Emily Henderson’s Holiday Decorating Tips

See how the interior designer and Target Home Style Expert made over her home for the holidays.

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start decorating our homes with festive decorations to spread some cheer and get in the spirit. And while we all love our family’s traditional ornaments and decorations, sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box and try something new for the season. To give us some inspiration, interior designer and Target Home Style Expert Emily Henderson shared with Real Simple how she made over her house for the season and gave us some of her best decorating tips. Henderson outfitted her home with items from Target, which you can buy now to get the look. Take a tour and watch how she decorated here.


Change Up the Palette

Photo by Sara Tramp

“Last year, we did a more traditional color palette in the living room with plenty of red, green and pops of navy,” Henderson says. “To say it was ‘kid-oriented’ was not wrong. I loved it and it was perfect for the kids, but this season, I wanted a bit more of a calm, grown-up feel. I typically gravitate toward neutral tones and this project was no different.” Henderson added cream-toned pieces with metallics, dark green, blue, and a hint of blush. The result is something that’s sophisticated, yet whimsical and cozy. “I love a traditional red and green look as much as the next person, but there’s something magical about a glamorous, luxe-themed room.”

To buy: Wondershop Unlit Artificial Tree Virginia Pine, $200; target.com. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Knit Tassel Throw Pillow, $25; target.com. Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Artificial Pine Wreath with Bell, $35; target.com. Threshold Bear Head Wall Decor, $35; target.com. Threshold Wood Deer Figure, $25; target.com. Wondershop Aspen Snowman Figurine, $25; target.com.


Have a Theme in Mind

Photo by Sara Tramp

If you don't have a plan for what you want the room to look like, it can end up looking more chaotic than cohesive. Stick to a theme so you don’t go overboard and overwhelm any guests. “I think it’s important and helpful to have a theme or loose game plan before you start decorating for the holidays,” she says. “For example, this year I decided to style my living room with plenty of bird and tree figurines and stuck to neutral tones and metallics. Having parameters helps me stay on track and creates a cohesive look.”

To buy: Wondershop Cable Knit Stocking, $13; target.com. Threshold Light Up House Stocking Holder in White, $10; target.com. Wondershop Large Ceramic House Tealight Candle Holder, $10; target.com. Wondershop Ceramic Deer, $8; target.com.


Balance Kid-Friendly and Grown-Up Decor

Photo by Sara Tramp

It can be hard to decorate for both kids and adults sometimes—you want to be able to strike a balance between sophisticated and kid-friendly, but we all know the aesthetics can be very different. Henderson was hoping for calm and quiet, while her kids wanted something bright. “In the living room, I used a lot of whimsical animal and tree decor in the white, green, and wood toned palette,” Henderson says. “They were happy because it looked like toys were everywhere, and I was happy because they were neutral toned. I let the kids help pick out pieces they liked the most and wanted to see in their bedrooms with brighter color palettes, then kept the living room still kid-friendly but with more neutral tones.”

To buy: Wondershop Unlit Artificial Tree Virginia Pine, $200; target.com. Wondershop Cable Knit/Fur Tree Skirt, $40; target.com. Wondershop Ceramic 2017 Frame Christmas Ornament, $5; target.com. Wondershop Silver Dark Blue Christmas Ornament Set, $30; target.com. Wondershop Aspen Silver/Clear/Pearl Glass Christmas Ornament Set, $20; target.com. Wondershop Felt Character with Wood Ornament Set, $12; target.com. Wondershop Mixed Finish Fable Ornament Set, $20; target.com. Wondershop Layered White Wood Shapes Ornament Set, $12; target.com.


Involve the Whole Family

Photo by Sara Tramp

While her daughter Elliott is too young to be able to choose her own decorations, Henderson’s son Charlie “was more into holiday decorating than ever before and had a lot of opinions.” She got him involved by letting him pick out his favorite holiday pieces, which included a lot of festive red. Involving the whole family extends to things beyond decor, too: “We are just starting our holiday traditions as our kids can finally walk and talk. A lot of them will focus on spending quality time together while contributing or helping others. We are very lucky to have this home dripping with beautiful holiday decor, so we are prioritizing how to make others feel that happy, too.”

To buy: Wondershop Prelit Full Artificial Christmas Tree Alberta Spruce, $60; target.com. Threshold Chunky Knit Throw Blanket, $30; target.com. Wondershop Gather Santa Figurine, $25; target.com. Threshold House Throw Pillows, $20; target.com.


Build on the Already-Existing Decor

Photo by Sara Tramp

Instead of creating something totally brand new, you can use your room’s existing style to help dictate the theme or idea. “Elliot’s bedroom is already full of blush tones and feminine pieces, so I built on that look for her holiday bedroom makeover,” she says. “My favorite part is the glittery tree forest we created in the corner by grouping smaller artificial trees around this Wondershop Prelit Christmas Tree in Rose Gold. It looks so magical!”

To buy: Wondershop Prelit Artificial Chirstmas Tree Rose Gold Slim, $120; target.com. Wondershop White Slim Tinsel Tree, $8; target.com. Threshold Tinsel Tree, $15; target.com. Sugar Paper Gold Foil Scattered Dots on White Wrapping Paper, $6; target.com. Sugar Paper Gold Foil Trees on White Wrapping Paper, $6; target.com. Wondershop Birds with Feathers Glass Christmas Ornament Set, $10; target.com. Fabric Unicorn Ornament Set, $12; target.com. Wondershop Mini Ball Plastic Christmas Ornament Set, $3; target.com. Wondershop Fashion Blush Christmas Ornament Set, $20; target.com. Threshold Cabin Snowglobe, $15; target.com. Wondershp Mini Tree Skirt Faux Fur, $10; target.com.