Bringing a Little Hygge into Your Home this Winter
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” the Danish concept of hygge is a trending topic in the past few years. Whether it’s books, articles, blog posts, or pin boards, everyone seems to be talking about it! So what, exactly, is hygge?
Simply put, hygge is the art of coziness or togetherness.* Hygge is more a state of mind rather than a physical time or space. Colder weather contributes to the feeling, but it’s the friends and family aspect that really translates. If you’ve ever traveled to the far north, winter brings incredibly short days and crazy cold temperatures. Scandinavian countries have embraced this concept and made something special out of the long cold nights of winter. Theoretically, you can apply the concept of hygge to any time of year, but it seems that the cold winter months are the perfect time to curl up inside and get serious about being cozy.
I’ve spent a few Januaries in a few really cold places: Poland, Iceland, Chicago (Chicago winters are no joke). I love traveling in January because I think you get a snapshot of daily life wherever you visit rather than the vacation side of a place. I also am bucking the “basic” trend by trading a love of everything fall for everything winter. Winter is my absolute favorite season of the year. Because of that, I am totally on board with the idea of hygge.
I mean really, who doesn’t love curling up on a chilly day with friends and family around a warm fireplace or a few everygreen-scented candles? For me, one of the most magical parts of Christmas is pajamas all day, warm and comforting food, and a break from all the hustle and bustle of ordinary life.
That being said, here are some of my favorite ways to bring a little hygge to my home during winter:
+ Cozy clothes
Who doesn’t love comfy, cozy clothes when the temperature drops? Every year, I try to invest a little in pajamas, comfy socks, and warm sweaters. I recently bought a new robe that’s separate from my bathrobe. Early in the morning as I’m getting my coffee and breakfast ready, it’s nice to have something cozy and nice to slip on instead of just throwing on a hoodie. It’s also important to me to have nice, warm pajamas this time of year. I don’t spend a lot on pajamas, it’s just nice to have something that I like to wear that isn’t just throw together casual clothes. Being a stay-at-home-mom means that a lot of my clothing is more casual than when I was working. Instead of throwing on just anything, I’ve been building a “work wardrobe” of pretty sweaters, jeans, leggings, and shoes that are comfortable and a little stylish. I don’t go overboard with trends, but I try to save my logo t-shirts for hair dyeing, working on my car, and home improvement projects. An investment in some cozy clothing makes me feel a lot better about myself when I’m lounging around on a cold November day.
+ Warm lighting
In our apartment, we don’t have a fireplace so I have to get a little creative about creating that cozy, hygge atmosphere. I like having scented soy candles and a few strategically placed small lamps to warm up my room. I have a little desk lamp, living room stand lamp, and a small stained glass nightlight lamp in our home that my dad designed and made. It’s a nice feeling to shut off our overhead lights and bask in some pretty lighting. I also have pretty solar-powered porch lights on my balcony. You can buy small white twinkly-lights and place them near windows or doors to make the long nights seem a little cozier. My husband and I are really interested in Waldorf education and homemaking (hoping to add a future Waldorf post here in the next few weeks!). Part of the Waldorf lifestyle is adding rhythms and routines to your life. I bought an adorable pewter candlestick from the Fort Necessity National Battlefield gift shop for my son’s bedroom. At night, when I read to him, I light the candle and then blow it out when I’m finished. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s a nice punctuation mark to a cozy family ritual.
+ Comforting foods
Notice I said “comforting foods” instead of “comfort food?” I don’t know about you, but when I think of comfort food, I think of something just on the brink of junk food: lots of butter, cheese, fried ingredients, sticky sweets. Don’t get me wrong, I like all those foods! But it’s easy to throw caution to the wind and use winter as an excuse to trade nourishing foods for treat foods all the time. I like “comforting foods” better in the long run. There are so many healthy options you can make in a crockpot like chili, curries, stews, and hearty soups. I move away from cold salads in the winter because I tend toward the “always cold all the time” body type. A salad with a warm, soft-boiled egg on top is just right for this time of year! Earthy, warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, smoked paprika, and cumin are nice additions to any dish. I also like to cook with seasonal produce like root vegetables to really get in the spirit of things (and to save money and transportation CO2s). I also like easy-to-process sugars like honey, molasses, and maple in my dishes. After all, maple is NOT a fall crop but a late winter ingredient. Maple always reminds me of a cold February and March days. Warm and cozy drinks like turmeric lattes and hot chocolate are also a great way to warm up! Don’t forget the marshmallows!
+ Mood music
My husband has a nice record player and record collection, and I’ve recently been collecting a little bit of vinyl myself. I recently purchased John Mark McMillan’s Mercury & Lightning and Kari Jobe’s The Garden on vinyl. There’s something about a record player with nice speakers that gives a much warmer sound than digital music. When we vacationed in Iceland at the beginning of this year, the only music was a vintage record player with easy listening R&B records. It’s such a nice way to add a special touch to cozy evenings inside. If you don’t have a record player, there are so many cozy mixes on youtube to set the mood in your home this winter.
+ Slow everything down
Like everyone I know, things can get really hectic and busy in my life. One of the best concepts of hygge is slowing down your pace and investing in time with family and friends. Whether that means bundling up and going for long walks, board game nights, cooking together, toasting marshmallows, or watching movies together, it’s wonderful to slow wayyyyy down and enjoy the company of the ones we love. I like to take a break from any tv or social media sometimes to really focus on the people around me. Being present for every moment together is another hygge concept I love. Lots of people also go on vacation together this time of year, which is such a nice change of pace from our hectic lives. With my son, I think it’s even more important to teach him to slow down, appreciate the things around him, and cultivate a little inner peace in his soul. To be honest, he’s teaching me that more than I’m teaching him! Babies and small children have got that mindfulness and being present thing down far more than adults. I also like to spend extra time with my dog, walking her, grooming her, and adding extra snuggle time. Pets are wonderful teachers of hygge too.
Those are just some of the ways I embrace hygge this time of year. What about you? Have you heard of this concept before? Am I leaving anything out? How do you like to curl up with family and friends this time of year?
* If you really want to learn more about the deeper meaning of Hygge, check out this article from the New Yorker, The Year of Hygge . My post is more about applied-hygge than theoretical hygge.