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
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?