Updated: Jul 10
A couple years ago my life changed. Yes, I'd just had my third child, but I also read a somewhat small and incredibly interesting book called The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. If you're wondering, 'hygge' is pronounced 'hue-ga'. I was generally happy in my life, but I wasn't feeling fulfilled in many areas and I was hoping this book might shine a light on something that I'd been missing. Wow, did it ever!
The words in this book resonated with me so much that it is one of the very inspirational foundations for Contented Interiors. The straight forward text provides contextual information as to why the Danes are statistically the happiest people in the world--and how you can be too, particularly at home.
In our American society of HGTV and picture perfect Instagram feeds, it's easy to hate your home and/or feel insecure about having others inside your home. Contented Interiors certainly exists to provide the incomparable value of helping people make their homes theirs, but I will be the first to say that there are other factors at play besides a well-designed house when it comes to being happy at home.
Think of it like this: you can build the perfect log structure in your fireplace, but you still have to light a match to make a fire and achieve warmth. Contented Interiors can create an environment that will be utterly cozy and comfortable, makes hosting a breeze, encourages connection, reflects your taste, and holds up to the wear and tear of Iife, but you still have to actually invite people into your home, as well as make time to connect with the people who share that same home, to make it a truly Contented Interior.
Which brings us to my biggest take away from this non-fictitious gem: the Danes socialize on average 2 times per week with friends in their homes! That's a lot of hosting. Why would they go to such trouble?
Well it turns out that the Danes don't overcomplicate their social gatherings, because their priority in socializing is achieving hygge--a feeling surrounding togetherness, well-being, and coziness. With togetherness being a key principal of hygge, it makes sense that they spend a significant amount of time with family and friends.
I think that many Americans do not spend enough time with friends, nor connecting with family members--at least not in the hygge way.
While the Danes would rather gather for a potluck at a friend's home in the middle of the week, Americans tend to push off socializing until a weekend or a holiday, when the need to burn off stress and frustration has reached a fever pitch and the expectations to have a good time are higher than ever. Thus, going "out" to a place that is cooler and hipper than our homes, or so we don't have to do all the work (American hostesses seem to loathe asking guests to bring food or drink), seems ideal. Contrast that with the Danish potluck I mentioned, where everyone invited participates equally in providing part of the meal, often even prepping it together. Do you really ever learn more about someone than when spending time in the kitchen together?
After such a meal, the Danes might enjoy a game or just sit and talk. They seem to be very good at slowing down and enjoying moments. This way of socializing and connection encourages them to makes their homes conducive to hygge as well, the details of which will probably form a whole other post speaking to woolen blankets, warm drinks, and candles at some point, but... My point is that a hygge home, or a Contented Interior as I call it, helps facilitate connection, which then encourages more hygge-ing of the home.
So, when was the last time you had someone over? Furthermore, what would it take to have someone over this month? Yep, in January 2020! Think about it: you can keep sitting in your home alone/not looking at your family members, or sitting at restaurants where you're waiting for someone to prepare your food, scrolling through Instagram... Or, you can bring some life and light into your home and life by inviting others to come on over, and to bring a loaf of bread or a sheet of roasted green beans, "please".
HOW to pull this off in10 easy steps.
Send a text or call at least two people to "Come over for some food" on a date within 2 weeks. Be specific with two dates and times to maximize odds they'll say "yes".
Once the date is on the calendar, you are committed. This is a trick of mine for accomplishing scary things. I put something on the calendar, then work backwards to make it happen!
Figure out a 2-4 food menu and do not be tempted to go around it. For example: (2 foods) pizza and ice cream, (3 foods) pasta, sauce, and salad, (4 foods) taco filling, shells/tortillas, salad mix, salsa/cheese. KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Ask each friend to bring one of the items on the menu.
Buy dessert, or make ahead of time.
Grab some folding chairs or a folding table from Target or Amazon if you don't have enough seats in your regular setup--people care about being thought of and the anticipation of fun with friends, they don't care about how fancy your seats or table are.
Have at least 3 candles on your table--even the tiny tea sized ones-- to add that cozy hygge vibe and make friends feel special and loved.
Have one simple game (like UNO or Scrabble or Charades) to play if it's been a while since you've socialized and/or commonly default to talking about your job.
Before everyone comes over, remind yourself, "they're coming to see me, not my house".
See what happens! :)
Please shoot us an email if you go through with this (firstname.lastname@example.org). Let us know if you felt any happiness from a simple night of hygge!