The best thing about this time of year is making your house nice and cosy; creating a snug little nest into which you can retreat when the weather forces you indoors. The Danish have the perfect word to describe this feeling: hygge.
There's something incredibly beautiful about an untranslatable word. Unsurprisingly, the Scandinavian countries have several intriguing words which don't directly translate into English; many of them detailing relaxing, enjoying downtime with friends and getting nice and cosy indoors in the winter (there's a great article discussing them all here). Hygge has to be my favourite of them all, loosely translating as 'creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the best things in life with your favourite people'.
This can mean lighting a fire and sitting around wrapped in blankets with friends, sipping glogg and playing board games.Or sitting around the dinner table with your loved ones talking about anything and everything. It may be more closely associated with the winter months for outsiders, but the Danes celebrate hygge all year round; picnics in parks, bike rides along the coast, sitting on the curb eating Mexican food purchased from a street food market - all examples of hygge.
So how can you achieve hygge in your own home?
Candle light is essential. Harsh and cold overhead lights are an instant hygge killer; light candles all around your room and embrace a softer and warmer light. If you have an open fireplace, allow a pile of kindling to gather by the heath and warm yourself by the fire rather than switching on the heating. Drape blankets and throws over sofas and armchairs, accompanied by comfortable cushions to encourage snuggling up on the sofa.
Food and drink is important. The Danes are incredibly welcoming and make wonderful hosts, asking guests what they would like to eat or drink as soon as they step through the door. Keep it simple and rustic, there's no need to prepare a three-course dinner. Heat mulled wine in a pan, brew everyone cups of coffee, bring out a selections of cheeses and bread sticks, place a Camembert on the fire until it begins to melt in the middle, dunk the bread into the gooey cheese.
And don't forget the people. It's impossible to create hygge without the company of your nearest and dearest. Whether that's a partner, your family, a group of friends, or your pet pooch perched upon your lap, surround yourself with those that matter.