Hygge Hacks with The Hygge Gathering
Early into selling the JMB Living Journal, we got connected with Kim Morrison, founder of The Hygge Gathering. Since our first interaction, Kim has been an avid journal user and advocate for JMB Living and we feel so blessed that the journal brought us together.
As winter approaches, we wanted to revisit hygge and share some great tips and hacks to add it into your lifestyle, and Kim is the perfect person to learn from! Kim was recently on Wave 3 News to share insight on holiday tablescapes and hosting gatherings. To learn more about her business and delve into all things hygge, we interviewed Kim to share the best information and discuss how mindfulness and hygge go hand-in-hand.
What is Hygge and how did you learn about it?
K: Hygge is most closely translated from Danish to mean "cozy". It is about a cozy atmosphere and togetherness. I learned about it in reading about ways to manage depression and I think it popped up as a recommended book because the Danes are considered the happiest people on Earth despite living in the darkest and gloomiest conditions most of the year.
Why is winter such a good season for Hygge?
K: Winter is perfect for hygge, all seasons are for hygge! The days are shorter with less light in the winter which means getting creative with how we navigate our days. The Danish people use more candle wax than any other country in the world! Want instant hygge? Light a few candles. Winter calls us to cozy up with candles, warm drinks, and discover new hobbies. Most importantly, we can do all these things together. Christmas hygge is the perfect example.
What would you consider the core pillars of Hygge?
K: It's about presence not perfection. As a recovering perfectionist and someone who still deals with depression—this is my main ethos. Be present with yourself and the ones you love. Everything else can wait.
What are the benefits of practicing hygge in any capacity?
K: Personally, resiliency. If you do struggle with any mental health, it increases your resilience and fortifies your motivation and emotions with joy. Practicing hygge for yourself also strengthens your relationships and allows you to connect with people in a meaningful way. The tangible practices, such as creating an ambient space that creates comfort, can reduce stress and increase how content you feel in your home, and intangible hygge, from socializing or feeling cozy, is good for your mental and emotional wellness.
All About Kim & The Hygge Gathering
Tell us about yourself!
K: I grew up in southeastern Virginia and went to undergrad in the DC area. I studied political science and began working in politics after graduation—which is just about the most un-hygge thing to do or discuss because hygge is all about harmony and politics is certainly not about that, ha. But in my work, we built coalitions; so I guess I was still about bringing people together. I've always been a Type-A, go-getter personality so when I became very depressed after the birth of our second son, it really changed me. I had postpartum depression and anxiety that became postpartum psychosis. I was hospitalized. It was a terribly dark time. After I came home, I felt like a shell of myself. I always loved going and doing, hosting and organizing, but my life really took a long time-out as I recovered and discovered a new me.
I am married with two boys, Jack (7), Henry (5), and a Yorkiepoo puppy named Barney (3 months old). Fun fact, Henry and Barney have the same birthday!
Hobbies: I love to read. I've always loved escaping into others’ stories—my favorite genres are memoirs and historical fiction. Travel (I'll go alone and enjoy it just as much), thrifting/vintage finding, hosting, houseplants, trying to learn how to garden, and just being a bit extra in everything I do
What is The Hygge Gathering?
K: I started The Hygge Gathering to bring women together in cozy togetherness. I wanted to provide elevated workshop experiences with local artisans and women who desired to learn something new in a cozy gathering.
My business has evolved to hosting gatherings for private clients—some temporary event spaces, and others permanent, cozy spaces. My passion is sharing the spirit of hygge—cozy togetherness—with others.
What was your journey like from learning about hygge to starting your business?
K: I began hosting hygge gatherings in my home in fall of 2018 as a way to begin hosting again. It was very informal, just a charcuterie board, drinks, and unstructured gathering on my living room floor with all my pillows. It grew to include friends and friends of friends, and it was then that I began wondering if I could share hygge with more women. I have always loved to dabble in crafting so I began hosting workshops taught by local artisans in local businesses as a way to gather together.
How has Hygge impacted your life?
K: It helps me manage my depression in a non-traditional way, because it encourages me to be mindful and intentional and to step out of myself and gather with other people. The perfect hygge gathering is only like three or four people and I’m introverted, so it makes me feel really good that I gets to gather in a small group. This comfortable form of interaction helps me lean into who I am, and hygge gatherings are often considered “an introvert’s favorite way to socialize.”
What are YOUR favorite ways to feel hygge?
K: My go-to’s are candles, cooking or baking with my boys—my youngest especially loves to cook and bake—and enjoying it together when it’s finished. Hygge can also be creating traditions or rituals to do as a family. For our family, during the staple “cozy” months from fall to spring, we do family movie nights on Fridays and eat in the basement as a special treat to add to the experience, rather than the dining room. After eating, I lay down pillows and blankets and we snuggle on the floor to watch the movie. This tradition is very hygge because it’s cozy and we do it together with an element of routine and ritual. Hygge doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it is very much what you make it.
How to Practice Hygge:
For Beginners & Your Lifestyle
How would you define the relationship between mindful living and hygge?
Mindfulness is directly intertwined with practicing hygge. Being present in the moment and appreciating what you have for today and what you have right in front of you creates the feeling of hygge. It can also be being intentional about the people in your life and developing your own mindfulness practices; Danish people have a breakfast candle to light while they eat breakfast and they blow it out after breakfast. Lighting the candle and what it brings to the environment calls you to mind the moment and savor the breakfast ritual.
How can hygge be translated into an American/Western lifestyle?
K: I started my business because hygge made its way into an American lifestyle as a visual aesthetic, but true hygge is more than coziness and buying the right things. When it started to become popular, it was very Americanized by characterizing it with tangible products and consumerism. I am personally wary of the Western interpretation. The entire reason English speakers still call it hygge is because there is no direct, one-word translation into English that encapsulates the full concept; so, I kind of believe in practicing the traditional Danish definition. Its authenticity is critical in reaping the same benefits and recreating the feeling of hygge that comprises the word. Americans tend to view it as collecting more stuff rather than focusing on the minimalistic, intentional home building of Denmark hygge, but I feel like people are starting to value quality over quantity more during the pandemic.
What tips would you give to someone who is new to Hygge or wants to incorporate it into a busy lifestyle?
K: Keep it simple: if you want instant hygge, light a candle! If you have a busy lifestyle, keep candles in areas where you spend a lot of time and light them as part of your time in that space. I keep candles in our kitchen and light them in the morning during winter because it’s still dark and it helps my family start the day together without turning on harsh lights. I also have very intentionally curated my bedroom lighting. I set up twinkle lights and a salt lamp that I use rather than lamps with low lighting and this is very tied to the hygge life. Having a relaxing space that is not overly visually-stimulating helps me ease into relaxation and going to bed. This is especially good for people who are busy as it helps you be mindful of the time of day with natural light.
What are some ways to create hygge that stray from the typical candle, blanket, ambient lighting for people looking for inspiration to live with more Hygge or diversify their own methods?
K: Honestly, using the JMB Living Journal is a great way to elevate your hygge life. In starting my business I found there’s both a personal practice of hygge and the public practice of gathering, but you can’t properly engage in that if you're not also practicing it individually. The journal is a great way to support the personal practice by slowing down, being more present, and staying aligned and centered by journaling daily and answering the prompts.
Do you have any additional advice or information about hygge?
My favorite book about it is The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits and the most popular is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking.
You can connect with Kim on any social media platform @thehyggegathering or here on her website. Her available services include hosting, consulting and tablescape services where she can set up the most beautiful environments for your social events. I highly recommend following her on Instagram for more tips about practicing hygge and gorgeous images of her work and the coziest spaces. You can also find her in the Winter issue of the JMB Living Journal as a midweek feature in mid-February going in-depth about hygge and winter.