Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is the Danish term for taking pleasure from the simple, cozy things in life and the company of friends. This November, fill your community with hygge and invite participants to slow down before the rush of the holiday season. Here are ways to incorporate hygge into your activity program and community throughout the month.
CREATE COZY SPACES – Hygge starts with the environment. Take time to add coziness to your activity room and common spaces throughout your community. Spruce up the common living spaces with comfy throw pillows and blankets. Add ambiance with battery-operated candles. Declutter counters and bulletin boards. Utilize baskets to contain games and movies. Display heart-warming books that members can browse. If your community has fireplaces, use them to promote a warm, inviting environment.
BRING THE OUTSIDE IN – Another aspect of hygge is nature. As we settle into the colder months, bring the outside in. Plant an indoor herb garden with members or make flower arrangements to use as centerpieces in the dining room. Take members on an outing to a garden store to select indoor plants to add to your community’s decor.
MY FAVORITE THINGS COLLAGE – You’ll need 12×12 card stock paper, scissors, glue, old magazines, and other scrapbooking embellishments for this crafty activity. First, lead a short discussion about participants’ favorite things. Ask, “What things bring you joy?” Give each participant a piece of card stock paper and instruct participants to leaf through old magazines and cut out pictures or words of their favorite things. Next, ask participants to arrange their pictures on their paper before gluing them down. Participants can add stickers, glitter, or other scrapbook embellishments you’ve provided too. Leave time for participants to share their collages with one another and then display them in a common area.
INCORPORATE WARM DRINKS – There’s nothing like a warm drink to add comfort and coziness to an activity. This month, incorporate warm drinks into your activity programs. This could be as simple as serving hot tea and coffee while reminiscing, or as fun as hosting a hot chocolate bar as a large group event.
EASY BREAD MACHINE RECIPES – Comfort food and inviting smells are also in the DNA of hygge. Invite participants to help you pour ingredients into a bread machine. Place the bread machine in a safe, but open area so that the aroma fills the atmosphere. Once the bread has cooled, serve it to members. A Taste of Home provides a variety of bread machine recipes, or use one of your favorites.
TAKEOUT & MOVIE NIGHT – Order takeout from your group’s favorite to-go restaurant and feature a feel-good movie for an evening of hygge (like Singing in the Rain). Invite members to wear comfy clothes or even their pajamas. Provide throw pillows and blankets for members to wrap around themselves.
AFTERNOON AUTUMN ADVENTURES – Before it’s too cold to enjoy time outdoors, take members out to enjoy fresh air. Even a few minutes outside on a crisp, sunny day can lift the spirits of your members. Bundle up and go for a short walk around your community’s campus.
SUGAR SCRUB – Make a simple sugar scrub with members that they can take home to use. Give each member a small bowl. Next, instruct them to mix together a half cup of white or brown sugar and a half cup of olive oil. Let participants choose an essential oil to add to their scrub, such as lavender, peppermint, or citrus, and add a couple of drops to their mix. Pour the mixture into a small mason jar for safe keeping. Tell the participants that the scrub can be used as a gentle exfoliator for their hands. They can use it at their sinks. First, wash hands, then use a dollop of the sugar scrub to gently massage the hands. Rinse with warm water and use soap to wash away any residue.
TUNE IN TO SERENITY – Invite members to a fifteen- or twenty-minute “relax and unwind” activity, where they listen to classical music while sipping a warm drink. Encourage members to listen for different instruments and discuss the mood of the song. Focus on how the music makes members feel and memories the songs evoke.
NEIGHBORHOOD POTLUCKS – Encourage friendships among members by inviting different floors or wings to a neighborhood potluck dinner. This can be accomplished in a few ways. If you work with independent seniors, invite members to sign up to bring their favorite comfort food to the common hall. If you work in a setting where members do not cook, ask the dining room to cater a special meal or order pizza. Or, you could mix up the seating arrangements in the dining room for one meal, so that members get to know someone they usually don’t sit with.
HYGGE BINGO PRIZES – Consider purchasing bingo prizes that support the hygge theme. Such prizes could include mugs, comfy socks, cozy throw pillows, journals, dark chocolate, feel-good books, and luxury bath soaps and lotions.
SPA-IN-A-BOTTLE – Fill an empty plastic shoe box container with luxury lotion, hand soap, sugar scrub, face cream for the women and aftershave lotion for the men, a relaxation CD, and an essential oil diffuser. For one-on-ones this month, treat participants to a mini spa experience. Play the relaxation music and turn on the diffuser to set a peaceful mood. Let members smell the lotions then rub it on their hands. Gently rub face cream or aftershave on their faces and reminisce about beauty treatments over the years. Did they prepare for a special date in a particular way? What sort of creams and lotions did their mothers use? For the men, did their fathers teach them to shave, and at what age?
THANKFUL-FOR-YOU HAPPY HOUR – Combine hygge and Thanksgiving with a “Thankful-for-You” Happy Hour. Invite members, staff, family, and volunteers to come together to celebrate gratitude. Serve hot apple cider, coffee, and pumpkin pie. Encourage members and staff to share what they’re thankful for with one another. Sing some familiar songs together, especially those known by various generations, like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
30 DAYS OF HYGGE TRIVIA
- Which singer and actress sang about her favorite things in the musical, The Sound of Music? Julie Andrews
- In that same song, “My Favorite Things,” what color are the paper packages that are tied up in string? Brown
- Can you name two other favorite things found on the list in that song? Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens
- Name the song with the line, “like to make you comfy cozy,” which makes it the perfect representation of hygge? “Cuddle Up a Little Closer”
- On a cool, autumn evening, you might enjoy a bonfire outdoors. What fun treat can you roast over the fire that includes marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers? S’mores
- With Thanksgiving on the horizon, what is the most popular side dish served in most homes? Mashed potatoes
- Playing board games is another fun way to incorporate hygge into your life. What popular board game was introduced by the Parker Brothers on November 5, 1935? Monopoly
- Name one of the playing pieces in the game of Monopoly that you remember using? Thimble, wheelbarrow, boot, iron, race car, top hat, dog
- Setting the mood by lighting candles helps create hygge in the home. 90% of all candles are purchased by men or women? Women
- Can you name the one of the top three occasions candles are given as a gift? For holidays, house warming gift, hostess/dinner party gift
30 DAYS OF HYGGE THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“We don’t know how to linger and just enjoy the moment. We have forgotten to just enjoy the moment.” ~ Sofie Pedersen
“30 Days of Hygge: Our Cozy November” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2018 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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