How to “Hygge” in the Summertime

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Danes are among the happiest people in the world, and their focus on fostering a culture of coziness, warmth and togetherness may have something to do with their continually high rankings on the World Happiness Report. They even have a word for this concept of creating intimacy and cozy togetherness: hygge (pronounced HOO-ga).

Couple in Hammoack Embracing Hygge in the Summer as Sun Sets |

Soak up the sun

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living,” reports in his book that Danes consider fall and winter the most hyggelig (hygge-like) seasons. While many associate wool sweaters, roaring fires and hot cocoa with hygge, he says you can experience it in the summertime by “making use of the sun and the warmth of nature.”

That’s just what Rikke Clausen, partner and director of Magnetix digital agency in Copenhagen, does. “This summer there were a lot of concerts in Denmark, so we would bring a blanket and some sandwiches, hook up with some friends at the concert, and just be together. We can also make a bonfire in our garden and watch the sun set as we sit together with a blanket and discuss the week. Hygge allows us to create that kind of intimacy,” she says.

You don’t have to live in Denmark to cultivate hygge. Gather your friends and family, and head outside to try one of Wiking’s suggested summertime activities:

  • Organize a group fruit picking outing at an orchard.
  • Host a barbecue for family and friends.
  • Join or build a community garden.
  • Have a picnic at the beach.
  • Go for a family bike ride around your city or neighborhood.

Live by the Hygge Manifesto 

If you need some guidance to get started with hygge, you’re in luck. Wiking’s book features the 10-point Hygge Manifesto, a sort of recipe for creating those hyggelig moments in life.

  1. Atmosphere: Think soft lighting.
  2. Presence: Put the cell phone away.
  3. Pleasure: Indulge in a decadent pastry.
  4. Equality: No one person dominates the conversation or activity.
  5. Gratitude: Appreciate the moment.
  6. Harmony: This isn’t a time for one-upmanship or bragging.
  7. Comfort: Slide on those stretchy yoga pants, and take a load off.
  8. Truce: Avoid discussing controversial topics.
  9. Togetherness: Reminisce about happy times with family and friends.
  10. Shelter: Experience hygge with loved ones in a peaceful, secure space.

Savor the moment

Amity Courtois, a broker for Give Realty, says Americans can embrace hygge by “being present and slowing down.” She and her Danish husband, Philip, owner of Thinkbot Solutions, split their time between their homes in Austin, Texas, and the village of Faaborg, Denmark. They’ve spent the summer turning up the hygge factor while living among the Danes.

“I think for me, a real sense of hygge comes when we have friends over for an afternoon on the weekend, and our families go for a walk through the village together. We’ll have tea at the house and then walk to town for ice cream or down to the harbor to admire the boats. It feels good not to be flying from activity to activity,” Courtois says.

Carly Fauth, head of marketing at Money Crashers, studied abroad in Denmark and learned of hygge from her Danish grandmother and mother. She enjoys traveling back to the country to visit her study abroad host mother, who Fauth says does a superb job of cultivating an atmosphere of hygge. Her elaborate breakfast spread features French press coffee, organic cheese, homemade marmalade and freshly baked rye bread. “She sets the table, lights the candles and we literally sit there for hours slowly enjoying our breakfast, coffee and conversation as the sun slowly rises outside. That is hygge,” Fauth says.

Back home in the U.S., Fauth revives those hyggelig feelings during the summer by sitting outside by a fire on a cool evening, enjoying a cup of coffee inside while reading a book on a rainy day, or having a glass of wine outside with a good friend or family member.

“You know you are having a hyggelig moment when you find yourself saying, ‘Wow, there is no place I would rather be at this moment than right here,’” she says.