Holiday Decorating to Light Up the Hamptons


More people than ever will be spending the holidays on the East End this year, and that means dressing up Hamptons homes more than ever for the season.

Even leading up to Halloween, “Everyone decorated way more this year,” says Jillian Griffiths, who runs Griffiths Property Management and takes care of estates from Montauk to Bridgehampton. It’s a trend that is sure to continue through Hanukkah and Christmas, and one that goes well beyond a few lights strung here and there and a wreath on the door.

Some clients ask Griffiths to decorate their home from outdoor décor to setting up the presents and making sure the toys have batteries. “They say, ‘We just want to walk-in and be like a kid on Christmas morning ourselves,’” she says. “If the Barbie Jeep needs the battery charged, we’ll take care of it.” Griffiths has even partnered with Meg Caswell, a Chicagobased interior designer who won HGTV Design Star season 6, to offer consultations virtually—Caswell offers the interior design tips and Griffiths executes them.

Holiday décor consulting is something that Dee Ann Federico, an interior designer based in the Hamptons with 23 years of experience, also provides through her company Dee Ann Design. “It’s like a holiday mini-makeover,” she says. Clients will lay out all their decorations and show her pictures of what they’ve done in the past, and she advises on a new way to set them up or how to include new pieces.

Even a meditation area can be festive. Dee Ann Federico used string small string lights and metallic poinsettias to bring some holiday magic. Credit: Dee Ann Design

The “holiday refresh,” as she calls it, simplifies and elevates a look “by blending family favorites with updated elements that can add new spirit and sparkle to their home.

“I absolutely love to decorate for the holidays. You can really just let yourself go,” Federico continues. “People have started to decorate their bedrooms, not just the public rooms in their house…There’s pretty much not a room where you can’t put some holiday influence.” And she doesn’t just mean those old-school holiday hand towels in the bathroom.

This year, Federico recommends incorporating mixed metals. “We all need that sparkle right now,” she says, “and there are so many beautiful metallic finishes, from platinum to antique gold to burnished copper, in everything from ornaments in a glass bowl as a centerpiece to cozy pillows.”

She has also noticed a trend toward the return of rose and pink tones in every element of design. “It has also carried over into holiday décor, with rose quartz and rose gold mixed with more traditional silver and glass in ornaments and trim. For an instant rosy glow, try a string of pink lights around your favorite mirror,” she says.

Lighting can be incorporated anywhere, Federico says, noting that battery-operated string lights have been a game changer. “Everyone wants bling. Nobody who does anything doesn’t love lights,” she says. They can even be left out longer than the usual expiration date of Christmas decorations, she suggests, to provide ambiance through dreary winter months.

An outdoor tree wrapped with lights. Credit: Courtesy Jim Frackenbach

Jim Frankenbach knows a thing or two about Christmas lights. Since 2002, he has been setting up outdoor lighting for homeowners and businesses across the East End, and he is even responsible for the tree lights in the Village of Southampton. His team at Southampton Christmas Lights provide illumination for evergreen trees, blanket shrubs, wrap branches of deciduous trees with lights, and roofs.

Jobs vary from big to small, and typically he sells a customer the lights and gives a price for putting them up, taking them down and then storing them. Then the following year, they pay just for the labor. The more intricate the job, the more expensive, of course. Wrapping individual branches with white lights—by far more popular than the colorful ones—can be painstakingly slow, but the end result is beautiful.

“Some people say, ‘Do Christmas!’” he says. “Make the holiday shine for me.’”

This article appeared in the November 2020 issue of Behind The Hedges.  Follow Behind The Hedges on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.