19 Ways to Use Hygge to Bring Back Christmas Magic
Hygge, pronounced "hoo-ga," is a concept from Norway and Denmark that's tricky to describe. Hygge is the embodiment of coziness, simplicity, and togetherness. Think back on your happiest childhood moment when everything felt just right. That's what hygge is all about.
If it's been a minute since you've experienced that feeling of comfort and peace, take heart. We thought hygge was just about blankets and candles, but it's so much more than that. It totally restored that wholesome Christmas spirit we'd been missing. Give these tips a try, and see if it works for you too.
"Hygge gives us the language, the objective, and the methods for planning and preserving happiness - and for getting a little bit of it every day."
— Meik Wiking
Never Skimp on Candles
Hygge isn't all about candles, but the warm of a flickering candle flame on a chilly night gets you off to a good start. The warm glow of a few candles can take a room from chilly to inviting in a manner of seconds. Winter weather can be depressing, but it's hard to be down when you're cuddled up with a good book by the light of a pine scented candle.
In Fact, Pay Attention to Lighting Overall
Flourscent lighting is the antithesis of hygge. There's nothing harsh about hygge whatsoever. Harsh, bright lighting feels more like being in an office than a living room.
The philosophy of hygge centers around being present. Slow down. Life isn't all about productivity. Long, chilly nights are for rest, so aim for soft, warm lighting throughout the house, especially closer to bed time.
Fall in Love With Hot Cocoa All Over Again
As big of a deal as candles are, the next key to adopting a hygge lifestyle is hot drinks. Think of the most dreamy beverage you can imagine. Now go make it. Take your time while you do. Savor the smells, the warmth of the steam, and that first, decadent sip. If you weren't feeling cozy before, what about now?
Make Cooking Together an Experience
You don't need to go out to enjoy a meal with your partner or family. The whole concept of hygge is taking pleasure in the little, ordinary details. A hygge gathering doesn't have to to be fancy– Quite the opposite.
Instead of spending hours cooking and cleaning before guests arrive, have a formal get together with those who are perfectly content just to be around you. The company is important part. The food comes next, of course, so put on some soft music, pour a glass of hot mulled wine, and cook a cozy stew together while you snack on cheese and crackers.
Sprinkle Coziness Everywhere
When we say everywhere, we mean everywhere. If you can swing it, pick out the softest, snuggliest blanket in colors that make you smile.
Add chunky knit cushions, thick rugs, and a spot to sit by the fire. A few extra throw pillows won't hurt, either. For added comfiness, keep a basket of blankets near the fireplace so you can snuggle up whenever the mood strikes.
Build a Hyggekrog
A hyggekrog is the best invention you've never heard of. It's similar to the idea of a book nook; A cozy spot to curl up with a cup of tea and something good to read, especially in front of a crackling fireplace.
Invest in Cozy Loungewear
Another aspect of hygge is giving yourself permission to rest. We mean really, truly rest. Set that never ending to-do list aside, put on something soft, and let yourself breathe. Cozy loungewear is part of the deal, so treat yourself to something nicer than a stained t-shirt and old, scratchy sweats.
You don't have to spend a fortune on cashmere to get comfy. A soft PJ set for under $50 is totally worth it.
What Do You Feel Like Doing? Do That.
Modern life seems increasingly hectic. What can we say? Capitalism. Stick it to the man and slow the heck down. Hygge centers around mindfulness, so consider what you really, really feel like doing.
What hobby or project have you set aside for months? Whether it's spending the afternoon baking bread or picking up your old guitar, now's the time to enjoy it.
Unplug and Slow Down
There's nothing wrong with a good movie marathon, but let's be real: Not many of us are lacking in the screen time department. It's ultra common these days to eat every meal zoned out with YouTube or Netflix streaming in the background.
Take a break. Turn off tech for an evening and have a meal at the table, followed by a round of Pictionary, Jenga, or whatever else your fam is into. It doesn't really matter what you do. The point is to just be together.
Share the Coziness With Pets
If you have pets, share the coziness with them, too! Give them some TLC and brush their fur, give them a belly rub, and let them indulge in their favorite treat.
Obviously, snuggling for the rest of the afternoon is highly recommended. Since petting a dog or cat has been proven to reduce stress, you'll be doing yourself a favor too.
Reconnect With Nature
Venturing out into the cold might sound counterintuitive, but hygge isn't just about being cozy inside. It's also about feeling centered, and connecting with nature can help with that. Bundle up and go for a walk. On your way, take note of all the minutia we usually overlook. The crunch of leaves, the crispness of the air, the new, bright green needles at the end of each evergreen bough.
If you have someone to start a snowball fight with, even better. By the time you get back home, stepping into the warmth will feel so much more special. It's all about balance.
Trade Books With Friends and Family
Those pesky book club people might be onto something. Researchers have confirmed that reading improves focus, memory, communication skills and even empathy, and testing that out for yourself can be fun.
If you're out of practice, take the pressure off by turning it into a fun get together. Each guest brings a favorite book, and then everyone trades. You'll get to quiet your mind and learn more about your friends and family in one go.
Pay Attention to Simple Pleasures
What small elements of your day spark joy? Pull a Marie Kondo and look for them. Save the tossing out half your closet bit for later, and just focus on the joyful part.
That first sip of hot coffee with a crunchy piece of buttered toast with homemade jam, or taking a long walk with a friend, perhaps. No moment is too ordinary to be savored. After all, we only have so many.
Think About 'We,' not 'Me'
Another element of hygge is community. Think about every cheesy holiday movie. All the warm, fuzzy feelings stem from people coming together. It would be fantastic if the whole town worked together to save Christmas, but you can save it for yourself just by thinking a little more about those around you and a little less about yourself.
Do a chore that's on someone else's list, or leave a nice note to cheer up a friend. That shift in mindset will make your day just as much as it makes theirs.
Seek Out Harmony
Hygge is about prioritizing the happiness of your whole tribe, not just your own. You don't need to be the best to matter. Your presence is enough. Put your ego on the shelf and aim for harmony, making sure that everyone around is heard and cared for– Not just the loudest person in the room.
Let Go of Old Garbage
We're not sure if Elsa from Disney's "Frozen" was Danish, exactly, but she has some very hygge advice: Let it go. If you've been bickering with your in-laws or have an old grudge with someone you used to care about deeply, let that s**t go.
Set aside differences of opinion and frustrating conflict and focus on the positives. Life is too short to waste it being angry and bitter. Let bygones be bygones, pause the political debates, and be together. Your connection is more valuable than your conflict.
The hygge philosophy is deeply rooted in gratitude. Find gratitude in every facet of life. Be grateful that your car started this morning. Be grateful that Trader Joe's had your favorite holiday Kringle this time around. Be grateful that your kid's cold gave you a day to watch movies together. Be grateful you're here. The joys in life are there if you look for them.
Add Reminders of Happy Memories
If you don't have any photos up, add some. Preferably, photos of moments. Skip the family photo with everyone in a pair of jeans and a white shirt. That's not a memory. That's a photoshoot you probably spent the entire morning fighting about. Put up photos of the kids playing in the pillow fort they built, or your favorite picture of your partner laughing.
You can also save mementos from your favorite experiences. On your next family trip, bring home that handmade mug that felt just right to hold, or the pinecone you played soccer with all the way back to the AirBNB. It doesn't have to break the bank to bring back warm fuzzy feelings all over again.
Make New Ones
The Happiness Institute of Denmark has spent years researching how to be happy, so they must be onto something. According to their research, social relationships are crucial to feeling happy and fulfilled.
The best way to fill your house with happiness is by filling it with humans who make it feel like home. There you have it: You've mastered the art of hygge, and set yourself up for a very simple, very happy Christmas.