Hygge for the Holidays
It’s that time of year! And we have to ask: is it hygge in here, or is it just us? The Danish practice of hygge—the art of creating and enjoying simple moments of warmth, coziness, charm, and calm—is close to our hearts here at Hanna, part of our Scandinavian roots. And while it can be enjoyed any season, anywhere, it’s in the colder months that hygge really shines. After all, it’s how the Danes stay spirited through their long, dark winters.
We could all use a little extra hygge this winter—we’re at home more than ever, and many of our traditions have had to change to fit our new normal. Whether it’s cooking, crafts, or mixing and matching your family Hannajams, holiday hygge requires nothing fancy. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite of that—it’s all about being in the moment, and finding joy in the little things. As always, our Hanna families are inspiring us with their festive, cozy, and—yep—hygge holiday habits. Let’s see what a few of them are up to!
The Choy Family – Aiea, Hawaii
Every year, Emily Choy and her family love to decorate cookies and leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve. A plant-based family, their favorite cookie recipe is vegan—and they always make sure to leave out some carrots, too. Emily shared the vegan sugar cookie recipe that The Choys love the most, and we can’t wait to try. (When we heard “one bowl, no fancy equipment, less than an hour," we were convinced.)
The hygge doesn’t stop with baking in the Choy household, where Emily also enjoys cooking up a stovetop potpourri to fill their home with a comforting (and non-toxic) fragrance. She loves the potpourri recipes from The Pioneer Woman, who offers plenty of festive flavor concoctions, from orange-cranberry to gingerbread cookie.
The Pierce Family – Washington, DC
For the Pierces, a big part of the holiday season usually involves community activities, like the lights at the Smithsonian National Zoo, and the holiday train display at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. This year will be different. “But instead of dwelling on the things we don’t get to do," says Jessie Pierce, “we will try to continue what we’ve done during the rest of 2020 and focus on the small and simple things we can control, and try to make those the focus of our holiday season. If my kids have taught me anything during COVID, it’s that kids don’t always need the grand gestures that we think they need to feel loved and cared for—they find joy in the small and simple pleasures, like a little powdered sugar on their Saturday morning pancakes or an extra book before bed."
We love Jessie’s perspective on making the little things special! One of the Pierce family’s favorite at-home traditions is decorating real gingerbread houses (“none of that graham cracker stuff!") and taking them to someone who needs a little extra holiday cheer. Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread for Houses is a go-to recipe for many—sturdy for building, and extra gingery for nibbling.
The Gaines Family – Center Valley, PA
The Gaines crew is big on the seasonal traditions, starting with new holiday Hannajams every December 1st. Then, all throughout the month, this book-loving family makes new and festive additions to their library that they can enjoy all December long. Plus, they like to get crafty. “We make a kid-made ornament every year," says Lauren Gaines. “The kids have a blast crafting together, and when we get out the box of ornaments they enjoy finding all the ones they’ve created in years past." What could be more hygge than sitting down for some hands-on crafting as a family? Especially with a bit of hot cocoa, comfy pajamas, and the glow of Christmas lights. Lauren shared a DIY tutorial of the adorable Olaf ornaments her kids made last year.
Simple ways to hygge
Simplicity is at the heart of hygge. It’s all about making a warm, inviting atmosphere, and there are so many little ways to create that for your family:
Soft, flickering light is a hygge essential. ‘Tis the season to string up some twinkly Christmas lights, and don’t forget to light candles—even a flameless LED one does the trick. Bonus hygge points if you have a fireplace!
From family movie nights to reading or crafting time, snuggling up under the coziest blankets adds a little hygge for everyone.
Bring out the chunky-knit sweaters and socks, whether for a family walk in the fresh air, or curling up in the living room together.
Cocoa, coffee, tea, hot cider—any warm beverage in a favorite mug will make family moments more festive, comforting, and full of hygge.
Combine all of the above during some quiet time with your family. Turn off all screens and take some time to read, write, knit, listen to relaxing music, and just enjoy being together. That’s as hygge as it gets!
Here’s hoping you and yours stay warm and cheery all season long.
Happy hygge holidays!