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This Designer Prefers to Spend New Year's Eve at the Beach

Eny Lee Parker shares her non-traditional approach to the holidays.

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This Designer Prefers to Spend New Year's Eve at the Beach
Center Photo: Sean Davidson

“Now that I'm talking aloud, I'm realizing I'm not that festive,” laughs Eny Lee Parker, after recounting her holiday history. Though I’d say it’s more so that she simply likes to cherry pick her favorite elements of the season and put her own spin on them—this year, she’s hand-making kitchen essentials for her friends and reflecting on traditions from a childhood spent in Brazil. And with a preference for New Year’s over Christmas, it's easy to see how her festive indulgences come more so in the form of fashion—think silver high heels. Discover more about her semi-festive approach to the holiday season below.

Photo: Courtesy of Eny Lee Parker

When I say holiday season, what's your gut reaction?

“I mean, I know it's a festive time, but I grew up with just one family member. Now, it's just my mom and I, so we don't have that many traditions. We grew up in a religious home, so I think becoming an adult, I began to enjoy different parts of the holidays in my own way. And a lot of it has to do with being with friends and traveling and giving back and hosting. It's funny because I was married for a long time and my ex-husband's family was really big into the holidays, so I got to join that. But I feel like now I'm back to the mentality of just spending time with friends and having parties. It's always evolving for me, the holidays. It's supposed to be fun but it can also be personal.”

For the December holiday break, are you traveling anywhere? Are you staying home, seeing family? What are your plans?

“Normally around Christmas time, I do like to travel, because New Year's is my favorite holiday, weirdly. I love the colors and the shine, but I also love the idea of looking back on the whole year that you've had and seeing the growth, seeing who you were at the beginning of the year and who you are at the end of the year, and then moving forward to the next day. I love that page-flipping chapter. But I do like to be somewhere warm during that time. So I like to travel. In the past, we would go to Mexico or somewhere like that.”

So you said you love to host. Are you planning on hosting anything this season?

“I've been doing Friendsgiving for a few years now and I started this tradition where I make a lot of the ceramic things that have to do with serving Friendsgiving. I make the salad bowl and all the plates and candle holders, and I make napkin settings with name tags and stuff. That's really fun because I obviously have a studio and we can make things, and my friends and I just love setting up a really beautiful table and cooking together.

And then I love Secret Santa, so I'll do something like that with my close friends. Last year, I hosted New Year's and that was really fun, and we went out, and then we traveled afterwards. I don't make plans [in advance], but it comes at the last minute and then I'll make a little invitation. But I love doing it.”

When you host something, tell me about your process of getting ready. I know you mentioned the invitations and the tablescape, but set the mood for me—the color palette, the playlist, etc.

“Normally, I see the vibe first of who's interested in coming, because I have friends who are more talented in the kitchen. I'll make plates or something like that for it. And it gets me excited. I love producing events, but it's nothing serious. I don't do anything that's going to take too much time. It should be fun. A lot of my plate-setting is very raw and playful right now. It's a lot of stars and handmade candles. Nothing is perfect. And then I normally will get a friend to have a playlist. It's divide and conquer, really. And I do love getting flowers. I'll do a color story for it. So right now I'm really into burgundies and soft oranges because I feel like I am really slow on the seasons. I really detest the cold and I was rejecting the fall, and then finally that it's winter, now I’ll do something fall.

“And then finally if my friends are bouncing off the energy of excitement, then I'll get even more excited and I'll start making invitations and invite a couple more people just for fun. Because that's all in the creative realm and I really enjoy doing that.”

Photo: Courtesy of Eny Lee Parker

Do you decorate for the holidays?

“That's a hard question because I'm the type of person who doesn't even have personal photos up on my walls. I'm so object oriented and art oriented. The decorations are hard. I have a little property in Connecticut and I just found out that there are Christmas trees growing and I thought it would be cute to get one. But to me, the festive colors come in my wardrobe, not in my home. I don't wear sparkles or loud colors that often, but I love an excuse for it, so I'll get festive in my clothes. I like my home to be peaceful—I've had Christmas trees before and it's just having to take them down, having to put them up; it's so much work.”

How have you decorated your Christmas tree? I'm curious what you allow on the tree.

“I did a lot of magnolia flowers, fake magnolia flowers and clear bulbs. I made a lot of the ornaments myself. It's usually on the simpler side, not a lot of color.”

So tell me about getting dressed for the holidays. What are the things you like to wear?

“Silver, loud, sparkles. Honestly, I love an excuse to wear some really girly shit like sequins and things like that. I think it's fun. I have three pairs of silver shoes I don't ever wear all year until Christmas and New Year's come. Then I'm like ‘Oh, I can wear these.’”

Are there any traditions you have from childhood or that you've developed later on that you like to keep alive these days?

“I grew up in Brazil and on New Year's, we go to the beach and we throw roses in the ocean and make a wish. Not tons of roses, just one. I think that's really cute and special. It’s something that reminds me of childhood. And you wear all white and you're barefoot at the beach, and it's late at night and there are fireworks.”

Are there any food items or cocktails or anything in that realm that you specifically enjoy during the season?

“I am cursed by the fact that I don't like cinnamon or nutmeg or things with those holiday vibes. I'm a vodka martini, dirty, to the end. Also, I think champagne makes me a little sick now. So unfortunately, that's the one drink that I stick to all year round. Doesn't matter what the event is.”

Photo: Courtesy of Eny Lee Parker

Are there any guilty pleasure movies you enjoy this time of year?

“All the Harry Potters—grew up with them. I'm never going to let that go. December hits and Harry Potter is on.”

Do you have any go to host or hostess gifts?

“I think a classic coffee book is always [a go-to]. I love getting books, design books [specifically]. My friends at Sight Unseen just launched a beautiful book that is very well done. It's called How to Live With Objects and it's so good. It has so many beautiful design pieces. So that is my go-to gift this year because it's so easy.”

Do you have anything on your wishlist this year?

“I like when people give me things that they've made. But again, old coffee design books are my favorite things to receive, especially when it's from friends outside of my close circle.

And then do you have any examples of things that you're giving specific people in your life this year?

“I always give my best friend jewelry for the holidays. I think that's something that will last a long time and feels a little more intimate. And then I normally make things too, for my friends. So I have a small group of friends (maybe six), so they'll all be receiving handmade gifts. I'll probably make kitchen things. A lot of my friends are moving into new homes. Or something quirky—something to hang on the wall or something to use in the kitchen. And then sadly with my mom, she just loves cash.”

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“I normally make things too, for my friends. So I have a small group of friends (maybe six), so they'll all be receiving handmade gifts.”

Eny Lee Parker
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