For most of my adult life, I have longed for my meals to look exactly like spreads from Bon Appetit magazine. Come Saturday nights in the summer, I fantasize about throwing together the most glamorous dinner party, perfectly set outside a secluded barn, complete with twinkle lights stemming from the rafters, a gluttonous amount of candles scattered throughout every nook and cranny, the most perfectly curated menu with ingredients plucked from the neighboring garden, and the prettiest friends adorned in Madewell jeans and casual-chic booties. Naturally, we would have a photographer catching every candid smile, the spark of Chinese lanterns as we set them into the night sky, and gooey marshmallows oozing out of the gourmet s’mores we have made from homemade grahams and decadent dark chocolate. The closest I have ever come to this fantasy was my wedding. We got married outside a quaint inn in Suttons Bay, MI, with a photographer capturing every candid smile, groups of our dearest friends roasting homemade marshmallows over a bonfire, and sparklers filling the summer night air. It was a dream come true.
There are three distinct things that really light me up. Seeing groups of friends having a great time together, dreaming up food menus, and lighting that makes you want to sit down and stay a while (preferably in a chair you can sink into with a faux-fur throw hanging off the back). Friends, food, and ambience. It’s why I like to host a Christmas party every year. It’s why Corona commercials make me want to find my lime. It’s why I want to pin every Bon Appetit article for hopes of future exquisite dinner parties. Friends, food, and ambience. I live for it. So, imagine my delight when I found out that my obsession has a name: it’s call hygge. (It does not rhyme with jiggy, by the way. It’s pronounced more like “hoo-gah”, or some may say “hue-gah”). You may have already heard this buzz word, especially now that the season has started to change. But, in case you haven’t, hygge is the Danish concept of coziness. And, I believe I first read about it in Bon Appetit back in 2015. My jaw nearly fell to the floor. Danes have been living this way forever?! Why has this not been a ‘thing’ until now?! America, slow down, quit working so much, find some friends, cook a damn meal, and light a ridiculous amount of candles. That’s what life is all about!
- lightswitch dimmers–they will change the look and feel of your entire house
- the Leon Bridges station on Pandora
- down comforters, fuzzy pillows, and faux-fur throws
- candid family photos
- large marshmallows found in the Whole Foods bakery section (they melt the best and most evenly)
- YETI cups – keeps my morning latte super toasty on my way to work
- oversized chunky sweaters, flannel shirts, or scarves
- UGG slippers
- Illume candles – particularly in woodfire or blackberry & absinthe scents
- Scrabble or a classic deck of cards (gin rummy is my fave game)
- favorite books to curl up with and read: “Kitchens of the Great Midwest”, anything by Liane Moriarty, and “The Little Book of Hygge”
Jenna Reddington is a Chicago-based yoga and fitness professional. You can find her at Yoga Six, CAC, milling around her Fulton Market neighborhood, and obsessively dining out. She leads food + fitness retreats throughout the U.S. and can be found at fitnessculinaryretreats.com.
Join Jenna for A Very Hygge Weekend! She’ll be leading a small food & fitness retreat with bonfires, gourmet home-cooked meals, yoga, and winter activities Feb 16-19 in Stevensville, MI. Visit fitnessculinaryretreats.com for details or message her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on Jenna, and all things hygge, check out her Instagram handles: @befitbewellbefree and @hyggechicago