You’ve got the Christmas tree up and there’s a wreath on the door, but your home still seems to be missing that special something that turns your ordinary living spaces into that cozy winter retreat of your dreams.
What’s wrong? Well, you probably just need to make a few simple (and inexpensive) changes to your overall decor to transform your surroundings into the perfect place to hold a holiday party with your friends (or retreat from the holiday crowds).
Whatever your preferences or personal aesthetic, we’ve got some basic ideas you can build on that will help you create that fuzzy, fantastic and warm atmosphere you want when you’re sipping cocoa and watching the snow come down. Here are our guidelines:
Add a Candle (or Two, or Three – or More!)
Candles are classic components of the holiday season, and the light and warmth they bring when the daylight hours are short can absolutely brighten a room and your mood more than you realize.
Scented candles (think peppermint, cocoa, cranberry and spices) in the foyer and scattered around the home will automatically evoke the spirit of the season on a subconscious level as soon as someone sets foot inside your home.
Don’t neglect your dinner table, either – especially if you’re having guests over for dinner or a gift exchange. Here, you want to aim for unscented candles (so that the smell doesn’t overpower or mingle with that of the food). Pillar candles of different heights can be grouped together in the center of the table on a serving tray, or – if you have the appropriate candlesticks – you can go with elegant tapers.
Find a Few Extra Spots for Garlands and Lights
As we mentioned above, adding extra light to your home this time of the year also adds extra “oomph” to your spirits – and the spirits of your guests.
Strings of lights are cheap and easy to obtain, and you can use them on more than just your tree and front window. Consider draping your stairs and the entranceway to your home with garlands and twinkle lights so that guests automatically feel like they’re stepping into a world of enchantment when they arrive.
Your hallways and bathroom shouldn’t be neglected, either. Twinkle lights around mirrors and door frames will carry the theme from one room to the next and drive away the darkest shadows.
Add a Few Extra Trees in Unexpected Places
If you’re like a lot of folks, you have boxes of ornaments that are sitting in storage like the ghosts of Christmas past. Why not put them to good use?
Why not drag out those precious few glass ornaments you have from your grandma and put them on a small tabletop tree on the mantle? Tuck a slender “pencil tree” into the corner of the entranceway and layer it with those vintage “snowball” lights you got from your mom. If you’ve been holding onto one of those small ceramic trees that were so popular back in the 80s and 90s, why not tuck it up on a shelf in the bathroom or guest bedroom?
Not only is this a great way to make your home even more festive than usual, but it’s also a great way to honor the past and celebrate all of the memories you’ve created over the years – and guests will enjoy the surprises as they round each corner.
Create Warmth with Pillows, Blankets and Throw Rugs
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” might be one of your favorite songs, but it loses some of its allure when you’re shivering inside, too. Adding textured throw rugs, blankets and pillows that compliment your holiday style isn’t just for decor – it’s also a way to save on the heating bills.
Don’t be afraid to break out the faux fur or jewel tones for this – the tactile appeal can add an incredible sense of luxury to a room. Plush pillows and heavy blankets that would seem overbearing in the spring or summer are actually welcome delights in the winter.
Your floor, too, shouldn’t be neglected. While your wood floors and that lovely tile in your kitchen may be stunning, you (and your guests) will appreciate the warmth that a few throw rugs can bring. This is also a great time to layer on the crocheted blankets or vintage quilts you’ve been keeping in storage, especially if you are preparing for overnight guests.
Pull Out Your Favorite Books and Holiday Movies
When you’re ready to shut out the entire world for an evening (or a weekend) one of the most comforting, soul-quieting things you can do is curl up against those throw pillows you just added and tuck your feet under one of those blankets and just read or watch a movie.
There’s also something intrinsically pleasing about a stack of good books sitting on the floor at the corner of a couch or on a table next to your easy chair. You can stick with holiday classics, like “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, or you can simply haul out some that you’d like to read (or re-read) on these long winter nights.
Stacks of DVDs with all your favorite Christmas classics set by the TV can also help you get into the holiday spirit, and it can keep you from flipping through channels aimlessly because you’re tired and distracted.
There really is no place like home during the whole holiday season. More importantly, there’s no place that’s exactly like your home – and you want it to be as special as you can so that you can carry all of the joy and warmth you’ve created with you into the coming year!