Words by Maggie Walton

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire. It is the time for home.”

This quote from British poet Edith Sitwell perfectly illus- trates the magic of winter. As soon as November hits, most people are quickly looking past Thanksgiving, anxious to prepare their homes for the winter season. Winter is the quintessential time for entertaining. The cold weather brings people together, longing for love and connection, and the holidays result in big family gatherings, endless gratitude, and a slower pace of life as time seems to move a bit slower than usual. There is something purely magical about winter.

The mantle is one of my favorite spots to deco- rate for the winter season. I love for the fireplace to be a beautiful, focal point as people cozy up to the fire on cold evenings. Nothing is more festive and romantic than a mantle dressed in garland (real or fake!) that is dripping with candlelight. Shiny metallic candlesticks in shades of pewter and silver, paired with simple white candles adds the perfect amount of sparkle. Consider layering glass ornaments, poinsettia leaves, or stockings to dress the mantle up further for Christmas.

While the doors of our homes are always open to guests, never is this more true than during the winter months. Whether you are hosting a formal holiday party, or having close friends over for a warm meal, having a warm and comfortable place for guests to land is so important. Set out over- sized pillows and blankets in various textures, shapes and sizes that invite guests to cozy up and relax. Not only will they provide warmth for your guests, but they’ll also add interest to the space.

A warm cup of hot chocolate or apple cider is the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. Displaying the fixings for these festive drinks during the winter months not only makes hosting simpler, with all ingredients at an arm’s reach, but it also adds an element of festive interest to the kitchen. These don’t have to be limited to entertaining and are perfect for a quiet family night reading holiday stories or watching Christmas movies. Glass mason jars filled with hot cocoa and marshmallows, or hot teas and flavored coffees, mixed with seasonal candies and other sweet treats is the perfect focal point for your kitchen.

Winter is the perfect opportunity to be creative with your bedding, adding layers and mixing patterns, colors and textures to create a cozy spot to hibernate. A layered bed is the best way to beat the cold and to ensure the perfect night’s sleep as temperatures change throughout the night. Con- sider switching your cotton sheets out for a flannel set, or for sheets of a higher thread count that are able to hold in heat well. A warm neutral quilt and a thick duvet cover in a bold pattern are wonderful layers, and warm throws, coverlets and throw pillows are all extras you can pile on.