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Twelve tips on holiday décor & seasonal entertaining from Houston's top tastemakers

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Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, table decorations, December 2012, Todd Fiscus table, table setting
"Use quirky [ornaments and objects] so that it looks collected, even if it isn’t," suggested noted event planner Todd Fiscus. Courtesy photo
Davon, Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, December 2012, The "Sultan of Soiree" Todd Fiscus charms the crowd
Fiscus, the "Sultan of Soiree," charmed the crowd at the Houston Design Center. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Davon, Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, December 2012, Sabering before
Christofle's Ginny Gerard demonstrated the art of sabering. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Houston Design Center_holiday tabletop_Deck the Tables
Saba and Sarah Jawda encourage entertainers to "use what you have. And don’t be afraid to mix and match" your plates, glasses and stemware. Courtesy of Houston Design Center
Houston Design Center_holiday tabletop_Deck the Tables
Teri Pugh and Regina Gust's holiday tabletop was anything but ordinary.  Courtesy of Houston Design Center
Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, table decorations, December 2012, Todd Fiscus table, table setting
Davon, Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, December 2012, The "Sultan of Soiree" Todd Fiscus charms the crowd
Davon, Houston Design Center, Deck the Tables, December 2012, Sabering before
Houston Design Center_holiday tabletop_Deck the Tables
Houston Design Center_holiday tabletop_Deck the Tables

The jolly elves at the Houston Design Center worked their little ears off when they recently hosted the week-long 5th Annual "Deck the Tables" Holiday Tabletop Tour & Showroom Open House. Both naughty and nice were delighted with five days worth of incredible entertaining tips, exquisite holiday tabletop designs, gorgeous tableware and more.

We asked top tastemakers for their most sensational seasonal tips for decorating and entertaining in style. Here are 12 pieces of advice to up your posh quotient this holiday season.

Getting the Party Started Right

The events kicked off with a talk from the witty and charming "Sultan of Soiree," event planner extraordinaire Todd Fiscus. With a clientele list that includes Elton John and Lady Gaga, Fiscus clearly knows a thing or two about how to make your holiday decorating and entertaining absolutely sing. Here are a few of the Sultan's most enchanting tips:

 "Always set your table with something beautiful." 

1. Your holiday décor should look well-curated and beautifully-collected. "Use quirky [ornaments and objects] so that it looks collected, even if it isn’t."
2. No need to go gourmet with your holiday dinner — just serve whatever dish you make well, "even if it’s burgers or soup. The point [of entertaining] is to spend time with friends and family."
3. Tip for the novice decorator: Get a really quality tree and a few high quality ornaments to use as  "jewelry" on the outermost branches of your tree.

Who Needs Kris When You Can Have "Christofle" Kringle?

Famed French silver purveyor Christofle hosted day two and things got off to a chic start when Christofle vice president Ginny Gerard dazzled and delighted the audience with a traditional Sabrage lesson. Gerard offered a simple suggestion for holiday decorating:

4. "Always set your table with something beautiful." Designer Julie Dodson definitely took that philosophy to heart, using eye-catching Christofle animal knife rests in her resplendent table design.

Ms. Dodson had her own bit of entertaining and table decorating advice as well:

5. "Have fun with it. Infuse your personality and don't be afraid to mix [luxury and everyday items]. And always, always, always [have] fresh flowers!"

A Brunch of Holiday Fun

The vivacious Deborah Elias of Houston-based event planning firm Elias Events hosted a festive brunch with Bernardaud's Kate Britto that featured tableware and decorative objects from the French porcelain luxury brand. Deborah’s tabletop design was inspired by a beautiful Bernardaud "Aux Oiseaux" vase featuring a pattern of birds and branches. She pulled elements from the vase into her design in the form of colors (red and black), feathers and glittery branches.

 "Find an anchor piece, a piece that inspires you, and then build from there." 

It's no surprise, then, that these were her brilliant design tips:

6. "Find an anchor piece, a piece that inspires you, and then build from there."
7. "Incorporate things from around the house." For instance, she likes to use wall hangings in lieu of linen table runners to create a unique and intriguing design.

When it Comes to Entertaining, These Two Have Each Other’s Bacc(arat)

What could be more fun than making merriment with the talented, sisterly duo of Saba and Sarah Jawda? The design darlings really showed guests how to up the ante on holiday entertaining with a modern twist. Their "Hide & Sleek" tabletop mise en scène was a lush, textural layering of cowhide, suede and enough Baccarat to tempt you to spend the Christmas toys budget on yourself instead of the kiddos.

The sibs also had several great tips on making the most of holiday adorning and entertaining:

8. "Don’t go for the expected." Doing something different makes it memorable.
9.  "Use what you have. And don’t be afraid to mix and match" your plates, glasses and stemware.
10. "If you're not having fun it shows." Don't get so caught up in every little detail that you end up stressing yourself out. 

Closing Out In Style

The week of festive affairs came to a chic end with a décor workshop hosted by Teri Pugh and Regina Gust, interior designers and close friends who are known for creating inventive holiday décor design themes. They definitely didn't disappoint and created an avant-garde, vibrant orange and white tablescape and shared some great design and styling tips and trends:

11. Clearly one to take her own advice, Pugh advised, "Don’t be afraid of color; that’s what makes [decorating] a lot of fun."
12. "Don’t be afraid to mix metallics." The table they designed had both gold and silver, and they played wonderfully off each other.

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