If you are someone who's interested in home and lifestyle design, there's a good chance you're heard of Danish hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah"). Though it's been in practice in Denmark since at least the late 1800s, hygge really caught America's attention in 2017, leading to the publication of several books and articles about how to incorporate the hygge décor and lifestyle into one's day-to-day existence.
But what is hygge?
The hygge definition is, roughly, a concept about feeling warm, content, and cozy in your home. It's also about enjoying "the simple things in life" – good friends, warm fires, comfortable clothes – you get the drift.
The Danish practice home hygge as a way of life, rather than as a passing trend, and it's credited with being one of the reasons Denmark always ranks so highly in the measure of ‘happiness.' In fact, Denmark has been second only to Finland in the World Happiness Report (yes, there is such a thing) for the past two years.
Could we all learn a thing or two from Danish hygge?
Probably. The good news about hygge is that it's easy and extremely low-cost. In fact, if you've ever snuggled up with a great book on a cold day, you've already incorporated aspects of it into your life. If you're interested in learning more, keep reading for ten easy ways to practice Danish hygge. With the days getting shorter and the weather turning colder, now is the perfect time to hygge it up.
1. Get out your comfy cozies.
Hygge is all about comfort, and nothing is more comfortable than soft, woolen socks, flannel pajamas, robes, and leggings or sweatpants. If you're like many of our customers and pack away your off-season clothes in your CubeSmart storage unit, now's definitely the time to swap them out.
And don't be ashamed at all about what your most comfortable duds actually may look like. The Danish have a word called ‘hyggebukser' which is pretty much directly translated to ‘a pair of pants that one wouldn't dream of wearing in public.' As far as Danish hygge goes? That's A-OK. A job interview on the other hand, maybe not so much.
2. Round up all your hygge décor.
One of the greatest parts about hygge is that it doesn't have to cost much – or anything – and also doesn't add a whole bunch of clutter to your living environment. You probably already have a lot of the traditional hygge elements in your home or storage unit. Candles, for instance, are a huge part of hygge décor, but they don't have to be special "hygge candles." Anything you have laying around will do. If you aren't normally a candle person, invest in some low-cost, unscented votive candles and place them around your home to instantly up the hygge lighting vibe. And remember: the Danish word for spoilsport is apparently ‘lyseslukker' or ‘one who puts out the candles.'
A second key part of hygge décor are blankets, which also don't have to be anything new or special. As long as you feel good underneath them, they're perfect. So grab them from your trunks, beds, and storage units and pile them up for maximum hygge.
3. Break out the board games.
A critical part of Danish hygge is also the time spent enjoying simple, nourishing activities with others. Board games are a great way to focus your family's minds on something other than a cell phone or TV screen. Old school ones like Clue or Monopoly still hold interest for younger generations, but there are plenty of fun newer ones if you're looking for more of a challenge.
One note is that, as of the time of this writing, chess set sales seem to have skyrocketed thanks to the popularity of the Netflix series The Queen's Gambit. If you don't already have one, start your hunt in second-hand stores or antique stores. There's nothing more hygge than a long game of chess in front of a flickering fire – either real or streaming on your TV set – so start your search now!
4. Snuggle together for movie night.
Another way to enjoy hygge is to make any activity you do as cozy and connected as possible. If you and your loved one or family decide to watch a movie together, try making a comfortable nest out of pillows and blankets to snuggle in. If a blanket and pillow fort aren't in the cards, you can also gain connection by pushing chairs or couches together so you can hold hands or touch feet with your partner. Don't forget to serve hot tea or hot cocoa, and try to pick a movie with strong themes of togetherness and positivity (in other words, It's a Wonderful Life – not Hostel).
5. Practice Danish hygge on the go.
While all this focus on coziness may make you never want to leave your house again, you needn't worry: you can take hygge with you on the go. First, make sure you have a soft, cozy scarf, mittens, and warm boots. Bikes are very "hyggelig" (pronounced HOO-gah-lee), especially when ridden together with friends or family. Also hyggelig: taking a long, meandering walk with a warm drink in hand, cell phone firmly stashed in pocket and attention focused on the world around you.
6. Warm your belly with hearty meals.
One of my favorite parts about the hygge lifestyle is definitely the eats. Think nourishing stews, soups, porridges, and cakes. Cake is cozy?! Cake is cozy. Basically, anything Americans might classify as "comfort food" fits the bill. Wait, do I mean cheese, sugar, and carbs? Yes, yes, and yes. As long as it is slow-cooked, delicious, and relatively easy to make.
There are lots of great Danish hygge recipes online, including 10 Foods to Give You That Hygge Feeling and13 Healthiest Hygge Foods for the Coziest Day Ever. Almost all of the recipes can (and should!) be paired with some sort of warm, comforting beverage. The Danish love mulled wine (or "glogg") which is best made with low-cost wine and low-cost ingredients and served in mugs.
7. Read a book.
Since hygge is all about stepping back and cozying up, reading is high on the list of recommended hygge activities. If you haven't spent time recently under a blanket with a great novel, make it a point to do so this winter.
If you don't have reading material on hand that gets you excited or interested, hunt around for something new. While secondhand books are always easy to come by at thrift stores, Bookshop.org is a great resource if you're looking for a specific title. The site sources books from independent bookstores across the country, meaning your money goes towards supporting local businesses. Now there's a win-win that's hugely hygge.
8. Clean up clutter.
To create a truly serene – and truly hyggelig – home living space, clean up any and all visually chaotic clutter. Hygge is all about slowing down and simplifying to create mental wellbeing. Having an overwhelming number of things in your home can be incredibly distracting and definitely get in the way of finding inner peace, or even feeling comfortable in your space.
If you're struggling with clutter, make a point to either invest in home storage solutions (or, better yet, a CubeSmart storage unit) and get to picking up, recycling, and giving away. Once you've got your space simplified, highlight your hygge décor by turning on some soft music, lighting candles (of course), and inviting friends or family to gather together – even if it's just online. Work on being present in the home you've created . . . with the people you love.
9. Take Care of Yourself.
It's easy for busy adults to put ourselves at the bottom of the priority list. Danish hygge doesn't accept that way of thinking. Instead, it advocates for mindful self-care. Think long baths, yoga sessions, morning exercise, and evening meditation. It can also be as simple as taking a break from make-up, breathing deeply for five minutes, or even taking a nap. Whatever it is, make sure that it's in tune with what you want and need to feel peaceful. And enjoy yourself! Self-care is critical to mental health and stability.
10. Try something new.
Last but not least in our quest for Danish hygge: engaging in a new hobby or pastime that engages your mind and creates feelings of peace. Examples of hyggelig activities include hiking, walking, embroidery, quilting, baking bread, making candy, gardening, stargazing, and beekeeping. Anything that makes you feel safe, content, and at peace in the world – whether inside or out. If you get a great meal or beautiful handicraft from it, all the better, but the point is to do something that fulfills you: not to necessarily produce something.
Wondering about some examples of non-hyggelig activities? Spin class, black-tie events, and spending too much time at work. Thumbs down to all of that.
As you can see, hygge has many delightful and healthful concepts that can be easily incorporated into our existing lives. Remember that hygge is in no way about acquiring extra items, making a huge effort, or needlessly spending money. It's about simplifying and connecting – both with yourself and those that you love. Make sure what you're doing – and where you are – is as nourishing to your mind and body as possible and you'll be a hygge pro in no time.