How I Learned To Cozy Up My Home For The Holidays

By Theresa Ukpo
Ievgenii Meyer/Shutterstock

As part of our Believe in the Wonder of Giving series, we're sharing what makes the holidays special in partnership with Macy's, from fragrance and fashion to home decor and jewelry.

It's the chill of winter against your cheek. That first snowflake that hits the tip your nose. The scent of pine, fir, and spruce. The incredible bevy of reds, greens, and all things shiny. It is, in fact, the most wonderful time of the year: It's the holidays!

I spent most of my early adult years in Nigeria. We had warm tropic Christmases with fried meats and every assortment possible of Nigerian dishes my mom would cook up. To be completely honest, Christmas is my favorite holiday — not for the exaggerated idea of gift giving — but for the rituals, traditions, infectious joy, and spirit of togetherness in the days leading up to the actual holiday.

Bringing Christmas In Lagos To NYC


One of my favorite memories is putting up our Christmas tree. It was the theatrical manner in which my mother pulled out decorations from her keepsake trunk: delicate one-of-a-kind porcelain figurines, intricately designed baubles, and red velvet ribbons. All these different layers coming together in a climactic reveal as the sun went down, when I or one of my siblings would have the honor of flipping the switch and finally lighting the tree. Rockefeller Center had nothing on that little corner in Lagos.

But then college happened, and I was whisked away from my family and everyone I knew. Suddenly, that wonderful house and old faithful tree seemed so far away and out of reach. Being the eternal optimist, my grand idea to stave off the winter blues was to recreate my family Christmas rituals for myself.

I started off by buying a tree — my first actual Christmas tree! — and I'll never forget the smell. I bought tinsel in all colors and went in search of timeless ornaments I could call my own. From custom letters to tiny figurines and baubles, my choices were endless at the department store.

Cozying Up The Home

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Shop velvet placemats and casserole dishes at Macy's.

That was just the tree. I had to cozy-up my home to really make it feel like every holiday I remembered growing up. So, I invited a few friends over and planned an entire family-style dinner. I bought the prettiest ceramic plates with raised bow detailing, my first casserole dish, and the prettiest crushed velvet placemats that helped bring my tablescape together. (Pro tip: Never underestimate the power of a garland and some lights across a table to really bring the "wow" factor.)

As the sun set, my friends all arrived and with joined hands in the spirit of the holidays, we sang, ate, and danced away the holiday. Looking back, it's one of my favorite Christmas memories ever. I was miles away from home but was still able to have the coziness of home by warming up my table with decor, food, decorations and the love of dear friends.

The truth is, it didn't matter who I was with and where I was. All that mattered was the joy in the air and the rituals I had carried that would see me through — no matter how far away. If you're far from family and the familiar this holiday, close your eyes, take a breath, and know that home is wherever you are with the coziness of your memories.

This post is sponsored by Macy's.