Living with Hygge this holiday season


When it comes to coping mechanisms this winter, our Danish counterparts have an edge in the concept known as hygge (pronounced hoo-guh). Hygge was developed as a way to find enjoyment in the bleak days of winter; it celebrates life’s simple pleasures like hand-knit blankets, flickering candlelight and coffee with friends. It also focuses on creating warmth, coziness and contentment – what’s not to like?

While central to Scandinavian culture, the concept has only recently made its way this side of the Atlantic. Sometimes it can be interpreted as the art of creating intimacy in your home – that’s why the holidays are a natural time to hygge up. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate hygge into your home for the holidays and all winter long.


Keep rooms clean and uncluttered


Hygge embraces a minimalist approach to decor with the philosophy that a serene space leads to a serene mind. This is easier said than done, especially during the holidays when clutter is at an all-time high and there is a tendency to go overboard with decorating. Don’t be afraid to take some pieces away. Having a clear space creates a clean landscape for the seasonal items you’ve selected to shine. 

One of the most well-intentioned clutter creators during the holidays is greeting cards. Instead of displaying them on prime mantle real estate, why not attach them to a festive ribbon hung above an entryway? If you don’t have tons of space, you always have wall space or over a doorway that adds an extra element without adding clutter because it’s not on a tabletop.

Add layers of cozy textures


During the cold winter months, layering wools, furs and knits, whether with throw pillows and blankets or rugs will add a cozy feeling to your rooms. "Warm and fuzzy" feelings, a la Hygge, can absolutely be found in natural textiles and finishes that have texture to them. Picture sheepskins and wood finishes. From decor to furnishings, these are a great way to add those feelings of coziness and warmth year-round, but especially around the holidays. If colour is intimidating, create visual interest with textural layers. 

Another big trend is macramé; you can add texture on walls with a hanging as well. Another idea is to add throws and pillows in a monochromatic color scheme of grays, creams and whites, but in different textures and even various patterns. In order to achieve that hygge coziness, it’s important to soften hard surfaces and lines. Add flowers and fresh greens to soften a centerpiece on a hard surface.

Get the lighting right


Harsh overhead lights, be gone! Cozy lighting is the name of the game when it comes to hygge. Fireplaces provide the warm glow that hygge is known for, but the same effect can be achieved with string lights, candles and lamps. We love mixing candles on a mantle or in a tablescape, using various heights of pillar candles or pairing chunky and taper candles in different holders. 

During the holiday season, one idea is to opt for earthy-scented candles, like those with notes of fresh pine and tobacco. Adding candle wall sconces will keep tabletops free from unnecessary clutter. Don’t discount battery-operated flameless candles either. New models look like the real thing and can be set to a timer or operated with a remote control. Plus, there’s no safety concern.


Soothing scents


Think about scents that, once you experience them, immediately take you to a happy place. Maybe it’s the aroma of fresh baked cookies or the relaxing scent of lavender? Whatever it is, introduce scents into your space with candles, as well as with essential oils and/or a diffuser. 

Play with different scents and swap out your year round ones for ones that really embody the holiday season. Remember, in nature, each season brings a fresh fragrance and scent. Fragrance can also help to provide a sense of calm, which is ideal if you are hosting a big crowd in your home. Consider infusing winter scents into your home over the holiday season such as juniper, fig, pine and sage.


Decorate with natural materials


Connecting with nature is central to hygge and luckily the holiday season offers ample opportunity to bring the outdoors in. A no-brainer method is to opt for a real Christmas tree, but there are many ways to incorporate plants and natural elements. For example, large fiddle-leaf figs in decorative containers can breathe life into a room in more ways than one. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, but many plants create oxygen in the home and certain ones, like lavender, have calming effects. Bonus: adding aromatic evergreens like pine, cedar and balsam to your decor will fill your home with the scent of Christmas. Port Orford cedar is another favourite for this season: it’s a long, flat branch, and when it dries, it doesn’t lose the needles -  it looks great on bookshelves and around mantles.