There’s no place like home: How to make your life more Hygge

words Al Woods

The days are growing shorter, the nights are getting downright chilly, and you’ve most likely packed away your tankini, oversized straw hat, and flip-flops until next summer rolls around again. Maybe you’re one of those women who absolutely adores fall and all of its accoutrements — apple cider, pumpkin-patch hayrides, Indian corn, cuddly flannels, and stylish boots — or maybe you’d prefer to bypass autumn altogether and go straight to the glitz and glam of the holiday season.

Either way, there’s no getting around it: winter is coming.

This winter, why not do as the Scandinavians do and make the most of cozy, homey, family-oriented evenings and weekends? It’s called “hygge” and we’ve got the deets on how to embrace it just in time for the cold winds to blow!

Hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”) is a Danish word that defies easy translation. Many people equate it to a feeling of coziness, but it’s more than that. There are elements of security and familiarity, comfort and kinship, serenity and peace, contentedness, simplicity, and charm involved in living la vida hyggeligt.

No matter how you define it, hygge helps people through the darkest, coldest time of the year — come December in Copenhagen, it’s dark for fully 17 hours out of every 24 — but it’s not that practicing a hygge lifestyle is about enduring the darkness. It’s about embracing it for its own sake.

9 Ways to Cultivate a Sense of Hygge In Your Home

1. Light a candle. Shine a little light in the darkness, make any meal more special, and cultivate a cozy atmosphere just by lighting a candle or two. Scented candles are lovely, but forego them if you’re setting a table for dinner, as their fragrance will clash with the scent of your food.

2. Pour a cup of tea. Take the time to brew tea leaves in a beautiful pot and serve in matching cups. Savor the taste of your tea, and while you’re at it, why not set out a few cookies, pastries, or even cucumber sandwiches to nosh on?

3. Get crafty. Did you know that knitting, crocheting, and other creative pursuits can actually have a positive effect on your health? Whether you start a project that will last all winter long or whip up some smaller items for holiday gifts, nurturing your artistic spirit is a fantastic way to feel hyggeligt. Not the arts-and-crafts type? Try a jigsaw puzzle, crossword, or sudoko, or soothe your nerves with an adult coloring book and beautifully hued pencils. The idea here is to reduce your reliance on smartphone games and apps for your entertainment.

4. Get out of doors. Hygge might be all about finding comfort and being cozy, but that doesn’t mean you should hide away in your bedroom. On the contrary, going out for some fresh air is very much in keeping with the Scandinavian spirit. Make a snowman, go for an old-fashioned sleigh ride, or simply take a hike through freshly fallen snow and savor nature’s ambiance.

5. Pamper your skin. Even — or maybe especially — if you don’t have a regular skin-care routine, take time to be kind to your epidermis. The winter weather can take a toll, so exfoliate a few times a week and use an emollient-rich moisturizer. If you have skin problems, try a natural eczema cream for healing from the inside out. Make sure to drink plenty of water, too, to offset the drying effect of central heating.

6. Cook up something scrumptious. Wintertime dishes like stews, braises, and casseroles are sure to warm your heart even as they fill your belly. Remember that hearty doesn’t have to mean heavy; don’t overdo it with the cheese and other carbs. Instead, opt for seasonal veggies like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and squashes.

7. Drink a toast. What could be better after a day spent skiing or snowshoeing than a toasty tipple? Try spiked apple cider, eggnog with a little something extra, or a mug of mulled wine. Beer lovers, never fear: there are oodles of ales and stouts to suit this season, with flavors of chocolate, caramel, coffee, and spices.

8. Enjoy old traditions or make some new ones. You probably already have plenty of holiday traditions — trimming the tree, baking cookies or assembling a gingerbread house, hosting an annual party. Why not make some new ones this year? Celebrate the first snowfall of the winter by cooking up a batch of five-alarm chili, take a drive to see festive light displays, or go caroling in your neighborhood.

9. Spend time with the ones you love. There is perhaps no better way to embrace the notion of hygge than by spending time with friends and family. Cue up some classic movies and pop some corn, play a board game, or just share stories and laughter — no cell phones allowed! — to make memories that will see you through this winter and well beyond!

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