If you are already plotting how to escape the frigid drudgery of Winter, perhaps you need to make a list of all the ways to add some HYGGE into these cold weather months!
To recap: Hygge is the Danish word for that feeling you get when you are cozy, safe, seen, connected, relaxed, grateful. It is appreciating the simple things in your life and being present with those around you. I’ve written about how it stacks up to Minimalism HERE.
The Danish people have some of the dreariest, darkest winters YET they have one of the highest ratings of ‘happiness’ in the world. The key, experts are saying, is that they HYGGE all day, errry day.
Hygge can be a great way to practice gratitude, optimism, and simple, intentional living.
A great way to bring some Hygge into your life is to make a list of hyggelig (it’s a word) things you could do. Write out what works for your home, your lifestyle and your family and then make a plan to make it happen.
Here are some SIMPLE (mostly free/easy) ideas on how to have a Hygge Autumn and Winter:
- Don’t be so busy. It is hard to find a workaholic in Denmark. Mostly because of the great social assistance they provide everyone in the country – and also because more work = less hygge. The less you have on your plate, the more room you have for doing the things that you enjoy or the things you need to get done – like cooking a meal or go for a walk with a friend. So keep a weekend free, don’t work late, and just let some rest in your life. Leave space for life to happen at its own pace.
- Encourage meal conversations. A marker of Hygge is that everyone has an equal role in the conversation. When you are around the table make sure to ask some questions of everyone to encourage this reciprocation. I know it is hard with kids. I mean the three-year-old hunts me down to tell me he ‘caught a ball of paper all by himself’ but the school-aged kids have had ‘nothing’ happening every day this week at school! Literally nothing? What a strange school they go to. We try prompts around the table like What was hard today? What was awesome? What was funny? It doesn’t always work but I hope it reminds them that they have a voice we want to hear around our table.
- Have a treat you regularly enjoy together. Before the kids started school we were big into tea time in this house. Every afternoon we would have tea and a treat. Now we try to make a treat once in a while and bring this back from time to time. My husband is better at it than me. He makes banana cake and lets the kids add all the treats they can find in the panty.
- Bring in some cozy blankets and pillows into your living space. You don’t have to spend a lot of money – look at thrift stores, bring out some from storage, maybe even try to DIY it! Hygge isn’t about buying things, it is about making a space feel welcoming and warm – whatever that looks like for you.
- Load up on plain candles and light those bad boys each day for no reason. I have one lit beside my desk right now as I type, and I tell ya, some kind of warm glow is taking over my laptop and my heart.
- Have a cozy porch hang. One night, one of my besties had us over for gin and tonics on her porch. We wrapped up in blankets, sat around the fire and chatted for hours. We still talk about it.
- Turn on all the lamps. Lighting is a big deal with Hygge. The right lighting can create a little warm space for you to inhabit. I have lamps in almost every room and rely on them to give my home a cozy glow almost every day.
- Movie night. I grew up with Friday night treats and TGIF and that was the highlight of my little world. Now we are raising a netflix generation so tv time maybe can seem less ‘special’. We like to rent a movie for a special way to gather together, make some popcorn, and then force myself to really watch it despite how many chimes my phone is making.
- Have a simple dinner tradition. A couple times a month we have a pasta dinner. We light candles, dim the lights, play Italian dinner music and just enjoy the simple tradition we’ve made that the kids look forward to. Traditions are very important to a hygge family culture.
- Do some side-by-side activities. These are times when you are sharing a space but not all up in one another’s business. Weed the garden, do a puzzle, colour, walk the dog etc. These activities are great at creating a sense of togetherness and facilitating conversation without making it feel forced or necessary.
- Have a few friends over. The key to a hygge gathering is that feeling of intimacy, which is easier when they are fewer people, or when the people who are there know each other well enough to feel comfortable with everyone. You don’t have to plan a big dinner, but do make a reason to gather. Maybe you could do dessert, or nachos, or cocoa, or popcorn. Don’t hold yourself back from opening up your home.
- Light a fire. If you have a stove or fireplace this can feel like the hygge machine of winter. There is something special and grounding about cozying up around a fire.
- Eat something warm. There are a lot of hygge-tips on having warm drinks, but don’t forget about eating. Having a warm lunch is one of my favourite simple pleasures. Often it means heating a bowl of leftover soup. A warm breakfast is a great way to start the day too because it often means I took the time to feed myself well.
For your heart
- Start a gratitude journal. It isn’t cliche, even science backs up the life-changing power of writing down what you are thankful for. Gratitude is a cure for so many things, and you won’t appreciate it until you try and stick with it. I write things I am thankful for in my bullet journal often and love to look back on it.
- A reading bucket list. Get some great recommendations, put the books on hold from the library/borrow from a friend, and get lost in some great stories. The simplest thing, like reading, can be the most luxurious.
- Get a cozy nook. Set up yourself a cozy spot somewhere. I love to drag my recliner to the front window and sit there with a blanket to read.
- Nourish yourself. The Danes are well-known for their love of sugary treats and coffee over the winter months but don’t forget to make some awesome soups and perhaps some buns (or get those frozen ones you toss in the over to make your house smell like that simple kinda love called freshly baked bread). Your slow cooker is your friend.
- Take a bath. Bath time is a whole thaaaang in our house. It is epsom salts, and candles, and lights down. I believe water therapy is underrated. Sometimes I put the kids in the tub on a rough day and they play for a big chunk of the morning. I might even put on some music for them in there if they need a real chill sesh. For me, bath time happens at the end of the night with maybe some netflix or a podcast – possibly a glass of red, or tea, or a bowl of meatballs.
- Make a playlist. We love Spotify and have music going almost all the time. It can really set the tone if we need to relax, or change some attitudes if we need a kitchen dance party.
- Treat yo self. I don’t mean go buy something pretty, I mean DO something (at home) that helps you feel like you’ve taken care of you. Wear a face mask, paint your nails, clean out your closet, organize your underwear drawer, make your bed, braid your hair. Whatever you do, don’t make it a big event, just simply enjoy the process.
- Make a capsule wardrobe. The Danish are known for their simple, neutral pieces that are cozy and layerable. No matter your style, you will do yourself a favour to par down your closet to the pieces you are most excited about wearing this season.
Out and about
- Have a coffee date with your bestie, your kid, your husband. Remember the hygge principal of togetherness and really focus on just being with them, not glancing at your phone.
- Head to the library to read all the free magazines curled up in their cozy reading chairs.
- Pack a thermos of cocoa and snacks and have a little mini-hike and picnic. You could just head out for a walk, but bringing along a couple extra things help you to make the space and reason to stop, rest, and engage with nature.
- Have a regular day you meet up with a few close friends. Maybe you go for a walk, maybe you get together for a sweet treat, maybe you go thrifting. Get out and about together.
- Head out for a crisp walk. When the sun is shining try to get out for a walk as often as possible. Our kids love this when we head out for post-dinner walks.
- Start a potluck day at the office or with your momfriends to bring everyone together over some good food.
- Bring someone a coffee and crash their space for a few moments to catch up.
- Plan a bonfire. Get a few good friends together and join around a fire. These are always great ways to make you slow down and engage.
- Bring the outside in. Hygge really focusses on a positive relationship to and a simple appreciation of nature. Go apple picking, or collect pinecones or rosehips. Any way you can preserve the last drops of summer and bring them into your home will make you feel all rooted and pioneer-esque. And your kids will be impressed if you try to roast chestnuts, even if it doesn’t work!
Above all remember to appreciate the rituals of the everyday.
Stop and listen to the soundtrack of your morning. Radio on, kids chattering, eggs cooking. Stop and look at what is happening right in front of you that you are taking for granted. There is joy in the simplest pleasures of your life every day. Hygge celebrates this. Every single thing you do can be something special if you pay enough attention and have gratitude for it.
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