We’re officially in the throes of the holiday season, which has me hankering to decorate, bake, make chili, and wrap gifts. The holidays are a festive time but also a portent of the gray, cold winter to come (at least in the Midwest of the United States), which has me planning ahead to make the house feel extra cozy and cuddly and take pleasure in simple things to ward off the seasonal blues.
One way to keep things from feeling too bleak is to embrace hygge, the Danish concept of warm and cozy togetherness. The Danes are experts are warding off the winter doldrums with candles, thick socks, cookies, roaring fires, and quiet nights with good friends and family, as are those in many other Northern European countries, where winter nights can be gemütlich in Germany (and you can plan a Brotzeit for dinner) or gezellig in the Netherlands (shout out to my good friends Christiane and Winnie!). Tellingly, the English language has no hygge equivalent (we Americans are too busy making and attacking our to-do lists).
After reading The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking a couple of times, I started incorporating some hygge elements into our home during the winter and making some fun new snacks. This year, I decided to plan and host a hygge night for my vaccinated pandemic VIPs (L’Husband, Mes Parents, and Le Chien) to really up the cozy ante and get in the holiday spirit.
Getting cozy and relaxing at home is a great way to reflect on the past year and look forward to that ahead. Read on for a scrapbook of our hyggeligt night and some tips to plan your very own!
To start: a small hygge display, including a custom menu of Danish treats for the evening’s eats.
For a hygge table, incorporate candles and natural elements like wood and leaves. I added small pumpkins and gourds in various colors to a casual centerpiece and filled it in with miniature pinecones harvested from my old yard in Vermont.
And for the drinks: mulled apple cider with ingredient from the Common Ground Coop in Urbana, Illinois. Drunk, naturellement, from heavy pottery mugs decorated with evergreen trees and snowflakes.
For the main event: a traditional spread of Danish smørrebrød, little open-face sandwiches built atop dark rye bread.
We had a spread of meats like ham and roast beef; Danish havarti cheese and cream cheese; condiments like butter, mustard, and horseradish; pickled beets; and gherkins.
And last but not least: a dessert bar! Danes love gummy candies and butter cookies, and we threw in some Linzer cookies for good measure.
How would you plan your own cozy hygge party?
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À votre santé,