How a Busy Mom (and Creative Director) Gets Through the Holiday Season

We love Emily Ley from her truly contagious smile to sunny disposition to her overall outlook on life {that inspires women of all ages} — she exudes the brand she has created for herself. Her brand story is a joy to read and she is just as much a joy to work with professionally and personally.

We got the opportunity to ask Emily a few questions about “How a Busy Mom (and Creative Director) Makes it Through the Holiday Season.” With so many balls to juggle between her family and business, we knew Emily’s take on it all would not only be a good reminder for us but you as well.

Happy reading and let us know if you have more questions!

{perfect timing for the craziness of Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend}



1. When do you “kick off” the holiday season in your house? Like really start the decorating, holiday music, and get excited? Pre-Thanksgiving day after?

Oh, we’re a pre-Thanksgiving family. Growing up, Christmas was part of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t actually Thanksgiving unless the Christmas tree was up in the living room. And I LOVE (!) Christmas, so it’s really the most wonderful time of the year here. When we decorate the Christmas tree we make an evening of it with hot cocoa (never mind that it’s 80 degrees here in Florida), Nat King Cole on Spotify and involve the whole family. Decorating can be so daunting because there’s so much to be done, but when we make a fun tradition out of it, it’s less of a chore and more of a memorable experience.

2. You are synonymous with Joy + Simplicity and evoke Grace not Perfection. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, do you have any helpful reminders to share of how you keep this “mantra” front of mind?

It’s REALLY easy to get stressed out during the holidays—I know this from first hand experience. So for me, I have to make a plan. In early November, Bryan and I talk through the memories we want to make and the fun things we want to do with the kids. For example: visit Santa at the mall, decorate a gingerbread house together and make an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Then, we actually schedule them on our calendars so that we’re sure they’ll happen. This way, we don’t let the busy-ness of the season takeover.

3. We are all guilty of it, creating these long to-do lists, packing our schedule with holiday parties .. and then sometimes feeling bad if we don’t get it all done. When you have those moments of feeling over-whelmed by the “to-do” list, what is the first thing you do?

Give up. Seriously, sometimes you just have the let the mess win. And you know what’s funny, I feel like my most “real” self when I just sit among the craziness and enjoy the circus of it all. Do all the holiday parties and shopping lists REALLY matter? No. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you enjoyed each other even if the laundry wasn’t finished and a Christmas party was missed.

4. Are you an online shopper or “old school” and shop at retail stores? Any favorites?

I do a little of both. I shop online on Cyber Monday and in a few local brick and mortar stores too (for those hard-to-find, unique items). I love Amazon Prime and I’m a big fan of Waiting on MarthaSwoozie’s (of course) and Anthroplogie for gifts. I try to make a list and stick to it.

5. While we totally wish we were the type people that had all our holiday gifts purchased weeks in advance, all wrapped and ready-to-give…more often than not, we don’t have it all done. Are you the type that has it all done?

Sort of. I was the girl in college that wrote the term paper at the beginning of the semester because I didn’t want to stress out about it at the end (is it any surprise that I designed a planner?) So, I shop really early. But wrapping is a gradual thing. And I’m inevitably wrapping on Christmas Eve. Last year, I convinced Bryan to help me wrap gifts with glitter paper. That went over really well. Our entire kitchen was COVERED in glitter for weeks!

6. Any go-to gift on your list this season for your besties? Colleagues? Hubby? Kids?

YES! I’m gifting a few of our new Dapperdesk planners to the men in my life. And I love these cute pineapple trinket trays for Brady’s teachers (with Starbucks gift cards).

7. We have to ask if anything on your list? Just one thing you really want this holiday?

Sleep. Kidding. Sort of. :) I have my eye on these shoes from JCrew and this gold flatware from West Elm

8. What do you get most excited about during the holiday season? What are your favorite family traditions?

Honestly, I just love the magic in it for my kiddos. I love seeing Brady light up visiting Santa. I love watching him learn the importance of giving and what Christmas is all about. I can’t wait to watch the twins see Christmas lights for the first time. And I can’t wait for my family to be all together for Christmas Eve. I would say my favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve. We have a “snack” dinner where everyone makes their favorite appetizer. Then we sit around, right before the kids go to bed, and pass around an old version of the Night Before Christmas. Every person reads a page. Inevitably someone will change the words and make it really funny. It’s something we’ve done since I was a little girl. :) 

Emily’s Favorite Gifts from Swoozie’s for the Holidays

1. Personalized Gold Rimmed Wine Glasses

2. Personalized Napkins (great for impromptu get togethers)

3. Personalized Bamboo Cutting Board

4. Chewbeads

5. ALL the jelly cats!