A Hygge Holiday Is All About Peaceful, Quiet And Cozy Surroundings
As I’m writing this, it’s early morning and the snow is just beginning to come down. I’m sitting at the table wearing pajamas and a robe, with a cup of hot coffee beside me, so hygge is definitely on my mind.
Hygge, pronounced (Hue-gah) is a Danish word originally derived from an Old Norwegian word meaning well-being and protection from the outside elements. Denmark and its surrounding countries have notoriously long, cold winters. The concept of hygge has been used by Danish people to help mentally combat that dark and lengthy winter season and to fill their homes with comfort and love. In Denmark, hygge is often used to describe what their culture is all about. It’s not necessarily something specific that you can buy – it’s more of a feeling than a possession. The concept of hygge has made its way to the U.S. and many other countries and has become very popular, in part, due to the need for comfort during the pandemic and these uncertain times.
Being of Scandinavian descent, hygge has always been a curiosity to me. It can widely be described as a feeling of coziness, comfort, familiarity, friendship, laughter and seasonal homemade food and drinks. Although it’s possible to achieve hygge any time of the year (an outdoor BBQ with friends or a movie under the stars with family are perfectly good examples of summertime hygge), hygge is generally associated with the colder months because of its ability to uplift spirits during the long, dark winter months. Even here in northern Idaho, the winter months are often dull and dreary. Hygge is perfect for the upcoming holiday season because it’s all about peaceful, cozy surroundings that fill you with the feeling of contentment. Here are a few, simple ways you can bring holiday hygge into your home this season.
Proper lighting can contribute to the sense of hygge. It is often a softer type of lighting that enhances that space. Light some candles, have a fire or set up string warm (slightly yellow, not pure white) colored lights. Warm lighting is essential for a holiday hygge vibe.
Cozy linens, blankets, fluffy throw pillows and textures are essential for hygge – get out all of those soft, fluffy blankets and have them available on the couch or chairs and by the windows, so that you can easily cuddle up with your favorite book and relax.
Home cooking and baking – cooking some traditional holiday meals and treats will help bring holiday hygge into your home. Comfort foods like a holiday ham or turkey, stews or chilis, cookies, and fruit pies will waft soul-warming scents throughout the air, making your home feel cozy and cared for. If you’d rather not spend the time prepping, there are lots of prepared foods that you can throw in the oven and get that same feeling. I LOVE Marie Calendar pies for that reason and because they take over an hour to cook, they fill the house with wonderful aromas.
When safe, host family and friends – the holidays bring so many opportunities to host get-togethers for your friends and loved ones. Human connection is very important. But be sure not to stress over these gatherings – hygge parties are relaxed, friendly and homey. Potlucks are one great way to make gatherings much easier!
Holiday hygge is easy and comforting. Most people are already practicing at least one of these simple holiday hygge hacks without even thinking of the hygge concept. Now that you know the term for that warm and fuzzy feeling, you will be able to up your holiday hygge game even further.
Go Choose A Tree For A Hygge Family or Partner Experience
The nature of the holiday season provides so many fun and satisfying hygge opportunities. From cooking or baking family recipes to watching holiday movies to walking or driving through neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights, there are so many ways to achieve that cozy hygge feeling we long for.
When the kids were little, one of my favorite family hygge traditions for the season was to pick out our Christmas tree. I’m not so sure it was theirs but they seemed excited about it. I still don’t have an artificial tree for that very reason – I like the experience of choosing a live one, even if we don’t go out and cut it ourselves.
Maybe you live in an area where the traditional holiday fir tree grows in abundance and you are able to go and pick one out easily. If not, you may live close to a cut-your-own-tree farm which are fairly popular. If that’s not the case, a sourced tree from the boy scout troop’s stand, a local nursery, or Home Depot will do just fine. It’s truly less about the tree and more about the experience. We’ve seen quite a few families shopping for trees in matching pajamas!
To further the hygge, when you decorate your tree, light some candles around your home (but obviously, not near the tree), add in some freshly baked holiday treats, some of your favorite holiday music and maybe some unicorn hot cocoa!
*Some of my friends whose kids have grown and gone or who don’t have family nearby asked me what the point is of putting up a tree and going to all the fuss of decorating it just for themselves. I would say that’s one of the most important parts – decorate the tree so that you can sit and enjoy it! Of course, you can always invite some friends over for a casual lunch or evening, as well.
Make The House Smell Wonderful
As humans, our sense of smell plays a large role in our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. Scents have the ability to change our mood, change how we interact with others, and they even play a large role in our ability to recall memories. In fact, studies find that scent is so closely linked to memory, that people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy after one year, whereas visual memory drops to nearly 50% after only a few months. This is because when we smell a scent it goes straight to the brain’s olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the amygdala and the hippocampus. Oddly enough, one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease may be loss of smell.
All technical terms aside, scents are oftentimes linked by the brain with memories. Maybe it’s the smell of your mom’s bread baking, a certain flower or a perfume (someone spilled Jungle Gardenia cologne in the back of a friend’s car in high school and I can STILL remember that smell); certain scents can bring you right back to a memory as if it happened just yesterday. Wine has a tendency to do that too. Scents have the ability to change our mood. You can use scents to your advantage to spike your hygge holiday spirit and make your home smell amazing.
Scented candles or essential oils are a wonderful way to make your home smell festive and inviting for the holiday season. Having lit candles around your home can add to your hygge vibe. The warm glow will make rooms feel cozy and comfortable. If you’d prefer not to use candles, scented oils also work well. Check this Pinterest search for some great winter essential oil recipes.
Another way to make your home fragrant for the holidays is with fresh greenery. Purchase a fragrant wreath or freshly cut branches from a Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, White Spruce or Noble Fir tree – you can usually find some inexpensive branches in a place that sells Christmas trees.
Last, but not least, baking homemade holiday treats always keeps your home filled with sweet and savory scents. Not only is baking and cooking seasonal treats a perfect hygge activity, but it also ensures your home smells good, naturally. A pot of mulling spices can also smell great and it can last for several days if you just keep adding water or apple cider (or wine, if you’re so inclined!).
Go Hygge With Your Favorite Holiday Comfort Foods & Treats
Baking and cooking are a big part of the hygge mentality, especially when done with family and close friends. Last year, we bought a Lefse maker because making Lefse has been a holiday tradition in our family and this weekend, we’re actually going to a Lefse-making party! Keeping traditions alive using old family recipes is a hygge favorite. Just the thought of putting Great grandma’s apple-cinnamon pie recipe to use gives a warm and fuzzy feeling. And to be able to pass on these recipes by teaching your kids and grandkids how to make them is also fun.
Spread The Joy – Using Hygge In Gift Giving
Hygge holidays are even better when comfort foods are used to spread the holiday cheer. People love to receive homemade gifts, especially if it’s something you’re known for creating – a certain type of cookie, cinnamon rolls, lefse, tamales, etc. Wrap them up in some festive cellophane for transport and add in a handwritten card of good wishes. Comfort meals are also a very thoughtful gift, especially when given to a friend or loved one who is a caregiver or who leads a super busy lifestyle. What better gift than to not have to worry about what to make for dinner that night?
Gift-giving is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the holiday season. It’s better to give than to receive, right? Great gifts are really more about the thoughtful intention behind them than the actual gift itself. A holiday hygge gift is well thought out and might include something homemade or something cozy for the home.
If you’re like me (not that creative) and need to shop for your gifts, try locally owned stores and artisanal shops because they’re a part of that hygge feeling! Plus some may even have handmade gifts or art from local artists.
There are lots of ideas for gifts that encompass the hygge concept. Winter hygge is all about the feeling of coziness and warmth so, it’s not a surprise that gifts for the home are at the top of the list. Textiles such as blankets, throws and pillows make great gifts. Of course, cute, cozy pajamas are always a good idea. (We’re seeing a lot of families wearing matching pajamas!) Warm lighting is key in a hygge home, so things like candles and tea light lanterns make great presents too. Seasonal food and drinks embrace the hygge lifestyle as well. Putting together a hot cocoa kit with cute mugs and homemade cocoa bombs would be a fun idea for your chocolate-loving friend as well as anything self-care-related.
As you can see, it’s fairly easy to create hygge for the holidays and to carry that warm and cozy feeling with you throughout the colder months! Let me know if you try any of these ideas! Wishing you a hygge holiday!
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