EXCLUSIVE: The Best Christmas Home Tours—Holidays At Bettina Osmen~a's Household
Every household has their own traditions over the holiday season, but two things remain the same over Christmas: family and food. For Bettina Osmen~a, the festivities have shifted throughout the years. Her four children are currently living individual lives, and her business is growing stronger and busier each year.
With an empty nest, Osmen~a shares that no matter the change in trends or designs for the holiday’s biggest and brightest decorations, she and her husband choose to keep their home the way it has always been, open for their children to return at any time. A sense of nostalgia emanates from the illuminated garlands framing the entryway. Photographs of the family dangle quite perfectly among the glowing lights and ornaments.
Osmen~a always goes for the classics. Color is her husband’s only request. Rainbow lights adorn the family’s Christmas tree. While ornaments carry a traditional motif with a blend of candy canes, globes and crystals. No tree would be complete without Osmen~a’s treetopping preference: a time-honored angel sitting flawlessly atop.
In the Osmen~a home, the aroma of a home-cooked feast with fragrant winter spices such as clove and anise is so inviting. The dining room is at the very core of the Osmen~a household, the first room you see. “Cooking and food create a central theme in my family. My eldest son, my daughter who is a food writer, and my youngest daughter are foodies,” Osmen~a divulges. When it comes to Christmas, there is nothing like a Bettina Osmen~a spread. “I’m known for certain dishes. Like on the 24th, I always serve my prime rib, my turkey. Those are the things my kids really look forward to. That is sacred!” she says with a grin. While Osmen~a loves nothing more than to whip up crafty dishes and try out new recipes, when it comes to the holidays, it is all about tradition. What friends and family can expect on the menu are absolutely delightful and decadent. To start off, guests awaken their appetites with a simple salad topped with smoked salmon, boiled eggs, potatoes, radish, beetroot, and a dill vinaigrette. A whole salt-crusted salmon ready to feed an army will be matched with a selection of eight sauces (from hollandaise to pesto, and even curry). Pasta coated in a cream-based sauce is topped with caviar and spring onion, unintentionally evocative of Christmas trimmings. Diets and guilt are hurriedly tossed out. The chef d’oeuvre is undoubtedly Osmen~a’s prime rib, which she only serves over the holidays, and her signature turkey. The turkey is unlike any other, accompanied by Osmen~as special gravy— the recipe gifted to her by a close friend from Cebu (her husband’s hometown). “My turkey has the gravy which is different from anyone’s. There’s Marsala wine in it. There are also some cloves, some anise in the sauce. It’s different from the traditional browned gravy sauce!” she openhandedly shares.
Bettina Osmen~a knows how to create the ultimate Christmas menu. Guests can look forward to feeding their senses and their bellies with a delectable spread featuring her famous prime rib which she only serves during the holidays, and turkey. The turkey is unlike any other, accompanied by her special gravy—a recipe gifted to her by a longtime friend.
Having been able to translate her passion for food into the very successful Gourmet Corner, Osmen~a shares that the holidays have grown to become her busiest time of year. Now also working on catering options, Osmen~a explains that she still chooses to limit her brand expansion to a maximum of 30 guests per party to be able to accommodate customers while keeping the highest of standards throughout. Osmen~a conveys that when it comes to Christmas, she adores the idea of people coming together to celebrate, whether they are friends, family or even personal clients. Currently with an endless list of orders to fulfil in time for Christmas Eve, and her children traveling back home after Christmas day, Osmen~a shares that her booming business and children’s schedules have fittingly allowed for her family’s yuletide customs to stay in place, although now at a different date. “My children are all adults, and they all have their own lives. I can’t even get organized on Sundays for lunch. We just do it sporadically, because when I ask my kids if they’re free, somebody is always doing something. My son lives abroad now, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him during the holidays. My daughters are returning permanently the day after Christmas. We finish all my orders on the 24th, and I’m going to have a chill 24th. So this year, my Christmas celebration is on the 27th, that way I also give my staff time to rest and celebrate after the Christmas rush. Who knows, that may become my new Christmas tradition!” she says excitedly.
While many choose to change things up annually, the Osmen~as prefer to take tradition to heart, and with good reason. “My children are environmentalists, and are all about zero waste and recycling. So not matter what, my husband likes these traditional colors, while my kids are into reusing. It’s also expensive to keep on buying Christmas decorations every year.” In the occasion that Osmen~a chooses to splurge on new decorations, she makes it a point to donate past decorations to charitable organizations. Color is her husband’s only request. Rainbow lights adorn the family’s Christmas tree. While ornaments remain classic with a mix of candy canes, glittering globes, and crystals. No tree would be complete without the perfect tree-topper, and for Osmen~a, a time-honored angel sits flawlessly atop. A touch of flora brought forward by roses and winterberries marries with her table setting, which flaunts a blend of fresh flowers, pinecones, and earthy garlands, peppered with similar miniature globes and tinsel, paired with red and gold tableware. Embroidered napkins give off a sense of luxury, balanced with the comforting mood established by the setting as a whole.
A sense of nostalgia resonates with friends and family as they walk through the Osmen~a household. Garlands dressed in crystal ornaments, glittering globes and rich ribbon and tinsel create a magical ambiance, finished perfectly with photographs of the family.
Reminiscing on how Christmas has changed over the years, Osmen~a says that when she was a child, the holidays were much simpler. “I notice that we are getting more and more bongga! You know, I remember when I was growing up, we just had a tree! But now, there are wreaths all over! The works! I also remember how we used to decorate our own tree. During my mom’s time, our yayas and the kids, we used to do the tree together. Now, people call a designer pa!” she chuckles. Her eyes light up as she remembers being a young mother in the States: “There was a time, my husband and I were living in LA. We got married in 1985, and in 1992, we were living there. My husband and I, we used to do the tree with our two kids who were very young. My two eldest were born in the States and we used to decorate together every Christmas.” Hoping to form new traditions, Osmen~a shares that she would like to be able to set up annual family getaways or spiritual retreats. “I had a family trip last August with my kids who were away. We got together in Scandinavia and we were just so happy to be together! It’s different now, it really is. Everybody is so hectic. It wasn’t like that before,” she reflects. “I think I would like my children to actually stay in. Stay with us, with my future grandchildren. For at least five days, and just be one big happy family at home!” To Osmen~a, you can easily take all the fluff and extravagance out of Christmastime, however the one thing that makes the holiday to her, is that “it is all about family.” As she awaits her children’s homecoming, it is with great importance that she continues to keep their Christmas memories strong. By simply choosing not to change a single thing, her door is wide open for her family to be whole again this very merry season.
With all four children currently living their individual lives, the holidays have become a season Osmen~a very much looks forward to celebrating. Choosing to keep her decorations traditional, Osmen~a creates an environment her children can come home to, reliving Christmas the way it has always been.
Photography by Paul Del Rosario for Metro Society
Hair by Kim Echavia
Makeup by Patrick Alcober using Make Up For Ever