When it comes to winter evenings at home, you’re likely to find me wrapped in bundles of scarves and blankets, either catching up on winter tv or reading on my kindle. How cosy, one might say, or rather: how hygge. A warm cup of tea, a quiet evening spent with a book, chatting to friends by candlelight, all of these things are hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), which is a Danish term often translated as ‘cosy’. The concept is a simple one, but it means so much more than cosiness: it’s an attitude towards things, viewing the simple pleasures of the home, and the people surrounding you, as precious. The people of Denmark have a talent for embracing hygge, which makes them one of the happiest countries in the world, and it’s a concept that has struck a cord with me too. Although the Danes manage to remain ‘hyggeligt’ all year round, it’s not always something that’s possible in suburban London, where stress and noise is never far away. But as Christmas approaches, what better time to embrace simplicity and do a few things that can make all our lives a little more hygge.
1. Whatever it is you’re doing, do it by candlelight. A dimmer switch on a lamp isn’t the same as the glow of a burning candle. Have one burning in the corner whilst you watch tv, or next to your bed as you read a book. I’ve recently invested in an Oatmeal Cookie candle from Anthropologie, which has the added benefit of a tasty and warming scent too.2. Layer up. You just cannot feel cosy unless you’re warm, so be sure to have a good selection of blankets, soft pyjamas and most importantly a decent dressing gown at the ready.
3. Colour in for a calmer mind. I think we can all remember the satisfaction of colouring within the lines when our less skilled friends couldn’t quite do it. Well, I’m now 22 and nothing has changed, except the complexity of the pictures I’m colouring in. There’s a great range of adult colouring books available, and I went for this one from Asos.
4. Read a book instead of watching tv. It’s much easier to watch a boring tv show than it is to read a boring book, so this isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But even so, find the right book and I can be sacrificing gym sessions and even showers just to finish the next chapter.5. Play boardgames. A classic Christmas passtime, but spending time with family and friends is key to achieving hygge. Forego the odd night out with friends for a cosy night in with the family, whack out Articulate, and reap the rewards.
6. Pamper yourself. You know that rushing to paint your nails for a night out on the train is never going to work out, we’ve all been there. Instead, put on the radio, stick on a classic (Christmas) film, get out your nail kit and take your time. I’m talking a proper manicure, base coat and all. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?
7. Call instead of texting. Since leaving uni I’m forever arranging catch up phone calls with friends, and in most cases not even finding the time, so it’s all text text text. If you can’t meet up, you can feel much closer to the person by picking up the phone, or switching on Skype, and sending your christmas wishes that way.
8. Tidy, clean, and declutter your space. Leading up to Christmas my room gets filled with scraps of wrapping paper, presents waiting to be wrapped and receipts, so prepare your space by decluttering. Scandinavian design is all about the bare necessities.