No matter where you live, if you walk outside you can tell that summer is different than winter. Spring is different than fall. When we lived in Florida instead of snow we got fresh grapefruits. You can pinpoint all the nuanced differences simply by paying attention to your five senses.
When it comes to creating a home that’s in keeping with the seasons, the senses are exactly where I like to start.
In the past I got carried away with adding only visual nods to my home: ceramic birds and nests in the spring, “on lake time” pillows in the summer, 145 tiny pumpkins scattered around the house in the fall, and watch out for Christmas, I didn’t know where to stop. There’s nothing wrong with visual decor: it’s still my favorite!
But because I so valued a home that felt like the season, I went overboard on visual decor and neglected the other five senses. It resulted in lots of cluttered surfaces and a collection of faux flowered wreaths for my door, but a lack of seasonal supplies that helped me actually enjoy and fully use my seasonal home.
Now as each season approaches I seasonalize our home by working through the five senses and making sure I have the right seasonal supplies, saving the visual for last and filling in the gaps.
When your home smells, sounds, tastes and feels like winter, you won’t need as much winter and Christmas decor to have a festive home.
Today I’m sharing some of my favorite things I use to winterize my home. You can adopt my list or use it as a jumping off point to start your own.
Let’s start with taste. Most of us naturally cook differently in the winter than in the summer or other months. Here are some of my winter go-to’s:
TASTE: Winter supplies to help you savor the season
Whether we were living in Michigan or Florida, come November we were craving and cooking differently. Here are some of my favorite winter supplies to help me welcome the season through taste:
Five Apple Cider Concentrate: fool proof!
Old School Brand Hot Cocoa and peppermints: a local brand from right here in my own county in North Carolina, I always restock our hot cocoa supplies every winter.
Handmade wooden ladle : I love second hand wood utensils and this winter I know you’re gonna be cooking up stews and soups and chilis–you’ll want to have something timeless and pretty to ladle it out with.
Cookbooks with yummy wintery foods: I’m currently into the Magnolia Table cookbooks, although I have both volumes (one and two), we are still working our way through the first one–the green enchiladas are the family favorite so far.
Mulling spices: simmer with cider or red wine and you will feel like a charming host.
Handmade, Fair Trade French Breadboard from Grace Crafted Home: Perfect for a hot baguette or a charcuterie board–ideal because it has a lip around it to keep all your foods in place.
Iva jeans fudge : A staple at The Nest Fest, she sells out every year, another locally made must have for our family.
Staub Dutch Oven in Matte Black: I have this in white and LOVE it, but after 8 years the white is chipped and a bit of a pain to keep clean, wishing I had it in matte black. I also have a le Crest and I love that as well. Less expensive version here and here.
Think about what tastes like winter for you and your family, do you have all the needed supplies?
Scent: The memory of winter and Christmas
They say that scent is most closely related to memory. You can use that to create a purposeful atmosphere for your family as your children grow (burn that vanilla candle every December) or, you can relive the past by searching out a specific scent and using it in your home.
Merida scented dish and hand soap: I switch out my soaps every season–it’s such a simple way to notice the passing of time. Every time anyone washes their hands or a dish, they’ll enjoy the scent you provide. This new Merida scent isn’t Christmasy, but is wintery (click here to read how you can get it free right now)–and with it, go ahead and order some Mrs. Meyer’s Christmas scents. My all time favorite is Iowa Pine.
Paperwhites: Guess what, they stink! But it doesn’t matter, they still smell like winter to me and come mid January my eyes are craving the fresh green shoots and that first scent smells like the hope of spring. I picked up a kit and extra bulbs at my local nursery (grab some if you get a fresh Christmas tree) or order a kit online. They take about six weeks to bloom and it’s so fun watching them grow, so start them soon!
Vitruvi Essential Oil: for me, citrus and eucalyptus smell like winter, diffusing essential oils (Oil diffuser) is a great way to fill your home with scent.
Ferpie and Fray candles and sprays. There are so many yummy winter options to choose from and I love the amber jars.
Rosemary Cone tree: let the scent of rosemary permeate your kitchen, clip some off to cook with and infuse olive oil and then plant it in the garden come spring. (Makes a great gift too!)
Philosophy Marshmallow Bars Shower Gel : do you take showers or baths? That’s what I thought. I love switching out my bath gels and bubble baths with the seasons and of course Philosophy is my go to brand.
Queen City Alchemy: Vanilla Bean Sugar Scrub: Beyond bubble bath, I also treat myself to seasonal bath scrubs–if you’re going to use it anyway, why not keep it seasonal?
SOUND: The story of winter and Christmas
Bose Bluetooth Speaker to play your winter and Christmas playlists (here’s a link to a post with my playlists). I love this Bose speaker, it’s portable, waterproof, holds a charge for a long time and sounds great. Plus, it’s tiny enough to blend into the background of your decor.
Phonograph style Cellphone Speaker Amplifier: I purchased mine from Target, they’ve stopped carrying them but you can still find them on eBay.
Victrola Record Player, is it even Christmas if you don’t listen to this on your record player?
Popcorn: the sound is the first thing that calls the family, then the scent, then the taste, so many things cater to more than one of our senses.
Woodwick Candle: it crackles as it burns! Especially great if you don’t have a wood burning fireplace–you can still enjoy the sound of a fire. Be sure to get some pretty matches for lighting
Vintage Style Bells: Tie them near the door and you’ll feel festive every time someone comes or goes. Here, here, here, and this bell garland
Touch: The feel of Winter
Here in NC it was 65 degrees today but that doesn’t mean I don’t long for layers and textures during winter.
Faux hide rug, great for layering or this one is great too for texture
Faux snow leopard throw--I use it on the bed or in the family room, it looks great with every style, I’ve had mine a few years and keep it out September through March
Snowball Throw Pillow the photos don’t do it justice. It’s a big cushy sphere with shaggier fur than what the image shows, using this in our family room and it’s unexpected and delightful. A fun, memorable gift to give too.
Boho Picnic Throw: add texture to your home that makes sense even if it’s 60 degrees outside, every home can use one or three of these.
Cozy Slippers: This should be part of your annual winterizing: do you need fresh slippers? What about everyone else in your family? My feet are divas and get cold easily, but also get hot easily, I love open toed fuzzy slippers like these.
Sheepskin Rug (faux or real): One of the most luxurious things I own, I use mine October- March right next to my bed, it’s the first thing my feet feel every morning and the last thing they feel at night.
Visual: The look of winter
Now it’s time for our favorite part! Let’s add some seasonal supplies.
Pillow covers and inserts: I like Linen and Cloth, Sew and Cloth, Cover by Rug, for covers and if you are tired of your pillows going flat you MUST try feather inserts (or down alternative if you have allergies). Trust me they will change your life and ALWAYS fluff back up. Yes, feathers will poke out over time. This is normal, I just pick them out and drop them on the floor for the next vacuum. I ONLY use removable pillow covers and inserts so that I can unzip the covers and wash them, bonus, I can switch out colors and textures according to the season and only have to store a tiny folded up piece of fabric.
Black Taper Candles : of course you can use any color that feels like winter to you, I’m currently loving black candles. I usually opt for unscented candles for my tapers. Other fun options: twisted candles and stick candles (obsessed!).
Striped dish towels: A simple opportunity to add seasonal color or texture. In the summer I use blue and white dish towels, in the fall I like a burnt orange, and in the winter I usually go neutral.
Black vase here, glazed ceramic vase: you deserve a vase beyond that clear glass thing that came with the last flower delivery you received. A vase should be beautiful and stylish enough to look great empty so that you don’t have to hide it away, but also be ready to hold fresh flowers, cuttings or branches form the yard. I like to have a few heavy, opaque vases in different shapes with different sized openings so I can display a single stem or a huge bouquet. For the most part, I aim for vases that I’ll love sitting out in my house year round, and allow what I put IN the vase to represent the season. Moral of the story: you need a few good vases and containers.
Candlesticks: (also love these and these ) under no circumstances should you purchase the candlesticks that have the words Merry Christmas printed on them. I want you to find some gorgeous, interesting candlesticks that you want to display all year around, and not have to pack away eleven months of the year. Then, switch out your taper candles depending on the season.
All of these tips and more can be found in my new book Welcome Home–this book is the IDEAL teacher’s gift, but it’s great for anyone who loves home and the seasons. Right now it’s on sale: buy 3 for the price of two!
ANNNND, for one week only get Welcome Home Prep School FREE when you buy the Welcome Home book. All the details are here.