It’s the time of year when we’re recovering from holiday celebrating. Slowing down and regrouping. Maybe pulling in and resting from activity, or organizing and streamlining after a time of bounty. Whatever your tendencies after the winter holidays, whatever the weather where you are, there’s something to be said for incorporating a bit of “cozy” into your home and life. While I’ve had a great book about the hygge concept on my table for over a year, it’s a funny word and a new concept for many people. But since you’re here with me exploring the idea that we can make meaningful life happen in our homes, I wanted to share this fun idea and give you tips to inspire during the quieter (?) winter months. I thought you, too, might be encouraged by the concept of hygge hospitality, of “creating cozy” right where you are.
I love this sweet definition of hygge from the site Skagen: “Though there are many ways to describe hygge, we see it simply as the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Friends. Family. Graciousness. Contentment. Good feelings. A warm glow. Certainly, hygge is intrinsic to the Danish lifestyle, but this feeling of well-being, so deeply satisfying and cozy, is something we all experience, each in our own way.”
As a follower of Jesus, I know that this world is not our ultimate home. But I also know that every beauty we experience here points us to the ultimate beauty, the ultimate comfort, of our forever-home. So this idea of hygge hospitality, of creating a warm and inviting setting where we do life, sits well with how I want to “nest.” Like the concept? Here are a few ways you can simply incorporate hygge hospitality into your days.
Involve all the senses.
The photographer in me loves this notion.
Choose soft, warm light.
When you can, use window glow over harsh overhead light, directional versus direct. My kiddos always laugh at mom’s love for “little pockets of light,” but when I make sure there’s seating near a window where there’s afternoon sun, you know I’ll find them there with their books!
I’ve said it before, but I’m obsessed with scents.
Light a candle or diffuse essential oils… even better, bake some warm cookies or simmer a pot of stew! Grow fresh herbs in pots in your kitchen (or any room). I love when one of us brushes against the basil or the fresh mint during our school day (or more likely, littlest is grabbing a couple leaves to chew on during math time), and it scents the whole room for the next few minutes.
Play instrumental music, provide a sound machine for overnight guests, or just consider turning off the dryer or dishwasher during dinnertime for some well-appreciated quiet. It’s amazing how much subtle stress we experience from noise, and how much introducing soothing sound (or silence!) can calm us and give us mental space to focus on the important things.
If you keep your home cool, keep a soft throw or two available for snuggling. Keep a stack of pillows in a large basket or on the floor for reading or game-playing. Layer rugs over hardwood or tile floors, and layer linens on the beds.
Make your home user-friendly.
Arrange a table with a reading light and coaster near a comfy reading chair. If you have overnight guests, have an extra pair of new soft socks at the ready (my friend Lisa offered me a pair to wear at our writing retreat, and it was the perfect little blessing! I enjoyed those fuzzy socks almost as much as the chance to chill with her giant golden retriever). Offer a glass of water or a mug of something warm to sip when someone stops by – homemade goodies are an added bonus but not necessary. Living in the northeast US, I’ve learned the phrase “let me take your coat,” because it’s nice to have someone anticipate the clutter created by layers of outdoor wear. You can just as easily create cozy by having a stack of clean, fluffy beach towels at the ready in your coastal home, or a place guests can kick off their sandals at the door.
Create areas in your home where the seating arrangement itself invites interaction. Gather a couple comfortable chairs around a table where coffee cups and board games are easily accessible, and throw down a fluffy rug to invite bare toes. Face sofas together rather than all facing a television, so real-life “face-time” comes naturally.
This idea is especially to honor my husband – consider making a “soft place to land” in the middle of your family room.
When we bought our first house we had very little furniture. I wanted a coffee table to plunk our feet or more likely, stack my current book collection. My man said no. He felt pretty strongly about this. Now let me clarify – we were newlyweds, and children were not on our immediate horizon. But when I asked him why he so strongly opposed a coffee table, he told me it was because he wanted space by the couch to wrestle with his kids. 🙂 Flash forward a few years — a couple decades actually. We’re raising five kiddos, and two have already grown up and flown the nest. He’s relented on the coffee table refusal, and we have a really cool one in our family room. (I should write a tutorial – we made it from the dining room table our son built years ago and it is awesome.) The other night our daughter decided she wanted to try rearranging the layout of the furniture, which led to a deep clean of the floors and surfaces, and after we got it whipped into shape, hubby and I headed out to run some errands. When we returned home, there was a ginormous wrestle party happening with the younger brothers and their (amazing) big sister. And do you know what my husband said with a giant smile? “The first thing they did was move the coffee table to wrestle on the rug.” So there you have it – consider it.
Don’t feel like you have to have yourself perfectly in order, becoming a sort of perfectionist chef/server for your guests. If you’re making food, welcome others to join you in last minute preparation, or create a gathering that includes hands-on baking or drink-making. Ask leading questions that create opportunities to speak and listen about what matters to those around you. Bring a little gift when you visit a friend, something useful to her or just something small and pretty. Most of all, just be brave and put it out there – invite someone to come over and enjoy sweet company – the truest definition of “cozy.”
Want some other ideas on hygge, purposeful hospitality, and “creating cozy?”
My friend Bailey shared some more practical (and beautiful!) ideas for “Hygge Hospitality for Christians“ over at The Thin Place. I think you’ll be inspired to think “forever” in your hospitality!
This blog has some pretty sweet ideas about what hygge hospitality is, from a world traveler turned somewhat-homebody. 😉
You don’t have to have it all together. Foster a tender heart and be willing to offer spontaneous hospitality. This post on biblical hospitality so inspired me!
How do you “create cozy” right where you are?
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