Hygge:  My Preferred Lifestyle

So...having spent months to understand the concept and convert to its key components, I have completely embraced this concept of Hygge.  It turns out that it is actually my preferred lifestyle and pretty much embodies what we stand for at Kate’s Garden.  Especially during the winter.  

Oddly, I love winter.    Having spent formative years in the Laurentians, Ottawa and Montreal, I learned to appreciate actually being able to do stuff outdoors when it is cold.   I just took a brisk winter walk along Main Street Markham north.  Though it was chilly, with the snow falling lightly, it is just plain pretty taking a winter walk along an historic street...and then savouring a nice hot chocolate upon my return to Kate’s Garden!   Totally hygge!

One of the key concepts of Hygge is to enjoy and embrace the outdoors especially during winter.    Instead of hibernating, compelling yourself to get outdoors each day makes savouring coming inside soooo much better.   But, I am getting ahead of myself...

Hygge, pronounced hoo-gah, is a lifestyle simplification, pursuit of happiness and personal development trend.   The Danes and Norwegians, having been recently cited as the happiest countries in the world by the United Nations seem to have a wrap on this concept of “Ultimate Cosiness”.   Hygge is mostly about an antidote to busy, stressed out lives. 


This past Blue Monday, we held several Hygge information sessions at Kate’s Garden.  The response was overwhelming and like nothing we have ever experienced for a mid month January event!  On what is frequently considered the most depressing day of the year, dozens and dozens of women braved winter storms to learn more about Nordic secrets to happiness.   The mulled cider and cookies may have helped to entice folks outdoors but it was the invitation to fight back against the winter blues that did the trick.  

The following is a synthesis of the information shared during our Hygge info sessions.   I have tried to break it down into its essential components so that you can understand why we have embraced the concept for both our home and business.  Hygge’s key components are:

Living Seasonally

Celebrating the seasons is easy to do in Canada when we have four such spectacularly different and beautiful seasons.  


Seeking solace in Nature

Staying in touch with nature keeps you grounded.   This is not a cliché.  It is a fact.  Gardening does not have to stop just because the growing season has slowed down.   Potted bulbs, indoor herb gardens, terrarium and easy care houseplants can keep your thumb green.

Succulents are Easy Care Indoor Plants...

Embracing Winter

I love the Norwegian saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.  You may choose not to ski or skate but brisk winter walks will help to keep colds and flu away.

Making your home into your sanctuary

My family will tell you that the term “Safe Haven” is what home means to me.  Home is about creating a place of respite and relaxation free from judgement.  The hygge concept of lots of extra cushions and with snuggly throws on the couch reinforces the notion of winter nesting and cocooning.  

Living in a clutter-free, clean and organized environment.

I just bought the latest Remodelista book about Stylish Storage.    Having been a professional organizer for many years and a relentless clutterbuster, I fancy myself to leading a pretty clutterbusted life.   My home and business are good examples of “mise en place” but being the creative types we are, staying ahead of clutter is a continuous struggle.   Something about the post-holiday January decorating period, this most recent Remodelista book and embracing Hygge had me spending hours over the last few weeks purging unnecessary duplicates and unflattering clothes.    It takes continuous effort but I find that deciding to surround us with only the things that we consider to be useful and beautiful is liberating.    Getting from chaos to collected lifts my shoulders.  

Candles are Hygge Essentials

Lights, Candles, Flowers and Greenery


In sunlight deprived Nordic countries, flickering candles and fairy lights are considered essentials.   Simple flowers, lots of indoor plants to help oxygenate rooms left stale by closed windows and potted bulbs for colour and scent turn minimalistically furnished homes into warm and inviting spaces.

Journaling about Positive Moments in Life...great Hygge!

Casual Entertaining

During these past few months, we have geared all of our entertaining to lingering for hours around the dining room table with flickering candles, fresh flowers artfully flopping in vintage bottles enjoying wonderful comfort food and great bread dressed in jeans.   It takes all the pressure off and is in line with the Hygge concept of keeping it simple, not putting on the dog or showing off.    Hygge also means leaving drama at the door and avoiding politics and topics that cause distress while entertaining.   Given the state of world affairs these days, it has been more difficult than usual to avoid talking politics... but it is good to have goals!


My daughter Silken and I bought these in Lyon not too far from where she studies!


My daughter-in-law Joanna and daughter Silken baked this giant cinnamon bun!


Anne's Bread Pudding from Appetizers and More


Simple Candles and Flowers

Enjoying Pastimes

Board games, crafting, knitting, indoor gardening, crocheting,  bird feeding,  flower arranging, reading and taking pleasure in writing things by hand.  Amazing how these simple pleasures reinforce the   notion of slow living.  A little less screen time (with Netflix as a cosy exception) never hurts.  


Be grateful for slow living!

Emotional Pursuit of Happiness

Hygge is also about practicing gratitude, being present, togetherness and mindfully choosing to spend time doing the things that give you pleasure, lift your spirit and make you feel happier.   Get comfy, take a nap and live slow. 


To recap, spending time this winter focused on casual entertaining that brings together family and friends in a cosy atmosphere with ambient light, fresh flowers, comfort food; playing board games and enjoying gentle pastimes?  It is not hard to figure out why Hygge can quickly become a preferred lifestyle especially in winter.

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Tree Decorating Tips from the Pros


Fresh Trees

If you prefer a fresh tree, remember the “early bird gets the worm”. Scotch Pine is the most common Christmas tree because the needles barely fall off even when dry. Douglas Fir has widely spaced branches that make it great for larger ornaments. Fraser Fir is lovely and has dense branching that makes decorating so easy. Spruce has an unpleasant odor when the needles are crushed. If the needles do not spring back when you rub them, move on!

Keep the tree outdoors protected from wind until you are ready to bring it inside to decorate. Allow a couple of days for the boughs to drop before decorating. A fresh trunk cut is required when you bring the tree indoors to keep the tree hydrated. Make a fresh cut across the base of the trunk about a quarter of an inch up from the original cut.   

Before you install, be sure to put the tree removal bag underneath the tree. Hide it with your tree skirt.  It makes clean-up ten times easier!

Keeping it Fresh

Place the tree in a stand that holds at least a gallon of water. To prevent trees from drying, place them far from radiators, fireplaces, furnace ducts, televisions and direct sunlight. Keep your tree fresh by watering it daily. Add a bit of ginger ale to the water. The sugar in the soda helps the tree’s needles stay soft and supple.  

Tree Height

Allow enough space for the tree stand and two feet between the top of the tree and your ceiling.  

Trees look shorter and smaller on a lot or farm. Measure the height and width of your room before you go tree shopping.   

Faux Trees?

You cannot beat faux in terms of decorating ease. What you lose in scent… you pick up in simple storage, assembly ease and lighting.  

Decorate in Sequence

Kate's Garden holiday decorating

Step One: Let There Be Light

If you want to decorate for lushness and drama, use one strand of 100 lights for every vertical foot. For extra POW, use 200 lights. Never ever use less than 50 lights per foot.

Visually divide the tree into four pie slices or triangles bottom to top for easy removal using a small zigzag method as you go. Start at the top of the tree and wrap the string around a branch, working from the trunk to the tip and back to the trunk, move to the next branch.  









Step Two: Ribbon or Garland

Choose wired ribbon that matches the colour scheme of your décor. It usually takes five rolls of ribbon for full garlanding or three rolls of large deco mesh ribbon.    

There are several techniques for using ribbons:

Kate's Garden Holiday decorating

French Bows: Make generously proportioned bows from wired ribbon that have at least five loops. You will need 36 for a seven to eight foot tree.  








Kate's Garden holiday decorating






Downward Spiral: This is a full twist of ribbon or mesh garland from the top of the tree swirled around the tree right to the bottom.   

Kate's Garden Holiday Decorating











The River: Use wide organza ribbon or deco mesh to create a “river” effect that starts from the top of the tree and pools to the ground. We usually put in three rivers!












Step Three: Ornaments

Kate's Garden holiday decorating

You need a minimum of 20 ornaments for every foot of tree in three different sizes: oversize, medium and tippers.   

Pick a single colour or a maximum of two colours to create a cohesive, colour-coordinated look to the tree.   

Vary the sizes and shapes. Changing the size, scale and shape of the ornaments adds depth to the tree. Mix balls and teardrops interspersed with your sentimental favourites too.  

If you are decorating a tree that is viewed from all sides, divide the total number of each size of ornament by four. Using the same pie-shape approach as you used for lighting the tree, disperse each group through one of the one-quarter pie shapes. Place them evenly from the top to the bottom of the tree.   

Most trees are viewed from three sides. Don’t waste ornaments on the very back of the tree if it is facing a wall. Instead, divide each collection of ornaments by three… using three pie-shapes for your division.      

Oversize balls are best placed deep within the branches of the tree. They add colour to light up the darker pockets of the tree. Start with your largest ornaments and layer them evenly throughout. Then use up the medium sized ornaments mid-branch. Complete with the smallest ornaments on the tips of the branches to “drip” from the ends. Cluster ornaments together for even greater impact. Odd numbers or ornaments work best when you are clustering.

Kate's Garden holiday decorating