When the evening comes early - 5 PM is dark almost everywhere in North America - there are some things that help make inside and outdoor spaces warm and cozy. Here are my favorite decorative items for December.
1) Throw. Whether you're watching football or curling up with a good book, a cozy throw looks as great on your lounge chair (or sofa) as it does warming your legs. I love wool, but the care can be intimidating. Knitted acrylic throws look and feel like wool, and are easy to wash at home. Polyester/acrylic blends are common in faux fur throws, which provide elegance, warmth and a wonderful aesthetic.
2) Candles. One of the simplest ways to add a lovely glow to any room. Real candles often add scents that warm the heart. New flameless candles are being made with wax and wicks and offer safety, scent and convenience. I add candles to stairways (wide ones), on bookshelves, in wall sconces and poised on windowsills and counter tops throughout my home. If you love crafts, you can make a candle in a favorite vase, cup, or other vessel that will look as good as it feels to burn.
3) Fire pit. On a mild winter evening, you can sit by a glowing fire pit and watch the stars come out. Children playing in evening snow is fun to watch, and this inexpensive device will provide comfort, light and a perfect place for roasting marshmallows.
4) String lights. Rather than turn all of the lights on in your home when watching a movie, or even enjoying a quiet evening at home, I hang string lights on mantles, armoires, stairways and more to give a softer glow. With a strand of 100 LED lights, I use under 10 watts. 3M makes COMMAND adhesive hooks (18 per $5 pack) that I apply on walls and woodwork for damage free hanging. At holiday time I add festive greens and ornaments.
5) White orchids. Sound a bit odd? White is fresh and crisp and adds a touch of winter without upsetting your normal decor or holiday color scheme. I use a large serving or mixing bowl, add the orchid pots (I can fit three) and then wedge foam, oasis or other material to hold them upright. Covering the pots and stabilizing material with reindeer moss finishes the look. Placed as a centerpiece, on a buffet, cocktail table, or counter is elegant and festive. Bring some twigs from outside and use them as stakes in lieu of the bamboo that comes with the plant.