How To Entertain Scandinavian Style

How to entertain in true Scandinavian style this winter with Brontë Aurell

The winter months are on their way so what better time to cosy up, harness that hygge and entertain in stylish, Scandinavian style? Multiple-book author, ScandiKitchen founder and ‘hygge activist’ Brontë Aurell gives us her expert advice on how to capture the essence of Scandinavia at home this winter, from the food and décor to creating a welcoming, cosy atmosphere, and more.

As the winter months approach, it’s time to get cosy. Or should I say – hygge? And entertain in true stylish, Scandinavian style. But it’s not as simple as lighting a few candles I’m afraid - there is an art to hygge. Multiple-book author and ScandiKitchen founder Brontë Aurell is a font of knowledge when it comes to all things Scandi-chic, from tasty food and drink to authentic customs and culture, and she’s here to show us the way.  

“People think we hibernate in the winter because it is dark all the time. We actually don’t, but I do think we become more social in the winter because if we didn’t, we’d go mad inside our houses on our own!” she explains. 

“Christmas is a particularly social time of year for us – for example, every Sunday of Advent is spent visiting friends and family. And the Saturdays, sometimes, too. A lot of visits to be made and to receive. We drink mulled wine – which we call glögg, and we eat biscuits. When we’re not busy doing this, we are busy making the biscuits!” 

And speaking of biscuits, you can find Brontë’s fabulous recipe for serinakaker (that’s Norwegian butter cookies to you and me) below, as well as her expert advice on how to entertain in true Scandinavian style this winter.



The Scandinavians are synonymous with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, which is essential when you’re entertaining over the winter months. You want your guests to arrive, unwind and bask in the cosiness of your home.

“Re-creating our cosy living rooms isn’t that hard. Imagine what you would do if it was minus 15 outside with 2 foot of snow? You’d probably try to make it feel as warm inside as possible! So we do like our living rooms to be around 23-24 degrees at all times. This is no joke - we keep our houses very warm inside, when the outside is cold” explains Brontë.

“We also light candles, a lot of candles. Rarely scented ones though - that’s not very Scandinavian. We have light in all the windows – and our rooms usually have many small lamps to create atmosphere. If you have a real fire, light it! In my apartment in London, the fireplace doesn’t work, but instead I have a small metal table with 6-8 big pillar candles on which does sort of the same thing” she adds.  

“Finally, serve warm drinks, and bake things that make your house smell of cinnamon!”

 Kubus 4 Candleholder Grey


The Scandinavians are renowned for their beautiful, well-designed homes. If you want to add some ‘Scandi-chic’ style to your surroundings, then there are a few essentials that Brontë recommends. 

“I wrote a chapter on this in my book, Nørth – how to make your apartment look like it’s in Copenhagen. In it I talk about some iconic things that every Danish apartment has. Including mine, my sister’s and my parent’s house!” she explains. 

“We all have a Lyngby vase by Lyngby Porcelæn, a Kubus 4 candleholder designed by Mogens Lassen and a Louis Poulsen lamp is also a good idea.”

Lyngby Vase White

Lyngby vase (15cm) £48 www.scandinaviandesigncenter.com, Kubus 4 candleholder £126 www.skandium.com, PH 5 Mini Pendant lamp £470 www.skandium.com


Step away from the tacky tinsel and neon napkins, if you want to create a truly authentic Scandinavian scene then Brontë insists that less is most definitely more

“When it comes to decorations - keep it simple, never fussy” she insists. “We do not do excess. Go for muted tones and bring nature inside by using twigs and pinecones to decorate your table. We are the same when we decorate for Christmas - we keep it simple, with no garish tinsel anywhere! Less is more.”

Scandikitchen Image By Ryland Peters Small


Brontë and husband Jonas’ online shop is packed to the rafters with authentic treats to delight your guests with; their Great Taste Award winning Leksands large circular crispbreads make a wonderful centrepiece to get a crowd talking - try topping with Kalles Kaviar or award winning Västerbottenost cheese. Convert any anchovy avoiders by introducing them to Ansjovis, and a must on any smorgasbord is a creamy beetroot salad, homemade by ScandiKitchen

“If your guests are new to Scandinavian food, go for the easy winners – Swedish meatballs! And open sandwiches. People are always won over by those” enthuses Brontë. 

“For the more adventurous, I’d say give brown cheese a go - you’ll either love it or hate it. Or how about some of our salty liquorice?”

When it comes to drinks you can’t go wrong with a pack of Finnish Hartwall Original Gin tins - a refreshingly long drink made with gin and grapefruit, they’re best enjoyed ice cold and several at a time. Or you could serve the Scandinavian’s favourite drink – coffee.  

“We LOVE coffee and drink more than ANY other people on earth!” Brontë laughs. “Most Scandinavian households strive to have one of these iconic machines as they make the BEST coffee – by brewing at 5 degrees higher and keeping it hot. I want the copper one for Christmas – I’m in love!”

Smogrgasar Bronte Aurell

Three Salads

Moccmaster KGB 741 €249 www.moccamaster.eu 


Speaking of coffee – another rather wonderful Scandinavian custom that is perfect for cosy entertaining this winter is fika, pronounced fee-ka.

“Fika is a Swedish word that means to meet up for a cup of coffee and a bit of something to eat - usually sweet stuff” Brontë explains. 

“We do it usually twice a day and it is super important. You can’t do it alone, you always do it with people. It forces you to take time out from what you are doing, to go and connect with people around you for 5-10 minutes. It is all about togetherness.”

 Kubus 4 Candleholder And Second Image By Ryland Peters Small


One of the most sought-after Scandinavian concepts there is has to be hygge (pronounced hue-guh, not hoo-gah). In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people, which probably explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.

“To create hygge, you first need to know you cannot force it. It happens. What you can do, though, it set a scene and hope it does happen” explains Brontë.

“You need no phones, no distractions. We all got glued to our smartphones and forgot to be in the moment. Hygge is simply being in the moment you’re in, appreciating it as it happens, while you are in it. You can’t do that if you’re trying to be part of Facebook, the news and everything else at the same time. Being present allows for no interruptions. It’s impossible to hygge with distractions so I think it captured people because it was a simple way to reconnect and allow ourselves to relax for a while” she adds. 

“It has nothing to do with spending money on fancy woollen jumpers or candles. You can set the scene by lighting candles, yes, if that is something that makes you feel calm and present. Maybe you like drinking wine, so opening a bottle and sharing it with friends over a long chat is your hygge. Maybe you want to hygge on your own, so you put on your favourite TV show and make a huge cup of tea and cosy up in your favourite arm chair. But you don’t need to buy anything to make it happen. It’s free.”

Scandikitchen The Essence Of Hygge

If you want to learn more about Scandinavian living and entertaining, take a look at our recent Spotlight interview with Brontë Aruell over on TheEDIT. You can also see the ScandiKitchen in our Little Black Book.

Brontë has also shared her traditional Christmas Butter Cookies recipes for you to enjoy this festive season, see it over on TheEDIT

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