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The Business of Holiday Decorating

The Business of Holiday Decorating

Caroling and passed canapés may be off the menu for a while, but Christmas isn’t ruined this year. In fact, many interior designers report a record year for holiday decorating requests. What type of business does seasonal design normally bring in? AD PRO caught up with four design professionals to learn how they incorporate such services into their distinct business models—and what’s changed this year.

Legendary New York City event planner Bronson van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck was hurriedly gift wrapping presents for his own nieces and nephews when we spoke by phone. A self-proclaimed auction aficionado, in previous years he’d open a pop-up retail space in various Manhattan locations as a way to sell off excess stock and also make holiday design accessible with garlands, trees, monogrammed cocktail napkins, and other custom luxuries.

Bronson van Wyck brought the holiday spirit to this Park Avenue apartment.

Joshua McHugh

But in 2020, he and his team (who jokingly call themselves “the elves”) opted for an online shop. This winter, they’ve taken more than 100 COVID-19 tests and completed the whirlwind design and installation of holiday decor in a whopping five dozen homes from Palm Beach to Manhattan—10 times more than last year. The extra business allowed van Wyck to bring back staff who had previously been without work due to the pause in elaborate live events for which his firm is known. He explained, “We were able to bring them back for three months. We are hopefully helping to make some family’s holiday, but the fact that they are helping us do this is actually making dozens of other people’s holiday too.”

Brenda Danso devised this modern holiday setting.

Janelle Gokule

Toronto-based designer Brenda Danso of BD Interior Design started off as a home stager and brings staging sensibility to her decor too, manufacturing glamorous spaces that set the scene for festivities. Because of her city’s lockdown, this year she’s leaned into spreading cheer virtually, penning a blog post and posting an online demo on putting together a tree. In previous years, seasonal decor has “just been a great way to help clients as we wrap up and want to bring more cheer into their homes. Being able to go in and decorate their Christmas trees, change out their pillows or artwork—just simple things we do can really switch things up.” Danso has never advertised her holiday services but views them as a perk for existing clients. As it turns out, after she’s shared the fruits of her labor on her social media, she’s picked up some new clients for other projects.

Suzanne Kasler’s longtime collaboration with Ballard Designs has produced a classic Christmas collection featuring vintage-looking glass ornaments and a cream plaid fabric—all part of a larger product line that regularly sells out. The Atlanta-based designer capitalizes on clients’ seasonal decor requests as a way to support small local businesses, such as a favorite florist.

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