A new week during Holiday Season at Dogwood Hill always means a fabulous new Tastemaker introduction! Today we are featuring Brian Branton, a resident of Alexandria, Virginia and a North Carolina native. Each year, Brian instills the southern traditions of his childhood Christmases into his Christmas decor. An attorney and lobbyist by day, Brian has built a large following on Instagram of people drawn to his love of Christmas and his exuberant approach to holiday decor. His work has been featured in several publications including Southern Living, The Cottage Journal, Holiday Home, and Southern Living’s Christmas at Home, as well as the coffee table book, A Cottage For Every Season. 

Brian was paired with Dogwood Hill artist Arabella June who created the artwork for his beautiful Tastemaker Collection that is overflowing with iconic Christmas details that have become synonymous with Brian’s holiday home decor. Brian created the mood board shown below for Arabella in the brainstorming process for the collection.

As you can see, Arabella was able to carry over the rich green hues, garlands and lush greenery from Brian’s inspiration shots into her illustrations for the collection. The result? A striking and sophisticated collection of holiday invitations, cards, gift tags, stationery and more! Continue scrolling for a preview of Brian’s holiday tastemaker collection as well as our Q&A with Brian at the bottom of the post (we love his go-to holiday treat recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Almond Clusters!).

You can shop the entire Brian Branton Collection on our website here.

Q&A with Brian:

Which card from your Tastemaker Suite will you be sending out to friends and family this holiday?

I had such an enjoyable time working with the amazing team at Dogwood and the Uber-talented artist behind these cards, Arabella June, that I could never narrow it down to just one. I will use them all!

What was the inspiration behind your holiday suite?

This suite was inspired by the actual holiday decor I use in my own home. I love a very lush, layered look of greenery and natural elements, and I wanted my cards to have this same feel. 

What was the process like designing your holiday suite with the Dogwood Hill team? What was your favorite part about the process?

It was a pure delight. Everyone at Dogwood Hill is so nice and passionate about what they were doing, it was very inspiring. They have amazing artists working with them, and I was so lucky to work with Arabella June, who perfectly captured what I wanted to do with my designs. 

What do you love most about the holiday season?

My favorite part of the holiday season is the decor. Seeing the twinkling lights in peoples’ homes, and all of the shops festooned with festive decor, just lift my spirits. I love how Christmas decorations make everything shine and sparkle. For a brief period of time, the world becomes magical. 

What is your favorite tradition?

I have a set of holiday movies that I watch every year. It’s not Christmas, unless I see them!

What is your most memorable holiday and why?

Every holiday is special to me and memorable to me, and I could never pick just one. Plus I like to think that my most memorable one is the very next one. 

If you had to pick one holiday movie to use as inspiration to decorate your own house, what would it be! 

This is easy. I’m obsessed with the movie, The Gathering with Maureen Stapleton and Ed Asner. I obsessed over their home as a kid, and was heavily influenced by its decor.

What is your favorite holiday song?

Traditional – Ding Dong Merrily on High; Non-Traditional – Christmas Waltz by Nancy Wilson 

What is your go-to holiday hostess gift?

I love giving linens like cocktail napkins 

What kind of holiday shopper are you – Black Friday, Christmas Eve or year long stasher?

Neither- I have to be in the spirit to buy for Christmas so I need it to be in the season, but I don’t wait until the end!

What (if anything) brings you a sense of calm during the busy holiday season?

I sit in my living room in front of a fire, listening to Christmas music, and staring at my tree. It’s completely transformative 

Are you team real tree or faux tree?

Real tree all the way!

Are you team white lights or colored whites?

I have always been a white lights guy. But this year, I’m experimenting by mixing colored lights and white lights on the tree in my bedroom. 

What is your favorite holiday recipe? Would you be open to sharing? 

I make Chocolate-Caramel Almond Clusters to give out to friends during the holidays. And more than happy to share the recipe.  

Ingredients: 32 oz dark chocolate chips; 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips; 12 oz milk chocolate chips; 16 or 24 oz salted roasted almonds; Caramel; Large flake sea salt 

Directions: Melt all chocolates in a crockpot on low, stirring constantly until melted. Let cool for a couple of minutes. Stir in almonds. Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper or parchment paper. If chocolate begins to harden, you can turn the crockpot on low and melt again. Drizzle melted caramel over top. Garnish with large flake sea salt on top. 

Is there one holiday entertaining hack or secret you can share?

Hire a caterer! It makes life so much less stressful. If that’s not an option, I plan my menu with items I can make ahead of time to space out the work. 

Who is your dream holiday party guest?

Martha Stewart of course! 

What are you most thankful for this year?

My family and friends, and my beloved dog, Oatsie. 

What is one item on your wishlist this holiday season? 

A White Christmas!

Card Photography: Mary Margaret Smith

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