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Havenly and Yahoo are working together to provide creative tips and inspiration for making the most of what matters right now: your home. The space you’re living, working, and playing in. Follow along as we share easy ways to add structure, sanity, and a smile to our new stay-at-home realities. And for more overall well-being tips, check out Yahoo Life, too.

We’ve drunk all the wine on the Zoom happy hours, demolished your core with the Instagram Live Pilates class, and FaceTimed every old friend under the sun—but what about connecting with those we’ve been in quarantine with? It’s easy to take each other’s prolonged company for granted as we spend more and more time at home as our world evolves. 

But rather than acting as ships passing in the night on your commutes from the kitchen table to the sofa, try setting aside a designated time to connect with your loved ones—or even roommates. Foster connection and make the most of your time at home with these design tips.

Host a Stay-at-Home Dinner Party

Clear off your makeshift home office and the kids’ homework to reveal your kitchen table. it’s party time. Kitchen tables are the gathering focal point of any well-designed home. Choose one large enough to fit your family or housemates, yet not too large it overpowers the space it is given. For a general rule of thumb, there should be a 36”-48” gap of space between the table and the wall to allow you to circulate freely.

And now for the fun part: Set a theme and assign each person a dish or beverage to bring to your weeknight dinner party (the little ones can help set the table.) It may sound corny, but dancing around your kitchen to some music as you prepare your meal boosts everyone’s mood and makes cooking feel less like a chore and more like an interactive activity. Try breaking out the good flatware too, it’s an occasion.

Bringing everyone together over a meal opens up the opportunity to converse, share your worries, fears, and joys, and build up your quarantine community. No matter how big or small your clan is, everyone needs a bite to eat and good company at home.

Try a Happy Hour Picnic

Pop the cork—it’s five o’clock somewhere. Having an easily mobile coffee table and chairs in your family room makes it easy to push it all aside for a date night on the floor. A statement throw rug also helps designate a gathering space where you can spread a blanket and lay out comfy floor pillows for a happy hour picnic. 

As for the menu, create a charcuterie board with salami, different cheeses, a bowl of olives, and crackers. And, since there really is no such thing as too much cheese, try this baked brie recipe for a delicious treat:

Baked Brie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 tbsp fig jam
  • 1 round brie cheese 
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and top with fig jam. Fold the puff pastry around the brie, pinching edges closed.
  3. Brush the entire bundle with beaten egg, careful to not let it pool underneath the brie. 
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Let cool before serving with crackers, green apple slides, and a sliced baguette—alongside your wine of choice, of course.

Family Game Night Fun

Turn off the Netflix and tuck the screens away for a while and have yourself a good ol’ fashioned game night. Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, UNO, and Catchphrase are all classic family favorites. 

For this, having a good-sized, low coffee table and comfortable floor cushions can help foster closeness while creating the ultimate game zone in your family room. Clear off the coffee table, set out little bowls of snacks, pour the wine (or juice) and get your game on.

Holiday Finger Food

Designate a Screen-Free Zone

Maybe it’s the living room, the dining room after work hours, or the kitchen—but setting aside a designated screen-free zone can help foster a deeper connection between you and your loved ones. It also offers a much-needed break from social media scrolling or news watching. 

When in this space, commit to one another you’ll set down your phones and turn off the TV, instead opting for true, face-to-face conversations. If in your kitchen, leave a decorative tray or end table by the door to collect phones and tablets, and keep the room itself free of television sets. In a living room, instead of propping the TV up as the focal point of the space, decorate with a gallery wall or large statement art piece that sparks conversation.

When entering this space, remind yourself it is a sacred place for connection—check in on one another’s day, share a joke, or dream about the future. Remembering we’re all in this together may be just the pick-me-up you needed.

Words by Avery Johnson