The holiday season can stir up a variety of feelings.
Maybe those feelings are discomfort or loneliness. Or maybe what arises is grief and sadness. Perhaps we feel weighted down by anxiety or overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to do, events to attend, and gifts to buy.
But if we’re fortunate, some of the feelings that arise during the holidays are a sense of warmth, generosity, and gratitude. These are the comfy, cozy feelings best represented by the Danish concept of hygge, or the “art of creating intimacy.”
Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a concept I heard of only recently but already adore. It’s about creating a sense of cozy comfort—in our hearts, our lives, our homes, and our relationships. It’s about ambiance, and anyone can achieve it with the right tools.
So how do we begin?
For starters, we want to keep self-care in mind. Not only can hygge make us feel better, but it can help us bring more intimacy into our living spaces, relationships, and inner selves. While personal growth can often come from our struggles, it’s important that we also learn to grow through caring for ourselves—particularly in times of great stress.
Here’s my starter list for creating a comfy cozy holiday season, full of mindfulness and gratitude:
- We can put on our most comfortable pajamas and settle in with a good book we’ve been wanting to read.
- We can string fairy lights around the room and snuggle under a blanket for an evening of listening to music. I prefer vinyl for added ambiance.
- We can wear our softest sweaters and leggings (or whatever feels comfortable for us) and settle in for a holiday movie marathon.
- We can prepare homemade stew or soup and invite friends or family over to share it with us.
- We can bake holiday cookies and give some to a teacher, neighbor, or postal worker.
- We can make our own ornaments to decorate our trees.
- We can take a pine cone, coat it in peanut butter, and roll it in birdseed for our animal friends. Simply hang or sit it where wildlife can enjoy this yummy treat.
- We can invite friends and family over to string popcorn for our trees.
- We can go for a walk in the woods and collect nature supplies to decorate faerie houses to sit in our gardens or on our front porches. A dried gourd makes an excellent base; then glue the nature decor where you’d like. We can place a small battery-operated candle inside the houses for a little extra light and warmth.
- We can make holiday gift wrapping a communal event. Invite over a friend or two and help each other wrap gifts. Put on holiday music, light candles, and serve a warm, spiced wine for the occasion.
- We can knit, crochet, or sew “mug sweaters” with friends. Then we can use our creations as we drink hot chocolate and spend quality time with those we love.
- We can host a holiday book club in our community. Pick a holiday-themed book or just one you’ve been wanting to read, then discuss it over holiday goodies.
- We can host a cookie exchange and enjoy sampling a variety of sweet snacks.
- We can go Christmas caroling in our neighborhoods or at a local senior center or hospital. If you’re like me and have zero musical talent, you can hire carol singers to come to your home or event.
- We can have a bonfire and sit around singing holiday songs, telling stories of our favorite holiday memories, or even swapping stories of the best gifts we’ve ever received.
There are so many ways we can add a touch of intimacy to our normal holiday traditions. Instead of making gatherings about gifts or stress or to-do lists, we need to turn them into opportunities to create memories together.
The holidays should be less about how much we spend or how many things we do and more about how we feel. Even when we’re not fully invested in the holiday season, we can still try to fully invest in ourselves, our beautiful lives, and all of the relationships that make those lives worth living.
That is what hygge is all about!
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Drew Coffman/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis