The holidays are here! But in spite of our excited anticipation, many of us would admit to wishing to simplify the season so there’s less stress and more joy. Certainly, we all love the idea of swapping the humming anxiety about getting it all done for being present in the moment and savoring special times with loved ones.
If this sounds appealing, consider trading the usual frenzy and embracing hygge, the Nordic version of a cozy, simple lifestyle. Adopting this Danish wellness tradition might just see you have a happier holiday season.
Contrary to the commonly held North American presumption, which usually equates it with the acquisitions of things, hygge can’t be purchased—it’s a mindset. But, as is the case when aiming for a dose of Christmas spirit, that’s not to say the stage can’t be set for it to organically transpire.
Set the stage
Intrigued at the thought of borrowing this Danish approach to the holidays but wondering how do to introduce hygge into your home? Simply put, aim to create a space that allows for relaxation and rejuvenation.
As inspiration is often found in the details, consider it as an opportunity to engage and treat all five senses. Bearing in mind that hygge is all about making a home feel warm and inviting (and less about perfection), declutter so your spaces feel lighter throughout the holiday season.
Introduce heft and texture with chunky blankets, faux fur throws and thick, comfy pillows. Cultivate ambiance with a lit fire or lots of twinkly holiday lights and flickering candles.
Showcase simple holiday arrangements featuring elements gifted from nature. Display a seasonally styled tray atop an ottoman.
Infuse interest and warmth by displaying, and using, handmade pieces crafted by artisans (especially ceramics). ShopCraft in the heart of the Elmwood Village, along with the numerous holiday markets, showcase a wide array of items by talented local makers. You’ll know intuitively you’ve succeeded when your home sparks those familiar feelings of comfort and joy.
Slow it down
Tweaking treasured holiday traditions to include elements of a hygge life may bring considerably more meaning to your festive celebrations. Deliberately forgo a schedule filled with chaotic big-ticket events in favor of calming outings such as going to a farm to cut a Christmas tree. Rediscover the pleasure in simple undertakings—baking pies, making decorations, wandering the neighborhood with family to admire the lights or playing games like Scrabble with the kids—that are meaningful to you and yours.
Resurrect the wonder of childhood anticipation and create an adult version of an advent calendar for a grown-up that’s special to you. Have the kids gather daily over a cup of hot chocolate to move the needle on a holiday countdown chart. Look to nature’s bounty for inspiration for holiday decor.
Display greens, such as boxwood, that will last throughout the winter to allow the holiday glow to linger through the darkness of the months to come. Keep it simple but have a few tasty entertaining staples on hand for impromptu gatherings with friends. Remember to stay mindful, as being truly engaged in the activity at hand inspires the hygge feeling.
Share the spirit
Let the principle of hygge inspire what you give and how you give it this holiday season. To see your presentations embody the Scandi vibe, cover gifts in humble materials—plain craft paper or crisp, white wrap—using a tight color palette that relies on warm, oatmeal tones, wintery whites, cozy reds and a punch of black. Up the cozy and tuck simply wrapped gifts in roughly woven baskets. Use thick bands of ribbon and charming embellishments that evoke winter or nature, like knits, greenery or branches. Handmade rustic tags add a touch of charm and thought.
When gifting with the spirit of hygge in mind, cozy and creative hits the mark again. Worth repeating: hygge can’t be bought per se. But thoughtful, simple presents such as comfy slippers, cozy PJs, essential oils, books that speak to a particular interest, scented candles, artisanal treats or handmade creations (by you or others) like knits and ceramics can spark contentment long after the holiday season ends.
And as few things capture the spirit of hygge more than an unexpected gift given with no expectation of reciprocation, keep a small supply of a wrapped quality item like dark chocolate or fine tea on hand for when friends stop by. For who wouldn’t appreciate the simple pleasure of a steaming cup of tea on a snowy morning or piece of rich chocolate when seated by the tree on a blustery evening?
At its most elemental, hygge is about cultivating an attitude. It’s focusing on enjoying the simple and cozy so as to live a life shaped by comfort and contentment—which meshes perfectly with having the happiest of holidays. When you create a cozy and calm space to amplify and truly revel in the simple traditions that are meaningful for you and those you love, it’s a hyggeligt holiday season.
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