1. the sights
"do you see what i see?"
[den tree lights in the dark]
[living room tree lights]
shaun & i both love coming home to the tree lights twinkling - the best ambiance ever! we also love falling asleep to a christmas movie with no other light than that coming from the tv & the tree.
of course, all of our other christmas decorations contribute to the festive sights around the casa.
2. the sounds
"sleigh bells ring, are you listening?"
[sleigh bells on the door]
[the door we enter from the garage]
every evening, we swing open the door from the garage to the den, & the sound of jingle bells greets us! at the old casa in raleigh, we hung them on the front door handle, but we don't enter through either front door at the current casa, & our handles won't keep the bells on.
[ipod christmas playlist]
[our favorite albums]
we listen to christmas music all the time throughout december! i try to have it on by the time shaun comes home. he vastly prefers hearing music instead of television when he enters the casa.
the sound of a crackling fire warms the insides, even when you're not in the same room. i can hear it in the kitchen, too!
3. the smells
i make this frequently throughout the fall & winter, & the smell of the spices permeate the air & make it instantly feel like the holidays!
the fire does double duty - sound & smell! [actually, i could list it for sight, too, so it's an easy multi-tasking tool for making it feel like the holidays!]
[mistletoe yankee candle]
for the first seven christmases we spent together, shaun & i only had an artificial tree, but shaun missed the fresh pine scent of a real tree. i wanted to incorporate all of his favorite things of christmas into the casa, so i went on the hunt for a candle. most pine-scented candles smell gross! but i finally discovered yankee candle's "mistletoe" scent, & we both love it! we have a real tree in the living room, but the den tree is still artificial, so we keep the candle in there. i try to light it every night before shaun gets home!
4. the tastes
along with wassail, our other favorite seasonal drink is my side of the family's homemade hot cocoa. we love cozying up in the den under afghans, with a christmas movie, a fire, & the twinkling tree lights, all while enjoying a mug of cocoa - the perfect evening!
i don't generally like peppermint or candy canes, but i make a few selective exceptions during the holidays: peppermint mochas from starbucks, my chocolate-peppermint pinwheels, & old-fashioned soft peppermint sticks.
[all kinds of candies]
we always keep goodies around during the holidays. and i love to use bowls of m&ms as decoration!
5. the touches
i start throwing extra blankets everywhere during the winter & holidays - they feel so nice & warm! i don't even know how to sit on the couch without a blanket over me! my mom made the red afghan, & i made the turquoise one.
a friend of mine gave me these years ago, & i think they're so cheesy they're cute! i also like how soft & velvety they are. they usually sit on our bed every christmas.
[mistletoe, courtesy of martha stewart]
i don't have any mistletoe up yet this year, but the most important & most enjoyable touches of the season are hugs & kisses! so do whatever you can to encourage more of them!
decorating is not just about making your house pretty. everything you do to your house should be in an effort to make it a HOME.