The sign in my neighbor’s yard says Christmas is two days away. Can that possibly be right?
As usual, I’m feeling behind on my to-do list. But rather than lamenting and giving myself a hard time about it, I’m choosing a different path this year. Instead of focusing on the things I’m not getting around to, I’m adding infusions of holiday spirit in smaller doses, and doing my best to let go of high expectations. My husband and I are watching Elf tonight (smiling’s my favorite!). I’m enjoying home-canned salsa from our neighbor. I’m wrapping gifts in gift bags because it’s so much easier than wrapping paper. This afternoon, I’ll be heating up a rice bag and making a cup of homemade hot chocolate (using seasonal Gingerbread Milk Chocolate I picked up at the grocery store yesterday, nom nom nom).
Let’s agree to stop thinking about the holiday cards we haven’t sent, the gifts we haven’t wrapped, the lights we don’t have hung and all the ways we’re not perfect this Christmas, okay? Instead, let’s focus on the little ways we can celebrate the season.
Here are four of my simplest tricks for infusing your home with holiday magic. All of them take just minutes, and will leave you feeling much more festive.
1. Floating cranberries + candles
This is a simple table or mantle decoration that takes minutes to make. Start with a clear glass container (various sized mason jars are my favorite), fill partway with water, and pop some cranberries and a floating candle in there. If you like, snip a few greens from the Christmas tree for some extra color, but I often stick with just the red. Ta-da!
Nice to note: even if you don’t have floating candles, you can still do this. If you use enough cranberries, you can just set a tea light candle on top, since cranberries float. Handy, eh?
2. Makeshift mistletoe
I firmly believe the world would be a better place if we all got more kisses. Even if you don’t have the fake plastic mistletoe, you can still encourage kissing under your roof. If you can count on your family and guests to have a sense of humor, just get something green out of the fridge and hang it up—parsley, kale, hell even celery.
Tie it up with a pretty red ribbon and hang it where people are sure to linger…they’ll figure out what it’s for.
3. Hang tree ornaments, everywhere
This is one of my favorite tricks, and has become a staple in my Christmas decor. (This is particularly important to me this year, since Princess Jane can’t handle having a Christmas tree.) Instead of limiting your ornaments to hanging on the tree, get creative. All you need is ornaments and string. My favorite spot, hands-down, is the chandelier above our dining table.
They also look lovely hanging in front of a window, in bunches on the wall or in front of mirrors.
4. Simmering scents
Lastly, don’t forget about aroma! This time of year is my favorite for filling the house with delightful scents. The quickest and easiest way to do it (short of baking cookies) is to fill a pot on the stove with water, and pop in some ingredients from the pantry. Try any or all of the following:
- Cinnamon sticks
- Vanilla beans (leftover from making DIY vanilla extract!)
- Allspice berries
- Whole cloves
- Orange or lemon slices, fresh or dried
- An apple
Leave them simmering all day—just be sure to watch the water level and refill periodically.