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  • Writer's pictureJen

Tips for productive winter evenings at home

Notebook and candles on desk

When the clocks go back it can feel a little gloomy as we officially say goodbye to summer and hello to shorter days and longer nights. After months of enjoying the freedom of daylight hours after work, it can take some time to adjust.

And I have to admit, I totally feel this way for the first week or two, but then I start to enjoy the drawing-in of the evenings and want to make the most of them.

Candle holder and hygge book

As the weather and dark evenings force us to stay indoors more, it can be a time to re-set, and to enjoy simple pleasures. Who doesn't enjoy snuggling on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon with a mug of hot chocolate and watching a film.

But it doesn't have to be all about sitting in your PJs. Although that concept is very appealing! It can actually be a really productive time of the year. A time to plan, to get things organised in your home and to prep for Christmas.

I've already made my Christmas cake (just call me Mary Berry). My friend and I get together in my kitchen one Saturday in early November to make our Christmas cakes together. It's a lovely little tradition. We can catch up o our news whilst making our cakes. I make it early so there is time to "feed" it with Amaretto in the weeks before Christmas. I then stop feeding it a couple of weeks before the big day and add the thick layer of marzipan and ice it.

Other foods you can prep are chutneys and jams - either to enjoy yourself over the festive season, or to give as thoughtful gifts. They look lovely if you add a little personalised label or tag.

pile of mince pies

If you're making your own mince pies, you can make these ahead of time and freeze them uncooked. Defrost and cook them when you need them. I love to make mini mince pies, which I first made by accident. I didn't realise until I came to cut out the pastry that I didn't have the correct size pastry cutter. So had to improvise and use a small one instead. They look so cute, especially when dusted with icing sugar (baking snow). They make perfect gifts - pop them in a clear bag and tie with ribbon and a tag. Or serve them warm in a tier at a Christmas buffet. Think Forrero Roche pyramid but with mini mince pies.

A passion of mine, as most of you will know, is interiors. Making a home feel cosy, warm and inviting is probably my favourite thing. So once I've lit the log burner, grabbed a warm blanket and snuggled myself on the sofa with my phone and notebook, I'm all set for a bit of interior planning. You may not wish to take on huge DIY projects just before Christmas, or get builders in during the winter months as they always leave every door wide open don't they. It's flipping freezing! Nobody wants that in the winter.

Interiors mood board

So now is a great time to get planning those interior projects. I'm always on the look out for interiors inspiration. On apps like Pinterest and Instagram I have folders set up to save posts and images into. I have a folder for each room in my house where I can save inspirational images for when I come to put together a mood board. I save paint colours, fabric samples, DIY techniques such as panelling or how to antique a mirror and accessories. In my notebook I scribble notes down and also draw room layouts and illustrations of what I want a room to look like. Planning a space is my favourite part of the process. So, if you have interiors projects planned for next year, set up your folders in the apps and get saving those images. Come Spring you will have all the inspiration you need to get started on the projects.

You can apply the same approach to garden projects. Save your inspiration that you find on Instagram and Pinterest into your folders and start planning your outdoor projects for Spring. We have started to plan a space in our garden for our own veggie patch. The sleepers are in place, but we need to plan the preparation of the soil and what we're going to grow. I have to own up and say I am not green fingered in any way. I can mow the lawn, trim trees and bushes and brush leaves (the basics), but don't ask me to weed as I always pull up the wrong flowers. When it comes to growing our own fruit and veg I haven't a clue what to plant where, or when, so I've got a lot of research to do during these winter months.

I'm much better at planning spaces in the garden. So I can visualise what a pergola will look like on the patio and then plan what garden furniture and outdoor lighting will look nice. If you've got a space in the garden that requires some inspiration, then get on the apps and start saving those images. Follow accounts and hashtags linked with outdoor spaces, gardening, etc and you'll soon have lots of images to help give you some vision for your own outdoor projects.

Hygge Christmas house candle

As we'll soon be decorating our homes with Christmas trees, twinkle lights and decorations it's always a good time to have a Spring clean. You can't clean properly when the decorations are up (it's a crying shame), so if we do a deep clean beforehand we'll be ahead of the game and feel as if we're winning at life!

And in the theme of getting ready for Christmas, we could all probably do with a bit of a clear-out. Before we get more "stuff" at Christmas, it's a good idea to go through our cupboards and see what can go off to the charity shop, be given to friends or sold. Make a few pennies - it all helps!

And if you are struggling to embrace the winter months and weather, why not cheer yourself up and look for a holiday for next year. Brighten your evening with images of sunshine and beeches and book a bargain for 2024.

We can have productive winter evenings, but you can do all of this planning in your PJs. I won't tell if you won't.

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