For Shaun Smith, Christmas is a time for family, tradition, and delicious southern food. As an “avid planner,” Smith has been preparing for Christmas for months now, and even said he has enough table linen to last for a year of Christmas Days. The designer spoke with us about his personal traditions and holiday decorating advice, and even gave one of his favorite recipes for the holidays!
Viyet: What is your favorite holiday memory or tradition?
Shaun: I have been collecting Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments since I was 9 years old. It was a tradition started by my grandparents that I am so so thankful for. Every year, I look forward to getting my boxes of ornaments (I so carefully pack away) out of the attic, and then decorating my tree. Each ornament holds a special meaning, and I can remember the excitement on my grandmother’s face every time I opened up a new ornament on Christmas Eve. There was always some special reasoning behind her choice in ornament for that particular year. Now as an adult, I have a collection of over 200 Christopher Radko ornaments. It’s a tradition that means so much to me, and I hope to pass on to my children one day.
Viyet: What do you do for the holidays?
Shaun: A few years ago, we changed up our traditional Christmases spent at home and decided to start spending it in NYC. My family loves to shop and we love NYC ,so it’s a win-win. We check into the Plaza Hotel for a week, which couldn’t be more perfect for Christmas. Broadway, shopping, and great eats and drinks have become our “new” holiday tradition, at least until my sister or I provide my mother with a grandchild. Palm Court on Christmas Day for Christmas Tea is magical. There really isn’t anything like NYC on Christmas.
Viyet: How do you get ready for holiday entertaining?
Shaun: This year, we are actually changing things up and I am hosting Christmas in New Orleans. As an avid planner, I have been planning for this Christmas for months now. I have enough holiday linen at this point to get me through an entire year of Christmas Days. I have recently purchased a new home that I have been renovating for about 6 months, so Christmas is going to be my unveiling of all of this hard work. I am hosting a Christmas Eve cocktail hour and carols for about 30 close friends and family. I also just purchased the Bernardaud “Grenadiers” china for Christmas Dinner –I am so excited about this!
Viyet: What are your quick tips for sprucing up your home for the holidays?
Shaun: The easiest way to spruce up your home for the holidays is — “go with the greens.” I honestly can’t get enough when it comes to live garlands for the holidays, and they don’t need anything other than a beautiful ribbon. I wrap windows, doorways, fireplaces, just about anything. You can’t beat the smell of the real thing. It’s inexpensive and beautiful.
Viyet: What is the accessory you’d be lost without?
Shaun: I would be lost without my Juliska Winter Estate everyday china I use all throughout the winter season. I LOVE IT — it makes me happy.
Viyet: What advice would you give for people who are having others over for the holidays?
Shaun: Being southern and from New Orleans, there is one thing that must be readily available and plentiful when entertaining…and that’s the alcohol. I love to have pre-made fun holiday cocktails with some sort of peppermint stick or gingerbread as a garnish, always ready to be served.
Viyet: Do you have a favorite holiday food or drink?
Shaun: Being from New Orleans, I love the Creole twist on the traditional “stuffing” or “dressing”. We always called it dressing, so I feel like that’s what it is. I found a great recipe from Emeril Legasse a few years ago for an Oyster Dressing. It’s to die for and always a crowd-pleaser. It’s also spicy, which I love.
Viyet: What’s your favorite holiday decoration?
Shaun: I still have the needlepoint stocking that my mom made for me when I was three. I put it up every year and I love it.
About the Designer
Shaun Smith is the founder of Shaun Smith Home, a full-service design firm, lifestyle brand, and shopping destination on historic Magazine Street in New Orleans, LA. Step into a room designed by the notable Shaun Smith, and you will find clean lines, architectural detail, and fresh unexpected elements. Shaun is a 2015 Next Wave designer for House Beautiful Magazine.