When the sun shines, the thermometer rises and the weather has you gasping for breath, it can be hard to appreciate how good summertime is for hygge. It’s too easy to have hygge down as a cold weather thing when, at its heart, hygge is probably just as enjoyable during summer if you think of it as finding a cosy, welcoming place, spending time with the people you love best and enjoying fresh, seasonal food.
Flip that mindset that has you yearning for Autumn and the falling leaves: hygge is all about mindfulness and living in the moment. And this moment is summer. Don’t wish it away, embrace it with all its imperfections and hygge the life out of it! Here, then, are 10 simple steps to create a happy hygge-filled summer.
Idea 1: Channel your Inner Child.
Visit the beach and make like a child. Paddle, swim, collect shells, skim stones. It’s good to relax and have a laugh, whatever age you are.
And if you can’t make it to the beach?
Buy or find a small paddling pool and fill with sand. Make sandcastles, carve sand models or simply sit with your feet in the pool and wiggle your toes in the sand. Add water for even more fun. There is something about sand that just goes with summer…. plus also, you get to be terribly philosophical.
And if sand is not your childhood plaything of choice, choose something else. Buy playdoh, take chalks outside to draw and write with, refresh your bike riding skills. Anything that makes you smile with delight like a child is good for you and for your life companions.
Idea 2: Create a Summer Nook.
We’re so used to hygge nooks being inside dens of blankets, furs, cushions and cosy candles, but the principle of creating a nook, a cosy space to rest, relax, chill and just be, applies to any time of year. Your summer nook may be a quiet spot outside, in the garden or your local park, permanent or temporary. A convenient tree to lean against, a cushion or blanket brought from home and a bag or basket with some nibbles, perhaps bread and cheese from the Deli and a thermos filled with water and ice cubes tinted with slices of lime, lemon or cucumber.
In your garden, a hammock slung between two convenient trees may be wonderful… or a cushion on the back step. Wherever, keep it easy enough to pop out to and you’ll find you use it more than any elaborate den that needs inflating, building or moving every time.
Inside the house, move your nook to a cool spot, or to catch the sun in the morning or evening depending on your preferences. Carry everything you need in a comfort basket; lip salve, book, magazine, notebook, sweets to suck and anything else you know you would need for an afternoon lazing for health.
Idea 3: Clear the Calendar and expect the unexpected
Hygge takes time, especially in the middle of the busiest lives. Clear any unnecessary events from your diary. Drop your weekly obligations (do them if you want, but do them from a place of love and enjoyment, not duty) and don’t schedule every free moment. Learn to sway with the wind according to the weather. Is it a sunny day? Ring round and get an impromptu barbecue together. Raining? Get the gang over for a game of cards or Trivial Pursuit as the rain falls down.
Part of the secret of being impromptu, though, is in being prepared. Have some snacks in a cupboard that you don’t dip into until you need them. Have some beefburgers and buns in the freezer so that a quick defrost is all you need for a grill party outside. And always, always have a couple of teatowels, forks, spoons and plastic cups in the car so that you can head out to chase the sunset and eat a rotisserie chicken and deli salads any time you want to.
Idea 4: Add Fairylights. And Candles. More is more.
Decorate your porch for summer. Add strings of fairylights around the front door or windows, keep storm lanterns with candles ready to light at a moment’s notice and have pots of lavender, rosemary or other tactile herbs to run your hands over on entry.
And decorate your outside hygge nooks. Solar fairylights need no power source except the sun, but cheap tealight holders made from jars or tins and wire work just as well: anything that gives a diffuse, delicate light in the dusk is good. Keep matches or a refillable lighter to hand, too, so that enjoying the dusk fall is as easy as sitting out in the candlelight until it’s time to go in.
Idea 5: Eat Outside Whenever You Can
This is pure hygge for small children. I remember when mine were little, the most revolutionary thing we could do was take their plates and cups outside and eat lunch or tea in the sunshine. I don’t think they ever realised that the fun of seeing them enjoy a picnic was made even better by the knowledge I had no carpet or spills to clean up afterwards.
Eating out is good for adults, too. Have a large table: decorate with jam jar lanterns, on top of a white sheet table cloth, bring your best crockery out, or use your best thrifted and mis-matched plates. Just enjoy having fun. And if you’re not a barbecue person, don’t bother. Grill steaks inside and serve all the sides outside. Just have food and plenty of it, a summer listening playlist in the background and good friends over to laugh the night away.
Idea 6: Create a Summer Memories playlist of music
Nostalgia is formed by so many different senses: smell, touch… and definitely hearing, for me. I can listen to an old favourite song and tell you exactly where I was when I first heard it, or which memory it brings to the surface. Forever Young is Germany in the 80s, and afternoons spent in the pool. Happy is the demob jubilation of the end of term in schools, while Boys of Summer is my second son rocking along in the back seat as a five… six? year old.
I’ve compiled my personal summer chilling playlist on Amazon, because that’s where I keep and use my music.
Idea 7: Wear Things that Make you Feel Summery
I have a friend who wears the same clothes all year round, just puts a jumper on or carries a coat in the cold.
I can’t do that: I like knowing that it is summer because my trousers become looser, lighter, my ankles appear more, my shoes get lighter (and probably less practical in most situations).
It’s good to dress for summer. I love grabbing my sunglasses and wearing them on my forehead whatever. It makes me feel ready for summer. Likewise, I love to change the colours of my clothes from darker black, brown and maroon to oranges, light blues and red.
And don’t be afraid to dress for a holiday on your days off. Put your swimming costume on, wear your beach shorts, relax in that sundress that makes you feel all Ibitha. Why not? There are no rules…. it’s summer!
Idea 8: There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather
It’s easy to stay outside when the sun is shining and the temperature is pleasant… but what do you do if the clouds build and the rain starts?
The choice is run back inside, or stay outside and enjoy the rain. I’ve done both, and honestly staying outside is easier if you know you can change your clothes and dry them easily. Not so do-able if you’re on a day out, without a change of clothes in the car.
If the rain has set in and there’s no possibility of taking a walk, then settle down for a day indoors. Grab carpet picnic food, collect some games or books and snuggle down into the settee to watch the raindrops slide down the pane. Alone, or with friends, a Rain Stopped Play Day need not be boring.
And if you do decide to stay out in the rain? Dance in the puddles (much easier to do in wellington boots, I agree), walk in the rain and catch the raindrops on your tongue, try playing cricket or rounders in the wet (at your own peril) or just shelter under a tree and watch the world go by.
Idea 9: Collect Your Memories in a Way that Suits You
I tried scrapbooking, but it wasn’t the right game for me. I think I only ever produced a total of 4 layouts. The time, the thought, the fact that I never had the exact piece of paper I wanted to make the layout complete…. scrapbooking, I think, takes patience.
I collect my memories now in a totally different way.
I like to collect a stone or a shell or a feather on my far away travels: especially if it’s a day by the sea, I find a shell makes a perfect tactile memory for me. I have built sandscapes in small jars before now, but one can only bottle so many perfect days before one’s shelves are full. Now, I have a bowl and I put the latest stone at the to of the pile. If I’m feeling extra efficient, I label it with a permanent Sharpie, just the date and location. And in my artistic moments, I use a gel pen and decorate with swirls, words, quotes and more before storing in the bowl.
I also collect snowglobes if I can find one. I try to get a snowglobe every time I go to somewhere new. My proudest possessions are a Joan of Arc at the Stake globe from Rouen (yes, really) and a Gallos statue from Tintagel.
And I buy a Christmas decoration from each holiday. These decorate the tree in the living room each December. I add the year of the holiday to the decoration, or perhaps a sentence to remember the occasion and keep them out on my dresser shelves until they sidle into the decoration pile with the rest. So far this year I have a Minerva Sulis decoration from Bath, a peacock from Leeds Castle and a Tudor rose from Hever in Kent. I couldn’t find a Thomas a Beckett decoration in Canterbury, although I have since found a Justin Welby one online that I may just get instead.
And, of course, the easiest way to collect memories is just in a diary, be that a written journal, Facebook page or just random photographs that you take and keep to look at for another day.
Idea 10: The Night Time is the Right Time
If all else fails and the summer heat gets too much for you, make like a vampire. Hide away in the cool of a north-facing room during the day, fan on, curtains closed and iced tea at the ready, and start coming to life when the sun sets and the edge of heat has dissipated.
The night time in summer is a good time to do a whole load of stuff. Take a blanket out to a wide field or patch of ground and lie back to watch the stars: take a walk around the neighbourhood listening to life and the evening wildlife that you can hear (we have an owl near us that we never hear during the day): check out moonphases, meteor showers and other natural phenomenon. Apart from everything else, 2020 once gifted us with the most perfect forked lightening storm I have seen in this country. I swear it must have lasted over 45 minutes, in the right direction to be clearly seen from our front door and circled around so that not only did we have the sultry heat followed by the oxidising rainfall, but the heat and rain both returned for a second attempt! It was a mythical storm and we still talk about it today.
Borrow a projector and hold a cinema evening in the back garden, set up a badger watching station in a place where you know badgers or hedgehogs visit,
Hygge is a year-round feeling. Alone, or with a small group of friends, make the most of the good weather if we have any and the freedom of summer if we don’t. Unschedule yourself, take the occasional afternoon off from life and enjoy the feeling.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash. It’s waterlilies, chosen for the reflection and because the flowers resemble lotus flowers so much. And my header is a photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash. Sunglasses, eh? The one indispensible thing I need to declare it summer.