A Little Hygge Is What You Need This Winter

I’m a natural homebody. My ideal winter afternoon is spent holed up in my house with a good book and roaring fire, watching the snow from inside where it’s warm. I prefer intimate gatherings over parties, a home-cooked meal instead of going out. Mulled wine on the couch or cocktails on the town? No contest. So when I first learned about the term hygge, a Danish word which encompasses a whole lifestyle of chunky knit sweaters, hot beverages, and burrowing down at home – I knew it was for me.

If you haven’t heard of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) yet, chances are you will soon. This Danish culture trend has been taking Britain and now the U.S. by storm. The concept is simple – hygge is the Danish word for cozy, and as a lifestyle, it translates into enjoying the small, warm comforts of life, especially in your home.

The Danes are used to long, harsh winters and less bustling lifestyles year-round than we tend to have in America. Yet despite being relegated to homelife much of the time, Denmark ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, and hygge might just be the answer as to why. Cultivating a love for home and creating a space that is comforting and homey can be a major happiness booster. Here are a few ways you can get your hygge on, and make your way through the rest of winter in comfy style.

1. Create a cozy nook

Carving out a particularly cozy spot or hyggekrog is a great place to start transforming your home into a hygge hideaway. A hyggekrog is where you go to enjoy a warm beverage, curl up in a blanket, light some candles, and read. I’ve found the corner of my couch that is closest to my fireplace is the perfect place to binge read a novel while sipping some cocoa. And I’ve made it more hyggelig by adding some big faux fur pillows and fuzzy blankets. Settling into that calming corner can encourage you to do some journaling, read your Bible, and spend some time in prayer. Make sure your hyggekrog is a quiet place where you can be fully enveloped in whatever activity you are focused on. Don’t forget to put your phone away – technological distractions are very un-hygge.

2. Feast on comforting food

There are entire cookbooks devoted to hygge cooking, but you don’t need to be an expert in Nordic cooking to master the art of hygge in your food. Your personal tastes and ambitions in the kitchen will help dictate what to make. I love baking extravagant cakes, so for me, an afternoon spent meticulously assembling a tiered chocolate confection would be very hyggelig. For someone else, a warm bowl of oatmeal or soup would do the trick. Whether your comfort food is simple or time-consuming, the most important thing is that it brings you joy.

3. Make it better together

Being a homebody doesn’t necessarily mean being a hermit. While a hygge lifestyle inspires you to enjoy time spent solo, it also encourages creating a space that invites others to join in and get cozy with you. I always shied away from having people over because entertaining felt stressful, but embracing hygge has led me to host more intimate, low-key gatherings. Cooking up a one-pot meal and serving mugs of mulled wine is exactly the kind of party I’m into. Hygge get-togethers need no special occasion, just a welcoming heart — and home — for your friends.

Originally published on December 5, 2018.

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