Light a Few Candles
When you're stuck inside all winter with recirculated air, a few fresh scents coupled with soft light can make a big difference. Raid your storage containers for as many candles as you can find, and light them whenever you need a little mood boost. Scents like pumpkin pie and cinnamon may seem silly, but they'll increase your home's cozy factor immensely.
Materials, Materials, Materials
What says cozy better than actual, physical warmth? When the temperature drops and the furnace first chokes on, that's your cue to raid your basement or linen closet for those thick, fluffy blankets that are sure to keep you warm throughout the winter. Switch out your thin, cotton throws for wool and fleece and drape them over the back of the couch, your favorite chair, and even stick them in the little nooks and crannies where you think you might need a little extra heat (kids' playroom, heck, even the dining room for early morning coffees). And who doesn't love the snuggly, soft look of off-white knits next to the Christmas tree?
Don't Underestimate Your Dampers
Not all ducts are created equal. No matter the age of your house, your heating ducts have dampers, or special valve that regulates the air coming out of each vent. If you live in an older home, the valves are likely manual, and haven't been adjusted in some time. So what does all this mean? Essentially, you should adjust your dampers yourself to ensure that you have the most heat where you need it. Example: you could have heat pouring out at 100% on your main floor and 25% upstairs, which could leave you with chilly bedrooms and freezing tile in the master bath. The solution: head down to the basement and find these tricky switches. Turn the gauge down on the vents in the warm rooms and up on those in cold areas to create a more evenly heated house throughout the winter. Thermostat not working? Learn how to troubleshoot and fix your thermostat here.
Those Soft, Twinkly Lights
No matter where you live (unless you're a resident of Arizona, Puerto Rico or Hawaii), daylight savings will soon have you saying goodbye to the sun before dinnertime. This, as well as falling temps, can add to the drab moods of wintertime. Fight the night with soft, twinkly lights on the outside and the inside of your house. Skip bright blues and greens and stick to white, which is easier on the eyes and will illuminate a room without calling too much attention to itself. Come Christmas-time, you'll be glad that you've already checked off this decorating task off your to-do list, and will have already enjoyed a month of quiet illumination. Lights not working? Learn how to repair Christmas tree lights here.
Get a Real Tree
Don't have your own saw? Never cut down a tree at a Christmas tree farm? No worries. Local farms make it practically foolproof and usually offer tree shaking (to rid the tree of any dead needles) and free tying to the roof of your car. Plus, it's a great outdoor activity for the whole family. Once you've set it up at home, the smell will quickly win you over and prove that bringing the outdoors in makes for a cozy holiday. Just don't forget to water it. Check out these Christmas tree safety tips.
Get Your Drink On
What better excuse than cold weather and the holidays to enjoy a warm beverage? A great all-day solution is the classic hot chocolate. Store-bought or homemade, stove-top or microwave, it doesn't matter much. Just add a dollop of whip cream and a few mini marshmallows and you're good to go. Made it to five o'clock? Switch to a hot toddy. With honey, bourbon and spices, this classic drink is sure to warm you from the inside out and get you in the mood for the holidays.
Rugs for Your Toes
If you have hardwood and tile in your home (and with these flooring materials trending, you probably do), you know that it can feel nice and cool in the summer, and absolutely freezing in the winter. You also likely already have a few choice rugs throughout your house, but think of the places you don't usually cover that might add a bit of warmth throughout the holidays. Want warm feet while you brush your teeth? Add a small bathroom rug in front of your sink. Sick of cold toes as soon as you enter the house and ditch your boots? Invest in a runner between the door and the living room. With these little additions, you'll feel instantly cozier. It is also a great excuse to try out new seasonal and holiday patterns that you can pop back in the cupboard as soon as spring rolls around. Not sure where to start? Think high pile: the higher, the better. Does your carpet need some love? Check out these quick carpet fixes.
Okay, so you've probably already done this, but if you haven't, these cheap rubber strips can make a huge difference in the heat of your home. Especially if you live in an older home whose doors and windows have settled and stretched over the years, your heat could be escaping through cracks and crevices you never knew existed, while the cold wind will seep in its place. Even if you have existing weather stripping around doors and windows, replacing it with new strips could be vital. Not sure how to get started? Learn how to install weather stripping here.
Host a Holiday Party
Just finished a renovation or redecorating project? Simply looking for some conversation to brighten up the dull days of winter? Invite a few friends over to enjoy the holidays. It doesn't have to be formal or even a full meal. A few hors d'oeuvres and a wet bar makes it a party.
With heat and aesthetics covered, you'll need this one last item to get you in the mood for the holidays and make your house feel like a home. Jump on your favorite streaming site and choose a holiday playlist, but not just any list. Skip the classic, overworked and sometimes annoying tunes and go for toned down acoustic covers that create a calm, dreamy atmosphere.