Claire Bean: Event Planning to Holiday Decorating

"Beauty" on display at Mary Brunetti Salon.
"Beauty" on display at Mary Brunetti Salon.
Photo: Barbara Lassen

We all could use a little extra holiday spirit this year, and Claire Bean has made it her mission to help spread the cheer. Before the pandemic, the primary focus of her Hamptons-based business, Claire Bean Events, was to help clients create breathtaking, one-of-a-kind weddings, soirees, charity benefits and corporate events, but with most of those plans postponed for 2021 at the earliest, she has shifted gears to the second function of her business—holiday decorating. Bean has spent more than 20 years sharpening her eye for design and building relationships with some of the most sought-after professionals in the industry, and that experience is evident when witnessing her lavishly decorated storefronts, offices and homes.

Bean discusses how the pandemic has affected her business, her decorating process and the biggest holiday trends of 2020.

How long has Claire Bean Events offered holiday decorating services?

We have always provided residential holiday decorating services for our clients. Our commercial/small business clients continue to grow, especially this year. I think everyone is looking for an extra dose of “holiday magic.”

How has the pandemic impacted your event design business?

The entire event and hospitality industries have been significantly impacted due to COVID-19. All large gatherings especially wedding clients have opted to “postpone and not cancel” and pushed those events to next year. Since people are not traveling for the holidays this year, decking the halls is in high demand. We remain hopeful that we will be able to bring those celebrations to fruition as planned.

Mary Brunetti Salon, decorated for the holidays by Claire Bean.
Claire Bean’s holiday decorations at Mary Brunetti Salon. Photo: Barbara Lassen

How do you approach the process of decorating a room in a house, and how is it different from the way you decorate a store or an office?

My goal as a designer is to always help the client to “tell their story.” Most holiday home decorating focuses on a multisensory approach—it needs to look, feel, touch and smell like the holidays. Every home is different, and every family has unique family traditions and treasures to incorporate. One of my personal favorites includes displaying framed family Christmas card photos; it’s a priceless collection.

Decorating a business, we focus on the brand and the space. One of our clients, Mary Brunetti Salon in Westhampton Beach, recently underwent a renovation and created a new logo. When I saw the new gold cursive “MB,” I knew that we would be creating something special for them this year. I enlisted the talents of Kara Hoblin of Greenport to paint inspirational words on all of the mirrors in the salon—joy, love, peace, wonder, magic, merry, blessed, believe and beauty. The holiday tree at Mary Brunetti Salon looks a little different this year, as well. Thanks to our Sharon Kerr—owner of Xanadu in Sag Harbor, Southampton and East Quogue—we created “Beauty,” a full-sized mannequin with an illuminated evergreen ball gown skirt with a custom wig, styled by Mary Brunetti herself.

One of the many words of inspiration by artist Kara Hoblin.
A word of inspiration by artist Kara Hoblin. Photo: Barbara Lassen

What holiday decorating trends have you noticed this year?

Making meaningful magic! With so much uncertainty this year, holiday traditions are more important than ever. Like the weddings of 2020, this year’s Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s celebrations are very intimate due to the pandemic. These smaller gatherings allow us to incorporate so many more details—layered illumination, incorporating seasonal potted blooms like amaryllis and my favorite, paperwhites.

To learn more about Claire Bean Events, visit clairebeanevents.com. To peruse works by Kara Hoblin, visit karahoblin.com.

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