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My Family

Emily’s “Messy” But FULL Of Memories Christmas Family Room

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As Birdie succinctly told Charlie while I was in the other room, ‘this tree is more fun and REALLY messy, the other tree is more pretty.’ Indeed. Since we happen to have two hang out spaces (living and family) we broke them up and put the more pretty/curated tree in the more formal space and put all the personal ornaments in here. And in here, the family room, there is a ‘no rules’ approach to decorating the tree and I just let them go for it. This is where they take out each ornament and squeal with a ‘mama I remember this!’ reaction when it is one that they picked out or got for a gift, and then they throw it on the tree, haphazardly for sure. More color, more fun, more personal. Here we go.

Faux Garland | Wood Cut Out Garland (similar) | Dotted Striped Pillow | Color Blocked Pillow | Sheepskins

I still wanted to keep it fairly manageable and easy to keep together, so I didn’t go all out but wanted to bring in more red. I swear that living up here and not having access to stores (sure, online but I have to order at least 10 days in advance) is making me use what we have and helping me hold back, in a good way. For instance, I could have put two wreaths in those windows (which would have looked cute in the shot) but the room as a whole had enough (and I didn’t have the wreaths). Instead, we did tree, garland, and those cute little plush toys that I’ve had forever and work so well up here and the kids love (sorry no longer available). I got a couple of new pillows because I had given all of my bolder red ones away to an EHD Insider Member when I thought I wouldn’t want red up here (I was wrong).

The mantel just has a garland and a tree figurine garland that might need to be taken down because when we keep the fire on for hours it melts the hot glue holding the wood pieces onto the garland… whoops.

Tree | Tree Collar | Popcorn Bowl | Tray | Santa Mugs | Bottle Brush Trees (similar) | Candle

There she is, dripping with ornaments and 2-3 different garlands? Brian picked up the tree from Target last week, and I added that cute tray, a couple of pillows (dotted and color blocked) and popcorn bowl to the order but everything else we had. Don’t worry, the kids drink from those Santa mugs year-round, every. single. day. which I objected to because I wanted to keep them special but then I was like ‘why am I making this a battle?’ and just let them drink water with Santa. The bottle brush trees are from a few years ago (similar ones here).

Beaded Garland (similar) | Pom Garland | Rocker

We don’t have a star on this tree, which I’m ok with because the one that we had rotates neon lights on the ceiling which the kids obviously LOVE so I “let them”/insisted on them having it in their room. The rocker is from Monroe Workshop that I’ve had since Birdie was a baby and it’s going to be a permanent family heirloom. I’m pretty sure that plaid cloth is a tablecloth, FYI 🙂

She is dripping with ornaments and we haven’t even got our 2020 personalized ones in the mail yet (remember this post?). A lot of DIYed from last year, ornaments from trips, or just ones that they picked out at Target last year or the year before as ‘their’ ornaments (the sequin iguana for instance).

We even have a few from Brian when he was little (on the right) and Charlie’s from preschool (on the left). Not to brag but I made that button snowman last year (white and black buttons + hot glue) and it reads ‘mama 2019’ on the bottom OF COURSE.

We saved a few ornaments to put on during this shoot, to try to get some family shots (and it was HARD FYI).

This year I finally got around to putting all my Santa photos in frames, inspired by a friend who always does it. It’s such a fun thing to collect and put out.

I’ve already amassed quite the collection:) Also what is going to happen this year??? Seems like even with masks it’s going to feel very questionable to see Santa.

Thin Natural Frames | Thin White Frames | Large Wide White Frame | White Wedge Frame

I love that we can pull these out every year, frame them in readymade frames (I just used these from Target) and it makes the room feel so personal and “holiday” but in a simple way of just one element.

Matching Family PJs

I made myself stop in these rooms, almost. I put a wreath and a cookie jar in the kitchen, and hung some wreaths and a quick tablescape in the dining room. I had a lot of extra decoration that was taunting me to spread around the house – bathrooms, kid’s room, etc, but instead, I gave it all to my neighbor and just had a newborn and it felt SO good.

Are you guys feeling like you are going more all out this year? Or pulling it back? I think 2 full trees is enough for us this year 🙂

*Design by Emily Henderson
**Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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Alison

OMG. I just realized the dogs have matching pajamas, too. That is the most extra in the best way.

I know. when I saw them online I freaked out, too. they didn’t seam to mind it but they are such easy going dogs 🙂

I love the homemade ornaments and the ones with pictures (those gingham ones!)! So special!

We are definitely pulling back this year. We usually put up multiple trees and have garlands everywhere, but 2020 has made me tired.

I wonder if anywhere is having zoom with “Santa” and you guys could get a family picture by taking a screenshot. That would feel very 2020.

Sara

Hello! So we are indeed doing a Zoom call with Santa this year. Some friends of friends started a company doing just this, so we signed up for a 15 minute call and I’ll snap some photos of that. While the year is weird indeed it will definitely make for some interesting memories to discuss years from now.

Karen

We got out our holiday decor Saturday, and man – I was just NOT into it! But my girls were really excited (ages 7 and 8) and of course they love to play with all my nutcracker and vintage angel figurines; it’s so nice to have them playing by my side. I got a little more into my groove at dusk, when the magic of twinkle lights started to shine and the outdoor white lights on our curved walkway and pergola turned on. On Sunday, I started jumping around online as I can use more decorations (um, not if you ask my husband, but it’s fun to think of new ways to decorate), and I ended up running down to Target right when they opened (crowd-avoidance). I bought two cute white pom wreaths for my girls’ sleeping room*, and a cute 20″ tall white reindeer figurine (that I crafted up a smidge by going pink/gold instead of the red/gold/silver colors it came with). We’ll get our tree next weekend as three weeks for me is the max I want to have a tree around, just my personal preference. *My girls each have their own bedrooms, but my 8 year old… Read more »

ah, that sounds so lovely and sounds like a GREAT idea. whatever you can do to get them to sleep… xx

K

I love this!

Please tell us more about the knitted (crocheted?) Charlie doll ornament!

I think it was sent to us by a marketing/PR team for the property brothers kids book? Sounds weird, but I’m pretty sure they did. One for each kid. they weren’t ornaments, just little stuffies, but I knew they’d get lost in the stuffie shuffle so I just put a paper clip in them to make them ornaments that we pull out once a year. xx

Lisa

Virtually every adult I know is struggling to get into the holiday spirit this year. -As another reader wrote below, 2020 has made me tired. I usually don’t bust out the Christmas decor until the day after Thanksgiving, but in the hopes of sparking a little joy, I actually decorated a week early (with the help of some Christmas music and a couple glasses of good Chardonnay). -Still struggling to feel it, though.

I totally get that, no judgement here. I wish I could come help everyone decorate to relieve the stress/work:) I wonder if there are other tips/tools to help get in the spirit when its hard to feel? Like besides music and drinks … I also think just do the level of christmas that makes you happy – full stop. Maybe its just watching a few christmas movies and calling it a year 🙂 (BTW we watched Jingle Jangle last night and loved it). xx

LouAnn

I guess I’m the exception because I’m an adult (most of the time) and I didn’t have any trouble getting into the spirit. In fact, I started decorating for Christmas 3 weeks ago. Working from home since March, I needed a change of scenery and putting up Christmas stuff early did the job. It’s cheered me up tremendously.

Helen

Questionable to see Santa?
Come on, we live in 2020 where there’s a plethora of studies, data and empirical evidence showing it is significantly more dangerous for you to get in your car and drive to Santa than it is to worry you may ‘catch something’.
Stop with the fear. This isn’t the plague. Not by a long shot.
At this rate we’re never going back to normal and will just exist on Zoom in an open prison.

Alisha

I am trying to imagine the road you take to get to Santa. It must be much different than the ones we drive on. It maybe your driving is as bad as your understanding of statistics. For your sake I hope you continue to be untouched by this and your beliefs remain unchallenged.

Rusty

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat???!!!???
Um, actually, in case you have been in an alternate Universe…
THIS IS ACTUALLY THE PLAGUE!!!!

Honestly. What the???
🤯
With attitudes like that, no wonder America’s leading in infections and deaths.
Wake. Up!

Cynthia

Hey Helen, it makes sense to be frustrated, but comments like this are not kind to those who’ve lost loved ones to COVID. It’s killed more than 265,000 Americans, and we’re going to suffer more losses in the coming months. It’s been a nightmare of a year worldwide. I do think we’ll get back to normal in time, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Have patience and gratitude if you’ve been spared personal loss.

Liz

Santas are in a high risk group with their age and weight. I guess you and your child might end up being statistically fine, but you might kill Santa. Not the Christmas memory I want to make!

Isabelle

I just can’t even start with this. But you are right – at this rate, with attitudes like yours, we are never going back to normal.

Sam

Really? Hospitals are at capacity. If you do get your into an accident on the way to Santa they don’t have the space or personnel to care for you. Emily has made it clear the type of risk she is willing to put her family at and the CDC supports them.

I actually wrote this post (and that sentence) three weeks ago, before the huge spike. No, we aren’t going to sit on santas lap this year, i’m sure that some places are trying to figure out how to make seeing santa feel safe but we are going to skip it and do a different version. For 2020 we will make other memories while we are lucky enough to be healthy, and quarantine as a family at home to help stop the spread of this disease and keep our healthcare workers (and the world) safe.

Alice

I walked away from this comment this morning and have come back. I’m pleased at the comments that calmer souls have left.

Rusty

“instead, I gave it all to my neighbor and just had a newborn and it felt SO good”

OMG! LOL!!! THAT is a precious typo! Hahaha 🤣 … says she, who is THE Queen of typos with numb fingers.

This tree is the real deal. THIS is the story of family at Christmas. Those ornaments, the photos, the knitted Charlie doll, all the feelings.

I love this fun, messy tree.
Just like family, it’s everything mooshed together in the most lovely way.

hahahaha. indeed. whoops, lots of typos per usual 🙂

Jen Atwood

For Santa picture inspiration, photoshop is a great solution. Check out these adorable “Santa mini-sessions” a local photographer here via social distancing. Scroll through her beautiful IG feed you will see the pix and they are awesome. Such a creative and clever idea.

https://www.instagram.com/shannonrevelle/

Susan

That is a cute solution for the pictures! Also, all those newborn photos make me long for a do-over to get some shots like that of my kids who are now 16-21!

Brandi

I saw another Santa virtual photo shoot option where Santa & Mrs. Claus are holding a photo of the kids. https://www.facebook.com/laurelseaphotography/posts/3080507628836215

Isabelle

Might be a good opportunity to teach the kids about compassion/empathy and truthfully explain why they can’t visit Santa this year. Keeping him (and others) safe and healthy is the kind thing to do. Tell them Santa is sad they can’t visit him for a photo, but he’s glad he can still come to drop off presents. Maybe leave out hand sanitizer with Santa’s milk and cookies? And this year’s “Santa photo” could be a photo of the kids baking cookies for him, or of them in front of all their past Santa photos, etc.

Patricia

I did minimal decorating this year; wreath on door, cute gnome and snowman outside door, decorated mantle and one bookshelf with a Christmas house and done. Did it early because I needed a little cheer. I’ve since helped my sister decorate her door and make a small table top arrangement.
Thanks to quarantine, nobody will be visiting except by Zoom. So this was enough. And I can keep most of it up until I start channeling spring in a few months.

Victoria

I think this is the year for Bryan or your dad to be Santa 🤣

Jo

Emily, I love this room and all of the holiday touches! Can you share the source for that leather chair? Is it super comfortable?

Thank you!

We are doing a pared down version. I usually have a family/crazy/messy tree upstairs and the “department store” pretty tree downstairs. This year we are only doing the downstairs tree, but I’ve combined the decorations from both. It turned out pretty darn lovely if you ask me! I’m still doing the mantle and the dining room table, but not as over the top as usual. We need the Christmas cheer this year!

Shara

Emily, love what you did with this tree! Elliot put it perfectly – so fun 🙂

Question, I happen to have the exact same color couch and rug as you do in your family room, and I often worry that there isn’t enough “contrast” between the two dark colors. Like, should I have bought a lighter gray couch to go with the dark rug or a lighter rug against the dark couch? Does this occur to you or bother you at all, or is it all about how you decorate the rest of the space?

The great thing of course is that both the rug and couch are the perfect colors for kids who are drooling / eating / generally making lots of messes. But, the designer in me is always second guessing myself.

Would love your thoughts!

Jessica Bolton

I love the family room tree! This is the kind of tree I grew up with and now do in my own home. I am going to steal the framed Christmas/Santa photos idea for us! What a great idea!

Julie

Random but source for those cute polar bear stuffies in the corner? My mum always decorated with loads of Christmas teddy bears and I could totally go for a polar bear cub right now (or are they puppies? I think i need glasses).

Stephanie

I just read your post in which you mentioned not being able to find a tree collar to fit around the base of the tree. Well, two years ago I had the same issue. I happened to have a roll of stiff cardboard and cut a piece to size reaching just under the lowest branches. I took a pretty scarf and covered the cardboard skirt with it. Done! Last Christmas I found the perfect woven tree collar but I liked my homemade one even better.

I love seeing this and all the smiles! From one mom with no littles to a mom with littles, I’ll tell you I miss this so much. Christmas is so much more magical with the kiddos! This is the spirit of it all!

J

‘instead, I gave it all to my neighbor and just had a newborn and it felt SO good.’
HAHAHA funniest typo. The mental images I am having right now :’) :’)

J

And the decorations are lovely!

Petris

Oh I love those gingham photo ornaments! Did you make them? If not, can you share the source?

Petris

Oh I love those gingham photo ornaments! Did you make them? if not, can you please share the source?

This is my favorite style of holiday decor. I call it Kiddie CF style, which is our style. Yours is less CF than the usual kiddie style, but it looks amazing! A memories packed room is so happy and cozy. Love that you even took it to the gallery wall and did the Santa pics.

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