With the frigid Canadian winter months firmly settled around us, some of us find this time of year less than appealing. One way to battle the winter blues is to embrace our Canadian climate and host a winter get together that offers the HYGGE experience. As I discover the concept of hygge, I’m feeling it’s as much of a mantra for seizing life’s simple moments with the people I love - in the most comfortable way possible – what’s not to love!
Hygge is a Danish term defined as:
The pleasure of simple living
A feeling that comes from the ability to make an ordinary day into an extraordinary day.
The art of building sanctuary and community by inviting closeness and awareness of what makes you feel open hearted and alive.
To create well-being through connection and warmth.
A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other.
Celebrating every day.
Though it has been said that:
“Hygge was never meant to be translated. It was meant to be felt.” ~Tove Maren
It is pronounced hew-ga and interestingly, there is no direct English translation for this expression though it is characterized as togetherness or coziness. Hygge is a Danish way of life that spreads warmth and calm. As we shiver away in the middle of our Canadian winter, warmth and calm are feelings much needed to help us embrace the season.
Hygge is a lifestyle, a feeling and is not specific to any particular season though in Scandanavian countries that average 4 to 5 hours of daylight in the winter, it makes sense the Hygge is a big part of making winter enjoyable in that part of the world.
You may not plan to host a dinner in sub zero temperatures but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your outdoor space to celebrate the winter and shoulder seasons in your own discovery of Hygge.
We pride ourselves at Cottage Culture on embracing the outdoors as an extension of our indoor living space with quality, well and uniquely designed furniture. Not surprisingly, Scandanavian design embodies simplicity and functionality with neutral tones that provide a solid design base.
Furniture should provide a canvas for your lifestyle, and this fits with the Danish concept of Hygge where well-being and calm is the feeling is the goal. So, to with your furniture – simple design that is made well with high quality materials, natural textures and soothing hues can really elevate your outdoor experience. Choosing patio furniture to suit our varying climates can extend your enjoyment of the outdoors and your lounge space.
You shouldn’t necessarily have to buy a perfectly matching set in order to have pieces work well together. The pieces should work together to fit your needs – comfort, functionality and frankly to bring you enjoyment. Mixing textures and hues is an asset allowing you to combine various living spaces when the occasion calls for it. Synthetic rattan with painted aluminum blends modern lines with natural textures for a rich look.
Hygge is about enjoying life’s simple pleasures and if your patio furniture helps you achieve this in winter, then we say go for it! But common sense will help your furniture last longer as it weathers an extended season.
Material selection plays a big part in having furniture that can be used in all seasons:
All weather cushions that can dry quickly or lined cushions that repel moisture all together.
Storage bins with airflow to give you access to your cushions off season.
Synthetic rattan and textilene is low maintenance.
Teak is a very strong wood but it will weather, be clear when you buy of what to expect from wood – it is a natural material and will weather.
Good outdoor mats like Chilewich’s outdoor shag mat that can be used indoor and out to reduce snow from being tracked in as people use your washrooms. And, they add another layer from the cold for those sitting close to the ground.
Obviously, winter is harsh and so though you may use you furniture, it would be sensible to take care of it in the process:
Snow is heavy so don’t burden your furniture - it is a form of wear and tear and so it should be kept from extreme elements of any kind where possible – you wouldn’t leave a weight sitting on your new chair so don’t leave a pile of snow either.
Cover it up.
Make sure cushions and wood are dry before you cover it tightly or place in a storage box.
Clean fabrics before you store them away.
So, in the full hygge spirit, why not celebrate our Canadian climate by hosting an outdoor get together with friends and family off season. Here are some pointers from our Danish friends to incorporate hygge into your plans, creating lasting impressions of coziness, warmth, and calm for your guests.
After all, the Nordic people rank as the happiest in the world!
Be a present and grateful hostess. Exuding this positive mindset will be contagious, creating a wonderful atmosphere of happiness and gratitude. Learn to enjoy winter when you hate it.
Appreciate your surroundings – It’s winter - you don’t need a manicured lawn, just a backyard covered in snow! Mother nature provides the majority of the decor, you just need to add the finishing touches. You may not completely love this time of year, but you must admit it can be beautiful.
Coziness is the key so create a comfortable, warm atmosphere. Add throws on the backs of armchairs, toss pillows sheepskins randomly around your seating areas for a casual look and warmth.
Layers – its all about layers. A Norwegian friend has told me, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing… wear wool or other natural fibres from head to toe and consider a basket of goodies for your guests - blankets, oversized mittens for layering and maybe even hot water bottle for anyone who gets a chill.
Hygge is a feeling, not a décor scheme so, keep it simple and add texture. Try to find natural materials to incorporate into your decor, wood, stones, wool, etc. and items that give you a feeling of calm and well-being.
Natural hues - stay away from jarring colours or busy designs that are distracting. Add greenery such as evergreen and cedar boughs used as centre pieces on the tables, furthering the connection to nature.
Outdoor Seating. An eclectic look with different types of seating is on trend and is perfect for an impromptu outdoor winter gathering. Don’t have enough patio chairs for all of your guests? Easily solved. Carve a bench out the snow, use cut logs or bring some of your indoor furniture outside. Don’t forget to cozy them up with some faux furs, throws and rugs. However, make sure you have enough seating around your main fire as this is where the most heat will be found (don’t forget to keep your favourite upholstered items away from sparks).
Lanterns, lamps and candles offer a feeling of relaxation and calm whether using real flame, battery operated candles, or electrical. Place them randomly around your entertaining area to create a spectacular feeling or warmth. No lanterns? No worries. Tea light candles in Mason jars are a budget-friendly option. Floor lamps like Cottage Culture’s Midway lamp radiate a beautiful shadow adding to the cozy atmosphere.
Mini/fairy lights give off a soft pleasant light without being overwhelming. Consider incorporating mini lights by finding a small branch and wind the cord around the branch, place the branch in a mason jar and you have a dry place for the battery pack for the mini lights.
Hot Beverages. Place thermoses of hot beverages around your entertaining area with paper cups to make clean up a breeze. Homemade hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps on the side for the adults, marshmallows, and candy canes for the little ones are a sure-fire hit. Hot apple cider and chai tea are some other options to have available.
Start a fire – it’s an essential focal point for your winter outdoor get together and the hygge feelings of warmth and togetherness. When your guests arrive feeling the winter chill, the sight of a roaring fire is most welcoming. Iron Embers has an extensive selection of fire pits and accessories that will showcase your fire and help you make the most of your campfire whether you are cooking over an open flame or using your fire as a heat source.
Let food be part of the fun! Use the fire to cook an appetizer or dessert to be cooked over an open flame – interactive to boot! And, don’t forget the smores!
Simple and comforting is our suggestion. Sipping soups, BBQ kebabs, fondue and of course foods that still taste great as they cool. Why not ask your guests to each bring a dish? By making your outdoor party a potluck your guests feel like they are contributing, and it takes some stress off of you as the hostess. Prepare as much ahead of time as possible to ensure that you are able to mingle with your guests spreading hygge!
Add activities to stay warm and promote that togetherness – skating on a frozen river, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking a local trail, strolling through a lit-up park, tobogganing, stargazing or a rousing game of snow football.
Disconnect – take a moment to be in the moment and encourage your guests to do the same.
Use your imagination.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to an outdoor winter party. Just remember the end goal is to create special memories bundling up and enjoying this time with your friends and family.