CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
C.S. Wo's "Home for the Holidays" features a table setting with blue china and accents.
Holiday color options abound aside from traditional red and green
Don't be alarmed should you see a black Christmas tree. It's supposed to be black, which is the new green, depending on who you talk to. In fact, this holiday, spin the color wheel and wherever the arrow stops could be a hot holiday hue. It's all up to you.
But if you take a cue from Karen McAloon, host of HGTV's special "Decked for the Holidays," then the season's "it" tone is black, a yuletide trend that has yet to surface in Hawaii stores, if ever. A black tannenbaum takes center stage in a segment of the show which premiered last Friday and repeats throughout the season.
"This is the perfect time to play with color," said McAloon, relaxing at home in San Francisco during the Thanksgiving weekend. She's also host of "Find Your Style," which airs 3 p.m. Saturdays on the same network. "Holiday decorating is about being in the moment and doing something fun, more than any other time in the year."
In fact, "Any color could be the new green. It just depends on what you like."
A visit to stores around Oahu provides a rainbow of options for those wanting to break out of the red-and-green box.
Over at SoHa in Ward Centre, displays feature shades of chartreuse in grape clusters and star-burst ornaments, with more traditional tree trinkets having a beach vibe in clear spheres and shells.
Karen McAloon puts the finishing touches on a black Christmas tree on "Decked for the Holidays."
Pacific Home on Ward Street is all dressed in white. A table at the recent C.S. Wo's "Home for the Holidays" display designed by Neiman Marcus was set in blue accents. Pier One at Pearl Highlands has a palette of turquoise and purple. And then there's the Macy's grove on the fourth floor of its Ala Moana shop, each tree decked in themes of blue or magenta or Barbie Dolls and more.
Back to the black tree, "It's a classical, elegant look that pairs well with white and silver," said McAloon. "The glam look is very hot right now in home decor and fashion, and whatever is 'in' that year usually spills over to holiday decorating."
It would be easy, too, to cull through your stash of ornaments and choose a color that you already have.
"Black is such a basic, and (your old ornaments) will pop against the black."
The prop used in the show is an artificial, wire tree, which, even if it were green, McAloon prefers to the real thing. "Artificial trees are better for the environment, it supports (tree) growth where we're not constantly harvesting, and it's cost-effective."
The design maven spent some years fresh out of high school on Oahu working as a waitress, and lived on the Windward side. "People in Hawaii like fresh pine. They're not surrounded by them year-round like here, and I don't know if you could find black metal wire artificial trees."
She suggests having the tree flocked in goth uniform. "Christmas tree lots flock trees. Ask if you can add some black dye to the mixture; flocking is a fire retardant, so it's a good thing."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Try purple on the tree from Pier 1 Imports at Highland Center ($4 to $8).
If you're not quite ready for a black Christmas but want something different, McAloon said to try combining a metallic tone with a solid color. For instance, silver with hot pink or copper with teal, or gold and magenta.
"That way, it's about layering colors. One is metallic and gives you shine and depth, and the color gives it that pop."
Or play with hues. "Red and green are good starting points, so you try pink and chartreuse." Or rather than green, think about aqua or turquoise; instead of red, try wine or burgundy.
"It's a fun time to play with the colors of the moment and try them out for a few weeks; if you find you like them during Christmas, you can bring them into your home even after the holidays in a small way through accessories like pillows," said McAloon.
"The season is so short, so you you're not making a huge commitment" as far as colors, she said. "It's not like you're painting the wall pink and buying a chartreuse couch. And if you ever do, let me know. I'd like to see it!"
Designer knows isles have their own style
For Karen McAloon, design guru of HGTV's "Decked for the Holidays" and "Find Your Style," gone are the days she learned how to surf, kayak and sail in the waters off Windward Oahu, where she lived during her late teens. But she has a few design tips to pass along to island viewers, gleaned from a couple of ideas that have stuck with her over the years. Among them is the idea that Hawaii is a special place.
"We try to come every year," she said of spending the first couple of weeks in January with her husband and their 3-year-old son visiting his godparents on Kauai.
The other thing is, "When its 60 degrees outside and you feel like it's freezing, you'll be glad you have one of these in your living room."
"These" being a faux fireplace from Blomus.com, just one of the few items she recommended during a conversation by phone from her home in San Francisco. "It's amazing. You can fire it up within 20 minutes of taking it out of the box."
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Venture away from the norm with chartreuse ornaments from SoHA at Ward Centre (call soHA at 591-9777 for prices)
At about $1,200, she said, "It requires no venting. It's completely safe, no fumes or smell of gas. It emits heat and uses ethanol fuel. Some are free-standing. It opens up design possibilities without having to put in a chimney."
More tips from McAloon:
» For Christmas lights: "Sometimes you'd rather throw away the Christmas lights and buy a new set rather than untangle them. Containerstore. com has a cord wrap ($2.49). You just hold the handle on top, spin it on its side and roll up all lights to use for next year."
» For the tree: "A big reusable bag to put underneath the tree skirt. When Christmas is over, just lift the bag and carry the tree out of the house; no needles to deal with. This, from containerstore.com, is made of nylon. At about $9.99 it's not a huge investment. You can just shake it out and use it again next year."
» Ornaments: "We tend to use a lot of ornaments, but it's best to keep it simple. Otherwise, it just looks like clutter, and if it's that way, we tend to stop looking at it. You don't want that; the holidays can be stressful enough."
» New colors: "When bringing in new color combinations for Christmas, keep them away from each other. Put the new colors on the tree, then put the classic colors in the foyer or entrance, and another color scheme in the kitchen. Separate them."
The Christmas scene
How did red and green become known as Christmas colors, and how does the Christmas tree fit in?
In 16th-century Germany, fir trees were decorated, both indoors and out, with apples, roses, gilded candies and colored paper.
In the Middle Ages a popular religious play depicted the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
A fir tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden of Eden, the Paradise Tree. (The tree symbolized the apple tree of the Garden of Eden, but since the play was in the middle of winter, there were no apple trees for props, only pine trees, so those were used instead. Red apples were tied to its branches.) The play ended with the prophecy of a savior's arrival, and so was often performed during the Advent season.
Another explanation for red and green depicts green as symbolizing life and hope, and red, representing the blood of Christ.
The Christmas Tree was brought to England by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, from his native Germany. It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans, and by the late 19th century, the Christmas tree became known as the symbol of Christmas that it is today.