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5 Ways I'm Making My Home Feel Cozier for the Holidays

Bonus: some of these tips are totally free.
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This is Obsessed: my weekly column devoted to sharing all the things I'm loving right now—from unique food and gift ideas to travel destinations and beauty products—plus some tips and tricks for living your best life.

The holidays have felt a little different for the last two years due to the pandemic. I've attended fewer Christmas parties, and instead I've opted to hunker down with my closest friends and family. While I miss getting glammed up for a festive night out, I think there's also something really nice about laying low with your loved ones. This year, my parents are coming to stay with me and my husband, and I want to make my home feel festive and welcoming. Here are some things I'm doing to make my home feel cozier for the holidays.

Making a Holiday Simmer Pot

I've really gotten into making simmer pots lately, and I love this holiday version that will make your home smell like a Williams Sonoma store. If you're not familiar with simmer pots, essentially you take whatever aromatics you have at home (think: sliced citrus, herbs and warming spices like cinnamon, cloves or allspice berries) and simmer them gently on the stove with water until fragrant. It's much cheaper than a pricey holiday candle—and I love that you can use up your holiday baking leftovers to make your home smell amazing.

Turning on the Holiday Music

It's become a little ritual of mine to start my morning sitting by the Christmas tree with a cup of coffee and listening to some holiday tunes. You can go old school with your favorite record (or CD), or ask your Alexa to play your favorite Christmas music like I do (buy it: $29, Target). 

Focusing on Quality Time

It's really easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everything during this time of year, but I'm making it a priority to focus on quality time with my loved ones. Whether you and your partner drive around and look at holiday lights or you whip up a batch of holiday cookies with your BFF, it's nice to take a break from life's stressors and spend some QT with your people. Plus, it'll leave you feeling recharged and downright festive.

Prepping a Cozy Meal

For me, the holidays aren't complete without an over-the-top meal. This year, I'm thinking about making a spread of prime rib, herby green beans and garlic mashed potatoes—plus some holiday cookies and, of course, a few tasty bottles of wine (I've really been digging this Bread & Butter pinot noir. Buy it: $15 on Drizly).

Playing Games

I think there's something so nostalgic and wholesome about playing board games with your family or friends. I'm partial to Scrabble (and if you love it as much as I do, it's definitely worth getting the deluxe version with the rotating board. Buy it: $120, Amazon). If you don't have time to buy a new board game, a simple deck of cards and a batch of festive cocktails will also do the trick.

Jaime Milan is EatingWell's senior digital editor for all things newsy and trending. She's always on the hunt for the latest and greatest things to share with EatingWell's readers. In her spare time, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen, tackling home projects with her husband or taking pics of her very photogenic American Eskimo Dog, Grits. Follow her on Instagram at @jaimemmilan