Beat the winter blahs — how to entertain hygge style
Imbue a sense of togetherness by creating a relaxed, cosy atmosphere
It’s January, it’s cold, and a big warm blanket and Netflix may be your idea of getting through winter. But connecting with people, in real life, might be one of the most important acts of self-care you can do for yourself and your happiness.
Denmark has consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, and what may set it apart from other countries who rank high on the happiness scale, including Canada, is hygge. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish term that loosely translates as a feeling of comfort, contentment, and cosiness achieved through gatherings with friends or family, in a warm and inviting atmosphere, and the Danes are experts at it.
Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, says that spending time with others is a key part of hygge. In his bestselling book, Wiking explains that while you can hygge by yourself it’s also about togetherness. “Time spent with others creates an atmosphere that is warm, relaxed, friendly, down-to-earth, close, comfortable, snug and welcoming. In many ways, it is like a good hug — but without the physical contact.”
Ana Diez, an entrepreneur, and her husband Jeff Douglas, who co-hosts the popular CBC radio show As It Happens, have been entertaining in their own hygge style for the past few winters. It started with a group of friends they regularly met after church for drinks at a local pub and found it was getting expensive. So, instead they decided to gather at their home located in Toronto’s west-end.
“It’s always very low-key. Quiet conversation, silence, the fireplace channel, red wine is favoured and a lot of blankets … it’s restorative, sitting around with people we are comfortable with, very relaxed,” Douglas says. “Right,” says Diez, “It’s winter and it’s long and you are looking for things to do to break up the monotony.” Mirrored Block Throws are the perfect addition to a hygge hangout, drape yourself in comfort as you kick back and relax. Throw in a few Casa Cubista Crosshatch Bowls to mix up the patterns on your table, it’s all about what makes you happy.
The couple’s approach to hygge entertaining is to take the stress out of having people over by keeping the focus on just being together. They say it’s about impromptu, relaxed entertaining. For them, that means not worrying about having their house in perfect order, using what’s in the fridge or pantry. Everyone contributes, but the agreement is to just bring what they have. The result, they say, is a feeling of relaxation and connection that makes them feel good.
“People will show up with half a bottle of wine or half a rotisserie chicken,” says Douglas. “For us, our version of hygge, the comfy factor of hygge, was who was there. You are comfortable with them and there is no pretense … it’s about being together. The spirit of hygge is not in preparation but in the spontaneity.”
Entertaining hygge style is a relaxed and low stress approach to spending time with people. So why not host your own hygge style dinner party?
Invite your friends over and follow these tips to host a cosy, relaxed evening.
KEEP IT INTIMATE.
Fill this p’sifik colbalt mug with something cosy and warm to sip on as you slow down and enjoy a hygge hangout with friends. Beeswax pillar candles are a great way to warm up your space with the glow of a real candle. Creating a perfect cosy atmosphere.
Smaller groups of people make entertaining simpler. Try inviting just a few friends over, perhaps three or four to keep the circle small.
Whether your style is a very informal, potluck style invitation to bring what you have in the fridge or something a little more planned but simple — such as a bowl of chili, mac and cheese or a hearty soup — you’ll want to let your guests know what to expect. Remind guests to dress comfortably.
CREATE A WARM AND COSY ATMOSPHERE.
Lighting is key — limit stark overhead lighting and focus on mood lighting. Warm up your space with dimmable lights or hang string lights across the room. The warm glow of real candles is essential for optimal hygge. Fill glass jars with tealights,
group pillar candles together on a tray, as a table centrepiece. Try wax LED candles in windows and areas where they won’t be supervised to keep it safe. Create comfort and warmth — have a basket of cosy blankets for guests to curl up with and a few pillows to make it comfortable to sit on the floor. Use soft, cotton, easy wash dish towels as napkins. Paper might be tempting but it doesn’t feel good to the touch and besides, it’s not very ecofriendly. If you have time, go for a walk to forage for something green to decorate the table.