Ideas on Creating a Welcoming Home

“… It was amazing what a little noise and brightness could do to a house and a life, how much the smallest bit of each could change everything…”

-Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

What Makes a Home Welcoming?

When I was young, probably 12 years old, my aunt, who was working on her master’s degree, took me to a party.   It was hosted by a friend of hers from university and the house seemed to me  full with interesting adults. It was a lively, enchanting affair held in an older home, with arched doorways that connected the rooms. The thing is, decades later, sometimes I still think back to that home and revel in how it made me feel. It had character, but was simple; maybe pretty.  On the surface, there was nothing exceptional about that small house, but the ambiance was warm, welcoming and comfortable. I can’t remember the deco in much detail-  just that it was not pretentious, and that it gave me this feeling of embracing life; a home that was honest and comfortable with itself. These people enjoyed their friends and opened their home in a way that was genuine and, it turns out, unforgettable.

The Secret: Focus On What You Do Have.

Experiences like this have convinced me: It doesn’t matter what kind of house you have. Don’t worry about the imperfections or the size of your house, or the age of the furniture. Your home may be lived in rather than spotless, and the furniture may not be right out of a glossy magazine. Who cares? As we head into the holidays, forget about useless expectations that rob you of the moment. Instead, focus on what you do have and make the most of it.  

So, in that spirit,  here are a few…

Easy Tips to Create a Welcoming Ambiance :

~ Think about lighting. Candles (supervised, of course), and/or Christmas lights create a wonderful feeling.  Lamps can be used to brighten the room softly.  When entertaining, I often use a combination of light sources to create a cozy, but well illuminated space.

~ Music transforms the atmosphere. Download a fabulous free app like Songza, which has themed playlists. You can switch up the playlists to accompany the different activities, enhancing the mood you wish to create. Personally, I love lively, but relaxing music when enjoying pre-dinner drinks, followed by jazzy, soothing music while dining.

~ Informal elegance is the new classic! Think comfortable, gracious hospitality with a down-to-earth touch.

~ Remember that older items often acquire a certain patina, growing more beautiful with age and use.  So display items that tell a story or have positive associations for you! They are personal, charming and interesting to talk about!

~ Plants!  They purify the air and bring colour and life to a room.   I have some geraniums that need a lot of sunlight, so in the winter months I keep them in the family room, which gets sun throughout the short days.  When guests are coming, I take them to the living room, where their bright red blooms create a cheerful welcome and enhance the colours in that space.  Even if you aren’t much of a green thumb, there are plenty of beautiful plants that don’t need much care.  For example, I have several Spider Plants that do well no matter where I put them, and I only need to  fill the self-watering pots every 10 days or so.

Create a Home with Heart

This December, take time to focus on the things in your life for which you are grateful.  A house filled with a generosity of spirit, warmed by smiles, and illuminated  with genuine welcomes is a home with heart. Let’s face it: that is the most beautiful kind of house there is.

Image by Just2shutter, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. 

 

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Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

In the next few days, I will be writing a post on the easiest way to declutter, while keeping the clutter that counts! Believe me, I have experience decluttering! But I believe that it is wonderful to keep, display, and enjoy “clutter” that has a special meaning, purpose, or visual appeal. Anyhow, this is a great tip for creating a welcoming home, but requires a full article to explain properly. So if you are interested, stay tuned for that.

Ideas on How to Simplify Christmas

So Many Reasons to Love  December

I love December! The charmed month that brings the longest night of the year, and the promise of longer days ahead. It brings twinkling lights and sparkling snow, walks in the fresh northern air, the smell of pine, the brilliant blue winter skies. It means time spent with friends and family, the wonderful aromas of delicious food and tasty wine.   When I assess what it is that I find so magical about December, I realize it has very little to do with shopping, or receiving material gifts. The things that make this month magical for me have everything to do with spending time with loved ones, and savouring life.

How to Enjoy the Holidays… Your Way.

With all of the pressure to buy, spend, out-do and out-decorate, though, we sometimes wind up feeling more stress than joy.  It is important to remember that we have the choice to make changes, and create a simpler season for ourselves.  The key is to make decisions that are right for you and your family, based on what you want your Christmas to be, not the expectations dictated by a commercially driven holiday.  

Simple Ideas for a Simpler Christmas

Our family tries to keep things pretty simple at Christmas, but we enjoy celebrating together and doing some sort of gift exchange. Everyone always buys presents for the children, though we try not to over do it.  However, we tend to be quite minimalist with the adult gift exchange.  Some years, we pick names and only buy for that one person.  This means that we can put more thought into the gift.  Also, my husband and I don’t always buy each other presents, or we keep the gifts small, fun, or really wanted (Example: I love books, but rarely spurge on them for myself – I just use the library.  So, at Christmas, my husband will often buy me a book he knows I love).   When deciding on gifts, remember that unique and creative gifts are often way better than the latest and greatest piece of plastic.    Another way we simplify is that we reuse gift bags and decorations… I am still using the artificial tree and the ornaments from my childhood!  My son loves it, and putting up that old tree has become  quite a family tradition.

How Would You Like to Spend This Christmas?

Early in December is a good time to reflect on how we’d like to see the season unfold. Ask yourself: How would you like to spend your time this December? What makes this month special for you?   Make a list, and prioratize – identify which activities are most important to you.  Then, remember the list when planning your engagements and gift exchanges for the season.  You can’t say yes to everything, so use the list to help guide your choices.  If necessary, consider making a few changes to how you’ll approach the holidays this year.  As my mom always says, “There are a lot of stops between everything and nothing.”  Small changes can make a difference.

Enjoy Christmas and December, too.

Celebrating a simpler Christmas keeps December from becoming a frantic month, and it gives you the opportunity to really enjoy the activities of the season.    It has been a win-win for us:  less packaging, less shopping, less pressure, less waste, more time to do the things that matter, more time to spend with the people who we love, more money in the bank or contributed to a charity, more contemplation and more health.

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Home, Life, and Living.

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So here’s to December.  In an imperfect world, and with all it’s challenges, may it still sparkle with some sincere joy.  Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com.  I can’t wait to share my next post with you!