Create a toy-free zone.
When we moved into a larger house two years ago, I decided that the first floor would be off-limits to all toys. It's taken a bit of training to get my kids, Mathilda and A.J., to cart their stuff upstairs every evening, but the result is worth it: I can walk through the living room at the end of the day and enjoy the new hardwood floors without being crippled by stray Legos.
You needn't spend big bucks on designer bouquets to get a lift from fresh flowers. Every other week, Lisa Woods, a mom of three in New Castle, Pennsylvania, goes to Wal-Mart and buys herself the most beautiful dozen roses she can find. "They cost only about ten dollars, and they're my favorite flower," she says. "I could waste that money at a fast-food drive-through or something, but instead I get the pleasure of a week's worth of beauty."
You don't even need a whole arrangement: Stop at the florist and pick out just two or three gorgeous stems, put them in your favorite vase, and enjoy their simple elegance.
Set the table.
What are you saving that wedding china for? Okay, holidays, but why not Tuesday dinner or Saturday brunch? The joy of having nice things is in using them (and seeing how pretty they look on your table). If you're worried about letting them get too close to your rambunctious toddler, give him the plastic dish while you and your husband enjoy the plates you spent hours choosing.