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I tried hygge for a weekend even though I like to go out—here’s what happened


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Photo: Stocksy/Marika Mandic
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It used to be that when Friday afternoon rolled around, the texts would start coming in. What are we doing tonight? Where’s happy hour at?! Pre-game at my place! Okay, sure, part of it is getting older, but it’s not my imagination: People just aren’t into going out like they used to be—no matter how many candles are on their birthday cake.

Thanks to hygge—the Danish home craze (pronounced “hoo-ga”) that’s all about nesting and cozy togetherness—your Instagram feed is filled with photos of dreamy bedrooms and domestic bliss. Think chunky knit sweaters, steel-cut oatmeal, oversized blankets, and lots of candles.

When my editor tasked me with devoting a whole weekend to hygge, you’d think I’d be pumped. Here’s the thing though: I like to go out.

Meanwhile, all of your party dresses are at the back of your closet.

So when my editor tasked me with devoting a whole weekend to hygge and then writing about it, you’d think I’d be pumped. An excuse to stay in all weekend and watch Netflix? Here’s the thing though: I like to go out—especially since I live alone.

So how did my staying-in-and-trying-to-love-it weekend go? Here’s the cold hard (okay, more like cozy) truth.

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hygge date
Photo: Stocksy/Mosuno

The date night hygge hack

I was officially supposed to start my hygge weekend Friday night, so when a guy I liked asked me to go on a date that night, I was torn. “I want to hang out with you, but I have to do this thing called hygge for an article I’m writing,” I texted him. “Would you be into staying in and playing some board games?” He texted back a few minutes later: “Never heard of hygge, but I’m in!”

My date had done his hygge homework, bringing over a bottle of wine and flannel PJ pants.

I Amazon-ed Battleship and Guess Who?, and just before he came over on Friday, I lit some candles. Well, at least we’ll be able to make out more than we would at the bar, I thought to myself, eyeing the oversized throw I had oh-so-casually draped over my couch.

My date had done his hygge homework, bringing over a bottle of wine and flannel PJ pants. First thing on the agenda: ordering in Thai food. After we ate, the idea was to bust out the board games, but it was an unusually warm night. We were both eyeing the door.

“I’m pretty sure we don’t break any hygge rules if we go out—as long as it’s somewhere low-key with candles and not a rowdy bar,” I told him. So we found a place with carefully crafted cocktails and The Lumineers playing in the background—a way better date spot than a standing room-only bar blasting Ariana Grande.

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hygge
Photo: Ivo de Bruijn

Is hygge the secret to stronger friendships?

I spent the bulk of Saturday leisurely lounging inside, catching up on my reading and watching Netflix. Just when I was starting to get cabin fever, I met a friend for coffee, choosing a neighborhood cafe reminiscent of Central Perk, with giant mugs, a plush sofa, and plenty of oversized chairs to sink into.

Earlier that week, I had met up with Sarah Britton of My New Roots. Since she lived in Denmark, I asked her for some advice on the warm-and-convivial national pastime. “I like to invite my friends over for lunch, and often they’re so content that they’ll stay through dinner,” she says. “It’s so dark and cold out that they’re in no rush to leave!”

“I like to invite my friends over for lunch, and often they’re so content that they’ll stay through dinner.”

So I invited a friend over for a meal. We popped open a bottle of wine—in my opinion, a crucial part of hygge—and made bruschetta and a recipe from Cassandra Bodzak’s book, Eat With Intention: sweet potato “spaghetti” with a vegan Alfredo sauce.

Cooking together felt intimate, and so did eating in my living room in our socks. We shared more than we probably would have if we’d gone to a trendy New York City restaurant, where the tables are so close together you can’t help but listen in on other people’s convos. Plus, there was no waiter to push us out or determine when the night ended. 

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hygge
Photo: Stocksy/Aleksandra-Jankovic

It’s about self-care, too

Sunday, I still had a few obligations—church, a guitar lesson, a little bit of work—but I still devoted most of my day to hygge-ing, prioritizing things I wouldn’t normally make time for (like making myself a nourishing meal and soaking in the tub).

It made me realize that sometimes we say yes to so many things—even when it’s something fun like brunch—that it leaves little time to pause. Instead of ending the weekend with the Sunday blues, I felt recharged. I was still able to be social (and, yes, go out), but I had plenty of solo time too.

Instead of ending the weekend with the Sunday blues, I felt recharged.

Though at first I was definitely skeptical about this whole hygge thing, as I ended my weekend curled up in bed under my duvet with a cup of tea and a good book, I had to admit: Those Danes have a good thing going. Bring on the knit socks.

Get ready for your own hygge weekend with these leisurewear must-haves. For some next-level relaxation, try this game plan for a whole day of happiness.

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