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All The Risky (and Questionable) Holiday DIYs I’ve Done (and Maybe I Want To Do More Of)



photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: elliot’s metallic holiday bedroom

This post is brought to you in collaboration with my former weird self. I’m having a real resurgence over here, it’s been bubbling up for a while but it’s taken me a bit to understand what I miss about my former self. If you are sensing a mid-career crisis, you are right. With the blog turning 10 in two weeks, I’ve been deep in self-reflection, looking at every single year with a personal, design and business lens. Here’s one thing I miss: I used to be SO BRAVE, stylistically. No rules. So many risks. I PLAYED. Looking at all my past Christmases, I see so much creativity despite all the fails.

She’s back. We aren’t going to call her “old Emily” because that implies A. I’m old AND I’M NOT, I’M VERY YOUTHFUL and B. one can become a former version of oneself. You can’t. It’s been 10 years and I’ve changed. So, we’ll call her “Weird Emily.” Hmm…I think I need to work on the branding of that, that’s not quite it. Maybe it’s Emily The Brave? Stay tuned.

So as we close out this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to revisit all the weirdest things I have done for my holiday decor and hear my current thoughts about it.

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Snowmen

10 YEARS AGO. Probably my favorite and WEIRDEST holiday DIY was the GLOBE snow-person family. Don’t let that shitty photo fool you, we had to source a lot of likely expensive vintage globes to create those three lovers. We drilled holes in them, put long bars (I don’t remember out of what) through them to keep them together and created a base to hold them still. I don’t recommend butchering vintage globes to do this, but I do love the creativity they came from.

We also took thrift store books, ripped off the covers and spines and turned them into snowflake-shaped accessories. We had readers who wanted to craft. I can’t find that episode of Secrets From A Stylist anywhere, but maybe that’s good. However, it was full of off-the-wall ideas that Orlando and I created. Including a huge vintage map that said JOY TO THE WORLD.

Emily Henderson Updated Holiday Through The Years 2011 1

That map inspired many, many people to do something similar and I have to admit, adding simple white letters that read JOY TO THE WORLD was brave and had the sense of humor that only Orlando and I together like to come up with.

Secrets From A Stylist Emily Henderson Blue Teal Gold Green Holiday Decorations 1

Also, we didn’t stop there with our subversive DIYs, we did a “wreath” in the shape of an oversized peace sign, we also put birdhouses all over that tree and made those yarn ball ornaments…those last two ideas I still love. I love taking traditional holiday icons and doing a weird twist on them.

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Celebrity Hot Pink

Hot pink had a huge moment nine years ago. Remember when I did a Celebrity Holiday Homes episode for Cheryl Burke (and HGTV)? If you don’t, see the post here. Well, she loved hot pink, or more accurately I loved hot pink at the time, and I really went for it with a GROVE of hot pink and white trees in her living room, which was admittedly nuts but undeniably striking.

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Nutcracker

More importantly, I found that vintage nutcracker lamp in Palm Springs and spray painted it white (Cherly loved nutcrackers). I wish I had that so badly for me now, not that you need to switch out your normal lighting for holiday-themed ones, but man was it fun (and stood over 4-feet tall).

I also believed in untraditional wreaths at the time (and putting a lot of ornaments in cloches). We made that paper wreath out of tissue paper and while I didn’t have a good photographer at the time, I think this idea would transcend time if we made it now.

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Celebrity Hot Pink Table

I painted a ton of thrift store tchotchkes and candlesticks in our color palette, including a ballet dancer as holiday decor. I also painted those cakestands with marbled paint. They weren’t good, but the idea was solid (and likely NOT food-safe or long-lasting).

We created MORE Christmas themed DIY art, with our Now Dasher, Now Dancer piece (again, Cheryl Burke was a dancer).

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Cheryl Burke

You are about to see a theme…

That same year, I decked my house out in more hot pink (clearly inspired). I left NO surface undecorated; balls EVERYWHERE. I continued my “snow” in place of real greenery likely because we shot way before December and didn’t actually have access to real greenery. Also if you have a 200lb cement dalmatian, I clearly recommend putting a wreath collar on it. Could also be a huge bow around the neck (see below).

121130 Emilyhendersonholiday2012

Brass deer + snow does say “glam holiday” in a way that I apparently wanted to. BY SCREAMING IT.

‘Sup, hand chair?

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Commonwealth

That was the same year that I made a wreath out of REAL flowers, which cost probably $200 (peonies in December are $$$$) and lasted two days. I do NOT recommend this and did not predict its quick demise. But I did put my vintage headpiece on one of my many busts (and note the same DIY marble painted cake stands).

I also hand-painted all the “wrapping paper” and stacked up presents in the shape of a tree. QUICK NOTE: This was before any sort of Instagram backdrop moment “OPPORTUNITY.” I just wanted to show how you can make a big impact with easy DIY’d presents. Imagine that???

Emily Henderson Weird Holiday Commonwealth 2

Orlando and I kept up our subversive “art project” by painting a Ho Ho Ho, Ho art piece. It still makes me smirk.

121130 Emilyhendersonholiday2012

More than I reminiscing about weird holiday decor, I love that man (who helped me create said weird holiday decor). I am extremely excited to collaborate with him more in 2020, stay tuned for that but it’s likely more in the form of a podcast, not holiday fashion posts where we wear different forms of bows around our tiny necks.

I’m not saying that these ideas were amazing, nor that I would do them again. But boy do I appreciate the former creativity and lack of effs. I also know that I had SO much more time to DIY, and willingness to put my ideas and creativity out there because my audience was a lot smaller, and therefore rarely a troll in sight.

Anyway, seeing these projects, despite their bad photography and questionable color palettes does inspire me and make me want to, you know, be more creative, write more editorially, and do more “Emily The Brave” in 2020…and not just in holiday.

Perfection is boring. LET’S GET WEIRD.

What do you think? I know that there are a lot of you out there who remember, who have been there since day 1 (THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU), and more than likely weren’t here and don’t remember. What do you all think? Should you want this type of brave DIY and odd innovation from me/us? Or does this just strike you as amateur creativity and bad DIY? I’m honestly open. I guess for me I just appreciate the risk and the lack of traditionalism and conformity.

Also, I know you guys are busy, it’s two days before Christmas, so thank you for taking the time to write any comments or feedback.

Happy holidays. See you tomorrow for my Christmas post.

Fin Mark


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[…] post All The Risky (and Questionable) Holiday DIYs I’ve Done (and Maybe I Want To Do More Of) appeared first on Emily […]


Not OLD Emily, BOLD Emily!
I’d love to see a few questionable choices now and then.


Ooooh, love this! I agree!


Perfection is in many other places. I stop by the blog to help me see things differently and to help me step out of the comfort zone. Be BOLD Emily! and happy holidays.

Wendy Munsell

Ditto! I was going to comment until I read this!

Cassie Bustamante

YES! I love this so much! I plan to tap more into my weirdness and creativity as well and do more small DIY/craft projects. I’ve also gotten away from it and miss it~ can’t wait to see what weird things shall come!

[…] {$excerpt:n} Source: All The Risky (and Questionable) Holiday DIYs I’ve Done (and Maybe I Want To Do More Of) […]


I’ve been along for the ride with you since the beginning and can’t quite believe it’s been that many years. I just wanted to support the idea of B/old Emily making a resurgence. “Let’s get weird”, but with better photography! (LOL, how much production values of your blog have changed!)


Emily the brave! I miss you! Not just because of the DIY but because back then, your style really stood out. Nobody else was creating globe snowmen! These days, there are a lot of Instagram or blogs or what have you and they’re all starting to look the same to me. Wood floors, great natural light, a vintage rug, plants, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very pretty look but it’s all the same. I can name so many accounts that have this same look. These days I mainly come here for your voice when writing!


Exactly! Well said. I cannot wait to see the new iteration of weird Emily.
This blog used to be inspiring and full of unusual and creative boldness.
It has become just more of the same old in the last few years – beautiful but just the same as everyone else in decor cyberland.
Can’t wait to see emily and Orlando back together – now that was some fun!


I agree! Emily’s voice and introspection do it for me!

Julie P

Absolutely I agree 100%. I think partly things end up looking like Emily’s work because she’s part of the inspiration pool for others. Anyway, weird is all about working with what you’ve got, making lemonade out of lemons, and embracing imperfections. Such a “Green” way of going about home design, which can be really wasteful when we’re all chasing the next matching trend…


Me too!


Ditto! Your writing style ABOUT the bold creativity is what made me a fan!


Yes, miss this Emily too. I remember thinking whoa she’s gone mad with that pink Christmas but I was so inspired by the nutcracker lamp and the peace Christmas. I have felt that lately everything felt just a bit safe, even dare I say it, boring, even though it is definitely more tasteful and sophisticated. I have missed your voice on the blog. I have missed the crazy inspiration. Every thing seems so the same these days with Instagram and pinterest. I guess that just compounds things. So feeling very happy to have your back thinking about picking this part… Read more »





Nora B


Annie K

+ infinity + 1. I think if you go bold and risky now, you’ve got the restraints (design, taste, and family-life wise) to keep it from being “amateur creative” (not that there’s anything wrong with amateur creative). I’d love it if you focus on reusing what you’ve got. Like many have echoed, being less wasteful and consuming is a part of my life in a way it wasn’t ten years ago. I hope to see that reflected in your designs, too, because this is one area where your content can seem a little out of touch (like, green posts as… Read more »


My ’09 house looked similar in comparison to my ’19 house. And my almost 40 year old self is a lot less energetic, but a lot more relationally intentional than my ’09 self! Therefore my Christmas diy reflects that. For me it’s because I realized my ‘extra’ decor was taking away from me being ‘extra’ and intentional with my people and relationships. I had to pick one or the other (kudos to people who are good at doing both!) I like your fun, poppy, whimsy looks of years past, they’re inspiring, and they make me look back on my 20-sometjing… Read more »




I feel ya… I used to go ALL OUT but at 50 my energy level and health just isn’t the same as at used to be.
But I have fond memories of all the cooking, crafts and decor fun.


YES! More weird, unique and bold.

Loveley of

I love this idea so much! Be weird again. I relate to this so MUCH. You’re totally having your mid-life crisis. I wouldn’t call it a crisis though. It’s a mid-life rebirth or mid-life something else? I just turned 40 as well and have COMPLETELY been self-analyzing where the old Loveley went. My kids are just a couple years older than both of yours as well. And I had my own version of Orlando a long time ago. And we were hilarious (in our own mind) together and so creative. I’m also looking to bring back my former self, or… Read more »


Fearless Emily!


I love weird! The world is full of safe interiors – I’m Scandinavian and sick to death of all-white everything. There’s definitely room for experiments, both failed and successful.


I adore your DIYs and think this makes you so much more inspiring than other designers! More weird Emily please!


Hmmm. Can I say— both? Pushing boundaries is fun and exciting – but but design is time consuming and expensive. (And for some of us a little stressful- which is why we look to the experts.) Is it wrong to want a home that is fresh – and timeless?


Yes to all of this! ????????????????????????
I love and miss Emily the brave. I honestly got so excited when I saw you in that jumpsuit/t-shirt combo for NYE because it looked SO vintage Emily. You know I love all things vintage 🙂


Love the bold not old take below. I’m all for risks. People who criticize others for not achieving perfection are…not for me. Embrace the risks.


I love both bold and current Emily. My own style became more “safe” over the past 10 years along with the blog. I wonder how much of this is because I’m getting older (also turned 40 this year), because of the new media landscape or just because turmoil in the world has dampened our exuberance generally. I’d love to see more “weird” with better photos, as other commenters have noted. It doesn’t need to be as bold as before — as Emily noted, she has changed — but maybe the goal should be to try to experiment more? To be… Read more »


Love, love, love the blue/green Christmas with the globe snowman family, peace sign, Joy to the World, etc. The pink is fun, too. Love the pink ballerina and the white nutcracker lamp. Looking forward to seeing more “weird” stuff in 2020!


OMG!!! Globe snowmen??? Joy to the World map?? Pink tissue paper wreath?!! Painted White Nutcracker??!!! And that Ho ho ho painting??? So many fabulous ideas! Love it all! Do it again Em, have fun and do it again!

Jenna R

I LOVE the ‘Joy to the world” on the vintage map, I am so inspired to create one for next year!!! I NEED that on my wall!! I also love weird Emily!!! I have definitely noticed a more toned down / sophisticated Emily recently which is also amazing but I LOVE the weird because my decorating style leans towards weird as well. (When you posted the ‘pet screw’ from a flea market find I laughed so hard and immediately bought one on Ebay, it makes me smile every time I see it & he currently has a little Christmas wreath… Read more »

Barbara Snyder

The snowmen globes will always be my favorites.

Kristel Iris

All the way from Brussels, … dearest Emily, go for it, i totally get it. I wish i was still weird!
Somewhere on the mum-road i turned into calming white deco-lane and now that my youngest is not driving me nuts anymore, i am really starting to miss the creative madness and weirdness of … well me.
So to my kiddos, to you, to everyone, in 2020 let’s all say “aloha, i’m back”!!



I have always loved that perfection quote. So important.

Also RIP blue sofa. You will forever be missed.


Looking at the explosion of fun, color and joy in these images, it’s hard to believe the same stylist was agonizing whether a red pillow or throw were “too much” this year!
BTW, I have a bright red tree with silver and turquoise ornaments. It seems fun and joyful to me, but not weird!


Yes to brave!


Yes! Bold! It’s inspiring and interesting, and you are so GOOD at it. Also for those of us following for a long time, we’re now into the stage of having kids and shifting BACK to the weird and kitschy Christmas decorating to make them smile. My tasteful neutral Christmas stuff has stayed in the box for a couple years and instead we paint cheap ornaments with all colors of the rainbow and dig out the tacky red and green stuff of my childhood. I believe in joy over perfection.


While the rooms that cost thousands to decorate inspire us, they just aren’t approachable for every single person, but unique DIY projects are. I know I looked at each picture to get inspiration on how I could do some of that with what I have. Like the cloche with balls on plain white dishes? I have plain white dishes! Isn’t inspiration ultimately your job? I think people are here because they love what you do, so just do it. Go for it!


Hey I decorated with realistic squishy white mice this year … going with “not a creature was stirring EXCEPT the mouse” and had them acting out the story. So I’m not judging.

How about “original Emily” as a title?

How about requiring Trollers to show photos of their own actual homes if they want to get snarky ? Standard response: show me what you got and see how they feel under the spot light.


I would definitely appreciate seeing someone who has achieved sophistication incorporate some of their unique former style. So please, find that new voice that blends the old and new self. And, if you would, I encourage you to keep that voice classy. I feel like now a days it is almost a bold choice not to curse! Be bold by keeping your voice classy and respectful.


You have our unconditional love! On board and can’t wait!!!

Martha J Moore

Love your style and the various iterations of it! I’ve followed for years and have always looked forward to the daily read, despite (because of?) the evolution of your approach to interiors. I tend toward a warm embrace of color but really appreciate the subdued palette of the mountain house. I have a teacher’s salary to work with but thoroughly enjoyed the high-end beauty of the Portland house. There’s just a wonderful thread of creativity and sincerity that flows through whatever you approach. I think that if you do want to return to some more “out there” styling, you’ll navigate… Read more »


I love old Emily too! (ANY EMILY ACTUALLY!) Just so you know this year I’m doing a fully pink Christmas (white tree with hot pink and blush vintage ornaments) because my daughter is due with our first granddaughter. So of course it had to be a PINK CHRISTMAS!


Congrats! I did this when my first daughter was born, on Dec 20th – that was eight years ago. EVERYTHING was pink, silver, and gold – it was so fun 🙂


Hi! This is the second “remember when I did brave stuff post” in the last year or so, which I think means you need to go for it! ❤️ But also: pointing out what you’ve done in the past that didn’t always work IS brave, so I’d say you’re still Emily the Brave, just maybe not Hot Pink Emily.


I guess I didn’t realize I had been following along for this long, but I remember reading the hot pink grove journey in school! Loved all the weird. Ready to welcome it back with open arms!


Is “Sophisticated Weird” a thing? Is it even possible? If it is, only you could imagine and create it. I think, maybe, the snakeskin boots were a sign of this ‘you’ emerging…kind of like a butterfly re-emerging, into a more refined creative being. BTW: Just once, could we see your blimp artwirk above your LA fireplace?? I’ve always wished it to pop up there. It would, somehow, make it more your house…that little, individuality with quirkiness that is so your jam! Sometimes, as we grow and change, we revisit the best parts of our younger selves and take them forward… Read more »


I second the blimp over the LA fireplace!! Will it fit?


I was just having a conversation yesterday about how “perfection is the enemy of good” (broken gingerbread house pieces were involved). Do whatever you want! Yes, you have an audience, but ultimately, this is YOUR blog. The non-trolls will keep reading because they like YOU and your willingness to try stuff, whether or not it “works” or “is perfect.” Go Emily! And team!


I saw a genius idea for collapsed gingerbread houses… add a plastic dinosaur stomping on the ruins. No more explanation needed.

Alyssa Wine

Your snowmen family Christmas shoot was FORMATIVE for me! I remember drooling over it and cutting all the magazine pages out as inspiration. I totally copied your real, green, and gold color palette in my home and loved it!

I think we were all a bit weird and “devil may care” a decade ago, maybe that’s the fun of loving design, there will always be a new iteration of ourselves?
Merry Christmas,

Zach Mitchell

I’ve been a fan since Design Star (and I was horribly disappointed when Stylist stopped being a thing). I am so proud and pleased with the success you’ve earned since then! I still LOVE the lime and blue twist on Christmas from Stylist. Your aesthetic has become more refined, but while it may be less “weird” it continues to be fresh and your blog/Instagram has become my go to for design inspiration.

Wishing you all of the best in the new year!


Perfection is all over the internet! I love your desire to want to step out of bounds and do more bold things and DIYs and all of the “weird” things that will definitely make my design loving heart happy!


My mother STILL has globe people to her house every Christmas and they STILL are fun!!! Go for it, Emily!!

Clancy Simon

I think it’s awesome that you were and are still creative and daring! Much more so than many other designers, including myself. Those old photos wouldn’t be “content” today if they didn’t bring us back to the those trends in such a nostalgic way!


YES! A podcast with you and Orlando would make me SO happy!! You two are my favorite people I follow on IG. I enjoy your vulnerability and “realness” in your writing and I would love love to listen to you both as I am a sucker for excellent podcast content. Bring on 2020!!


I love the DIY! It is a bit crazy but it’s also so fun for those of us who get bored by the very classic holiday decor everywhere else and want ideas for getting a bit wild. I also love that it’s doable for anyone on a low budget – it feels so wasteful to me to spend a ton on temporary pieces I’ll change next year (or you could share ideas on how to adapt them for another theme the next year!) so I love when holiday decor is easy and fun.


I love this idea! Breakaway from all the same on social media. Take risks! Have fun!


I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since some of these! I’ve been an original follower of you ever since you did Design Star (so glad you won!) and Secrets of a Stylist.

I would love to see more of “weirld Emily”. You really taught me to embrace the unexpected to make a room more interesting.


Bravo! Part of this is where design has been stuck the last decade in shades of white and gray, serenity but missing punch – bring it Em!!


I so agree! Bring on the weird!

Also, Bearcat on that rope swing is so cute.

[…] This post is brought to you in collaboration with my former weird self. I’m having a real resurgence over here, it’s been bubbling up for a while but it’s taken me a bit to understand what I miss about my former self. If you are sensing a mid-career crisis, you are right. With the blog… Read More … The post All The Risky (and Questionable) Holiday DIYs I’ve Done (and Maybe I Want To Do More Of) appeared first on Emily Henderson. Read More […]


As someone who has followed you since rooting for you to win on HGTV Design Star (though my comments are rare), I can honestly say I love the whole spectrum of the work you put out there. Whatever Emily you decide you want to be, I’m here for it. It’s your voice I keep coming back to this blog for, and at the heart of it, you’re always Emily, no matter what facet you want to let shine brightest. I’m also excited for any collaboration you and Orlando take on together. Love you guys. 🙂

Tracy Munar-Ramos

Being weird is what made you successful in the first place. If other people want something less bold, less creative, less joyful, less fun there are a million and one boring websites for that. Seeing you make weird fabulous makes me braver in my own style choices. We need brave people now more than ever.

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