Whether December is the month you celebrate the winter solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or even Boxing Day, designer Robert Leleux urges you to do it with style.

Christmas is what’s near and dear to his heart, not just because he inherited his grandmother’s eight sets of china and tableware plus a several-generation collection of Christmas ornaments and décor.

Already the author of two memoirs, “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” (2008) and “The Living End” (2012), Leleux shifted his eye to interior design several years ago, editing domino magazine; he is the founder and president of the Southern Style Now Festival.

The Texas native, who’s now based in New Orleans, will be in Houston for holiday events including Deck the Tables at the Houston Design Center and Back Row Home’s Holiday Southern Style.

The Design Center event opens with a big splash Tuesday and continues with tables decorated for the holidays through Friday. Back Row Home’s event brings four seasoned designers, cookbook authors, and party experts together for book signings and a discussion of how to throw the best party ever.

Here’s Leleux’s advice:

Q: What Christmas is like at your home?

A: I’m very traditional, and Christmas is a big deal in my house. We have an attic full of ornaments and decorations that we’ve amassed over several generations.

Q: How would you suggest someone start their holiday décor collections?

A: It’s wise, especially for people just starting out, to begin with the décor of their rooms and decorate in keeping with that. I have my grandmother’s china — I get it out for the holidays. I think about how things will look with that china, not just napkins and things, but any Christmas ornaments that I’m using in the dining room, I start with the china in mind. Start off with what you have and build from there.

Q: What about the style of the home vs. holiday décor?

A: If you are Mr. and Miss Modern, your ornaments should be in keeping with that. If you have a modern house, you don’t want to look like your house is out of the Macy’s Christmas parade.

Q: There will always be evergreen trees and Santas, red and green. What other things are you seeing trending now?

A: I see a return to organic pieces. I’ve seen, lately, like the Martha Stewart style has become embedded in the way people relate to the holidays, with natural pieces like branches of a fir tree, pinecones, acorns or flowers incorporated into your Christmas décor. Beautiful pieces of fruit, oranges and pears take us back to our roots.

Q: It sounds very comforting.

A: All these trends have to do with how we’re feeling as a nation. Right now, we need a big hug. We all need a little Christmas right this very minute.

Q: You mentioned your grandmother’s china. How fancy is your table?

A: I don’t eat at my dining table every day, but I like to set it and leave it set. It seems convivial, celebratory. I caution people not to get hung up on the china pattern or crystal pattern or silver. Go to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and you can find beautiful glassware there. It’s wonderful if you have the means to create the grand Ziegfeld display, but the moment you want to create for your family is not a spectacle, it’s warmth and comfort.

Q: Will you add anything new this holiday season?

A: I went to India recently and bought beautiful textiles, long bolts of hand-printed fabric. My grandmother was my style icon. I have all of her stuff; she was a very traditional Southern lady. I get such a kick now of pairing her traditional Wedgwood china and Tiffany crystal with Indian textiles and finding ways to make very traditional things look unexpected. Fabrics and textiles are very adorable ways of mixing it up.

Q: Some people want to use and see the same thing every year; others want to mix it up. What do you think?

A: I understand people keeping it the same. If it’s fun playing with it, enjoy.  Replace the Christmas skirt or maybe the stockings. It can change the look of a room completely.

Q: You mentioned fabric. How would you use it in untraditional ways?

A: I love a fabric garland. I did that, and it’s wonderful to wrap a stair rail with it and it’s reusable. I love when people wrap presents with fabric. Don’t forget that those presents will sit under a tree for weeks. They double as decorations for your home.

Q: Other advice?

A: Make it personal. The more thought you can put into the presentation, it makes a tangible difference when you feel considered — it’s the best present of all. Also, don’t forget the power of lighting. Have a fire and lower the lights. Is there anything more beautiful than sitting in front of a fire with a beautiful, lit tree? And the power of fragrance cannot be underestimated. It’s a holiday filled with scents. Is there anything better than fir or cinnamon in your scent vocabulary? Buy some wonderful candles or put cinnamon in a pot of water and boil it on the stove. Wonderful lighting and fragrance can go a long way to being happy with relatives you might be dreading.

By Diane Cowen, The Houston Chronicle. See original article here.