You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re curled up by the fire on a cold night? That is the concept of Hygge. Pronounced hue-guh, the Danish term is used to acknowledge when a moment feels extraordinarily cozy, charming or special. According to a report by The New Yorker, it technically means “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,” but there is no direct translation into English. The closest word we do have is hug, which more or less, invokes the same feeling of warm, snuggly happiness.
In the last year, the idea has taken off stateside, as more and more Americans have become fixated on relaxation and self-care. The Danish art comes easy, too: “Hygge, or to be ‘hyggeligt,’ doesn’t require learning how to, adopting it as a lifestyle or buying anything,” says Danish Blogger Alex Beauchamp. “Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present—but to also recognize and enjoy the present. That’s why so many people distill ‘hygge’ down to being a feeling. If you don’t feel Hygge, you probably aren’t.”
Considering the colder months ahead are the ultimate time of year to wrap yourself in one of these proverbial hugs, here are five ways to bring Hygge into your home.
De-clutter to destress
The beauty of Danish design and decor is its simplicity. You just don’t get the same sense of Zen when there’s a whole lot of random crap lying around. Helen Russel, author of The Year of Living Danishly, believes that Hygge is best described as “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming.” This means ditching any clutter that might be distracting you from enjoying the present moment—or at the very least, hiding it in a closet until springtime.
No, not in the way you may be thinking (though Danish mulled wine really is delicious and easy to drink). To give your home the coziest possible ambiance, light the fireplace or some candles and dim the overhead lights to really set the mood for a state of mindfulness.
Embrace your tactile side
Hygge and cozy clothes go hand in hand, so consider reworking your winter wardrobe to include softer fabrics and snuggly accessories. Think wool-lined slippers, nubby sweaters, and as much cashmere as you can get your hands on. Better yet, add a few new living room accessories like an oversized fleece blanket or a sheepskin rug, too.
At its core, Hygge is the art of slowing down and just being. “‘Hygge is about embracing things–enjoying cake, not checking work emails all weekend, spending time with friends and family,” says Emily Robertson, publisher of The Little Book of Hygge. “It’s about the simple, small pleasures that make life great, which can sometimes pass us by.” Wrap yourself in that new blanket, snuggle up with a good book or someone you love, and just enjoy and be grateful for the fact that you don’t have to go outside until April.
Or, bring the party to you
We can probably all agree that staying in is the new going out. Instead of bundling up and trudging through the cold, dark streets to get to a bar or restaurant, why not bring the party to you? Some people refer to Hygge as “the art of creating intimacy,” which can be done alone, sure, but it is a lot more fun with friends or family. Host a dinner party with your favorite comfort food (say, chicken pot pie, spaghetti carbonara, or anything that makes you feel extra cozy), open a few bottles of wine, and battle it out over some board games.