Hygge continues to blow up the internet this year, and for good reason – it is a burst of light and warmth in the middle of dark, cold winter. It makes me hopeful that I too can be more positive about this whole winter thing. While I’m a born and bred Canadian, and my ancestry is 50 percent Swedish, after six winters spent in Southeast Asia, I just don’t love winter (there, I said it).

Here we are right between Christmas and New Years, the glow of Noël is dimming, and I know all too well that we have at least another couple of months of winter ahead of us. I love heading to the mountains to snowboard every now and then, but truth be told, life is infinitely more complicated when you have to get three children six years and under into snowsuits just to leave the house.

But, life is short, and life is adventure, so I really need to get better at embracing hygge. It’s especially important to embrace hygge with kids, or it will be an even darker season than it already is.

What is hygge? It’s pronounced ‘hooga’ and according to Visit Denmark, it’s roughly translated as ‘cosiness’ but actually represents much more than that.

“Hygge is a tricky word to define, it’s a feeling, an experience, a sensation. It means creating a warm atmosphere. It is enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm amber glow of candlelight is hygge. Stomping through woods, wrapped up warm on a fresh Autumn day before returning to a fireside for hot cocoa is definitely hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too.” – Visit Denmark

Isn’t that nice? I love all those things too…in theory…

How I embrace hygge with kids

Jammies day(s)

Nothing shouts comfortable and cosy to a kid more than their favourite PJs. The second our oldest child comes home from school, and every day of Christmas holidays, she has donned her choice pyjamas and sits in front of the fireplace. I can hardly blame her (it’s cold outside! And as I write, I’m in my sweatpants.)

And why not? Why not embrace the cold weather by wearing our lazy-day, warmest clothing in daylight hours or darkness?

Have a hot chocolate party

Pull out all the stops. Bring out the tea party set or the china teacups and lay the kitchen table with a fancy tablecloth. Hot chocolate and Christmas baking oozes warmth. Plus, kids love a special occasion, especially when sugar is involved. It’s the perfect opportunity to eat up those shortbreads or gingerbreads that are hanging around.

My childhood tea party set (circa 1991) makes an appearance after a long time in storage, just in time for a hygge hot chocolate party. Note, my oldest daughter (right) is in her pyjamas mid-day.

Read, read, read

Cracking open a good book while toasting toes in front of a fire? Yes, please. In our case it’s reading books on the couch in front of an electric fireplace, but does it really matter? Reading with kids is another wonderful ‘hygge’ activity. A 2013 EmorUniversity study found that reading boosts brain connectivity AND heightens empathy, imagination and creativity. When we make reading part of our daily schedule with our kids, we uplift our spirits, expand our worldviews and bond with our children. Don’t have an expansive selection of books at home? Head to your local library!

Make snow ‘candy’

One of my favourite memories of growing up was when my dad and grandfather would take my sister and me outside to snowdrifts and make ‘snow candy’. In an instant, the harshest of cold days turned magical on the Canadian prairies.

What other time of year can you cook candy on a stove top and then see it harden in the blink of an eye in the snow? This tradition hails from Quebec’s cabane-à-sucres (sugar shacks) and is totally worth infusing into any family cultural practice! Simply heat maple syrup on a stove top, then drizzle it on the snow outside. It will harden into edible “snow candy” in seconds. Total magic!

Play board games

Our kids are still thick in the midst of the preschool years, but even we have found a few games we can play as a family. Go Fish is perfect for testing matching skills and a simple game of Memory even captures our 2-year-old’s imagination for a brief moment!

Have a comfy family movie night

Whatever the rules are for your family, break them! Eat supper early, or eat it on the couch (that’s against the rules in our house). Fire up the popcorn maker or throw a bag in the microwave. Load up with blankets and pillows and find a family-friendly flick. Or, take the opportunity to head down memory lane and watch fun family videos.

What ‘hygge’ practices have you infused into your life to warm up your winter?

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