With Christmas and winter just around the corner, our longings for a cozy home increase. Shorter days and colder nights invite us to really nurture ourselves and others within the walls of home. Most likely, sometime in the next month, you will find time to host yourself and others within the place you’ve been given to sleep at night. What are the elements that most speak home to you? Hopefully, it’s more than the blue light of the TV signaling the return of a favorite show. (Though I admit great excitement about one in particular).

Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to help a house feel like home is to think through how to appeal to each of our five senses. It’s so easy to forget to consider all FIVE. One might play music, but add nothing to appeal to the eyes. Or keep a home meticulously clean, but never greet their loved ones with the smell of something baking (too much mess, y’know). When I aim for appealing to my five senses and let it spill over to others, I find so much pleasure in the pursuit. As a result, it’s much easier to let go of perfectionism that can plague many of us hosting events in our homes.

Here’s a list of Tea Party Girl’s favorite and simplest ways to prepare for an event in my home, with the above in mind.

Please the Eyes

  1. Take the window spray and quickly wipe down mirrors, picture frames, and fingerprints around door handles.
  2. Clear clutter and provide smooth surfaces wherever possible.
  3. Lay out a beautiful tablecloth.
  4. Turn down harsh lights and add candlelight, firelight, or mini white lights when appropriate.

Add Natural Fragrance

  1. Cleanliness matters here more than what one sees. Open the windows, take out the trash, and wipe down the toilet and kitchen floor.
  2. Add a great flower bouquet to the entryway or bathroom.
  3. Bake or cook something comforting (never eggs!) an hour or two before your guests arrive. Mulled wine or cider is a simple, terrific option this time of year.

Satisfy Hunger

  1. Even with my own family, I love to set out tidbits before the main event. Appetizers give guests permission to nibble and gather. Have something out from the beginning.
  2. Make something from scratch. Yes, I’m all for great markets helping out harried homemakers. But do we really want ALL supermarket deli and bakery food? Use the best ingredients you can. Cool Whip or Cream of Mushroom soup doesn’t count. In-season produce or meat from the local butcher will take a meal from good to fantastic.
  3. Learn about variety and food pairings. Think through the menu and consider how your flavors go together.

Delight the Ear

  1. Don’t assume music will add to your event. Sometimes the best sounds are fire crackling, rain falling, or the laughter of friends with no competition.
  2. Choose music with no lyrics as background only. Play-lists are fun, but often only for the rockin’ cocktail party.
  3. Always turn off the TV when welcoming others into your home.

Offer comforting touches

  1. Give real and appropriate hugs. I often hug gentlemen and children from the side to avoid being overbearing while providing a reassuring squeeze. And I always make it a point to offer a warm hug to my single friends. Our society doesn’t touch non-sexually nearly enough.
  2. Use natural fabrics whenever possible for sheets, napkins, and towels~whatever will touch your guests’ skin.
  3. Place a pump of great lotion in your guest bathroom.

And most importantly~

Always serve the tea hot.

So how about you? What communicates home to you? What helps you delight in spending a winter evening at home? Please share with us in the comments below.