To make your home feel cozy and warm - whether you're planning a party or find yourself with an impromptu get together - appeal to the five senses.
These party decorating ideas for welcoming guests by sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch can help you master party planning like the pros do - taking the entire picture into consideration.
Here's how to set the stage to get your party started.
Try to always have fresh flowers near the entry. Pick some roses or daisies from your own garden or just buy whatever is on sale at the grocery store. Flowers make a home feel fresh and inviting.
Every realtor knows the old trick of baking cookies on open house days to fill the house with a homey aroma.
You don't have to have an eternal batch of cookies in the oven, but keep aromatherapy, seasonal-scent candles, and potpourri on hand. If unexpected guests arrive, just give a quick spray or light a candle to freshen the air.
When company drops by, put on your favorite music or turn on a tabletop fountain. The gurgle of flowing water soothes the soul and sends people rushing for the bathroom (so make sure it's clean and guest-ready.)
Preparedness is key here. In the winter, always have teas and coffee on hand that you can easily brew at a moment's notice.
In the summer, keep fresh iced tea or lemonade in the refrigerator. Keep one little area of your pantry stocked just for these occasions.
You might have biscotti, scones, muffins, little tea cookies, or specialty crackers or chips with condiments or dips. In the fridge, always keep at least one interesting cheese and some raspberries, pears, or other fruit.
Other ideas are wine, veggies, nuts, miniature frozen quiches or pizzas, soft drinks, and sparkling waters.
Keep a nice serving dish at the ready, too. Even the simplest feast looks elegant if you arrange it attractively on a nice platter.
Ever wonder why modern decor is so cold and uninviting? It's all those hard surfaces.
Warm up your home with soft fabrics. Put woven place mats on that wood counter, drape a tablecloth across the kitchen table, and arrange a chenille afghan on the leather couch. Outfit your home in a variety of textures for visual interest.
Now when the doorbell rings, you're ready!