Winter is very much here. If you’re in a northern clime, it’s time to hunker down and make the most of the great indoors. While we understand the seasonal slump here in the Northeast (Seasonal Affective Disorder is no joke), don’t feel blue. There are countless ways to cozy up and enjoy the perfect night in – whether you’re hanging with loved ones or just with numero uno.
In fact, the Danish even have a special word for this coziness feeling – hygge – which was an Oxford Dictionaries “word of the year” in 2016. As a company that makes staying home something to aspire to, Zeel makes hygge as easy to attain as your next Uber ride or Seamless meal.
Here are some great ways to maximize your indoor enjoyment this winter. Get cozy.
Warm the soul
- Bake cookies – Freshly made cookies are always a welcome treat as the weather cools down. Not only is the smell of baking sweets perhaps the essence of coziness, you’ll have plenty* to share with your friends, family, or coworkers the next day. Why not be the office hero in multiple ways? (*Make extra.)
- Make butternut squash soup – In chilly times, basic is beautiful. The more things you can pumpkin-spice, the better. Lattes, chapstick, candles, and even Kind bars can be found in pumpkin varieties now. One close cousin of the pumpkin is the butternut squash, which makes for a tasty seasonal soup. Whip up a batch for a fall dinner party, or portion it out for meal prep throughout the week.
- Curl up with a cup of tea and a good book – There are many health benefits to drinking herbal tea, and reading fiction is proven to make you happier. Win-win.
- Serve up some hot drinks – Heat apple cider in a crock pot (throw in a cinnamon stick for extra fall flavor) and voila: an easy seasonal beverage designed for sharing. Or, kick it up with a classic cocktail – hot toddies or spiked hot chocolate with Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) can warm the soul.
- Fire up s’mores – Few snacks are more nostalgic or engender warmer feelings than s’mores. If you happen to have a fire pit or fireplace at home, cooking them is an easy way to bring people together around warm, gooey marshmallows and chocolate. . If not, you can create your own DIY S’more station with a few household items.
- Try your hand at a new dinner recipe – Order from a subscription service like Blue Apron or Plated, and test your culinary skills. These meal prep kits help control portion size (i.e. keep you from adding a winter-ready layer of fat), and help you avoid shopping trips when you just don’t have an hour to spare. Simply hit a button and the ingredients come to you.
- Simmer a pot of spices on the stove – Set the scene in your home with the personalized scent of your choice. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, then add fragrant ingredients to enhance the warmth and coziness – from the invigorating mixture of orange rinds, cinnamon, and clove, to the relaxing combination of vanilla bean, dried lavender, and star anise, the possibilities are endless.
- Have a movie night – You’ve heard the phrase “Netflix and chill.” It’s not just millennials who would rather stay in and relax vs. going out on weekends. A recent study shows that a whopping 70% of people are opting to stay in and cuddle up with their pets and (we can only assume) some convenient in-home entertainment.
- Dress for the season – Flannel shirts, scarves, hoodies, and woolen sweaters are just a few sartorial ways to cozy up and embrace the cold air. They’re darn comfy.
- Change your bedding – Turns out, people don’t wash their sheets and linens as often as they should. (Every 1-2 weeks is recommended for a healthy home.) Jack Frost is on his way, too, so get yourself some crisp cotton sheets – or even snuggly flannel sheets – and a fresh down or down-alternative comforter in which to wrap yourself up like a human burrito. You’ll sleep better, feel cozier, and stay germ-free – which is especially important during flu season.
Bring loved ones together
- Host a dinner with family and friends – Treat your loved ones to an evening of good food and good conversation. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate or pricey affair – the company you’re in is what’s important.
- Throw a wine and cheese party – Two of the world’s most famous fermented goods go together like – well, wine and cheese. You can easily turn a modest outlay into a fancy gathering of friends, and you don’t even need to cook or leave the house. Plus, red wine has antioxidants, and a study from the The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry says it can burn fat and lower blood pressure, which improves your cardiovascular health.
- Start a book club – Sounds simple, right? There’s actually a fine art to organizing a successful book club. We won’t discount the logistical challenges and accountability obstacles. (After all, who wants homework as an adult?) However, if your group of pals are into the idea, a book club is a great way to bring people together on a monthly basis over shared interests.
- Host a board game night – Whether you’ve been Terraforming Mars for years, or are just starting to herd your Settlers of Catan sheep, board games are enjoying a revival, both in stores and in homes around the country. If you’ve got the people, the location, and the date all pinned down, but you still need some sort of activity to bring it all together, a board game may just be the missing link.
- Build a fire – Nothing says coziness like sharing stories around the fire (see: s’mores). If you don’t have a fireplace in your home, explore outdoor options in the backyard with these firepits for under $200. Or just use a microwave and your imagination.
- Make a candle – Smell is one of the most powerful senses, and it can enhance the relaxing environment in your home. Try your hand at candle-making – ideally with a scent themed to the season, or something like lavender or cedarwood to promote better sleep.
- Decorate for the seasons – Whether it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Festivus-for-the-rest-of-us, decorating your home can have a dramatic transformative effect. Even a simple change of color can affect your mood.
- Redesign a room – Take your creativity a step further and fully embrace the change of seasons with a change in environment. Have you been thinking about doing something with that spare room? How about turning it into an in-home spa? Construct your own peaceful sanctuary and make your indoor space a true getaway.
- Stay in a bed & breakfast or historic hotel – Maybe you’d prefer a home away from home this weekend. Consider booking a relaxing hotel, B&B, or Airbnb for a little advanced staycation. Turn your escape into a true experience by ordering an in-room massage from Zeel, delivered to your location in as little as an hour’s notice.
- Take a bubble bath – This simple luxury is great on its own, but can be even better if combined with one of the previously mentioned ideas (a glass of wine, a good book, or an in-home massage, for example). Beyond just feeling awesome, a warm bath has a number of health and wellness benefits – relieving stress, aiding sleep, and boosting brain power.
- Get a massage membership – Not to toot our own horn, but an in-home massage membership is probably the most enjoyable thing since the invention of massage itself. You don’t have to leave the house and drive all the way to a local spa; the licensed therapists brings the table and sheets to wherever you are; and you get a 5-star massage at a heavily discounted price. It’s the answer to your coziness quandaries.
Zack is a writer, producer and marketer with 10+ years' experience in the advertising, nonprofit and tech startup industries. He is currently the Education Production Team Lead at Foundr Magazine, a web site for entrepreneurship education and was previously Content Manager at Zeel. Learn more about Zack on LinkedIn.