I adore Gabrielle Blair; I first met her at the inaugural Disney mom bloggers mixer where we bonded over our shared passion for design, and I have since admired and enjoyed all of the artful ideas and stories she shares via her blog Design Mom, as well as the social media smartness that stems from her work as a co-founder of Kirtsy. Gabrielle projects such grace and generosity and kindness and creativity. And for the fifteenth installment of my Simplifying the Holidays guest blog series, I’m thrilled to share Gabrielle’s three super fast, surefire ways to create instant holiday mojo at home.
At our house, we celebrate Christmas. And there are three things I do to make my home feel like Christmas almost instantly. They are not hard. They are not expensive. And if you do all three things right this minute, your house will feel like Christmas too.
1. Make the house smell delicious.
Take a small pot. Or a teapot. Fill it about halfway with water and heat it up like you're going to boil it. Add any combination of seasonal spices that you like. They can be crushed or whole. And you can leave some out if you prefer, or if your stash is low. You don't need more than 1/2 a teaspoon of any of them: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves.
Once the pot has boiled or neared boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and enjoy as your house fills with the most wonderful scent. Watch the water level and keep adding more water as needed. Every few days, when the spices aren't having the same impact they did at first, wash out the pot and start again.
If you want to have the yummy scent, plus something yummy to digest as well, heat up apple juice and the same spices instead.
2. Help the house sound wonderful.
Pull out your Christmas CDs. If you don't have any, it's easy to start a collection. Look up Christmas music on Amazon and see which albums get the best reviews. Start with one or two albums and add a new one each year. Or put together a mix collection via iTunes. If you're interested in a super-bargain, stop by places like Big Lots. They offer really inexpensive Christmas CDs from all sorts of obscure bands and orchestras -- maybe you'll find a hidden gem.
If starting a CD collection sounds like too much work, turn on your radio and let it seek till you hear some Christmas tunes. During the holidays, there are always 1 or 2 stations that dedicate their programming exclusively to Christmas music.
3. Get your twinkle on.
I'm a fan of tealights. They are big impact for little price. You can find a big bag of them in quantities of 50 or 100 at Ikea and Michael’s for $5 or less. Put them in inexpensive glass tealight holders. Or empty baby food jars. Or on little plates. And set them around the house. On the mantel. On the kitchen table. On a book shelf. Because they're inexpensive, I don't mind burning a dozen at a time -- grouped in 2's and 3's for bigger impact. They're typically unscented (which in my pregnant state, I much prefer) and they'll last all evening.
Doing these three things will take all of 10 minutes. I recommend making it a ritual at the end of each busy day. Set the spices to boil. Turn on the music. Light the candles. Just imagine yourself with a mug of spiced apple juice, enjoying the flicker and warmth of the tealights while Bing Crosby croons in the background. Your senses will be cared for — and you're sure to feel cheery right away.
Gabrielle Blair is a graphic designer and mother of five. She's the author of Design Mom and a founder of Kirtsy. She is not done with her Christmas shopping but her house smells delicious. You can follow Gabrielle on Twitter at @designmom.