I don’t know about you, but I hate shopping. I Hate it. Especially in big box stores or endless malls. I find it so difficult to maintain perspective and focus on what matters. When I am trying to pick up a new candle or sweater, heading to the shopping mall always makes me feel like I need to pick up a new version of everything I own. I start getting convinced I need a whole new wardrobe and to completely redecorate my house. Their size is also, in my opinion, impossible to navigate in a short amount of time. I find them overwhelming, and the least hygge place in the world.
It’s tough to avoid shopping though! You can shop online, but with the wealth of availability of items online, you can end up having the same experience.
So what do I suggest?
When you can, incorporate hygge into your shopping experience. If you buy less, but buy carefully, this can be easy to do, and the added time, effort, and lack of convenience there is around buying extra things can save you from cluttering your home and emptying your bank account with a pile of junk you don’t need.
What do I mean specifically? Head to farmer’s markets, find boutique stores that work for you, buy local, and MAKE LISTS. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make lists. If you don’t make a list, you’re more likely to buy things you don’t need in anticipation of not wanting to come back to the store.
I’ll illustrate with an example. In the springtime, each year there is a week-long festival that celebrates indigenous culture in my neighborhood. They have music, food, sunrise prayers, and many beautiful displays of indigenous culture. I like to visit each year, and part of my visit is picking up soap for myself. Soap is a necessity, so I have to buy it anyway. I could buy it at the drugstore, but instead, I buy it from a vendor who handcrafts the soap with all-natural ingredients. The lavender soap is adorned with real, dried lavender, and she packages them in beautiful handmade paper. She also gives the different scents whimsical names, like moon dance. When I buy soap from her, I get to speak to her directly. Over the years I have met her baby son, learned about how she got her business going, and in passing she’s shared little bits of wisdom with me on her perspective on life. She lives locally, and by buying from her I am supporting a local small business. I know her business ethics and where the materials come from. Each time I visit, I walk around, hear beautiful music, and meet different people, all of whom share their culture and many of whom share their stories with me. It takes an hour or two, but I go once a year and then I have plenty of soap. It costs a little more than soap at the drugstore, but I can display it as decoration until I need it rather than spend money (and clutter) on an additional decorative trinket I don’t need. I’m also eliminating the less pleasing aesthetic of drug store soap.
I made this into an experience in two major ways. First, people. Enjoying the company of other people is very hygge. While guides on hygge tend to focus on the warmth and familiarity of friends, I like to expand on that by making that warm connection with the people in my community, or even people in a passing town. A farmer’s markets and festivals, the weather is warm, there’s music in the air, and vendors tend to be friendly and happy to chat about their business, especially if you catch them in a quieter moment. It’s easier to appreciate the value of an object when you get a chance to learn about the vendor’s inspiration, how it was made, and how much care and thought went into its creation. Hit up a market or small town shops with a friend, a loved one or on your own, and open your mind and heart to the people around you.
This is also a great way to buy gifts. Rather than panic each time a birthday or the holidays come up, keep loved ones in mind when you poke around markets and shops, pick up gifts for them when you find something they like, and save it for the next occasion. If it’s a unique piece, they’re unlikely to find something similar, even if their birthday or the holidays aren’t for a while. Summer is a great time of year for festivals, markets, and exploring small towns and there’s no reason you can’t keep your Christmas shopping in mind over the summer. This way, the stress that can mount over the holidays will be alleviated because you’ll have been proactive, and you didn’t even have to stress and plan – you were just practicing hygge!