Gray skies don’t have to mean a drab indoor life.
As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring — and that may be more true than ever this year. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.
While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., the art of hygge, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.
The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they’re the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?
When it’s cold and rainy out, and you’ve been stuck inside for — who knows how long? — binging the next series on your “recommended” list might feel like the most appealing option. But if you’d like mix things up, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.
1. Set the mood
Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.
Tip: Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.
2. Bake something
Comfort food is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn’t just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) — it begins when you imagine the creation.
Leaf through your favorite cookbooks or browse some eye-candy baking sites, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It’s just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells — and taste good too.
Tip: Reach out to a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. You can set up a video call if you’re not able to meet in person.
3. Add texture
Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more inviting space. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.
Tip: Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.
4. Get out the board games
Pull your partner or kids away from their screens and gather around the table for some old-fashioned fun. Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.
Tip: Looking for remote gaming options? There are many online group gaming apps, and many people have come up with creative ways to play the classics via Zoom as well. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!
5. Perfect your hot drink game
Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine — pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can’t wait to show it off. Host a virtual happy hour and share it with family and friends.
Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for those who don’t imbibe.
6. Embrace sweater weather
If you don’t already have a favorite sweater, it’s time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair — anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!
Tip: Find some beginner books or tutorials and try your hand at knitting, crocheting or weaving, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. Find an online knitting circle for tips and encouragement.
7. Curate your cold-outside playlist
Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.
Tip: Instrumentals are classics for a reason — they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.
8. Do seasonal activities
Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year’s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!
Tip: Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen — put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an “accountability partner” (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.
Originally published October 2018.