5 Ways to make Hygge!

“Hygge” or “cozying around”, is a concept the Danes prize very highly. “Hygge” is a feeling as well as an action and a way of being and it is an integral part of everyday life in Denmark. Their incredible focus on hygge on is one of the main reasons the Danes are constantly voted as the happiest people in the world. They know it’s the little things that make the big difference in our true sense of wellbeing.

Here are some tips on how you can hygge with the family tonight. Remember: Atmoshphere, Mood and Teamwork!

1. Get out the candles. It’s a mystery as to why candles often seem to be reserved for romantic dinners or blackouts but candles bring so much atmosphere and warmth to any meal or gathering. It can be during the day or night! Sunny or rainy! Every good Danish house has at least one candle burning at some time in the day because it adds that special touch of coziness to a room.
2. Make the family a team. Try to get everyone to participate in making hygge. Decide the day or night and plan a meal together. Make it a joint effort what meal you will prepare together. Give everyone the option of a role, from cooking, to setting the table. It can be a simple, the important thing is you work together as a team and have fun. Put care into the table and the presentation. Never underestimate the importance of atmosphere and mood for hygge.
3. No Complaining! Make an agreement that during the “hygge” period no one is going to complain. No work stress, no negativity about other people or family members. For this period, leave the drama at the door and focus on the positive sides of life.
4. Turn off the technology! Making hygge doesn’t have to last long. But for that meal preparation or decided hygge time together, while the candles are lit, the phones and technology go off! Get everyone to put their devices in a box together and shut the lid in another room.
5. Think “we” not “I”  Sound obvious? It’s not! For moments of hygge try to be as present as possible with who you are there with. Try to get out of your own head and your own problems. Ask the others to do the same. We are so programmed to think about me that we sometimes forget the we and the moments with friends and family. Try playing a game. Talk about funny things the kids do or just focus on the little things. These, remember, are ultimately the big things. Even 30 minutes to an hour of focused hygge with the family in a busy week can remind us of what it is all really about. It sounds easy but it takes putting it into practice to really feel the benefits!

(thanks to Jalal Bhatti for photo cc by 2.0)


Jessica Joelle Alexander

Jessica Joelle Alexander is a bestselling author, Danish parenting expert, columnist, speaker, and cultural researcher. Her work has been featured in TIME, The Atlantic, Salon, NPR, Huffington Post, NY Times and many more. She is the author of 3 books, gives talks and workshops globally, and researches and writes for UC Berkeley's Towards Belonging Institute

1 Comment

  • August 12, 2016

    Thiva Narayanan

    This is a very interesting concept to learn about. Interesting because I have worked in a Malaysian based Norwegian company for many years and have also come across Danish persons through work but have never heard about ‘hygge’ and its big role in Danish culture. Definitely something to remember and practice with my own family.