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5 Easy Ways To Create A Holiday “Mood” If You Are Tired And Struggling To Get Into The Spirit This Year


It seems like there are two holiday camps out there this year – those of you/us that are doing way more, way earlier to give us something to look forward to, daily bursts of joy, reasons to divert attention, etc. As you can probably tell I’m obsessed with Christmas every year (since having kids) so this year is no exception. But I also know that there are those of you/us who are TIRED and it just seems like more work to deck the halls (and it certainly can be). And for what? Especially if you don’t have young kids or are living by yourself, it seems pointless to put it all up just to take it all down because you are likely not going to have people over anyway to enjoy it. So I came up with some ideas to help – super easy and affordable – but have ‘high impact’ in the ambiance of our home, which I’m hoping can help shift the mood, too.


photo by veronica crawford

I know you know how important lighting is, but this year I added even MORE twinkle lights and it feels magical. Sure, we have a tree with lights (get pre-lit if you are going faux) and faux candles (kids) but the dining room and entry felt dead. So I hung these icicle curtain lights that are SO affordable, with some basic command strips and it absolutely created a festive winter mood instantly. DO THIS. We shot this literally in the middle of the day and I didn’t want Veronica to have to stay later, so it’s hard to see here, but even in the day, they give a twinkle. But at night? Forget about it. It’s so good.

photo by veronica crawford

We did it on our dining windows, the entry window, and the upper railing, but you could also hang them in a hallway or kitchen windows (just make sure to check the length of icicle lights you’re ordering). We had our pod neighbors over for dinner and sat in the dining room and they just said over and over ‘this feels magical’. I prefer ‘warm white’ versus ‘cool’ FYI and go ‘fairy’ versus normal for a less ‘exterior’ look. Here are some that seem great and are well-reviewed.

1. Curtain String Fairy Lights (Remote and USB Connector) | 2. Curtain String Copper Fairy Lights, (Remote, USB Connector) | 3. Curtain String Lights (Standard Plug) | 4. Curtain String Lights (Remote, Standard Plug)

Make Your House Smell Like Christmas

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how sara created her first traditional but youthful christmas (with all target)

I’ll admit that I used to be anti- “Christmas smelling candles” and preferred the smell of the real pine over a ‘pine smelling candle’. But I was young and naive, and pre-covid. When I went to Sara’s to shoot her holiday house a couple of weeks ago I walked in (mask firmly in place) and was blasted (in a good way) with holiday happiness in the form of scents. It smelled SO GOOD and felt immediately like it was Christmas. She has this one (cinnamon joy) and Forest Balsam. Now if you have fresh pine greenery you might get enough smell, but I don’t (yet), so I’m leaning into Christmas smelling candles with no shame.

1. Frasier Fir Ceramic Medium Candle | 2. Ribbed Pillar Cinnamon Joy Candle | 3. Feu de Bois/Wood Fire Candle | 4. Ribbed Pillar Balsam Forest Candle | 5. Baltic Amber Glass Jar Candle | 6. Smoky Cinnamon Special

Lean Into Big Bursts Of Red – My Red Ribbon Hack

photo by veronica crawford

As you know when I originally styled the living room (November 1st) I didn’t opt for a ton of red in there, and it was more muted. But now that I’m feeling more into it, I want RED. I’m done spending money on accessories so I just bought a wide roll of red satin ribbon (wired is easier) and I’m hanging the wreaths by said ribbon or adding bows to the green wreaths I already have hung.

photo by veronica crawford

I don’t know why I’ve never done this before, but it makes a MASSIVE instant jolt of Christmas cheer and it’s so easy.

1. 4″ Satin Ribbon | 2. Scarlet Red Double Sided Satin Ribbon | 3. 2″ Satin Wired Ribbon

Music And Movies

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily’s “messy” but full of memories christmas family room

Well, this is obvious but I just can’t encourage it enough and go classic. I’d like to give you permission to put on Christmas music during the day like us and yes we watch a different Christmas movie almost every night with the kids – NO SHAME IN MY HOLIDAY TV GAME. That’s right, almost every night it’s ‘Christmas family movie night’. Now they are old enough to watch many live-action films so we have opened this huge door to movies we all enjoy – classics and new. If you have kids and you haven’t seen Klaus yet it’s great, and Jingle Jangle just came out and we loved it.

For Christmas music, I’ll admit I love it all, except that annoying song where they count down and sing ‘partridge in a pear tree’ over and over. We listen to a lot of classics – Bing Crosby as well as pop – Wham and Mariah Carey. I just downloaded the new Dolly Parton album which is awesome. Put it on during the day – it really can help.


photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how to have a great holiday cocktail party in a tiny apartment (all the hacks you need to know)

I like to make a big hot punch with cinnamon, oranges, cloves, and apple cider. It makes the house smell good and just felt special and festive. This can be with bourbon or rum, or just virgin. I think just letting yourself lean into the ‘party’ aspect of it earlier even if you are alone is fun.

Jess struggled finding her normal joy decorating alone over the weekend (but forced herself to) so she pulled together a post/personal essay about celebrating alone as well as giving a couple of tips for us all on what we can do for our loved ones (or coworkers) who are struggling right now and feeling lonely.

photo by veronica crawford

I hope these tips helped and if you are someone who struggled or is struggling to get “in the spirit” this year let us know anything you’ve done to help in the comments. I know that Oscar and Buttercup are confused and jealous why there are sheepskins everywhere. It’s hard to explain and yet they are loving it. 2020 IS WEIRD AND DEPRESSING AND ENLIGHTENING ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Thank you for being here. Truly. Thank you.

Opening Image Credit: Styled by Emily Henderson |Photo by Veronica Crawford

Fin Mark


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Points for you; your dogs match both your children and your rugs 🙂


Thank you for this post, I enjoyed it so much! I’ve been on the lookout for ways to engage the 5 senses (Myquillen Smith’s wonderful method) so this is right up my alley!
I love that the only strictly “decor” mentioned is red ribbon and lights – so simple, impactful, affordable, easy to store, AND accessible! (I live in Canada and am always envious of your access to Target – But I sure can get lights and ribbon!)
EHD thanks for brightening my morning every day!

love the lights!



My best friend came over today and I said “This has been THE hardest year of life, ever! More difficult than losing either of my parents!” (at 15 and 27 yrs old).
She knew what I meant.
She gets that it’s not because of Covid at all. In fact, Covid (in Australia) is so easy by comparison.
It’s initiating and following through with (damn, the following through with is the tough part) ending a decades-extremely-unhealthy relationship.

I’m glad I’m doing it. It. Is. The. Right. Decision.
But, it has erased any natural Christmas drive. And anyone will rell you, I LOVE Christmas!!!

Emily, I feel like you wrote this post for me!!! 😪

I am, hereby, through my tears, committing to putting up my small, already decorated, basic faux tree. I promise.

You moved me,
Rusty 🎄 xx


One year I ended a bad relationship just in time to ruin Christmas for myself, but I, too, love Christmas. So, I invited friends over for drinks and snacks and decorated while they were there. They didn’t have to help, just be around and make me smile and keep the good music on. We told stories on each other, they gave me bad advice on the best place for my wreath, and no one complained that all my snacks were store bought (I usually make everything just cause I like to).

Now, you may be living in a hotspot (like me! womp womp) so you can’t have a bunch of people over. But if you can have a few, try this. If you can have none, try one of those zoom parties with music or a movie in the background while you decorate. Will it make talking difficult and confusing? Yes. Will it also be fun and give you support and laughter? Also yes! Be sure to have a guilty pleasure snack and drink on hand.

Love to you, internet stranger!


Thank you!
I’m in Perth. No hotspots here, yet.
I can have people over, but they don’t really wanna come coz he’s still living here….ggrrrmmmfffggggllll!
He’s moving, but the place he bought is tenanted until mid-May and with Covid laws there’s nothing to be done about that.
He could rent, but… as they say, it’s complicated.
So, my brother will still come for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, but that’ll be it.
I. Just. Can’t.
I’m putting a tree up for Emily and a front door wreath for Jess… this blog is (for real) helping me keep my ducks in ,ine.
I. Will. Get. Through. This.
Sending you hugz,
Rusty 💜


Oh, blergh! Having to be with the one person you’d be happy to quarantine *from* is sucky! You should start planning now for Christmas in June. If Hobbits can have second breakfast, I don’t see why you shouldn’t have second Xmas.

Are there any legal, non-harmful things you could do to make them couch surf with friends until their new place is open? Nothing mean, just general weirdness that makes them think they don’t want to live with someone who dresses up as a clown for bedtime every night for the next 6 months?


LOL….LOL…..LOL….seriously too funny!
I have a clown mask?! Hahaha!
Really, I’m prepared to get through this and have SO much and many plans, to look forward to!

Gabriele Leumüller

I’ve never ever commented on a blog before (although I’ve been following and enjoying this blog for a long time now), but you make me do this now…

Apart from all the great content here I always look forward to your comments… I’m sending all the best possible vibes over to Australia (and to all the other people who are in a similar situation right now) from AUSTRIA, this tiny little country in the middle of Europe that is so often mixed up with Australia, so that we point out straight away to English speaking people that we are the ones who have no kangaroos over here… 🙂

ALL THE BEST, Rusty, and thank you Emily + team for all the joy, but also meaningful insights that you bring on this blog about your far away country!



Thank you sooooo much!
I’m feeling it! (blinking away my tears).
It means a lot that you notice my comments (let alone look forward to them!). I wear myhearton my sleeve I guess.
From Australia with the kangaroos, to Austria withoutthe kangaroos, BIG hugz and gratitude,
Rusty xx




I think we all notice your comments! I look for them too! Sending you best wishes for a little peace during this trying time <3


So lovely! Emily, what is the source of the globe wall light? I love that! TIA


I came across the holiday makeover show on Netflix: “Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas” – and it totally did it for me. Goofy and silly and definitely made Pre-Covid, but it got me in the mood to do some decorating and put on Christmas tunes or bake or whatever. Or nothing at all – just chill on the couch and let someone else put in the effort of all that and I can just come along for the ride. And it has all the heartwarming elements of a fun makeover show – kind of a Queer Eye Christmas makeover show.


Oh my gosh! I’m on my planning period at school, and took a moment to read the blog… and then another moment to watch five minutes of that show. It’s definitely what I need!! Teaching during the pandemic has been….a lot. Ready for a holiday break and cozy times at home with my own kids. Thanks for turning me onto the show, and thanks Emily and crew for providing such fantastic content throughout this period!


You’re welcome! I’m boggled that I came across this before Emily and her crew, but I don’t think it’s gotten much promotion. The designer has a dog named Ebenezer (Ebbie for short) if that gives you any idea. Here’s the article I first saw on it:
I hope you guys enjoy it!

Tara Lynch

My full-on maternal instinct has taken over and I literally want to fly Jess to Pittsburgh to celebrate with my family! I know, I’m weird. LOL

No, it’s wonderful-girlfriend instinct too! Let’s all sip a girlfriend cocktail with her! I went through it two summers ago and a Prosecco with girl talk is shockingly healing!


A bit of a hybrid of #2 and 5 my mom used to do when I was little-simmer a pan of water on the stove with orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise. It makes the whole house cozy and Holiday-smelly
If you Google “stovetop potpourri” lots of variations pop up


A friend of mine does this and it really makes a difference. I love being at her house around Christmas, it smells great 24/7 for the whole month of December.


What makes string lights “fairy lights”? I thought they were completely synonymous.


The bulbs are super teeny tiny, like half the size of “mini” lights


Oh, thank you!


I traded my LED (vibrating, bluish) tree lights for 900 incandescents on a smart plus, so I can say “Alexa, let there be light!” and the tree turns on.




I just want to add one more good candle to the tree-smelling list: I have the Iowa Pine one from Ms. Meyers and it’s right on the money. 🌲

Megan Lec

While not one of your tips, what I took from this post is I need to get another floppy puppy…


Hi Emily,
I saw your IG stories where you talked about the curtain lights and said one was more expensive but nicer/warmer. Which one was that? I’m sick of cold lights.


I still cannot believe how cute the dang dogs are. They look fabulous in every picture!!!

Loved this post! Also, as a neutral Christmas decor person I love and enjoy seeing the pops of red, instant mood lifter!


I love how simple all these tips are. I also add red ribbon to my decor. I started decades ago in my first studio apartment. I got a tiny potted tree, but couldn’t afford to get a bunch of decorations. So, in addition to few small ornaments I had, I added a bunch of small bows. I’ve saved them and still use them over 25 years later. Ribbon is a high impact, low cost and long lasting decor tip.


Getting into the Christmas spirit this year seems to be a struggle for most of us, and for a variety of reasons. Back when I was living in an apartment and had limited storage (and budget) I discovered the quickest way to transform my space was with faux greenery and pops of red. I have two smaller faux trees, a few reindeer and a handful of mini trees of all materials (wood, metal, etc). Combined with a few red ornaments, ribbons, candle holders, and a couple of red throw pillows and it instantly transforms the space and doesn’t take forever to set up, pack up or store. All of it was purchased on a budget. No need to spend a lot, take days to decorate, or store a million bins and boxes. I was loathe to decorate this year, but definitely felt better after I did.

Alex L.

Love it all! Can you share where you got the red accordion trees? Or did you make them? Thanks!!

annette Glendon

I would also love to know where to buy those accordion trees! They are gorgeous!

Samantha W Zutler

Hey, I’ve emailed three times asking for a response about staff engagement and the future of the insider community. Could someone get back to me?


Thank you for these lovely recommendations! I would also love any ideas you have for easy and not terribly cheesy holiday crafts 🙂


Great post! So many good ideas. This one’s a keeper.

PS Any time I see those pups, my day is made. They are so very adorable and a little Muppet-y, in the best way. Thank YOU!


Just an FYI that the EDH team is not engaging with the EDH Community forum. Members have have tried emailing and reaching out to the team asking for some involvement and no emails back or responses for quite some time. It is very disappointing.

Done!Just ordered the curtain lights for my art studio! It gets dark so early and I get bummed out! I have the red ribbon and already did that! Next up, scented candles instead of unscented pillars! A girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do!

Kate Lee

Can you share where that rug is from?! The one that matches your sweet dogs.

Jill P.

For an excellent, modern take on the 12 Days of Christmas song, take a listen to Straight No Chaser – their version may change your mind. They’re an incredibly talented a cappella group! Their newest released Christmas album was recorded during the pandemic – via separate home studios!


Just ordered the curtain lights – so fun! And I’m hunting down some faux garland to drape over our round mirror.
Can I ask where the 2 candles that are in the picture of your dining nook from? I love the look & think they would work well in my house.

Kristine C.

Something I do that’s quick and easy is getting a bunch of inexpensive big and small pre-made red bows – the kind held together with fancy gold bendy wire – and simply hook them over lampshades and art, and twist them around accessories throughout your home. This way you don’t have to change out or move your existing decor, you just “holidaze” it. 🙂


I’m thinking that you will look back fondly on these Covid days. Almost makes me envious of the time I could have spent with my young ones when I was spinning out of control commuting and driving madly to pick my kids up from daycare when they were always the last to be picked up. Oh how they would have loved to have Covid parents…


For $11, the 30” wreath at Trader Joe’s is a steal. Comes with a few pine cones wired on. I added a plaid bow. Highly recommend

Heather Pierson

Just looking at your gorgeous pictures helped me get in the Christmas spirit this morning! So beautiful! I love the scented candle idea. It’s so simple and really enhances the impact of holiday decor. Thistle Farms has lovely offerings and their profits help women recover from trafficking and addiction.


Lovely ideas that I will put in place. I must know what breed Oscar and Buttercup are 😀

Nancy y

Hi – can you pls provide sourcing info for the little red paper trees … by Emily’s feet in the pick with dogs by the staircase???


Love your ideas. What breed are your dog’s?

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