The fes­tive dec­o­ra­tor to the stars tells us what it’s like to spend Christ­mas with the A-list

heat talks to the celebs’ go-to fes­tive dec­o­ra­tor, who puts the tin­sel in Tin­sel­town

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The Hil­tons gave me my first big break.” Hear­ing these words from Bob Pranga, we know we’re in for a treat of a con­ver­sa­tion. Bob, along with busi­ness part­ner Debi Staron, is the brains be­hind the ex­cel­lently named LA fes­tive dec­o­rat­ing ser­vice Dr Christ­mas. The pair and their team spend the run-up to the hol­i­days vis­it­ing the man­sions of VIP clients and sprin­kling a bit of star­dust over their homes. Dubbed the “tree stylist to the stars”, Bob was in­spired to choose the path of fes­tive dec­o­rat­ing af­ter ac­tress Mia Far­row spot­ted him work­ing his magic in the Christ­mas tree sec­tion of New York depart­ment store Macy’s, and said, “Gee, I wish some­one would do that in my home.” And the rest is tin­sel-cov­ered his­tory. Kathy Hil­ton in­tro­duced Bob to a whole new world of A-list clients, lead­ing to work with ev­ery­one un­der the show­biz sun. To Tin­sel­town and be­yond “I worked with the Kar­dashi­ans

right be­fore they be­came

The Kar­dashi­ans,” Bob tell us. “They were good friends with the Hil­tons, so I’ve known them a long time. When I started out, I was lit­er­ally babysit­ting Paris and Kim.” And while he es­ti­mates around half his clients are celebs, the Dr Christ­mas team also work on TV and film sets, plus com­mer­cials and ma­jor projects, such as en­tire ho­tels, be­cause big projects can mean big bucks.

“We’ve done homes that re­quire dec­o­ra­tions in ev­ery room, which have cost over $300K – just for Christ­mas. We do the Bev­erly Hil­ton Ho­tel, which is quite a job – that’s the ho­tel where they have the Golden Globes. But I’ve been do­ing this so long that these projects don’t seem big any more.” Friends in high places Af­ter min­gling with all these celebs, we can’t help but won­der if Bob still gets star-struck – af­ter all, he has a client list that ranges from for­mer US pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan to Bey­oncé and Jay Z. But he tells us it’s only the Hol­ly­wood icons that cast a spell over him. “Deb­bie Reynolds or Bob Hope – the peo­ple I grew up with – those are the ones I did get a lit­tle

star-struck with. The folks that I work with to­day are closer to my own age, so it’s kind of funny. I love work­ing with them – like John Le­gend. John and Chrissy are phe­nom­e­nal – they make you feel more like part of the fam­ily. When I first went to their house… most of the time you have to go through se­cu­rity clear­ance and sign pa­per­work, but I walked in through the garage. I knocked on the door, peeked in and said, ‘Hi, I’m the Christ­mas guy!’ Chrissy turned to me and said, ‘Come on in! I’m mak­ing soup – it’s not very good, but you’re wel­come to have some.’ From that mo­ment on, they were just great. I can’t say enough nice things about them.” big diva, lit­tle di­vas While we’re thrilled to hear that John and Chrissy (who Bob first worked with on a Nutcrack­erthemed Christ­mas ad cam­paign) are as charm­ing in real life as they are in our dreams, there’s got to be some diva en­coun­ters – for ex­am­ple, the time he worked with the Queen of Christ­mas her­self, Mariah Carey.

“We were asked to come in and dec­o­rate her home for that in­fa­mous in­ter­view she gave af­ter the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing [with

Good Morn­ing Bri­tain]. Mariah was very busy, so I didn’t have

much in­ter­ac­tion with her. “We met in the drive­way – she’s com­ing out in her car and she just says, ‘I love ev­ery­thing, thank you!’ John and Chrissy are the other side of it – we’ll be sat on their sofa talk­ing about their gro­cery list.”

While Bob might have come out un­scathed from his en­counter with Ms Carey, some­times it’s the lit­tlest di­vas that of­ten call the shots. “Gen­er­ally, when you have chil­dren in­volved, if the kids are happy, the par­ents are happy. That was the case with Bey­oncé. We did all this beau­ti­ful stuff for the house, but what ev­ery­body was talk­ing about was how much Blue Ivy loved her lit­tle Frozen-themed Christ­mas tree. The child was happy, so I’m happy.” big-screen baubles Even with­out Bey’s bud­get, we can still ex­pe­ri­ence the sparkle of Dr Christ­mas. The team have worked on some of the most fes­tive films and snowy shows that grace your screen ev­ery hol­i­day sea­son. From a haunted hol­i­day on

Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story to the clas­sic fes­tive com­edy Elf, the team are ex­pert set dressers. Bob even had a hand in mak­ing a clas­sic episode of Friends.

“I’d been do­ing the two-sided

‘John le­gend makes you feel like you’re part of the fam­ily’

tree for clients. I used to joke about it. I told peo­ple it’s how to save your mar­riage – when the hus­band wants it to look one way, you have it on one side and then, when he leaves, the wife can spin it around.

“We were hired to do the Christ­mas tree for Mon­ica’s apart­ment, and I brought up the idea to them and they used it. That’s why her tree is two-sided!” By royal ap­point­ment Bob is keen to take Dr Christ­mas in­ter­na­tional. He tells us Love Ac­tu­ally made Amer­i­cans fall in love with the idea of a fes­tive Lon­don – and it seems his wish may be about to come true. “I got a call from Buck­ing­ham Palace. I thought it was a joke, be­cause when they first called me it was like, ‘Hello, is this Dr Christ­mas? This is Nigel from Buck­ing­ham Palace.’ And I was like, ‘Sure it is.’ It was dur­ing the Queen’s ju­bilee [in 2012]. They wanted to know how I thought royal-themed Christ­mas or­na­ments would play in the States. I said, ‘Nigel, I have to be to­tally hon­est with you, they would do bet­ter if Diana was on them. Noth­ing against Her Majesty – ev­ery­one loves the Queen – but they adore Diana. It wasn’t a sur­prise to Nigel.”

Well get in line, Liz, we’ve al­ready put our book­ing in for a heat Tow­ers Christ­mas makeover. n Katie Hol­loway

Bob worked with John and Chrissy on this Christ­mas ad

OG clients, the Kar­dashi­ans

Could we any hap­pier that this is Bob’s hand­i­work?

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