As the days get shorter and colder, many of us will spend more time indoors with family and friends. December is also a month of holidays, with people in our community celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other special days. These celebrations can also mean potential added stress if you are hosting family and friends .
Making people welcome can sometimes be taxing for even the most experienced hosts. But there is a way you can make your home feel welcoming without making it a burden for you or your guests.
It is the simple Danish idea of hygge—creating an environment of warmth that creates a feeling of happiness.
Dave Inglis, a local hygge enthusiast and CEO of Threshold Leadership, described hygge as focusing on creating an environment of effortless belonging.
“Experiencing effortless belonging is where, whether it’s soaking into a couch and fully enjoying that moment or enjoying a dinner with people that you love, it feels truly effortless and you’re just really at home,” Inglis said.
Hygge is a serious topic in Inglis’ home. He and his partner incorporated a commitment to creating hygge as part of their marriage vows and they continue to think about hygge for everything from large family gatherings to winding down at the end of the day.
He added that hygge is not about buying things to improve the environment, but about being mindful of the people around you and their comfort.
Getting started with hygge is easy, according to Inglis. If you plan to have a family visit, take a few moments to ask yourself what would make this time more cozy or comfortable.
“Thoughtfully laying out a few candles can create the right atmosphere, but it’s also a matter of always keeping an eye open in the moment for how you can create an experience for the people that you love that is effortless and for them to feel a sense of belonging,” Inglis said.
Those insights could be seeing someone who looks a little bit cold and offering them a sweater. It could also be noticing that a guest’s tea is getting cold and offering to heat it. Inglis said you need to use a hygge lens to look at the environment in which you’re bringing people together.
Inglis added that hygge could be something you are already doing for yourself without thinking about it. Whether it is the right hoodie and music to write to or your favourite blanket and wine glass for watching the latest episode of a binge-worthy show, you are putting hygge into action.
“What are some of the key qualities of an environment that really allow you to settle in and feel totally at home? It’s asking yourself about the basic senses…Paint a picture of those characteristics that allow you to really settle in and feel at home,” Inglis said.
At their home, Inglis said they use hygge to signal the transition from afterschool and dinner time to bedtime.
Hygge is not something that everyone needs to contribute to, like household chores. Instead, it is something one person takes responsibility for, and others get to experience.
“It’s very intentional. Around 7:30, we will turn down the lights and bring out all the big blankets onto the couches. They are small, subtle changes that you can make to create an environment where the kids come to the couch and we cozy up together,” Inglis said.
For Inglis, making your home hygge comes back to creating an environment where people can effortlessly feel like they belong. Having something that anchors that environment is an easy way to get started.
Having a centre around which to create community is essential to hygge. Every aspect of the environment must be considered, intentional.
“It is a lot easier to create a hygge environment when you have something that is the centre of gravity that brings the community or people together. That might be having a fire or having a nice meal together,” Inglis said.
“It just takes looking at why people come together to give you context to create the hygge for your environment,” he said.
Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He's behind the TL;WR newsletter–Waterloo Region's weekly events newsletter. He's worked with some of Canada's most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.