How to Curate a Cozy, Hygge Holiday Season

Hygge Life co-founder Alexandra Gove discusses her new book, "Dwell, Gather, Be: Design for Moments," and how to cultivate lasting memories over the holidays.

By Kirsten Dobroth December 10, 2019

When we last sat down with Hygge Life founders Alexandra Gove and Koen Van Renswoude, the two were in the midst of a major renovation of their shop in Eagle-Vail that included opening a new a café and patio area as part of the revamped space. Their new coffee nook, which serves gourmet espresso drinks from a sheepskin-covered lounge area within the shop, opened in August, but they've continued to stay busy since then—thanks, in large part, to Gove's new book, Dwell, Gather, Be: Design for Momentswhich hit the shelves of local bookstores (and shops around the country) in September. (If you're unfamiliar with the word "hygge," prounounced "hoo-ga," it's a Danish term that roughly translates to "coziness," and spurred a Nordic design movement that revolves around impeccably curated spaces—think plush throws, candles, and handmade decorative items.) 

"The book came out at this time that 'hygge' is kind of popular, but for us it's very genuine," explains Gove. "And the book reflects that, it's about designing for moments—how to create a space that's intentional and thoughtful." 

Meik Wiking, the Danish hygge expert behind the Happiness Research Institute (a think tank that studies what determines happiness across different economies) and author of the best-selling Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well even penned the opening for Dwell, Gather, Be, saying, "We need to understand and harness the impact our homes have on our happiness ... What makes a home a happy one?" For Gove that means less of an emphasis on perfection and more of a focus on stoking moments of quiet contentedness through timeless, minimalist design. She visits that idea at the beginning of each of the book's three sections ("Dwell," "Gather," and "Be") by sharing a personal anecdote about her time in Europe where she first came across the concept of hygge. Short of visiting a European holiday market, it's a sentiment that carries over to this time of year, too.  

"The holidays are like the hygge high season," laughs Gove. "It's this time that's full of nostalgia, even the smells are part of that, and finding those moments that you can create memories is so special."

Like baking cookies, a "worthwhile temporary mess" says Gove, or taking a moment to light the Christmas tree and sit back and enjoy its soft glow. Introducing new traditions can be part of that too, like burning a Danish Advent Candle, which burns down each day—marked numerically on the candle wax—and is traditionally lit during breakfast for a moment of calm before the day really starts. Even in the business of the season, finding a night to stay at home and cuddle under blankets to watch movies can add a hygge touch to the holidays—the key is to  set aside time where you can really slow down and appreciate the season.

"We can cultivate profound, even sacred moments in our lives by beginning in our homes," writes Gove in Dwell, Gather, Be. "Elevating, celebrating, and valuing the time we spend with those we hold most dear in the space that is uniquely ours."

The added bonus being a beautiful space where you can make those memories. 

Also Try

Hygge Life's Holiday Pop-Up

Thursday, December 12, 5 to 8 p.m., Eagle-Vail

Hygge Life is welcoming local vendors and holiday shoppers for a special night market, with cocktails on hand and plenty of holiday cheer.

Hipster Santa is Comin' to Town

Saturday, December 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eagle-Vail

Pose for a photo with Santa, and sip on hot cocoa from the shop's in-house café. Holiday shopping is obviously a bonus of stopping by.

Holiday Movie Night 

Tuesday, December 17, 6 to 9 p.m., Eagle-Vail

The Hygge Life café is screening a holiday flick, with wine and popcorn provided as in-house treats (be sure to check out the event on their Facebook page, so you can vote on which film gets played).

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