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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 10 2

As a general mantra, I like to come across like I’ve cared, but not that I’ve tried too hard. I think it’s actually the secret to life. So at this point, your tree is likely up and decorated and you might have a garland or two, but maybe you are of the “lets amp this up” type say for a party or just general injection of more holiday cheer. After decorating my house, Jess’, Arlyn’s (come back tomorrow for that reveal but there’s a sneak peek here today), plus past projects, we realized that there are some easy and affordable things that we have done (stuff you might already have) to have even more last-minute impact for entertaining or parties. Let’s get right to it.

1. Wrap any and all presents and style with them.

Of course, the key to this is hoping that you don’t only have pokemon wrapping paper on hand, but honestly, even if it’s just solid colors, craft paper, or newspaper (with simple ribbons), it does the job.

We use them almost like we would books in styling, in fact, yes I’ve wrapped MANY a book. See how cute a couple stacked on top of each other adds just a little more holiday cheer?

2. Pepper large plastic cheap ball ornaments on surfaces.

They are graphic and simple for your eye to understand, but say holiday immediately. So easy and so affordable as you typically have leftovers hanging out in your bins (if not, your tree likely won’t miss a dozen or so).

I like to mix sizes, colors and even textures to add an extra layer of interest. You can group just a few (2-3) or even add a few solo moments here and there.

3. Cedar branches are a styling dream.

Short on garland? Cedar (or eucalyptus or any green branches) can be a very cheap substitute for amping up the styling. I promise it’s SO EASY.

Jess' Holiday Party Lores 34

You can put it on shelving, credenzas, coffee tables, mantels even hang it on art, like Jess did.

4. Fairy lights will light up your holiday decor and life.

Emily Henderson Waverly 2018 Holiday 9

Just put them on those cedar branches (or even a houseplant if it’s appropriate) for instant holiday ambiance, which is all we really want, right?

Arlyn even put them in her non-working fireplace. Like why not?? (Sneak peek of her place below, but be sure to come back tomorrow for the full thing.)


5. Red…maybe obvious but totally undervalued.

You don’t need a ton of it. Bring in big bursts of this color in large ornaments, ribbon bows or wrapping paper. Yes, you can buy a poinsettia, just consider taking it out of its plastic coat and putting it in a more modern vessel.

You can also throw that pop of red in a pillow, throw and/or small decorative figurines. And the best part is literally any style can handle red. Take the Portland house above. It’s a traditional space so we used a classic red. Then below in Jess’ modern apartment, she used a less traditional berry red. It’s festive but in a fresh different way.

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Both have the perfect amount of punch for a little more holiday love.

Holiday decor doesn’t need to be expensive/a money suck. Look around at what you have and you most likely have all (or most) of what you need to add that extra layer of holiday cheer. Hope this was just the right amount of inspiration to make your holiday a little happier and cozier. Do you guys have any other easy, budget-friendly styling hacks to share? Let us know in the comments.

And if you procrastinated on the holiday decor front altogether, here are some very helpful posts for you:



  1. The fairy lights are such a good touch!

    Mariya | https://www.brunetteondemand.com/

  2. Can you guys do a post on porches for curb appeal? We have a brick townhouse and I’m always stuck on what goes outside, especially in the winter. I want to do something different from the lantern and large wooden vertical sign I see everywhere.

  3. Totally into amping it up for a party! I loved these ideas!

  4. I am hosting a small NYE party and am stumped on what to do for decor! Can you do a similar post on that?? Do I keep up my Christmas decor? Take it all down and just do some tinsel and balloons? Keep some of the not-so-Christmas decor but take down the tree? HELP!

  5. Fairy lights in the fireplace! I can’t believe I never thought of that. We have a wood burning fireplace, and while it’s so nice to have a real fire, keeping it stoked for 4+ hours at our Christmas Eve party is kind of a pain. I think we’ll try lights this year.

    1. Yes! Mine are on a timer, so they come on at the same time every day and I don’t even have to think about it. It’s SO much fun!

  6. Loved every single one of these!

  7. Would you please share the source for that gray wingback chair in the Portland House photos? (please be Target, please be Target, please be Target…)

    1. It IS Target, but I don’t think it’s available anymore. I know they had a houndstooth print one back in fall (https://www.target.com/p/cheswold-wingback-chair-threshold-153/-/A-54533260) but also might no longer be available. SORRY!!

  8. Emily HOW do you keep your kids from unwrapping the fake presents?! 😀

  9. Loved these ideas and am looking for a few small ways to really make it feel special for this final week leading up to Christmas!

    One of my issues… sigh… is when friends or family members give me Christmas decor that doesn’t go with my desired look. For example, this year, a family member bought me an item and said “I thought this was so beautiful and would look really good on your green credenza!” and… I went ahead and put it there. It makes me a bit sad every time I see it.

  10. In the very first photo of Emily Henderson’s home, there is a peek a boo shot of dining chairs and table. Where can I find those chairs please?

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