Crave a homey and welcoming approach to life in the new year? We asked Coloradoan Alexandra Gove of Hygge Life how to entertain with the Danish wellbeing concept of hygge in mind.
The Danish lifestyle philosophy of hygge puts cozy and comfortable conviviality front and center. It’s an especially welcoming way of being when cold weather rolls in and holiday get-togethers are top-of-mind.
Hygge in entertaining is a must, says Alexandra Gove. And she would know: Gove and her partner, Koen Renswoude, have built their personal and professional lives in Vail, Colorado, around the concept. Witness their business, Hygge Life, and the way the enjoyment they derive from socializing the hygee way.
“We have a lengthy blog devoted to setting the hygge table and how to host meaningful gatherings,” Gove says. You’ll find that on their site, hyggelife.com, and you’ll notice the principles are the same as for making a hygge home, which Gove goes into in inviting detail in our “Hygge Goes West” feature here.
To entertain with hygge in mind — even if it’s just you, you and your plus-one, or the family — first, design a comfortable dining space. “You want everyone around the table to feel at ease and linger for hours,” Gove says. “Think comfortable seating, sheepskins on chairs in the wintertime, a nice warm temperature. Candlelight, firelight, low light. Seasonal floral arrangements and tablescapes that bring nature in — even things like groupings of pinecones and small felled branches gathered on walks. And if it’s a larger group, think family style — sharing and connecting with the people around the table. The more food and wine, the more hygge! And keep the wine flowing!”
Or, if you’re like us and love breakfast anytime, you might throw a poffertjes party. Poffertjes are puffy mini morsels of pancake, usually served in a row of 10 and traditionally topped with butter and a healthy sprinkle of powdered sugar. Gove and van Renswoude say they’ve gotten to know this Dutch delicacy quite well by now.
When the two were traveling around Europe on a three-month van tour, they needed a source of income. “Since everyone loves poffertjes, we thought it would be a good idea to turn the Hygge Bus into a part-time food truck/general store,” van Renswoude says.
To arrive at their own special version to sell, the two began doing poffertjes tastings all over van Renswoude’s native Holland — at festivals, markets, and other foodie events. In the process of searching for a professional poffertjes pan that would allow them to make a lot of the puffy pancakes at once, they met a former poffertjes-stand owner, who not only sold them his 100 “dop” (divot) cast-iron pan, but also shared his secret recipe with them.
While they were living in Amsterdam, van Renswoude and Gove hosted their first event on their street sidewalk and shared poffertjes with family and friends while watching the Netherlands take on Spain, the first World Cup game. “It was a night full of hygge, and luckily, everyone loved the poffertjes!”
They’ve taken the tasty fun stateside now and have the occasional pancake party along with their other Hygge Life events in Vail.
“Not only do we have the best recipe in town, we also add yummy toppings to make them extra delicious. Butter and powdered sugar goes without saying, but fresh strawberries and whipped cream, dark chocolate flakes, cinnamon-sugar, rainbow sprinkles, and lemon curd add something special.”
Looking for the right word for yummy in Dutch? Lekker!