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 By Charmaine Daisley

"Hi, hi, hi. Come in, have a seat, make yourself at home." Warmed by my greeter's invitation, I gingerly enter an open-floor-plan living room and instinctively raise my head trying to catch a full-length view of the most captivating Christmas tree I have ever seen.
I get a big hug and kiss from my host (we've met before, you see), before I plunk myself down into a soft, faux-suede couch. I can't help feeling like I just stepped into a fairy tale and all the world's a wonderland.
I'm at the home of Brian Gopaul, local interior decorator and corporate event planner, who is no stranger to decorating all kinds of spaces for a wide range of top-notch clients, with his brilliant design concepts. The towering tree in-his living room has left me speechless - well almost - not so much that I can't ask the dozen or so questions I have dancing around in my head about this fascinating creation.

"A tree at home is a very personal thing as compared to a commercial tree," Brian says in response to my first question, "so whatever you do with your tree at home must represent something triggered by some sort of emotion of either you or your entire family."
He is eager to share the event and feelings that went into the conceptualising and decorating of his tree.
"The background of my tree this year started with a group of good friends, including me, travelling to Boston last year. It was winter time then and all the friends that went on that trip are in Trinidad for Christmas this year, so the inspiration for this tree came from a year ago and represented love, it represented friendship, and togetherness and unity - what the friends actually share.

"I went with white decorations because white was the season when we were there and also I wanted to show the white over a green tree which to me represented the evergreen friendship we shared no matter the season of our lives."

Brian revealed that it took a little over a week to create his gift of love. "Every day I pass I still feel like I want to put something more to it," he said, laughing. Not that it needs anything else, mind you. There are silver bells and turtledoves, white poinsettia, dangling powdery silver globes, and a huge two-foot lit star crowning the masterpiece.

There is also a lot of white tinsel on Brian's tree. He knows that most people feel tinsel is a bit outdated as far as Christmas tree decoration go, but it just felt right for this, "I thought, why not tinsel?". How can I use tinsel to get the snowtype effect I wanted? So, in the end I  I added a little glitter on it so it gives you that feeling  of the sun shimmering on the snow. "

"I actually did the tree as a surprise for my friends. One close friend and I put up the basic tree and I did all the decorating myself. A big part of this tree is a celebratory reunion dinner at my home that I planned in honour of the group who travelled to Boston last year. It was an all white theme that tied in to the tree. They were surprised (he laughs) and I made a speech about what the tree represents and all that."

Because he fell in love with decorating the family's Christmas trees since he was six years old, he is sort of an authority on all that it means, and eagerly gives a little more insight into its meaning.
"The tree has to come from some sort of passion inside. It's a celebration of the whole year past and an eagerness of what will come soon. And remember, you have to live with this tree for at least a whole month, so it must represent something more than just decorations thrown on a frame to look glittery - if that was the case then it could be any other tree set up in public."
However, Brian admits that even when decorating trees for clients he always represents the essence of the organisation in order to create the feeling of pride and belonging among everyone.

So, what if you can't create a 12 ft plus Christmas tree like Brian's? What's a Christmas tree loving family or person to do? Brian has some tips.
"People could try the option of using decorations that they make instead of buying them. It's always a good thing to get the kids involved in making objects for the tree so that it represents in part who they are. Decorations don't have to be expensive to look good. For example the tinsel I used is not expensive but it is the highlight of my decorations."

Brian also advised that you could use natural materials or re-fashion small objects that are no longer in use in the home as tree decor.

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