Article Line Long1

How We Decked Our Halls for Christmas

The tree is super wide, some presents are brown (!!!) and I’m star-less—so yes, I styled things differently AGAIN despite my thinking I was just going to do what we did last year. I used a lot of what I had, but mixed in some new pieces from Target and tried some new ideas. My holiday house style changes from year to year, but one thing remains the same: I like to do it early and I like A LOT of it.  In previous years, we had an artificial tree, which of course means you get to deck your halls as early as you want (and for us, that meant early November). This time around, though, we had to wait until after Thanksgiving to head to the evergreen lot. But that didn’t stop me from starting on the rest of the house in mid-November and that was using restraint. I got my house DRUNK on holiday decor despite the fact that I have two small kids that would likely mess it up daily (I’ve since pulled it back a little for everyday living).

The version you are seeing today is the “party ready” Henderson holiday (or something that would speak to you if you like to go all out on every surface). This look is more to give ideas of what you can do but you certainly don’t have to do all of them. The style this year is more on the traditional side (led by that rug) and is layered and definitely dripping with holiday, without screaming it.

Here’s what I did…

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 4

Color Palette

I was inspired by the color palette of the rug, giving it one more shot before Blue Parakeet takes it back to sell (don’t worry, we’ll get it cleaned, but let her know if you are interested). I had already done the whole classic red-and-green thing in Portland earlier in the season, so I was mentally free to go a more modern route in my LA home.

Last year, I didn’t have enough warm tones in my holiday reveal and actually added a ton of blush and pink AFTER we shot it (because we shot in early November), so this year I learned my lesson and had a good mix of both warm and cool tones and layered it a lot more. Instead of red, I went with the more muted burgundies, mauves and blushes which were already in the rug.

I rearranged the room to maximize the seating and just try something new. My two club chairs sat together with the wing back in the other corner. It closed off the room a bit, but I also love how much seating it gave and the backs of those chairs are pretty and simple. There is something kinda Easter-y about the color palette but it’s really warm and happy and different.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 8

I did try one chair over here for this shot because it looked a little empty without it, but technically it was right in front of the fireplace so it wouldn’t really live there.

Here’s what I love: I hacked that Target wreath and took off the red berries and added some greenery and it looks sooo pretty with the set up (it looked equally pretty in Portland as purchased, but because it worked better with the palette there). It’s such a huge scale and the fact that I don’t have to repurchase it next year is pretty great.

My stance on real versus faux greenery is this: It’s a lifestyle choice much like real marble versus quartz. One is more beautiful but expensive (because it’s only for one season, if that), it can be messy and high maintenance (plus, you have to throw it away), and the other is less naturally beautiful and with less smell but generally easier to live with and deal with (and these days, they can be super pretty). I bought the garlands at the flower market for $50 for 75 feet. They are a mix of cedar and fur, and then we shoved in some eucalyptus to mix it up. The smell, shape and drape are all so pretty but, folks, it is high maintenance. There are needles to clean up, and it does better for longer if you mist it regularly. I think next year, I want to try what I did with the wreath—buy a faux one, but add in some real greenery to bring in the smell and almost trick the eye into thinking it’s all real.

That cozy white fir blanket up there on that sofa…it’s a lovefest with that. It has indeed become my “blanky.” I snuggle with it in the morning when I write before the kids wake up and bring it upstairs at night to sleep with.

All the wood accents (like the wood vase and tray on the coffee table) really adds so much warmth and character to the light and airy palette. I LOVE IT.

What I don’t love love love is the sofa with the curtains with the rug—it’s going a bit granny for me but I think with a neutral rug (like this one below), it would feel instantly more modern.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 5

Because the house is dripping with holiday decor, we kept with a simple theme of greenery, white lights and houses (that light up) with a lot of white textures and ornaments strewn about. Can you imagine how over-the-top this would look if it were an explosion of color and patterns?

Those white trees are so simple and we turn them on every night to add holiday ambience. I did realize that garland is chicer WITHOUT lights, it just looks more natural and “cool” but at night, I love that they light up.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 6

That Goat (!!!)

Chip and Joanna (Hearth & Hand With Magnolia) are not good for my bank account (and yes, I get a budget for the holiday decor from Target, but they aren’t bankrolling my general shopping/hoarding habits).

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 36

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 37

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 2

Probably my favorite vignette per usual is with that antique French sideboard. The wood beads, the wood vase and those white houses that light up create a very simple ambience that makes SO me happy. After the shoot, my kids kinda destroyed all the presents and random greenery so I paired it back and it’s just as pretty.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 3

The star ornament is an obvious favorite for Charlie, which we had to remove or put up high, but they are really graphic and the perfect complement to a typical ball while being more sculptural.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 7

The Textiles

These are sooooo good. I tried mixing in more pattern but ultimately the rug is the pattern moment and I just wanted the rest to be simple, but full of soft texture. Like I said, my favorites are the faux fur blankets, and the cable-knit and round velvet pillows.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 9

In this corner, we switched out the blue demilune (which I might sell or donate because all of a sudden I’m questioning it—can a demilune ever be cool? Was I crazy when I hopped on the slow-moving demilune table train?). I apparently really like this wingback and side table combo as I used it in the Threshold fall content, Portland holiday and here. The blue fur is headed straight to the mountain house and those faux green trees are peppered around the house (from last year, but still for sale) and might go up there, too, to make decorating up there easier every year.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 17

The Tree

This is my favorite tree that we’ve EVER had. It fits that bay window perfectly. Brian wanted a more traditional tree and I wanted a more Charlie Brown-style like we had in the dining room last year, so I felt that this was in the middle. He thought it was weird for sure, but it grew on him. Scale-wise, it’s just PERFECT. It couldn’t be too much taller because it needed to fit in that window nook, but any skinnier and it would look dinky (like last year).

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 20

If someone can make a faux version of this (“natural” Noble Fir that’s 5-feet wide and 7 1/2-feet tall), that would be GREAT. We peppered it with some family ornaments, plenty of plastic balls and a lot of white animals that the kids loved. All the kids’ handmade ornaments are up on their trees in their rooms (which we aren’t re-shooting because it looks just like last year, but see Elliot’s and Charlie’s if you are curious).

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 14

We always frame pictures of the kids with the year on it, and this year we framed shots of Bearcat and Mimi so they would remember that this was the year they passed.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 16

Hot tip: The porcelain frames are pretty heavy to hang on a more delicate tree like ours, so we have those instead on shelves and have these lighter wood ones on the tree.

2x2 Grid Ornament Details

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 15

General Decor

We used the same general themes throughout the living room surfaces—greenery, lights, white light up houses, ornaments and even wrapped some books (not necessary but a fun hack if you are having a party and want to take it next level).

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 10 2

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 21

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 24

I LOVE those pink trees that light up. They’re great for a vignette that might feel too serious or dark. They lighten things up both visually and physically and bring in a TINY bit of glam which I’m always into during the holidays. We wrapped the books (don’t put a bow on the bottom one or it gets wobbly) which is a nice touch for a party, but regular books (in our color palette OF COURSE) would have looked good, too.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 25

For the shelving, I once again removed a lot of the books and kept the color palette simple and of course CURRENTLY, I like it better.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 30

It honestly has so much to do with my mental state. During the holidays, I like the IDEA of more, but have such mental chaos that I end up paring back the whole house a bit in order to add decor. Those Hearth & Hand wooden ornaments are amazing (and such a great hostess gift—4 for $35 and they look very expensive, so you could break them up and wrap them in a box and look the best guest ever). Also, I just want to make sure you saw that I read Plato to the children on the weekends. They have moved on from Nietzsche, it was a bit pedestrian to them.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 19

That’s the general Henderson Holiday Home tour. If you are wondering how we did it and how much the kids helped, here’s the real answer: The kids decorated their trees before we left for Thanksgiving because they are faux). Then, the kids stayed up at the grandparents with Brian while I could get it to a place that they could help. Because of my job (which I obviously LOVE), we have more decorating needs than a normal family so the chaos that usually ensues by pulling boxes out of the garage is times 100 in our house. I rearranged the furniture, and pulled out everything, played with the textiles, removed the books, etc., so that when they got home, they could trim the tree and play with the houses, etc.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 12

We don’t live on a daily basis with 30 fake presents surrounding the tree because that would ignite a nightly battle with my children, I know this for a fact. It’s not that they have no self control or discipline but it’s torture for them to play in a room full of presents, no matter how much they understand that they are empty and “just for photos.” But for a party, or if you want to go all out and maybe you don’t have present-hungry monsters, then a lot of these ideas are, well, ones that I LOVE.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 33

Ninety shots later, we got this photo, with only one child doing a totally fake smile, and the other one her best performance of “innocently adorable.” Wonder where she got that idea…

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 34

This photo is more accurate.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 13

We have to tickle, bribe and talk about “tooting” in order to get them to laugh.

There you go. This post wasn’t officially sponsored by Target, but as you can probably guess, I worked with them on all the holiday decor, textiles and a lot of the accessories, which means it’s all affordable and available (if it’s not sold out). If you are still in the decorating phase then hopefully you got some good ideas on how to go all out for a fun party.

Now all I want to do is decorate a “Holiday Mountain Minimal” up at the cabin with just a few green and white elements. Let’s see if it will be done by then. If not, I’m going to take that white weapon-like ornament and stab it into my eye over and over again in order to numb my disappointment and frustration. 🙂


[drawattention ID=183207]

1. Wreath Gold Wire with Red Berry Pine | 2. House Bud Vase | 3. Small Mercury Glass Tree Christmas Figurine | 4. Large Mercury Glass Tree Christmas Figurine | 5. Bear and Trees Cloche | 6. Turned Accent Table Large Black | 7. Wingback Chair | 8. Blue Faux Fur Throw Blanket | 9. Cable Knit Lumbar Pillow | 10. House Stocking Holder (set of 2) | 11. Wooden Spindle Ornaments (set of 4) | 12. Hand Knit Christmas Stocking | 13. Faux Fur Pelt | 14. Pouf | 15. Tree Collar | 16. Medium Wood Vase | 17. Large Wood Vase | 18. Large Bottle Brush Christmas Tree | 19. Mauve Velvet Pillow | 20. Pom Square Throw Pillow Cream | 21. Berry Velvet Pillow | 22. Pleated Velvet Round Throw Pillow | 23. Fabric Mini Birds Christmas Ornament (set of 4) | 24. Small Birch Wrap Tree Christmas Figurine | 25. Large Birch Wrap Tree Christmas Figurine | 26. Lit Laser Cut Deer Scene | 27. Ceramic House Christmas Ornament | 28. Rosegold/Champagne Ornaments (set of 70) | 29. Bear Figurine | 30. Wooden Plumbob Figural (set of 4) | 31. Garland Wood Beads | 32. Glitter Spike Starburst Christmas Ornament (set of 4) | 33. Silver Ornaments (set of 8) | 34. Winter Furry Animals Ornaments (set of 4) | 35. 2018 Picture Frame Ornament | 36. Black and White Star Ornaments (set of 8) | 37. Large White Wooden Tree | 38. Gnomes Christmas Ornament (set of 4) | 39. Rocking Horse | 40. Woven Stripe Throw Blanket | 41. Cream Texture Faux Fur Throw | 42. Pink Texture Faux Fur Throw | 43. Glitter Deer Christmas Ornament (set of 4)

***Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD

0 0 votes
Article Rating


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jihane Lahbabi
5 years ago

My favorite holiday decoration you ever made! But my favorite pictures are the ones of your kids. When did they get so big???? so so lovely, bless them.

Christine Salek
5 years ago

I know you struggle with that rug in your living room…and maybe it is because I am 66 and lived though mid-century modern…but it really does look wonderful and warm in your living room. I think it ties it all together.

5 years ago

I agree. It looks beautiful in there.

5 years ago

I’m all aboard the mid-century train and usually like more modern things, but I love it as well. It just looks right in the space.

5 years ago

This is so beautiful that my heart is racing (could it be the 4 cups of coffee?) no. It’s the decor. Stunning. I might quit working right now and go start puttering about in my living room and re-doing half of it. Copper and brown?! Why didn’t I think of that?

Also, I just want to make sure you saw that I read Plato to the children on the weekends. They have moved on from Nietzsche, it was a bit pedestrian to them. – dying

Also. Emily, I hate to be the one to tell you you’re wrong but NOTHING about this is granny. Trust me. My granny had a ‘davenport’ as she called it covered in blue and brown peacocks and not one but 2 giant recliners. THIS is gorgeous. And my heart is a little sad that you’re going to sell that rug. Every time I see pics of it with that sage green couch I melt a little….i’m sure the next will be stunning as well tho.

Jordan G
5 years ago

It looks beautiful. I want to steal every fur blanket on display in this room. I love the size and scale of that tree. It would not work in my home because we high ceilings and not as much width to play with, but it looks absolutely perfect in yours.

Hope you and your family are having a joyful holiday season!

5 years ago

Super pretty! Where is your dress from? I looooove it 🙂

5 years ago
Reply to  Morgan

It’s from Madewell but no longer available, unfortunately!

5 years ago

I love this — especially the coppery tones and all the natural greenery! I’m not sure I’ll ever be fully on board with faux greenery but it’s definitely more convenient. And I still love the rug. I hope you address all the feedback you got on the post about the rug soon. Off to buy the goat… ?

5 years ago

The rug and the couch are awesome! It does not feel granny to me at all! More modern but lived in with some vintage! thanks for the decoration inspo!

5 years ago

Dress please, of please, info?

5 years ago
Reply to  S

Madewell (but not available anymore).

5 years ago

It is very pretty! I like that you recycled some of the items you used before – I understand the need to create content, but I think (or hope) most of people don’t buy a set of new decorations every year. And I am a huge fan of this rug tbh, I think it is very Emily.

5 years ago

THAT TREE IS EVERYTHING!! OMG!! (also, where is your dress from?!)

5 years ago

I love this – so natural, pretty, and subtle – everywhere you look it’s like, oh! that’s so nice! The best design in my opinion. 🙂 And absolutely, my three-year-old was just bored to death of Nietzsche – we’ve moved on to debating Joyce’s influence on modern literature. I think his work is haunting and complex. Leo feels he’s a bit pedantic. Alas.

5 years ago

The width of that tree is perfection!!!

5 years ago

Beautiful family! Kids look adorable 🙂 Have great holidays! And, yes, where is your dress from? love it 🙂

5 years ago

I love the green couch/antique rug combo, personally. It looks like a cozy English country home, especially this time of year! I also love your tree, and the addition of the ornaments with the cats on them is so so sweet. What a great idea.

5 years ago

Take the chaise to the mountain house! Maybe it would work better in a setting that has some little moments where you can truly (hopefully) relax since you’re getting away for the weekend/week/whatever. I want to see you make it work, but just maybe not this living room?

5 years ago

While beautiful, not my style. It’s a bit too overcrowded with stuff, ‘tchokes’, and would be overwhelming for me. Can you show a pared down version for us minimalists?

5 years ago

Where is your dress from? Super cute!

5 years ago

Hi Emily, I love this Christmas decor! When my daughter was younger I used to give her a roll of wrapping paper and tape and she would wrap up toys and books that she already had. Then she would open them up and pretend to be surprised when ever she wanted to open presents. It made it easier to wait for Christmas! Kids always like to act things out over and over!

5 years ago

Love it! Very sophisticated and I bet the room smells fantastic too.

The decor makes your beams above shine. (Yes – I know – it’s not exactly Henry VIII / Hampton Court but definitely has an element of a grand Tudor feasting hall.)

Also like the mauve cushions on the sofa! They add warmth and interest to the various blues and neutrals.

5 years ago

Oh, I love this idea of picture frame ornaments with the year on it! Where are the wooden versions from?

5 years ago

Every aspect of this post is fabulous. I especially love that you explain shoot decisions, real world aspects, and party possibilities. Would you consider posting some holiday decorating ideas earlier next year? It would be great to have your inspiration right after Thanksgiving.

5 years ago


5 years ago

This room looks GORGEOUS! The tree is stunning and I bet the smell is delicious. I love all the little touches that scream “Christmas!” Lastly, I must address that beautiful rug that’s on its way out. If you don’t love it, obviously, it should go back to where you got it but if you’re on the fence, KEEP THIS RUG! It falls in your color pallet and I even love the sofa with it…just my 2 cents. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL FAMILY!

Tamara Royo
5 years ago

Hi Emily! I have the same piano, and can’t find any bench that convinces me… Where did you find yours? It’s gorgeous! I love it! And your side table between your chairs, is it new?

Diana P
5 years ago
Reply to  Tamara Royo

Please tell us where the piano bench is from / how you made it!

5 years ago
Reply to  Tamara Royo

I agree, I would love to know where that piano bench is from!

Emily Daily
5 years ago
Reply to  Alyssa

Ditto! Dying over that bench!

5 years ago
Reply to  Emily Daily

Hi! It is our Safari Bench and you can see it on our site:!

5 years ago

Emily I love you and I’ll always love you but for me there are just too many things going on in this room. Maybe I’m swinging more minimalist these days, and I just finished KonMari’ing my home so maybe that’s where I’m coming from, but all that stuff makes me a bit anxious. Not to say it isn’t gorgeous because of course it is, I just don’t know where to rest my eyes. But that said, there is a lot here to inspire. Your tree especially – great choice.

5 years ago
Reply to  Meg

My thoughts exactly.

5 years ago

OK, but where are Brian’s boots from???!

Jenny D
5 years ago
Reply to  Bethany

I’m with Bethany – a men’s style story please!

5 years ago

This post made me smile, smile, smile. The family shot with the smiles (including “innocently adorable” – ha ha!) was too cute. I enjoyed seeing every picture (the vignettes, the pulled-back shots).

I appreciate the thought about demilunes.

5 years ago

Just here to say that I love the new room layout! I’m not sure how it functions for you in real life, but as a reader, the pictures look so much cleaner and I’m able to focus on a few things at a time. I know you probably like the bookcases, but this layout lets them be in the room without having the visual of them in every shot. And I like the little peek-a-boo into the kitchen too!

5 years ago

I quite like this. I usually don’t like styled Holiday decorations [Holidays should be about family and that should allow for sentiment. If there isn’t a place for the ornaments from your childhood or something from your Grandparent then you aren’t really celebrating the holiday]. That said, I am so over “Granny” used as a pejorative. It is ageist and kind of mean spirited.

5 years ago

I am having tree envy! It’s gorgeous!

I have that dress and I am having the hardest time figuring out how to keep the top closed so that when I stretch my arms or bend over it doesn’t gape open. How did you secure yours closed?

Jen Muratet
5 years ago

We went to a farm this year for our tree, and they were great about describing the pros/cons of each tree type!

We got a Leland Fir- it doesn’t shed at all! The branches are more feathery looking than a Douglas Fir, but they’re really beautiful! And no needles on the floor!! Game changer for us!

5 years ago

You still have OrHANDo’s chair? I’m dying.

5 years ago
Reply to  Wendy

That’s Emilys chair Orlando stole for awhile lol

5 years ago

So stunning!! I love the scale of the tree, and the colors are unexpected and beautiful.

I really hope you warm up to this couch being in the room, that shot of the couch with the kitchen island visible through the door is gorgeous. The rooms play so nicely together!

Lindsay C
5 years ago

I love your comment “mentally free” to go another route. That basically sums up all big decision making during Christmas. I always feel obligated to stick with green and red cause it’s so traditional but you have opened my eyes lady!! I am swooning. We’ve been travelling a lot lately so I havent had time to get out my Christmas stuff but after my wonderful carpet cleaners come this week and get the whole house ready for the festivities I’m thinking I might just go buy all new stuff;)

5 years ago

It all looks so welcoming and definitely party ready! When I saw your tree, the first thought I had was, “this is exactly the tree shape and size I love”. I’m with you on wishing someone would produce a faux version. Loving the side table & wingback chair combo.

5 years ago

Love all of this!! Where are the ceramic houses from?

Another Liz
5 years ago

Omg the Plato comment… this is why I keep coming back here and thinking of you as a friend

5 years ago

Love the couch and rug, and that French sideboard. Is the couch comfortable? I need to buy a new couch, and need comfy and stylish. Isn’t that the bench you had in your last house but you had borrowed?

5 years ago

I am in love with this layout! I love those 2 chairs on that side of the room and how that works. I know it works right now because of the massive and beautiful tree but I dig it for sure! And I am team keep the rug too! But it will be fabulous no matter what you do.
Merry Christmas to you and your families! xoxo

5 years ago

Absolutely beautiful! This might be my favorite holiday decorating you’ve done. Love the sofa and rug and all the blushes and coppers. The tree is so perfect too! I’d love to know where the little house stocking holders are from. The ones in the link are different, I’m sure for a good reason, but I just really prefer the ones in your pictures.

5 years ago

Who is abstract in living room near tree by?

5 years ago

good gracious, woman, that little girl looks EXACTLY like you. lucky girl!! they are gorgeous. and i LOVE the shape of that tree, it looks perfect in that spot.

5 years ago

You have such a beautiful family and such great style. I want your entire home. Exactly. I’m pinning this post and sending it to my family so they can shop for me. Thanks so much for sharing your talent.
And, is there any chance you could put a word into Target for them to create a similar rug?

5 years ago

Where is your log holder and fireplace tools? This is unrealistic.

5 years ago
Reply to  Woody


5 years ago

Could you please tell us where you got the wood ornaments that have your family’s photos? Love that idea!

5 years ago

Emily, not only do I love your decorating abilities, but your humor game is on fire in this post! The line about debating philosophy with your children had me laughing out loud!

5 years ago

I think this tree by Balsam Hill is a pretty close fake tree to the (adorable) real tree you have!

5 years ago

I have to comment on how you have the room arranged. I LOVE the placement of the chairs. I don’t know what you will need to bring in when the Xmas tree is gone, but having the chairs sort of close off the room works so well. I think instead of it looking like a huge, long space that you are trying to turn into a living room, the chairs sort of define the parameters and make it much more cozy. I’m a fan! Also want to say that the view that shows the funky piano/cool bench and dining room with the eclectic wooden chairs is also fab. I think these changes look so much more like you. It all looks interesting, collected – such a cool vibe. I know it’s a Tudor, but I guess I’m just not as into the Tudor look as what you’ve been bringing in lately. It’s really working now.

5 years ago

Where did you go to get your gorgeous Christmas tree? I’ve only found big box store tree lots in LA. Thanks!

5 years ago

Oh no! You’re getting rid of That Rug? But I voted for it! Ha! Did I miss the post on that decision? So now what rug will you use? Beautiful tree, perfect in its niche.