Most people associate hygge with winter. They picture a roaring fire in the fireplace, wrapping up in cozy blankets, and sipping hot cocoa on a cold winter’s evening. Cozy, right? But you can still be cozy in the summertime. Hygge is all about slowing down the hamster wheel and embracing those sweet little moments. When I’m 80 years old and sitting on my front porch, I won’t be thinking about the days I spent working 16 straight hours hunched over my computer. I’ll be thinking about that time my daughter and I sat huddled on the steps of the Paris Metro station before dawn, waiting for it to open, in the pouring rain, laughing our heads off at the absurdity of the situation. So, here’s how to hygge in summer.
Go on a picnic.
I don’t understand why people don’t picnic more often. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make an elaborate spread. Or don’t. Pick up some food from the ready to serve counter at your local grocery store. Go to KFC and grab a family meal. ANY food is more special when you eat it outside. When my daughter was little, we kept a picnic basket in the trunk all spring and summer long. It had a blanket, plastic dishes, cutlery, cups, and paper towels in it. All we had to do was add food and go.
Grow some flowers.
True confession – I really don’t like gardening. Oh, I love the act of planting. The digging in the dirt is a very Zen moment for me. But all of that weeding and constant care of the plants all summer long? Ugh. So, I go for easier alternatives. Window boxes or other types of container gardening are easy. There is no weeding. Simply keep them watered and you’re pretty much set. Or I grow some flowering plants inside my house. Or I buy a cheap bouquet at the grocery store every couple of weeks. You could even go visit your local city gardens and revel in the work that someone who loves gardening has done. Just seeing colourful flowers somewhere in my world adds some joy to my day.
Go to the farmer’s market.
Ours is open all year long but as soon as spring hits, they open up the outdoor market as well. There’s just something magical about it. Wandering through the stalls, taking in the sights and aromas in the open air –it’s just so relaxing. If you have more time, head out for a drive in the country. Keep an eye out for roadside farm stands along the way. If you live in southern Ontario, I highly recommend the drive along Highway 3. It’s a lovely, charming drive and farm stands abound in the nice weather.
Hang out in your backyard after dark.
Look up and see what constellations you can find. There are loads of star maps and stargazing apps available online to help you identify them. Search for fireflies flitting about. They don’t seem as plentiful as when I was a kid so sometimes you have to be very still and look very carefully to notice them. It’s always worth it.
Go to the drive-in.
I know, I know. This is not an option for many people and I am so lucky that the drive-in theatre of my childhood is still operating today. But some local libraries loan out old-fashioned movie projectors and family movies to go with them. You can create your own theatre right in your backyard. Or check out your town for local outdoor movie showings in the park.
Go to a pick your own farm.
Our favourite when my daughter was little was always strawberry picking but since I’m now deathly allergic to them, that’s a no go for us. But there are so many other options! It feels good to pick your own produce and it’s a great lesson for the kids to see where their food really comes from. If you want to be extra about it, go home and do some canning. Make some jam for those long cold winter months. They make fantastic Christmas gifts too. (I know, I know. I’m talking about Christmas and summer all in one post!).
Have a watermelon seed spitting contest.
What??? You’ve never done this before? Oh well then, you must try it. No, I don’t really know why it’s so much fun but it is. First, you get to eat watermelon. Yum. Then you get to do one of those things that your mama always told you not to do. Spit. There’s some sort of rebellious summery fun magic going on here. If you’re getting together with adults to do this, you could have a watermelon roast like we did in university in Arkansas. No we didn’t actually roast a watermelon. We’d drill a hole in the watermelon and pour alcohol in it. Then we’d sit around a campfire and eat pieces of boozy watermelon.
What is summer without s’mores? No campfire – no problem! You can make them on your BBQ or oven. Of course, it’s more fun with a campfire but don’t let that little detail get in the way of enjoying this summertime classic. Gooey melted chocolate and marshmallows? Count me in.
Or just walking on the beach. Or lie down on a blanket on the beach and read a good summer novel. Dig your toes into the sand. Let the waves lap up over your feet. Search for sea glass or shells or pretty stones. If you can, hang out and watch the sunset over the water.
Drink some homemade lemonade.
Make your own or head to a local venue that serves it. Ask for recommendations on social media or head out on an afternoon drive in search of the perfect homemade lemonade. In my family, we highly recommend sweet tea too. It’s even better if you can sip one of these while lounging in a hammock or on the porch swing.
Hang your clothes out to dry.
This one comes with a caveat. I do love the smell of laundry coming in off the clothesline BUT it’s terrible for my allergies. I also like it for things like bed sheets and blankets but I don’t care for how stiff it makes my clothing and towels feel. Still, it reminds me of my childhood and long summer days playing outside followed by snuggling under cool cotton sheets that smelled oh so fresh and clean.
Would it surprise you to know I have enough bubble liquid in my basement to last the entire season? My grandson is too young to blow them yet but I know he’ll enjoy watching them. And let’s be honest, blowing bubbles is a lovely relaxing thing to do no matter what your age. Forget about the outside world. Just watch the bubbles float and bounce and drift away along with your cares.
Go for a walk.
Make it a scavenger hunt and challenge your family to find certain items. Or a photo scavenger hunt. You can look for shapes or colours or actual items. Or just wander with no plan at all. If you find something beautiful along the way, bring it home for your “beautiful table”. (Be sure this is not something that could hurt the local environment! No taking things that are habitats to wildlife, no stripping bark from trees, and no picking plants for example). Our beautiful table tradition comes from my teaching days. Each classroom had what we called our beautiful table. In a sense, it was a classroom altar but it was a wonderful way to encourage children to recognize and appreciate all kinds of beauty around them.
Make a fairy garden.
Or a dinosaur garden. Or whatever kind of fun fantasy world you and your family want to create. We’re big believers in fairies and elves and have already started laying the foundation for ours.
Run through the sprinkler on a hot day.
Not just the kids. YOU too! It’s not only refreshing but it just simply feels so freeing. Water balloon or water squirter fights are a great way to be a kid again too!
Read under the shade of a tree.
Spread out a blanket, grab yourself something cool to drink, and get lost in a great summer read. Or grab the whole family and a family friendly book to read aloud.
What is about being outside that makes everything a little more special? Sometimes when I’m dragging around and avoiding my yoga, getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine can make all the difference.
Go to a baseball game.
Get some junky stadium food. Cheer on your favourite team. Can’t (or don’t want to) head to a Major League game? Go cheer on your local team – or even a little league game. There’s just something about summertime and baseball to bring on those lighthearted carefree summertime feelings.
Get out on the water.
Take a boat ride. Rent a kayak or canoe. Float down a lazy river on a tube. Enjoy the calm and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Go on a staycation and be a tourist in your own city!
Even if only for one day, head out and explore your city. Take in your favourite attractions or head to a completely unknown neighbourhood and see what amazing new finds you can make. Be sure to build in some time to sit on the patio at a local cafe and do some people watching.
Go to an outdoor concert.
Most cities have some sort of outdoor entertainment during the summer. At our university, they often do classical music and ballet (sometimes opera) performances outside each summer. At another venue, they put on jazz and big band concerts. Finally, one of our parks hosts a folk festival while another has a big multi-day festival with rock and country bands performing. There’s nothing like hearing music performed live and outside. Take a picnic and make it a full day.
Speaking of festivals, t’is the season for festival fun!
Our city seems to have a festival going on at any given moment all summer long. The Pride Festival, Sunfest, Home County Folk Festival, and so much more! Find one that captures your interest – or maybe take in something entirely new that is the opposite of what you would normally choose. You might just find a new passion.
Go to a carnival, fair, or amusement park.
Hygge doesn’t always have to be gentle and quiet. Noisy fun can be just as cozy, happy, and fulfilling as a peaceful night around the campfire.
Go out for ice cream.
I think it’s all the better if it’s a spur of the moment thing – it just adds to the experience! I used to get my daughter out of bed on a steamy summer Saturday evening and announce that it was ice cream time. We’d head down to the local ice cream drive through (her still in her pajamas), put the top down on the convertible, and giggle while we had our favourite flavours.
So, how are you going to get your hygge on this summer?