never gets old digging through the huge boxes of ornaments, stripping away the tissue paper, and reminiscing with each memento.

When it comes to trimming a “Malafied” Christmas tree, I’m slightly OCD and have to decorate according to the following steps: 1) lights, 2) ribbon, 3) ornaments. I converted from tinsel to ribbon back in high school, as I thought it looked more chic. So my mom and I found a beautiful champagne ribbon with a gold ornament print and wired edges – the wire makes shaping the ribbon a lot easier.

Rather than simply wrapping the ribbon around the tree like I usually do, I decided to try something new this year. I tied the ribbon ends to the base of my angel tree topper to create a cascading effect, weaving it in and out of the branches. The result? Imperfect in a good way, with a much fuller look.

SIDE NOTE: My favorite Christmas trees are Noble Firs, as they have thicker branches that are perfect for heavy ornaments. But we went with a Douglas Fir this year – classic, more affordable, and with feathery pine needles. I will never… EVER… buy a fake tree. If you look it up, you’ll see they’re actually worse for the environment. Plus, nothing beats the smell of a real one.


Since this is my 30th Christmas, I thought it was a good excuse to add three new ornaments to my collection. This year, I chose a manatee to represent my recent trip to Florida to see my friend Bekki (we also swam with manatees), as well as a cute little Chinese girl to represent my Chinese heritage. My mom also found a pretty white bird cage with a fluffy plume.


A few of my ornaments are personalized with my name either written or engraved on them, like this gorgeous wooden piano my mom special ordered for me more than 20 years ago.


There’s also plenty of ornaments to represent my Polynesian background, from mermaids to hula girls. I also love all the ornaments that commemorate my travels, like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, a teddy bear from Harrods, and my New York City bauble – a large orb my mom bought me the year I moved to Manhattan.


…And since I’m in the music industry, I can never have too many pianos.


Once we finish decorating the tree with all the important ornaments (my mom and dad have their own mini collections as well), we fill in the gaps with random pieces like cardboard bunnies and felt stockings from my childhood in Hawaii, and glass pieces from Home Depot. Matchy-matchy trees are beautiful – but as far as I’m concerned, I prefer a more sentimental Christmas tree that represents years of good memories.


Oh, and after the tree? I always put up my Christmas village.


Here’s to a holiday season filled with peace, love, joy, and success. “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”