Creating Space for Danish Hygge in Summer

Jun 5, 2019

garden string lights
Ronstik/stock.adobe.com

Danish Hygge continues to gain popularity every year, with interiors across the world taking much of their inspiration from this Scandinavian phenomenon. Danish Life Designer Lena Bensten shares her expert advice with The LuxPad below on how to make space for Hygge in your home this summer…

Danish Hygge is a mood and appears in the perfect moment of peacefulness and well-being while enjoying life. In Denmark, summer is very short. In midsummer, it never gets completely dark and with so much light it can be difficult to say goodnight. What could be more fitting than outdoor hygge with friends on a pleasant and warm evening?

garden table with food and wine
Shaiith / stock.adobe.com

To hygge with friends in the summertime is always done in a very casual way. In Denmark, friends meet in private homes. It is very seldom that dinner is shared at a restaurant. That's why taking care of our homes is important to us. Our homes are an extension of ourselves.

Our homes radiate care. We nurse our homes, because they are a part of our personality. It is a place to find peace, to relax and recover. Our home is a nest, a safe cave and a personal frame surrounding our lives. When we invite guests, we are opening our private property. It deserves respect from both hosts and guests. Hygge claims mutual respect, to be a good host, and to be a good guest. Everybody must feel good.

The dining table is the centre for Danish hygge. We spend hours and hours around this very important piece of furniture, therefore the food and the table settings are the kick-starters of the hygge mood.

rustic table with wine glasses
rustic plates and napkin
garden pots and plants

Never 'over do' but think 'casual'

Overdoing is bragging, and bragging is not a part of hygge. Being casual is to meet your guests with your own style.

Use materials from nature for decoration

Find some nice stones to keep the napkins next to the plates or just to dress the table, or some wood, flowers or whatever else you can use from nature.

Flowers

Add some flowers to the table setting. A few flowers from the garden in a small vase are much better than some you have paid a fortune for.

Candles

Always use candles. Tealights can be put in small glasses to protect them from the wind. Tall candles will only damage the tablecloth.

Elegant garden party table and gazebo
stock.adobe.com

Cover the table

Use either a tablecloth or placemats. A tablecloth is preferable because there is less chance of it being blown away by the wind.

Crockery

Keep it simple with one plate and two glasses, one for wine and one for water.

No music

You have not invited guests to listen to music, but to hygge with them. Besides, maybe your neighbour does not share your taste of music. Be polite.

Throws

During the evening guests may need a throw to keep the chill away from their legs or shoulders. If you have some - be prepared.

Picnic on grass with blankets
Pendleton

We have now created the space for hygge. Now it’s time to hygge with friends, but how do the Danes do this?

The invitation

When the weather is suddenly behaving well, nothing should stop you from calling some friends and saying: "If you do not have any other plans for tonight, please come to our place and enjoy the evening with us." The invitation is very spontaneous and because it is such, no one will expect a royal dinner. As a good guest, you will ask if you may bring something with you, for example, some dessert.

The plan for the evening

Guests usually arrive at 18.30; the meal begins around 19.00 and guests leave around 23.00 when there is work the following day. The evening should be relaxed and enjoyable. The socializing is very important to Danes and the dinner usually goes on all evening because of this, around four hours or so spent at the table.

tealights in glass jars
stock.adobe.com

Start with some refreshments such as a beer, an aperitif or a soft drink and enjoy some small talk. Go for a walk in the garden or as a guest, offer a helping hand with the dinner. For hygge everything does not have to be prepared up front. Hygge is as much about cooking and finishing the food during the evening.

Just serve a light dish for the starter. Remember, you will be seated at the table the entire evening enjoying the good company. For the main course, again, don’t serve too much to eat. One idea is some barbecue with a nice side salad. Dessert and coffee comes afterwards. In summertime, fresh strawberries with ice cream are a hit, or whatever is in season.

Hygge is what happens between friends when enjoying life together