Winters can be rough, with the darkness and the cold taking their tolls on our spirits. But it doesn’t need to be that way! Winter can be a time to turn inward, a time for reflection, for introspection, for taking the measure of the year and seeing where you stand.
The Danish have a term that doesn’t translate directly into English, but it is the perfect cure for the moody and isolating nature of the deep winter months. They use the word “hygge” (pronounced, “higguh” to refer to the practice of creating cozy environments and inviting friends to share their warmth and company and therefore help each other weather the cold of winter together. This is usually realized by throwing small gatherings and get-togethers, from weekly dinners to holiday parties. But where to start? Planning the right function can seem daunting at first, but with these simple ideas you’ll be sure to have a gathering that embraces the true meaning of hygge!
Setting the Scene
The first thing you need to determine when planning your event is what sort of function are you putting on? Is it going to be a dinner, a gift-giving holiday party, or an informal hangout with your closest friends and a hot drink? Figuring out what your goals are for the event early on will allow you to plan it to perfection, even if your plan is to play things by ear and let it all turn out how it will!
Make sure that your preparations don’t cause stress in themselves, remember this is about giving yourself the opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of others. There are many sources of information available online to help you decorate with ease.
Food! Food! Food!
Whatever the event you decide upon, food is a must-have. Nothing brings people together like the promise of munching on something tasty, whether it’s a simple batch of holiday cookies or a 5-course feast of friendship! Again, be sure to not spread yourself out too thin, there are plenty of online services out there that are happy to inspire you with great holiday meal ideas or even deliver them right to your door!
Games and Activities
Game nights are always a fun way to bring people together. A round of Pictionary or Charades can focus everyone’s attention on the moment and forget their seasonal woes, plus they’re really entertaining! If games aren’t your thing, consider an activity tied to the holidays.
In some families, White Elephant is an occasion looked forward to with great anticipation! The way it works is this: everyone brings a gift (it is fine to limit the amount everyone can spend so no one feels obligated to break the bank, I suggest a $15 or $20 limit but it’s totally ok to go lower). It is important that every gift is wrapped ahead of time so that no one can tell what is inside the package. When all your guests have arrived, arrange the gifts on a table that everyone can sit around (the dining room table or living room coffee table is a great place for this). Next, determine the number of guests participating and tear off that many small pieces of paper. Starting at 1, number each piece of paper till you reach the number of people participating (for example if there are 10 people, number the pieces 1-10). When you have finished writing down all the numbers, fold each piece so that you can’t see the number on it, then put all the pieces into a hat or bowl. Next have each person blindly pick one piece of paper out of the hat or bowl until everyone has one. This is where the fun begins! The person with the number “1” gets to start. They may open one gift, and show it to the rest of the participants. The person with the number “2” may then either open a new gift or “steal” the first person’s gift. If they do, the first person gets to open a new one. The next person may then either open a new gift or “steal” one of the already opened gifts. This goes on until the last person, who basically gets to pick any gift or open the last. We play that after a gift has changed hands twice, it is closed and may not be stolen again.
If this all seems like too much work another option is to provide neat little welcome bags for your guests. It may be surprising how many people fondly remember the days when a party meant party favors. Tis the season of giving, and having something to send people home with can bring a very nice touch to even the most informal of events.
No matter the strategy you employ, remember these events are about bringing people together to celebrate community and friendship. Try not to over plan or burden yourself with additional stress, this should be fun and enjoyable for you as well!
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