Winter, Hygge, and Embracing Home

I moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina to get away from massive snowfall. And I did, honestly. My old town in New Hampshire suffered through a record three snow days in November, way before the snow normally starts. While things were chilly in Charlotte, the ground was brown, not white.

Winter may be cold and dark, but there are ways to make your home cozy and family-focused, and save money to boot! @lauriethreeyear #cozyhome #hygge #frugalwinter #stayathome

But, irony of ironies, Winter Storm Diego hit us a couple of weeks ago and not only did we have two snow days of our own, we got a solid week before the white stuff melted.

Honestly, I was kinda digging it. While I can’t make it through seven long months of white ground, seven days is manageable. 

There’s something so cozy about winter. I find that in wintertime, December excluded, we tend to bunk down at home and spend more time together but less money. Probably because for the last few years, we’ve embraced the concept of hygge and home.

Hygge is, of course, the famous Danish concept of coziness. It’s the idea of making your home a warm and welcoming cave by lighting tea candles, building a great big fire (or turning up those gas logs), playing soothing music, and basically leaning in to the short, cold days of winter. Winter isn’t to be endured, according to the Danish, it’s to be embraced! 

Since we only have to embrace a few months of cold weather (and it’s currently 55), I’m more than happy to enjoy what little truly cold weather we have, and transform our new house into a cozy nook.

Hoo-geh

Honestly, I think one of the reasons the idea of hygge has caught on recently is that it’s so nurturing to the soul. “Put down your smart phone,” it suggests, “pull out some blankets, throw a roast in the over, invite your family around.” 

Eating comfort food is a big part of hygge; fancy is not. There’s even a word in Danish for those sweatpants you wear at home but wouldn’t be caught dead in anywhere else–hyggebukser.

Enter Hygge, and Winter Frugality

Part of the reason I love the idea of hygge is that it also entails focusing on your relationships. As you light your candles and place your throws over the sofa, the idea is to make a place for your family and friends to hang out together. Winter nights are much more fun to spend together, watching a family movie, or around a dining room table.

chilly mornings fire--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
The best place to spend dark, cold winter evenings, IMHO.

So where does frugality come in? Since it’s winter, and cold out and dark early, it only makes sense to forgo dinners out, road trips, movies, or other entertainment options. Last January, we ate almost all of our meals at home. For the past three years the months of January, February, and March have been some of our lowest-spending months on eating out. 

Instead of going out to eat, or otherwise entertaining ourselves outside of the house, we focus our efforts on entertaining inside our cozy home.

Saturday Night Dinners

A few years ago, I read how a family opened their home up each and every Friday night of January and February to their friends. They put a note on Facebook, linked to a Google Signup Sheet, that offered the first ten people to sign up a place at their weekly spaghetti-and-meatball dinner. Mr. ThreeYear and I loved the idea and always planned to reproduce it. The best we ever did was to invite people over once per month. 

This year, though, we thought we’d push for an every-other-Saturday night dinner. We’re starting this weekend, cramming in a dinner with several new neighborhood friends before we leave for the beach. 

Our new home is smaller than our old home, and we’re going to have to feed people in stages (kids first, then adults). But we’re not letting that stop us. I thought about it, and realized that I have never been upset to be invited to dinner with someone, no matter what size their house. In fact, sometimes smaller houses invite more intimate conversation and discussion, and we end up having a better time.

We will either turn the “Crackling Fire” Netflix movie on our TV over the fireplace (yep, that’s really a thing) or we’ll light up our gas logs. No scented candles, because they interfere with the scent of the food.

delicious empanadas--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Nothing more hygge than a warm batch of empanadas.

I’m making a big batch of empanadas for the adults, and pizza for the kiddos. Salad, rice, and prepared dessert will complete the meal. We’ll enjoy a warm, happy, fun evening with our friends, and will be ready to go it again come January. 

Embracing Home

Our boys are happy to hang out with Mom, Dad, and Lucy the dog, especially when it’s family movie night. We use our air popper to make a big batch of buttery popcorn, then we scroll Netflix or Plex, an awesome new app we’ve discovered that lets us share movies between friends and families. We find a movie to enjoy, then have a nice night hanging out and laughing. 

Spoiled dog www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Lucy’s embraced hygge–blanket and fire in one place.

Mr. ThreeYear and I aren’t thinking about what we have to do, or projects we’d like to work on for the house. We’re just sitting and hanging out with our boys, keeping things lowkey and fun. 

The Bane of Perfection

I have to admit that since we’ve moved to North Carolina, back to the South, where culturally people pay more attention to appearance and home decorating than they do in New England, I’ve been battling the comparison demon a little bit. Things I know I would have let slide in New Hampshire, like plants with weeds growing out of them, or a big mud pit in the back yard, are bothering me a bit more. But the nice thing about winter is, I don’t go outside as much, so it’s easier to forget about those goals. And when my house feels cozy and warm, I’m more likely to forget about all the indoor projects I’ve been thinking about as well.

imperfect house www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
Our house is imperfect and that’s okay. So are we.

The benefits of hygge are that they help me focus on the best parts of the cold, dark winter days–the people I get to spend those days with–and less on the needy, grasping materialism that can pop up in bright and sunny Spring.

Today’s the first day of winter vacation, and so far it’s going great. Mr. ThreeYear’s traveling. The dog’s already torn up my irreplaceable silk pillow we got as a souvenir from Bangkok and the boys are on electronics restriction. So, I’m going to take my own advice, start a fire, and embrace the wintry imperfection of it all.

How about you?

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

6 thoughts on “Winter, Hygge, and Embracing Home”

  1. I’m still so mad NC got so much snow and DC didn’t get a single bit (although I’m most mad about the two snow days versus the zero we got here hahaha). Your house looks so cozy and I’m so jealous of your fireplace! Since I don’t have that, thanks for the reminder that I can always turn on the Yule Log Netflix movie!

    1. I can’t believe DC didn’t get any! Snow days are coming, though! And you get to enjoy them without crazy kids in the mix. Lucky you! Congrats on your wedding!! So exciting!! Yule log is actually really satisfying, by the way, even with a fireplace! 🙂

    1. I think it’s easier to be optimistic when I know it’ll be short or mild (or, we get lots of 50s and 60s days thrown in there). I think I had a post “Combatting the MidWinter Blues” last year. Haha! What can I say, “I am large, I contain multitudes”? Do you guys get much snow in the Pacific Northwest? I bet it would be so beautiful on those gigantic trees!

  2. Love those cozy winter days. We feel a bit of irony as well, since we moved to Wisconsin over the summer and have gotten less snow than we normally would in Illinois or even Kentucky! Our Christmas break forecast is for little snow, but I’m sure we’ll get cozy with cocoa and movie days anyway.

    1. I love cocoa! That’s one of my favorite things about winter, cocoa and fires. Hope you get a little bit of the white stuff–I always love it at Christmas. I’m sure Wisconsin will make up for it come February and March–that’s usually when we got dumped on in NH! Happy holidays Mrs. COD and thanks for reading!! 🙂

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