A Wonderful Time of the Year

East meets West at Jim and Jackie Lee Houston’s fundraiser to help neglected youth.



Currier & Ives, eat your hearts out. When it comes to setting the stage for holiday celebration, you’d be hardpressed to find a more knock-your-socks-off team than Philip Colavito and Dean Seymour of C-Group Interiors.

As part of their firm’s fourth annual Christmas in October fundraising extravaganza, they transformed the exterior and garden courtyard of Jim and Jackie Lee Houston’s Las Palmas home into a sumptuous East-meets-West holiday tableau — the backdrop for a special event benefiting Court-Appointed Special Advocates. CASA trains volunteers that work one-on-one with abused, neglected, or abandoned children who live in foster or group homes.

Eastern antiquities and furnishings figure prominently in the Houstons’ overall décor, and they inspired the party’s Asian theme. “We met with the Houstons several months earlier to view their home’s interior and select the ornamentation for the CASA event,” Colavito says. Then he and Seymour spent three months collecting, importing, and fabricating — culminating in a whirlwind installation the day before the CASA event.

Two palm trees wrapped with red minilights flanked the entry, which is dramatic unadorned. “We also placed dangling minilights in the outdoor trees, with champagne-colored lanterns at the end of each light strand,” Colavito says. “We placed oversized golf-leaf fans at the end of evergreen garlands hanging from the roof, and beautiful handcrafted umbrellas at the feet of the outdoor slim-line Christmas trees.” A giant wreath — dressed with gold-leaf bamboo logs, gold poinsettia,s and red silk fabric — was suspended from the ledges over the door. And they positioned an authentic rickshaw near the door.

More visual delights awaited in the garden. A giant gold-leaf and blue mirrored Buddha welcomed the 280 guests. A gold-leaf Asian bust was placed on the outdoor bar ledge — an area back-lit in red and dressed to simulate a Tibetan altar, complete with gold-leaf bamboo, ceremonial umbrellas, red flowers, and jade-green ornaments. Christmas trees, seated in cinnabar-colored pots, were finished with gold-threaded fabric, silk-beaded butterflies, red silk amaryllis and wisteria, and hand-beaded ornaments with tassels in champagne and bronze. There were wood pagoda ornaments finished in gold leaf, oversized gold silk poinsettias, and authentically costumed antique marionettes placed with care throughout the trees. Oversized Chinese lanterns in purple and red silk accented the space.

Colavito and Seymour chose the color palette to echo the hues of an antique Chinese screen of the Houstons. “We used a gold-thread fabric with embroidered bamboo for the dining tables and a sheer gold fabric to dress the chairs,” Colavito says. “We placed Fabergé blue china with Austrian crystal wine goblets in red, purple, and blue.” It created an elegant showcase for the food, provided virtually at cost by Love at First Bite.

The aim of this year’s event was to net enough dollars for CASA to hire a bilingual program supervisor. “We exceeded our goal by $1,000,” says Seymour, who indicates that next year’s Christmas in October may benefit the same organization. Happy holidays, indeed!

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