One of the most festive areas in Metro Manila during the holiday season is Ayala Avenue, the heart of the business district in Makati. Every year, you’ll see chic decorations and dazzling lights illuminating the main road, spreading some Christmas cheer amid the traffic. It definitely gives “street style” a whole other meaning.
While it takes a team to stage the annual attraction, there is one person who’s on top of it all: event and floral stylist Zenas Pineda. A highly sought-after stylist who’s known for her classic, elegant setups with a modern Filipino twist, Zenas is also behind the fantastic Christmas decorations at a number of popular malls.
She has been in charge of lighting up Ayala Avenue since 2012. “I do a lot of research even before we meet to plan our next Christmas. Planning may start as early as February but I work on my ideas as early as January,” she reveals. “From there, there will be a series of presentations. When design has been approved a mini mock-up will be executed by my team. Then production.” Installation starts in mid-October, and the year’s decorations are launched by the first week of November.
An interior designer by profession, Zenas started out as an exhibition designer for Design Center Philippines. After that, she headed visual merchandising at Rustan’s, a high-end shopping mall, and was also the head of Rustan’s Flower Shop. “With my exposure there, I slowly learned the ropes. At that time, we were not yet called event stylists,” she says. She eventually left to put up her own company, which has built a solid reputation over the last 12 years.
These days, she’s still busy doing weddings — “They are smaller and simpler but effort is the same” — and working on Christmas concepts for malls and other estates. She has also started her own YouTube channel, where she has videos about styling and making floral arrangements.
Zenas Pineda’s decorating tips for the holidays
Go for quality
A good-quality Christmas tree should last you 10 years while good lights can be reused for three to five years.
Stick to basics
“For first-timers, do basic style, no fancy colors,” she says. She suggests going for classic Christmas colors like red, gold and green, or pairing metallics like silver and gold. “Later on you can add a theme to it, like if you started with reds and golds, you can remove the gold and make it woody or rustic but maintaining the reds. If you start with gold and silver, you may add white elements too for the next year. Try to recycle your decors.”
Highlight an area
Zenas says it isn’t necessary to do up the entire house. Picking specific spots — like the entryway, the designated corner for the tree and the dining table — can already inject lots of holiday cheer into your home.
Repurpose what you’ve got
Plantitos and plantitas, listen up: you can snip leaves and branches off your babies to create a centerpiece. Just mix them together with gold and silver balls. “On Christmas Eve, you can add some fruits like apples, oranges and grapes. Candles would be great too!” advises Zenas.
Save money by getting creative
You don’t have to spend a bundle on Christmas decor every year. If you want a new look, just repurpose what you already have. “I always look at what I have and to give it a new look, I sometimes paint, wrap it in fabric if it’s a ball,” she says. “There was a time I used my children’s teapot and cups to decorate the tree.” You might just find some whimsical decor by digging through toy chests, your cupboards or your mom’s baul.