by Kelley Campau
If you’re like me, you’ve made the choice to hunker down this holiday season and forgo family gatherings and travel, sacrificing the very traditions that make the holidays feel like, well, the holidays. But, that’s no reason not to make our homes, where we now spend 99% of our time, feel as warm and festive as they would any other year. In fact, incorporating Hygge style into the home can make this season feel as cozy and inviting as ever, even if it is just for a party of one or a few.
If you’re not familiar with Hygge, it’s a Danish term which means “to cultivate a feeling of comfort and coziness.” In other words, Hygge is about slowing down and embracing the aspects of life that tap into all the feel-good things we know and love. Think, curling up on the sofa with your favorite book; drinking a hot cup of cocoa or tea while watching the snow fall; or wrapping yourself in a knit blanket and sitting by the fire. I bet you feel better already just conjuring up those images. While Hygge is a lifestyle, perfected by the Danes, it’s also a design aesthetic that’s easy to achieve without spending a dime…and just in time for the holidays.
Here are five ways that you can incorporate Hygge style into your home this holiday season that will bring you joy and improve your overall well-being far into the New Year.
Free the Clutter
When it comes to Hygge, less is more. This means, no need to unpack every box of holiday decorations this year. Instead, pull out the items that have sentimental value and donate the rest. We all know the positive effects that “simplifying” can have on overall well-being. The same goes for decor, and decluttering is often the first step to getting there. When you’re done sifting through holiday boxes, move onto closets, pantries and junk drawers. Donating clothes, toys and nonperishable food items is an excellent way to give back to those less fortunate this holiday season, tapping into a spirit of giving that warms the heart and nourishes the soul. You’ll also create a blank slate in your home, opening yourself up for more creativity, calm and balance heading into the holidays. Closet tip: If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate! Pantry tip: Bought one too many bulk items from Costco? Donate extras to your local food bank. Junk drawer tip: You’ll never use all those rubber bands. I promise. Toss!
Bring the Outdoors In
Bypass the trip to Home Goods this year and instead visit mother nature for your holiday decor needs. Even though it’s winter, there is beautiful natural foliage abound. Pine, cedar, eucalyptus, holly berries, ivy and acorns can all be used to create seasonal wreaths and garland, or as beautiful accents on gifts. Or, for the craft- or time-challenged, simply gather your foliage and fill vases or Mason jars throughout the home. Not only will your home smell amazing, but spending time in nature and bringing the outdoors in can also be a serious mood booster for these shorter, darker days. The Danish only get seven hours of daylight in the winter (seven!), yet they’re still ranked among the happiest people on the planet, in part because they bring the natural elements inside.
While it may seem intuitive to turn the lights on when it’s dark at 4pm, the Hygge lifestyle opts for candle light instead. Candle light has a natural soothing effect and will help your body wind down for the evening. During the holidays, I use dusk as my cue to light a few candles, turn on my holiday lights, make a pot of tea, and meditate in the warm glow and silence as the sun sets outside. I love to use a fir-scented candle in these holiday months, but any scented candle such as rosemary, mint, cinnamon, lavender, etc., can calm your mind and relieve any stressors of your day. Just be careful not to light any candles around natural foliage since it’s highly flammable! I personally love these ceramic and “very Hygge” candle holders found on Etsy.
My favorite part of Hygge is the coziness of it all. And what’s more cozy than knitted blankets, sheepskin rugs, and your softest pair of pajamas, aka my new Covid wardrobe. Hygge is all about comfort, so layer up on textures and soft fabrics throughout your home. If you don’t already have a warm throw blanket, this is where I’d put my money. A beautiful knitted or wool throw on your sofa or armchair can add so much warmth to the room and can be used all year long. Also, don’t be afraid to layer up on rugs. Adding a soft sheepskin or faux cowhide rug on top of your everyday rug adds dimension, texture and another place to curl up on these cold, winter days. For an added holiday touch, string lights around the floor, in corners and in and around reading areas so every nook and cranny of your home feels cozy, warm and bright.
Hygge is all about simplicity – discarding what you don’t need and repurposing what you have. The holidays are an excellent time to get creative with home decor and incorporate personal objects or pieces that add to the warm energy of the season. I love to go through old shoe boxes of photos and keepsakes and display the items that bring me the most joy. You can string together photos above your mantle or turn them into homemade ornaments for your tree. Take a stab at knitting your own stockings. I still have Christmas elves I made out of Lifesaver candy and yarn from when I was a child hanging on my tree. If you don’t have anything of sentimental value to display, you can always find tons of craft ideas online that you can do as a family and make new memories of your own. Hygge isn’t about perfection – it celebrates the imperfection – so have fun with it. Whether it’s handmade decor, scraggly Charlie Brown trees, or home-strung lights, all of this creates a true Hygge holiday vibe.
In short, fill your home with warmth and good energy this holiday no matter what your plans. Use this time to slow down and embrace doing more of what you love. If Hygge teaches us anything, it’s that hibernation can do wonders for the soul and for a happy home.
Kelley Campau is an LA-based interior designer and Reiki practitioner that helps her clients attain balance in their lives, beginning in the home. For more info, visit: www.waverlyhousedesigns.com.