Holiday Stories: Life in the Hills
It takes a village to bring Christmas magic to life, and what village is better equipped for the job than the North Pole?
Well, Dekra-Lite of course!
We specialize in custom décor. So when Beverly Hills asked us to revamp elements of the city’s holiday program, we jumped at the challenge. But building custom décor isn’t like delivering Christmas presents across the world — it can’t be done by one man in one night. Want to learn just how we pull it off? Let’s take a sleigh ride through our custom décor fabrication process to find out!
When a customer is interested in Dekra-Lite’s turnkey services, and especially when they’re looking for custom decorations, the first step is speaking with a Dekra-Lite sales representative. They’ll be your primary point of contact and a sounding board for all of the visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.
Once you start planning your elaborate display, you’ll notice we’re hesitant to propose one-year contracts. Since large-scale commercial Christmas programs require significant planning, funding, and execution time, our sales team generally recommends a three- to five-year contract for these projects. This helps our team set realistic and attainable goals, and allows our clients to build on their programs each year.
Beverly Hills started a five-year project with our team in 2019, but a city like Beverly Hills can’t show off the same old décor each year. This year, the client wanted to upgrade its tree, light tunnel, and skyline sleigh display. The city’s liaison sent us some inspiration and our designer got to work.
Beverly Hills wanted a whole new concept for the Walk-Through Tree, but only needed slightly modified designs for the light tunnel and Santa sleigh. Keeping this in mind, our designer mocked up a new version of the light tunnel using foliage-covered arches and illuminated gold frames. After designing a classic Santa sleigh, complete with all nine reindeer, it was time to get started on the star of the show.
Our designer was feeling extra creative this year and conjured up three one-of-a-kind concepts for Beverly Hills’ Walk-Through Tree. The final product — which you can see live at Beverly Cañon Gardens until the end of the season — was an extra festive twist on the city’s original inspiration: a vibrant light tree accented with cathedral-style windows and topped with an illuminated snowcap.
The reference photo sparked visions of elves hard at work in their Tannenbaum tower. Teeming with inspiration, our designer began crafting homes fit for the jolly old elf himself. Red and green dormers with white snowflake frames nestled in the Walk-Through Tree’s foliage, surrounded by red, green, and gold ornaments, topped with a snowy peak, and enveloped in the warm glow of Christmas lights.
The city was sold.
Want to see the other two designs? We’re keeping those wrapped up until next Christmas. 🤫🤫
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how much is a Photoshop render worth?
To our production team, not much.
It’s our production lead’s job to communicate with our art department to refine the concept art into a fine-tuned machine.
Every new project comes with new obstacles. That’s why our production and fabrication team members reference similar projects from our repertoire to avoid repeating past mistakes. Still, one-of-a-kind props require one-of-a-kind construction, and sometimes an expertly designed mock-up isn’t enough to get the job done.
When creating the new light tunnel, for instance, our fabrication team members had worked on dozens of similar projects. But in order to build this specific piece, they needed to know:
- Should this frame be made of metal, wood, or fiberglass?
- How large is the space where this prop will be placed?
- What spacing is most appropriate between each ring?
The same goes for Beverly Hills’ tree and Santa sleigh, each with its own respective questions and concerns.
Is our elf tree engineer approved? What measures do we need to take to safely hang a Santa sleigh and nine reindeer above a heavily trafficked intersection? Which elements will guests be interacting with? How can we ensure a safe display for everyone involved?
The more we troubleshoot, the better we prepare for the unexpected. However, unforeseen obstacles don’t only arise from safety concerns.
Beverly Hills wasn’t in love with our deer options. This meant our team needed to find a design that better aligned with the city’s dreams, outsource the products, and ensure they fit seamlessly into our overall display.
Then comes the meticulous work that only elves could grow to love. Building dormers from scratch, sanding, painting, and finishing each piece with North Pole-quality precision.
There are always challenges, but we’re always up for a challenge. And no matter how long it takes, building holiday perfection is all in a day’s work at Dekra-Lite.
Installation & In-Season Maintenance
Since Beverly Hills makes the most of our turnkey services, the city doesn’t have to worry about installing or maintaining the décor throughout the season. In order to install the project, we needed to obtain a permit to work on city-owned property, rent the proper equipment to work in an area this size, and hire a traffic control team to account for all proper safety measures.
With a 40’ tree and six light rings to construct, the installers began building holiday magic under the cover of moonlight. The first night was a success — the team finished the light tunnel and the bulk of the elf tree — so the installers only needed one more night to refine the tree’s finishing touches.
Once the tree and light tunnel were perfectly placed, it was time for our team to head back to the city and bring out the man of the hour.
Before hanging a sleigh and reindeer in the sky, we brought out a traffic control team to block off the intersection. Only eight hours later, our installers officially welcomed Santa and the gang to Beverly Hills.
Another successful Christmas program in the books. When the time comes, we’ll send our teams back to Beverly Hills to remove and store the décor until next year. But for right now, all we have to do is sit back, relax, and address any in-season maintenance requests to keep the décor shining all season!