Home Decor

How to Make Your Home Cozier Than an Oversized Sweater

Warm, inviting vibes, from now till Thanksgiving (and beyond).

October 21, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

Fall is fully in swing, which means Thanksgiving—in whatever shape it's taking this year—is also peering at us from around the corner. You might be well on your way to planning your gathering, no matter how small, if you're one of those troopers who'll be hosting this year's meal for your pod. If that's the case, you're probably already in menu planning mode (because it's never too early), mapping out your tablescape in your head, taking stock of your mismatched dinnerware, and getting ready to clean every corner of your home (because now's as good a time as any).

Of course, this year’s holiday comes with even more trepidation: smaller guest lists, limited state-to-state travel, and varying levels of COVID-19 precaution being chief among them. It can all be a little overwhelming, we know! If it gets a little zany, step back and remember that the most important part of the weekend is spending time with loved ones (and texting or Zooming with others)—and making everyone feel comfortable, warm, and...hopeful. As for you, eating as much of this easy foolproof pumpkin pie as your stretchy pants will allow is a bit of a bonus. Wait—did we mention this recipe needs no crust? It doesn’t.

Below, our favorite, easy ways to make our homes look and feel as cozy as an oversized cable knit sweater-embrace.

1. Amp Up Your Curb Appeal

Guide your guests straight to your front door with the best decor on the block. Give your porch a good sweep, air out those welcome mats, line up the entryway with some choice winter squashes, and hang a cheerful wreath on the door. In fact, did you know how simple it is to make one yourself?

2. Air it out

Once inside, your small-but-mighty squad will inevitably be greeted by all of the wonderful holiday cooking smells. To balance out all the heady aromas, create a homemade scent for some seasonal cheer. Throw some clove-spiked citrus fruit in a bowl on the coffee table or, separately, get a big simmer pot going.

3. Make Use of the Mantel

Nothing says fall quite like a mantel styled with greenery, candles, and all manner of odds and ends. We’re willing to bet this is where you’ll snap a family portrait as well, so it’s worth trotting out your best candlesticks and favorite framed art to liven up the space.

4. Light the way

The days are definitely getting shorter, which has us reaching for the light switch more often than we'd like. To make things feel better, you could add some candles to the lighting mix. Candles do more than just brighten up a room—they can totally transform a space, creating a warm glow for any holiday gathering. For the dining table, load up on shorter candles and votives—we'd recommend staying away from anything too scented, or candles that are too tall (awkward for conversations!). And consider our favorite on-demand ambience for high-traffic areas where they'll get in the way of kids and pets.

5. Incorporate Dried Stems Throughout

Harvest-hued maize and corn stalks are a fall porch staple, but the same bunny tails, preserved eucalyptus, and dried florals you love all year long feel right at home with your Thanksgiving decor. The muted tones and resemblance of naturally fallen leaves make dried arrangements a perfect fit on side tables, mantels, credenzas, and more this fall.

6. Grab a Spirited Drink

If you're stocking a bar cart, you'll need a killer non-alcoholic mixer. You can also add festive accents, in the form of hammered copper shakers, a classic flask decanter, and handblown glassware to set the tone for a stylish holiday season. Finally, show off your amateur mixology tricks with this infusion set, which comes with 7 pre-made infusions.

7. Gather 'Round the Holiday Tabletop

The dining table is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving Day. Make it as welcoming as the delicious spread to come: Mix and match your favorite dinnerware; skip ironing the linens for a more casual look; throw in some natural table decor (like clementines atop plates, or woody herbs to tie up those perfectly rumpled napkins). Here are some show-stopping (and foolproof) tablescapes that’ll ensure the most important things stay front and center: food, friends, and family.

8. Pull Together a Centerpiece

Despite what you might think, a stunning centerpiece need not be a lot of work or a ton of fuss. A gathering of harvest fruits, a collection of candlesticks, or a few dried stems in mismatched bottles are all you need to make a table look intentional. Share it on Instagram, while you’re at it—you still deserve the accolades even with a limited number of in-person admirers.

9. Put Out Place Cards

Of course, place cards contribute to an overall sense of pre-planning, even if you scribbled them out minutes before guests arriving, but what about those who couldn’t make it this year? Here us out on this one: putting out place cards for those not physically attending might be quite a nice way to keep them feeling included. You’re bound to patch one or two family members in via video call, and the thoughtful addition of their names on place cards might help bridge the gap.

In the same vein, video calls often feel like they fall flat, especially when compared to the warm fuzziness of gathering in someone’s home. Forced as it may seem, it’s helpful to participate in activities like trivia or charades, since it gives everyone on either side of the phone a reason to remain engaged.

10. Line it up for Dessert

While your crew takes a little break from the big main meal, you can get the next course ready. Try setting up a more laid-back spread for all the sweet treats that await. Warm up your coffee jugs and teapots, line up your favorite mismatched mugs, and parade your desserts on a few cake pedestals.

Bonus: Kick Back & Relaaax...

With all the hardworking behind you, you deserve a rest. Go ahead, get that fire roaring. Make sure your living room and any outdoor lounge areas have plenty of cushy pillows and cozy throws for added warmth. Settle in with a warming beverage, and watch the games (or shut your eyes for a well-deserved catnap while others do).

Or if you still have energy to spare (you have our utmost respect), gather around for a board game or two. Nothing quite like it to rally the family around.

What are your favorite ways to ready your home for the holidays? Let us know below!

This post has been updated by the Food52 editors in October 2020 because the holidays are upon us again.

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Hana is the senior lifestyle editor at Food52.


Janeinmaine November 12, 2020
Amen to Diane! Please post more ideas for virtual Thanksgiving, and don’t encourage anyone to mix up households for the holidays! Keeping 6 feet apart? Wearing masks? With a bunch of people in the same room, at the same table, it’s just not going to happen. Let’s get realistic, and get through our Covid Thanksgiving with everyone healthy. We can do this!
Thanksgiving C. October 31, 2020
when I click on the Thanksgiving menu maker button the following is what is seen on my screen:
The page you were looking for doesn't exist.
You may have mistyped the address or the page may have moved.

Please fix this so I can read what it has to say. Thank you
DianeKirkland October 24, 2020
I would be so impressed if you had something giving the rest of us ideas of how to keep the SMALL family gathering on the front porch warm enough to have Thanksgiving dinner six feet apart and wearing masks.

By the time Thanksgiving gets here the number of COVID19 cases will probably the highest ever with a terrible death toll.

The scientists say that an awful lot of the virus cases originate with small family gatherings.

It's not okay to make it sound fine for people to gather in the house. If we do this right we will have last Thanksgiving to remember and 2021 Thanksgiving may also be closer to normal. But if we keep up the way we are, each year there will be permanent premature absences at our holiday tables.

If we do this right this year, we will have more to be thankful for next year.
Valentina May 8, 2019
I think that you would absolutely love CER Design Build (https://www.cerdesignbuild.com/ ) - they are truly the best!