The holiday season is full of frenzied gift buying, dozens of parties, kid’s holiday programs, and by the end of the season, all we have to show for it is burnout, resentment, and a ton of presents to return. We’ve put a lot of pressure on the season: every moment must be magical, every party attended in the perfect outfit with a plate of decadently decorated cookies, every present more extravagant than last year. With the growing access to all the traditions in the world, from picking your own tree in the wilderness to ugly sweater parties, it can feel like we have to do it all so we don’t miss out. But by trying to do it all, we miss out on the real joy of the season- enjoying the people we love. Enter, Hygge, a simple shift in intention can give you the peaceful holiday season you crave.
What Is Hygge?
Pronounced Hoo-Gah, hygge is a Danish tradition focused on taking pleasure in gentle, soothing activities with a focus on well-being and gratitude. Hygge really hit the scene in the United States in 2016-2017, but the idea has been around for far longer than that- the first appearance of the word in Danish texts is around the turn of the 18th century. The Danes embody Hygge in part because of their long dark winters- the coziness of the tradition helps stave off the effects of living in such bleak conditions. However, the ideal can be used anywhere, and no better time than the frantic holiday season.
Hygge, depending on who you ask, is a sense of connected, contented, well being, usually accompanied by a heaping side of gratitude. It’s the awareness that the best things in life aren’t things, rather our relationships and experiences that give life meaning. Hygge asks us to consider if what we have is enough and if what we want is really more stuff or more connection. The beauty of Hygge is that you have everything you need to begin your Hygge Holiday, starting with an evaluation of priorities. It’s not that a particular tradition or priority is good or bad, it’s deciding what matters to you. Find what makes you feel the most content and connected this holiday season, focus on that, and let the rest go.
7 Free Tips To Incorporate Hygee And Have The Cozy Stressfree Holiday You Crave
1. Get Your Lights Right
Starting on your hygge journey is as simple as turning off your overhead lights. Candles, fireplaces, and soft glowing lamps are the key to setting a hygge atmosphere. Simply turning on your lamp and lighting a candle will plunge your space into a hygge paradise. If you have a fireplace, light it and spend some time enjoying the dancing flames and crackling wood. If you don’t have a fireplace, light a candle and enjoy the warm glow of the light. Pull out a string of holiday lights and hang them around your space. Allow yourself to be in the quiet, warm pools of light with no distractions or expectations.
2. Add A Blanket (Or 3)
Blankets aren’t just to keep you warm, they’re part of the visual coziness of your home. Obviously, the warmth factor matters, who doesn’t love a cozy blanket when you are reading a book in your favorite chair? But seeing that visual cue of warmth and comfort is as important as the warmth itself. Just grab a few blankets out of storage and lay them over the back of your couch or at the end of your bed and bask in the hygge. You can also try more unconventional places for your blankets- over the back of wood dining room chairs or heaped in a basket by the fireplace.
3. Break Out The Comfy Clothes
If one of the primary goals of hygge is contentedness, wearing comfortable clothes is key. Stiff, structured clothes make it hard to focus on the moment, and instead you fidget with a collar or worry about wrinkles in your dress. Comfortable can mean whatever you want it to mean- a cable knit sweater, broken-in jeans and wool socks, or a matching sweatsuit. The uniform doesn’t matter as much as the feeling of ease you get from wearing it. So find your hygge style with the clothes you already have.
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4. Good Company And Good Conversation
Now that you’re comfortable and the atmosphere is right, it’s time to add good company. The beauty of hygge is that you share the contentment with others, so invite people who make you feel comfortable and seen. Invite friends who are good conversationalists, because conversation about the small and big are part of a hygge lifestyle. However, it’s important to avoid any conversation that might be too heated, so if there are differences in political or religious beliefs, leave those topics for another day. Finally, don’t try to create the perfect event. Your house doesn’t need to be magazine cover ready, nor does it need to be scrubbed top to bottom. Just make it comfortable- clean enough that there’s room for you and your guests to enjoy yourselves, but don’t wear yourself out before the party starts. Remember, ease and contentment are the goals.
5. Eat, Drink And Be Merry
But not in a gluttonous way- in fact, gluttony is the opposite of hygge. The way to truly enjoy a hygge meal is to savor every bite. Focus on the joy and process of eating rather than worrying about calories or dishes. Just be present with the experience of eating and drinking. And, because you invited good company, be merry with those around you. Enjoy the conversation and the memory-making, and of course, enjoy the food.
6. Go Outside, Then Come Back In.
Bundle up with your hat, scarves, and mittens, and go for a winter walk. Or gather up the kids and find a snowy hill to sled down. If you are more adventurous go skiing or snowboarding. No matter the length or intensity of the activity, go outside and let your body breathe the cold air for a while. Then come back inside the house. Revel in the joy of the warm indoors, carefully take off each item of winter wear. Slip on warm dry clothes and socks, then make a cup of hot chocolate or tea. Allow yourself to feel the sensation of getting warm after being cold, and bask in that feeling.
7. Savor The Small Moments
No matter how many blankets you have, or if you have a roaring fire in the fireplace, hygge is ultimately about being present in the joy of the moment. Whether you are hosting a dinner with close friends or curling up next to the fire with a book, there will certainly be moments to sink into. Does the couch feel soft and the blanket heavy? Is the soup warm and the conversation meaningful? Are your kids snuggled in close while you read them a story? Paying attention to the small moments throughout the holiday season will help you feel gratitude and contentedness.
Hygge: The Free Key To A Meaningful Holiday
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a busy holiday season unless of course, it ends with you feeling drained and irritated. For many of us, the holidays now symbolize overwhelming pressure to do it all and have it all. If this mentality of “more is always better” is leaving you dissatisfied, try hygge for a season. Let what you already have be enough because, in true hygge fashion, you already have everything you need to enjoy a peaceful, meaningful holiday.