Imagine a cold winter night. You sit on a plush sofa in your darkened living room, wrapped up in the soft blanket your grandmother made for you when you were born. You watch snow fall outside the window, and it sends a little shiver down your spine. You grip the warm mug of cocoa just a little tighter and let your gaze fall on the fireplace. The twinkle lights wrapped around the evergreen garland glow against the polished wooden mantle as your thoughts drift in the quiet air.

Christmas is a special time of year. The season evokes feelings of coziness, comfort, and love. That little tingly feeling you get when you think about Christmas? It’s called hygge (hoo-gah). Hygge is a Danish and Norwegian word that Wikipedia defines as “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.”

There are several ways you can incorporate hygge into your home this season, like drinking warm drinks, turning off electronics, baking goodies, and reading. But since this is an interior design blog, I’m going to focus on showing you how to create a cozy atmosphere in your home so that you can experience the fullness of hygge this Christmas.

1. Cozy Textiles

For most of us, Christmas brings cold weather. To make your rooms feel cozier, pile on the blankets. In the living room, I try to have one blanket per seat available. Bonus points if your blanket is handmade. It’s also fun to add throw pillows that match your decor to your seating arrangements. I love this set from Pottery Barn.

If you have flannel sheets or Christmas-themed bedding, put them on your bed. Secret fact about me: my ultimate personal home décor goal is to have special bedding just for Christmas in my master bedroom.

This is also a good time to get out your special holiday towels for the kitchen and bathroom. HomeGoods is a great place to find cute towels at an inexpensive price, and they usually have a wide selection to fit all decorating styles. If you don’t have any specialty towels yet, you can grab some on clearance at Target, Macys, or Kohls after the season is over. Just pack them away with the rest of your Christmas décor and you’ll have them ready for next year.

2. Nature

A great way to bring more hygge into your home is to bring nature indoors. The most obvious way to do this is to put up a Christmas tree and garland. The natural-vs-artificial debate when it comes to Christmas decorations can be very passionate on both sides. Personally, I’m an artificial gal. (I’m a plant murderer and hate cleaning up pine needles.) But the scent of freshly cut boughs certainly adds to the hygge experience.

If you have allergies or are evergreen-averse like me, you can bring home a poinsettia or Christmas cactus from the store next time you’re out. (Just make sure you keep them away from your fur-babies since they can get sick from chewing on the plants. And I guess your human babies too, if they’re into plant-chewing.)

If you’re seriously doubting your ability to keep alive anything that won’t scream when it’s hungry, you can also bring inside pinecones and cut logs. They’re already dead, so you can’t kill them, and they bring an air of rustic warmth to your home. I adore this creative way to display advent candles:

Handy tip: search Pinterest for how to “bake the bugs” out of the logs and pinecones you bring inside. Nobody wants creepy-crawlies making an appearance during Christmas dinner.

3. Lighting

Lighting is a key factor in creating the hygge mood. It’s hard to feel cozy if you’re sitting under bright fluorescent lights and staring at a screen.

Turn off your overhead lights and use lamps for your main source of lighting in your living areas. Turn off the tv and put down your phone, because these are hygge-killing light sources too. Plug in any Christmas lights that are on your tree, garlands, or wreaths.

Decorating tip: even when the tree is pre-lit, most interior designers add more lights when they’re decorating Christmas trees for extra magic. Just make sure the lights you add are the same color as the lights already on your tree. Soft white and blue white will clash on the same tree, and you won’t get the desired effect.

4. Fire

There’s something really special about the flickering glow of a fire that makes my heart feel full. Maybe I’m a romantic. Maybe I’m a pyromaniac. I’ll never tell.

Start a fire in your fireplace if you have one. If you don’t, light a few candles around the house. I *love* Woodwick candles because they crackle like a real wood fire. Get the Fireside scent, and you won’t even miss the real thing.

Make a point of eating at least one dinner by candlelight. It’s special for kids and adults alike, even if you’re eating chicken nuggets and macaroni. And it’s easy enough to light a few candles that you really don’t have an excuse to skip the experience.

5. Scent

Scent is one of the most powerful ways we can evoke emotion and recall memories. Positive emotion + happy memories are two of the foundational components of hygge. Extrapolation: scent is an important part of hygge, and it is often overlooked.

We have a gas fireplace in our current home, and I like to light my Fireside Woodwick candle when we have the fireplace turned on. The smell reminds me of the roaring wood fires my dad used to build on snowy days when my I was a kid.

I also really like Bath & Body Works’s pumpkin apple candle. It smells like the best parts of fall and winter combined without being overly cinnamony like Christmas candles can be. I go through 2-3 large jars of this scent each year. There are also some good recipes on Pinterest for homemade potpourri:

Need more ways to make scent part of your hygge atmosphere? Bake sugar cookies or cook stew on the stovetop. Bring a fresh-cut tree or garland into your home. Make some chai tea or apple cider. Get creative with this category; recreate some of your family’s traditions from when you were a child. What scents remind you of happy Christmases past? Tell me in the comment box below, then make it happen in your home!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Cummings Custom Interiors.

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