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My Family

Christmas Through The Years

Brian and I (and those kids) are traveling the whole month of December. We’ll be up in Portland for the actual holidays, and will be at my brother’s house, which BETTER be decorated, but sadly we did not decorate our house this year. To celebrate, and mourn, I thought I’d show you all the different Christmases I have decorated over the last 5 years on the blog. Some of them you might remember (last year), but many you might not have seen (like the HGTV holiday special I did with Cheryl Burke, or the Secrets From a Stylist holiday special). Here they are, for your viewing pleasure and horror . . .

Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating Copper Gold Blue Christmas Tree White living room

Last year was Winter Wonderland Glam. I still think it looks beautiful and out of all the styles you are about to see, it is what I like the most (although I wouldn’t do it again . . . read on to find out what my fantasy 2015 plan would be . . .). It’s fairly neutral and calm which works well with the house and my general mental state of being these days.

Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating Copper Gold Blue Christmas Tree White

Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating Copper Gold Blue Christmas Tree1

Last year marked the first time in YEARS that I embraced the color brown. It shocked America.

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Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating Copper Gold Blue Christmas Tree White_1 copy

Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating Copper Gold Blue Bar6

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I had totally forgotten that I once threw a bunch of art on that wall in the dining room. It looks ok in the photos, but in real life it was extremely busy, crowded and annoying. Now the string art lives there along with 936 holes from the failed art wall. Cool.

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Last year Target tasked me to take 12 Instagrams using Target product (after the 12 days of Christmas of course). Luckily the product was wonderful. If you are wondering why we didn’t just do them within the big overall decorating story from the photos above, it’s because we needed to do these in November, and I wasn’t prepared to go full-holiday early November. So we set up some shots in smaller areas with nothing too pulled back.

12 Days Of Instagram With Target:




I do like this a lot because it is really happy, bright and inviting.



Then earlier last year I had styled a set of the Target videos that went the teal/black/white/metallic route, which is really fun in a different way. Go here to see the full story – Target Style Christmas









Now 2 years ago, we had just moved into our new house and had just had Charlie, so we didn’t do any decorating for the blog. I did however find this Instagram photo which shows the scale of the tree that we got that year (even though it wasn’t decorated yet).

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That same year I had a holiday shoot at, the then, brand new Fig House, which I still LOVE. Full post here – Holiday Cocktail Party at the Fig House:


These were two years ago, when doing copper/rose gold and blush was brand new, and super edgy. Glad it’s still around (what’s next?).




That was pretty. But the year before that, 2012, was rough . . .

I Decked My Halls.

Man. A lot has changed. We like to refer to this period in my life as “Commonwealth.” Not because it was common or wealthy, but that is the name of the street that we lived on. It was just so glam-y, regency, busy, overly-whimsical, ridiculously quirky, and even borderline NOT AWESOME. There are some things I still love in that room (chairs, sofa, hand chair, credenza, coffee table), but it just looks NUTS.


Should have limited the hot pink, I should never had put that blue sofa on that blue rug, and we should have made the photos much brighter.


SO MUCH STUFF ON SO MANY SURFACES!!!!! I still like “stuff, ” but not this much. There was just no restraint and so much of it was too decorative. I did make that flower wreath which is so pretty, despite the fact that it surely cost me $300 worth of flowers. Such a great, affordable DIY! That dies in 2 days!!


That pink painting was a mistake, although I think it was hilarious that we wrote “Ho Ho Ho, Ho.” Get it? Bearcat is sleeping on a hanging macrame cat bed OBVIOUSLY, and there are LOTS of patterns to be mixed here. I think if we took down the hot pink painting, got rid of the dome and ornaments on the table, and switched out the rug for a lighter colored rug I’d still like this. Oh and those curtain rods. Those have to go. Critiquing your own work is very fun.


This was also the year that David and I tried to watermark our photos, which was a huge fail. We were so sick of not getting credit or linked back to that we figured we’d try it. But that watermark is too big. Now that I have better branding maybe I’ll try to do it again. Just a little emblem in the corner . . .

I still love the idea of that wrapped present tree, but i think the navy/hot pink/white/gold color palette has had its time.


But I was skinnier in this photo which I love so I’ll give this shot a A++++. Plus Landy is with me, and I love him. I think this was the year that I dressed like a flight attendant or equestrian all the time, on accident. The next year I dressed like a sister wife a little too much, and this year is leaning way towards a pirate or more specifically Zorro – so  many capes, hats and boots.




Ok. Woah. That is a lot of visual chaos to take in at one time, I know. Individual pieces I love, but all together it’s a lesson in contrast. You can have contrast in color, style, shape, size and pattern but unless you want a really, really busy room you should only stick to a few of those things. Lesson learned.

But even before “Commonwealth Christmas, ” there was an episode of Celebrity Holiday Home, which we shot months before the above holiday shots.

Celebrity Christmas with Cheryl Burke:

Emily Henderson Holiday Decorating_Pink_White_Red_Dancer_2

GAH. These photos are so terrible, and everything feels so dated about this. But it could just be that I personally can not handle very much high contrast and mess in my house right now. Now that I remember it, we had shot this in August and I kept a lot of the ornaments and wrapping paper which is why I think I did that hot pink in my house. That snow looks disgusting and dirty already, and I swear it wasn’t.

Design Star winner Emily Henderson has just completed her Christmas makeover for dance celebrity Cheryl Burke, on HGTVs Celebrity Holiday Homes.

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It’s kinda all bad, but still pretty fun to see.


I did really like the flower wreath that Natalie made for it. And I like that big white nutcracker lamp that we happened to score from the valley. Cheryl’s family collected them growing up, so she asked me to incorporate them into the decor. When I found that I freaked. I would absolutely have that in my house now. Overall it’s a little terrifying and dated and doesn’t feel particularly inviting either, but so fun to see.

And even before that, was the holiday episode of Secrets From A Stylist: 


This WAS the year of brass animals, truly. I still like them, but man that year (2011) I was OBSESSED with them. I still like this color palette for the holidays (although I’d lose that citrine on the windows). I clearly still loved eucalyptus there, too and now I’m wondering why I felt the need to cover every single surface with either garland or fake snow. Calm down, past Emily.


Those vases are pretty, though. I wish I had hoarded them . . .


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I did make those adorable (and extremely expensive) globe snowmen. This was also the year of “The Map” and globes/vintage maps were everywhere. They were like this year’s “seascape” or last years “portraits” (what is next year??).


An oldie but a goodie. I don’t love this shot, but I still like the idea of a big statement piece of art (like a map) with stick-on contact paper letters. So cute.

Well, folks, as you can see I’ve done many different Christmases. If I were to do one this year (we are traveling all month) it would be a big green real tree, a ton of white/silver and matte gold ornaments and some pine garland here and there. Pulled back minimalist, yet happy.

Speaking of happy . . . Merry Christmas.

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8 years ago

Wow! Quite a trip down memory lane. Isn’t it amazing how much taste changes as we grow older and wiser? I’m so much more minimalist now. I cringe when I think about the pink and white striped balloon shades (remember those?) that I actually put in our master bedroom! My poor husband! Loved your post. 🙂

8 years ago

I think you’re too hard on yourself! I still love the navy/hot pink Christmas, and I also love the one with all of the maps and globes. I think that was right around when I started following this blog, and I found your happy, colorful style so inspiring. It’s not that I don’t like all of the toned down, white, minimalist-California stuff as well, but I think there is a place for all of it.

This post is fun because it truly shows your range and creativity. I wish I could start fresh with my Christmas stuff every year but I feel too guilty buying new stuff, so I end up just tweaking my existing decorations and putting them in different spots around my house to get a new feel.

8 years ago
Reply to  Jordan G

Yes, everything you just said. Spot on!

I think they’re all still fun! It’s my dream to do a different themed Christmas each year. Someday I will get my white Christmas tree too. Sigh.

8 years ago

Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family, Emily! XO

8 years ago

hilarious, honest, wonderful post. maybe next year is the year of ceramics (i can dream). i also dream that fake white trees die forever (or be relegated to the desert, a la LA).

8 years ago

You know, its great to see where we’ve come, and to know ourselves better in the present. I have come to a year where finally I feel like our home decor is more us than ever, but it took years of me donating the items we didn’t care for anymore, or received as gifts that we never wanted anyways. I call it curating our home. I like to not do the trendy thing, stay classic and clean lined, that way whatever comes my way in 5-10 years I can add as part of a curated collection, not some random item that feels so out of date. So its great to know yourself more than ever, your “classic” will be different than mine your neighbor, love it, embrace it, curate it 😉

8 years ago

merry christmas, mama, to you and yours. you deserve it and i’m glad you’re not having to decorate your house. sleep in heavenly peace. <3

This was such a great loopback for Christmas inspiration! And for the record I really enjoyed your Target special.


8 years ago

I have to know how to make the snowmen I’m obsessed!

8 years ago

You are hereby hired to decorate my Christmas tree for me for the rest of my life. Have so much fun celebrating christmas with your two little ones this year!


8 years ago

My absolute hands down favorite is the map blue/green Christmas! It’s just so cute and happy.

Fun post – I died laughing at your paragraph describing your “wardrobe” themes each year! Zorro? Oh, please share! Enjoy December in the NE and Christmas in the NW!

8 years ago

So much Christmas inspiration just in right time. Thanks for going through your holiday decor. They are all beautiful.

8 years ago

Wow, what a beautiful look back. I love pink and red, but I love your tree with the blue and green too. So pretty.


8 years ago

That big brass fawn (peeking into the shot) is my fantasy thrift find. A couple of those have to turn up somewhere and I will find them or perish.

8 years ago

They all look great! I don’t think you should feel bad not to have decorated this year–it’s kind of nice to keep the Christmasy stuff to a minimum. It keeps the home more calm, which is nice when things get hectic.

At least that’s what I tell myself! The truth is, I don’t have the time or inclination to do more than decorate a tree and string a few lights. Plus, can’t be bothered to store it all the other 11 months of the year!

8 years ago

Seriously, Emily… I don’t understand why you are bashing all your previous work. Taste and style evolve and that’s okay.
It might be entertaining for a moment but it gives me the feeling that, in a few years, you might criticize the work that you are showing right now. And I really like that.

Kate Lim
8 years ago

The only bad thing about the “commonwealth” shot is the ceiling and that isn’t your fault (I know it was a rental). 😉

Emily K
8 years ago

As I looked through all these photos it was always the one element that I liked least that in the next paragraph you wrote how much you still liked it. I admit fully that I do not have good taste when it comes to Christmas. As much as I like looking at others tastefully coordinated and restrained trees and decor I throw all the disney ornaments and handmade wild and wacky things on my tree that I can find and have had since I was little. Vintage McD The Little Mermaid Flounder and Sebastian ornaments? Yup prominently on my tree. Nostalgia is what I love the most about Christmas.

8 years ago

The Secrets of a Stylist episode referenced in this post was my FAVORITE. I still love the playfulness and color scheme used.

8 years ago

You’re so funny. If I wasn’t into design I’d still read your blog just for the laughs. Have a lovely Christmas. Hope your brother gets those decorations up, fast.

8 years ago

So in love with your post.Beautiful!