Jenna Lyons Dishes on All That RHONY Gifting Drama

The fashion phenom chats with AD about playing Santa to her castmates and transforming her home into a “sparkle hut” for the holidays
Jenna Lyons laughing on Watch What Happens Live
Jenna Lyons is the founder and CEO of eyelash brand LoveSeen.Photo: Bravo/Getty Images

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Somehow the etiquette of gift-giving became a storyline on The Real Housewives of New York this season. Former J.Crew president and forever fashion icon Jenna Lyons, famous for incorporating sequins into the day-to-day dress codes of a significant swath of the nation throughout the 2010s and earning the sartorial sign-off of Michelle Obama, found herself at the center of the squabble. Lyons showed up on several occasions that made the show’s final edit with an assortment of presents for all the girls in hand—which, perhaps perplexingly, rubbed several of her castmates the wrong way.

Some of the ladies may have felt the presents had promo-related ulterior motives, but we at AD would not mind being on the trendsetter’s Nice List. And though curating the J.Crew catalogue-famous “Jenna’s Picks” is no longer a part of her job description, the LoveSeen founder and CEO graciously continued her tradition of refusing to gatekeep her favorite goodies this holiday season. AD sat down with Lyons to chat about some of the items she’s wrapping up for loved ones this year and also got the scoop on her best holiday home decor tips. The Klarna spokesperson’s aesthetic expertise extends past the realm of fashion and into the abode with her work as an interior designer—and as any Housewives fan or member of the NYC glitterati knows well, Lyons frequently plays host for events and photo shoots at her eclectic SoHo town house. To make the yuletide gay inside her Manhattan abode, the RHONY fan-favorite focuses on creating an ambiance with cozy Christmas scents, soft lighting, and, of course, a little sparkle. Read on for Lyons’s tips on how to survive the holidays in style.

Lyons (and her dog, Popeye) hosting an event this spring at her Manhattan home.

Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images for

Architectural Digest: Does your signature affinity for sparkles carry over to your holiday home decor?

Jenna Lyons: I mean, have we met? Literally, my apartment is a sparkle hut. I can’t get enough. It’s probably one of the bigger challenges. My son is always like, “Oh, here we go.” I can’t help that I love Christmas.

So I’m guessing you’ve already started holiday season decorating?

I have started ordering, I haven’t started decorating the tree—I think it’s coming up this weekend. I, for the first time in my life, got a fake tree last year because it was all kinds of crazy with all the needles everywhere and I finally decided I was just going to do a fake tree. But I also have a world’s supply of lights and heavy ornaments, and the poor tree was just like, “No, I don’t want them.” So I had to go to the other route.

For your holiday decor this year, do you have a theme in mind or an atmosphere you’re going for?

I would say “psychedelic confetti” is probably my theme. This is the one time in my life where I sort of let go of all of the preconceived ideas of what looks elegant, I just don’t care; I want it to sparkle. I want there to be eight million colors. I want you to walk in and feel like you’re in a wonderland. I always have mulled cider on the stove so that it smells nice. I have eight million reindeer everywhere and, it’s just like…. I go in deep.

And with home decor, understanding a sense of scale is important. Sometimes you need to see things in person to know if they’re going to work. Klarna lets you actually purchase the thing and then wait 30 days to pay for it. It’s nice to be able to pull multiple items at once to decide what you want, and then only pay for what you keep.

Lyons’s apartment features a vibrant color palette. When it comes to holiday hosting, she incorporates plenty of soothing candles to set the mood as well as a healthy dose of her trademark sparkle.

Photo: JP Yim/Getty Images for

What’s your favorite kind of gift to receive? Is there anything in particular on your wishlist this season?

The way I shop for gifts is that I always buy something that I’d want to receive. Unfortunately, I shop a lot. But one of my favorite things to get—I know this is strange—is socks. I’ll tell you why, because nice socks are one of those weird luxuries, because they’re also a necessity, and those are the things that people often don’t want to spend money on, like a really nice toothpaste, or a beautiful candle, nice socks, or a beautiful face cream. Those are the things that are always nice to get as gifts, because they’re taking your regular shopping up a notch.

What is your go-to gift as a guest at a holiday party?

My first recommendation is: Do not take someone flowers with no vase. There’s nothing more annoying than somebody walking into your house, and now you have to stop and cut the flowers and put them in water. Like, don’t do that to me. So that’s my no-no. In terms of my favorite gift, I’ll never turn down a candle.

Are you a scented candle person or you prefer them without?

I am an equal-opportunity candle owner. I like all candles. I mean, I don’t want an apple cider vinegar scent. There’s this Byredo candle that is fantastic, it’s called Peyote, but it doesn’t really smell like peyote. It’s sort of smoky and warm.

Byredo black candle jar

Peyote Poem Candle

Your style of gifting became an actual storyline this year on your debut season of The Real Housewives of New York. Watching it back now, do you stand by your approach?

For sure! Ironically, it is such a part of my life; I love Christmas, I love gifting. When somebody likes something I have, I want to share it and I want to give it to them. If someone’s like, “Oh, I like your lipstick.” Well, I want you to have that lipstick, or “It smells good in here,” I want to share that thing with that person. So it was funny to me that the storyline kind of went off the rails, but I think that I’m all for it. If I’m going to be known as someone who gives too many gifts, fine.

What’s your best hosting advice for somebody looking to establish themselves as the Jenna Lyons of their social circle?

Honestly, people walk in and most frequently notice two things: one is if your house smells beautiful, and that mulled cider on the stove thing actually does have a huge impact. And second is softening the lighting. Candlelight, to me, really does make something feel special and magical.