Gray skies don’t have to mean a drab indoor life.
As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring. 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, you might hear the siren song of your favorite TV streaming service. Aah, sweet, solitary binge-watching! But if you’d like a more satisfying way to spend a chilly evening, 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
Cake 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 buy the ingredients.
Go to your favorite market, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with great 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: Call up a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. Baking together makes for a lovely afternoon, no matter the weather!
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. Invite people over
Do you tend to hide from your friends as soon as the days get short? Fight the urge to retreat, and invite your nearest and dearest (or those you want to know better) over to share your coziness. Bonus: Ask them to bring a bottle of your favorite seasonal beverage!
Tip: Low on funds but want to host a dinner party? Ask everyone to bring an ingredient for soup, and make it together, or just plan a casual potluck.
5. Get out the board games
If they’ve been gathering dust, this is the time to bring them out! 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: Have long-distance friends and loved ones? There are many gaming apps you can play from all over the world. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!
6. 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. Then invite those friends over again!
Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for friends who don’t imbibe.
7. 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: Start a knitting, crocheting or weaving circle, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. It’s easier to get through lengthy projects when you’re sitting beside a friend — and it’s a great excuse to get together every week, no matter the weather.
8. 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.
9. 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.