Preparing for a gentle hygge inspired Christmas

Nov 28, 2023

After a recent trip to Denmark, I am preparing to have a hygge inspired Christmas. In November, I took myself on a creative adventure in the charming Danish city of Aarhus, to learn and improve my photography skills. While there I couldn’t help but soak up the atmosphere and Christmas spirit which was wildly different to what I have experienced before.

I found myself fully immersed in the wonderful Danish concept of ‘hygge’ — a cosy and homely feeling that goes beyond the material. 

While there I had the privilege of spending time in people’s homes, observing their Christmas preparations and decorations, and the experience has been truly inspiring. 

It doesn’t seem to be about grand or expensive gifts; instead, it’s about cherishing moments with loved ones, gathering and cooking delicious, nourishing meals, taking leisurely walks, indulging in reading and knitting, and, if only for a while, rediscovering the joy of being a child. 

This experience changed my outlook on Christmas, and so I thought I would share 10 ways I am infusing the Hygge spirit of Christmas into my own traditions this year.

Creating a cosy atmosphere

Instead of lots of plastic store bought christmas decorations, I plan on bringing the outdoors inside and focusing on creating a warm and cosy atmosphere in my home. 

I will go outdoors on a little foraging adventure to find some evergreens to bring into my home – keeping the decorations minimal so that it doesn’t overwhelm my space. I will also be making a lot of my own decorations this year and of course I will be using candles and fairy lights to create a soft, intimate atmosphere. 

I will also be creating tiny pockets in my home where my family can gather and enjoy spending time together – and in true hygge spirit, making sure that there are plenty of woolly knitted textures and cushions to create warm and comfortable spaces that feel inviting.

Spending time with loved ones – the perfect way to have a hygge inspired Christmas

This is what I love most about this time of year – a chance to slow down and gather with the people you love most. There is nothing better than a simple gathering with family and friends. Rather than putting all the pressure on Christmas day, I plan on spreading out the gathering and festivities over an entire month. 

Making sure there are plenty of moments to spend enjoying a simple warm drink together or gathering around the dinner table to make decorations.

Embracing the outdoors and going on some winter walks

It can be so tempting to stay indoors to avoid the winter chill, but I personally love getting out for a winter walk (especially with my loved ones). One thing I noticed while in Denmark, was how people loved to gather for a walk.

This hygge inspired tradition will give us a chance to get out of the house and spend some time together. Although we are plunged into darkness over the winter months, anytime there is a bit of sunshine it is worth celebrating it even if it’s a bit chilly. 

We will definitely be wrapping up in lots of knitted layers, making sure we all stay warm, and there is nothing better than returning from a cold walk than sitting around the fire drinking lots of hot chocolate to warm yourself up.

Image of a man walking in Shetland and other landscapes from Shetland
Photos: Ritchie Williams

A winter knitting project

What would Christmas (especially a Hygge inspired Christmas) be without a knitting project to keep you busy on the long wintery nights and help you stay mindful. This year I will have plenty of Fair Isle knitting patterns to choose from – I am still deciding which of the four patterns available in Shetland Wool Adventures Vol. 05 will be my Christmas knitting project. 

I feel a little torn at the moment as I really love Fitchen Mitts or the Noness Beret which will keep me cosy and warm throughout the winter. I also hope to knit alongside a friend, to keep me accountable and to have a chance to connect over a shared passion.

Baking – of course. What better way to have a hygge inspired Christmas

What would a Christmas be without baking and the delicious scents filling my home. I will of course be baking my Mum’s Walnut Bundt Cake which holds so many memories for me, as well as some other family favourites. I might even experiment with some new ones. The most important part for me will be to try and include the entire family so that we get to spend time baking and laughing together. I will definitely be grabbing a couple of my favourite recipes from my personal cookbook (A Year in My Shetland Garden).

A cookbook lying on a wooden table with Christmas decorations and some natural foliage.

Journaling and taking time to reflect on this past year

This is something I love to do throughout the year, but especially around Christmas time. It gives me the opportunity to look back at the past year, instead of trying to rush to the new year ahead. So much can be learnt from both the struggles and joys experienced throughout the year and so I will definitely be taking some time to reflect.

I might share a couple of thoughts, and postcards through my Substack, so if this is something you would find interesting, please join me there.

Woman journaling and holding a pen as she practices gratitude for a hygge inspired Christmas. She is wearing blue and red fair isle mittens.

Creating a cosy reading nook

As much as I love writing, I also really enjoy reading. Which is why I will be creating a cosy little reading nook for myself. I plan on adding a lamp for a soft glow, a knitted throw and lots of pillows to make this space inviting and warm.

There is nothing better than snuggling up with your favourite book and getting lost in another world. If you want to take a little travel adventure to Shetland from the comfort of your armchair, then you can purchase a copy of the latest Volume here, or click here to get a taste of what is inside.  

Woman wearing Fair Isle mittens in beautiful Christmas inspired colours. She is practicing the art of Hygge by mindfully reading a book and enjoying coffee

Cooking a warm, comforting meal. There is no better way to have hygge inspired Christmas than centering your activities around cooking nourishing meals for those you love.

This is one of my favourite things about Christmas, and winter in general. Personally, I love nothing more than a warm hearty soup which feels so nourishing for the body and soul. 

I have a lot of pumpkins at this time of the year and so I will definitely be making batches of my Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Soup Recipe for the entire family to enjoy after a winter walk, or when we need a quick and easy dinner! 

Practising gratitude 

I have so much that I feel incredibly grateful for this year – from booking out all of our tour dates, to launching Volume 5, there has been so much joy experienced at work but also in my personal life too!

Practising gratitude is something that I love to do throughout the year, but even more so during the holiday season. I might get the whole family involved, by gathering everyone around the dinner table to share what they are most grateful for and all the wonderful lessons they have learned from the past year.

Enjoying the tiny moments of joy all around me – my biggest takeaway for a hygge inspired Christmas

This is what I think Christmas is all about – and something that often gets missed in trying to plan the “perfect Christmas” and getting lost in the commercialised version of it.

So here is a thought – what if, this year, we consciously choose to slow down and enjoy being present with those we love the most. I do know that this time of year can also bring up lots of feelings around family, whether it’s loved ones we have lost or others who don’t truly understand or see us. But how can we hold ourselves through this, set gentle boundaries and most importantly take care of ourselves and nourish ourselves during this time.

In a time when simplicity and breathing space are in high demand, going back to the basics by intentionally slowing down and celebrating from the heart can offer a welcome respite.

If you are still in search of the perfect gift for your loved ones, take a look at my Shetland Gift Guide.

If you are in search of meaningful Christmas gift ideas for the knitters in your life or indeed yourself, look no further than Shetland – click here to view our Shetland Wool Adventures Gift Guide 2023.

  1. Margy Bostwick says:

    Thank you for this! It has made me pause and rethink my schedule for December. Just reread through all four of my Shetland Journals. I too am deciding on a small knitting project to keep me centered during the busy holiday season. Maybe a hat for myself? Hmmm. Looking forward to Journal 5 and making your Moms walnut cake…

  2. Beautiful and inspiring words and pictures as always, thank you! Looking forward to a gentle and relaxing winter 🙂

  3. Barbara B Elliott says:

    Thank you for this inspiring article. These are the important things in life. I would love to make your Mum’s Walnut cake. However, it would need to be converted to US measuremnts!


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