Even though it remains unseasonably warm, we all know that winter is coming. The cold dark months combined with the wrong attitude can add up to a quarter of the year spent griping about the weather and its inconveniences. You’re better than that. Change your outlook by embracing the magical Danish idea of hygge (pronounced hoog-ah), which translates loosely to the mindset of coziness.
Some of the happiest people in the world live in Denmark, where the winters are long, dark and quiet. But instead of lining up to jump off the Cliffs of Mon, the Danish embrace seasonal changes with all things hygge. Unlike hibernating alone inside your apartment, hygge is a more community-oriented feeling. Here’s a scenario: Drinks with dear friends nestled together next to a blazing fireplace, when the bartender suddenly yells, “Hey, it’s snowing outside” and you all look out the fogged windows to see the skies sparkling with white. That’s hygge. The concept describes the warm, fuzzy feeling of closeness and community, things and experiences that give you the pleasure of a hug. It’s like candlelight inside you that warms on even the coldest night. It’s a little abstract, yes, but doesn’t that sound better than shaking your fist at Jack Frost? From hot tea (and toddies) to fuzzy outerware and home decor that makes you happy deep down, here’s how to cultivate your own sense of hygge this winter.
Food and drink are an important element of hygge. Indulging in the tasting menu at the Nordic restaurant Luksus(615 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint) will give you a big helping of hygge. But the $125 a head price tag is not a requirement for a hyggelig experience. Putting the kettle on for old friends is just as meaningful as a dinner out at a fancy restaurant. This Japanese Hammered Copper Kettle ($159) will last for winters to come, and will look inviting resting on the stove. Pour a cuppa of Hygge Organic Settle & Soothe Tea ($15-$25) and slow down for a bit to catch up. Make the table a no phone zone and experiment with making some glogg to pass out to relatives. When you’re finished, pack it to go in a beautiful copper flask ($35) or to-go travel mug ($35) and take a walk in the park. Or fill it with a rum toddy (or hot buttered rum) using the Alander Spiced Rum ($39.95 at Vine Wine) from Far North Spirits–it’s full of warm spices and goodness.
The weather never prevents Scandinavians from getting fresh air. Bundling up and exploring the winter landscapes is very hygge. Ice skating in Prospect Park, shore walking in Dyker Heights, or sledding on the Great Lawn are just a few ideas. Prepare for the cold in the softest materials, like this turtleneck lambswool poncho ($140) made by the Swedish brand Hunkydory which is perfect for layering. A Fair Isle stitch screams cozy and looks great as a luxuriously soft sweater ($118). Darn Tough Socks are made in Vermont from merino wool, come with a lifetime guarantee and are available in all sorts of colors, and patterns, including these over-the-knee, cushioned ski socks ($23). Nothing is as hygge as handknitting something yourself. This dark winter can be the season you learn to knit your loved ones special pieces by Woolfolk’s Hygge Collection Pattern Book ($22).
Home Sweet Hygge
Make your house a home by creating an intimate atmosphere for quiet conversations and holiday gatherings. Keep a basket of blankets available for guests to snuggle up with, throw a super soft sheepskin ($190) over a few of your chairs, and stock up on beautiful soft throw pillows like these by OYOY ($65). Hang up this charming “Hygge as F*ck” needlepoint ($25) by YadyKates, or better yet, give them to guests as gifts. If you really want to commit to a hygge lifestyle, warm up your house with Hygge & West wallpaper inspired by the designer’s grandmother’s carved wooden chair ($140).
A Candlelit Glow
Candlelight is one of the most important environment enhancers for Scandinavians. Nothing says hygge more than the warm glow of fire on a cold, dark day. Line a shelf with cedar juniper soy candles ($45) to create a wintry vibe. Or create a romantic dining experience with a white bamboo Brooklyn made candle by Apotheke ($31). If you want to know what hygge really actually smells like, go right to the source and order a hygge-scented candle from Skandinavisk ($38). (For the record, it “has echoes of tea and baked strawberry cake, rose petals and wild mint.”)
Cooking waffles and brewing French press coffee on a Sunday with your significant other can privde that same warm glow as a candle. A stove-top waffle maker from Nordic Ware ($55) will keep you entertained while perfecting your technique, or go for the simpler to master electric version ($32). Indulgence and self-care are a wonderful way to embrace winter in hygge fashion. Start with a candlelit soak in the tub with this pampering set from Snowehome ($195) that includes a candle and ultra-plush towels. Slip on some supple leather house shoes ($120) which form to your feet for maximum comfort. Cuddle up with a loved one under a knit-your-own blanket by Wool and the Gang ($245), called the koselig, which coincidentally means “cozy” in Norwegian.
Where to get your hygge on: