Why Your Holly, Gezellig Holiday Starts with a Dutch Word (plus a DIY essential oil blend)

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This article is literally about those warm fuzzies that only your favorite friendships coupled with the warmth of a comfortable environment can produce, so I’ll tell you something a little personal.

My partner lives on the other side of the world—nine time zones and over 5000 miles (or 8000 km—we do a lot of math) to be more accurate—in the Netherlands. Aside from the typical LDR struggles (you know, like a 24 hour travel time with planes, trains and automobiles for a hug—literally), it’s an incredible adventure in communication and intention.

My songbird alarm sounds in the middle of his day so I often get to wake up to a sweet good morning message, but last week I groggily opened up a simple text that said:

“You guys are missing words.”

This was confusing on several levels—I’m just waking up for work and I work in words so my immediate response is “check the email, check the blog post, where’s the word? What do we need to do?” Then I realize who sent the text and I’m intrigued…

“what?”

The response was a wonderful deluge of information about this Dutch term, “gezellig” and the emotion and environment that it describes.

In one of those strangely coincidental same-wavelength happenings, when I did get to work our marketing coordinator asked me if I wanted to talk about hygge to the blog because she has been seeing that term everywhere. So I googled it and imagine my surprise when I realized it essentially means the same thing.

Since I don't have the personal experience with hygge that I do with the gezellig term I thought it would be fun to use this story to share a bit about this concept with you and help you capture this feeling with a homemade essential oil blend.

What is Gezellig?

Imagine you’re at a friend’s holiday party. There are a handful of people there, and you’re close with all of them. You’ve just finished dinner and the gathering has moved to the living room where you are all sitting, having a glass of red wine or a cup of tea and sharing a single conversation. The lights are a little dim—one lamp, the Christmas tree, couple strings of lights, and a few well-placed candles—and everyone is smiling and laughing together.

It’s warm in the room and it smells like a mixture of delicious food, dessert, the wax from the candles, and (every once in awhile) you catch the scent of the snowy outside on a friend’s sweater during a hug.

This cozy, comfortable, easy feeling is gezellig.

See? It took several sentences to explain in English what the Dutch have one word for. And the thing is—that’s one setting where gezellig is applicable. It’s a word that describes a feeling that’s deeper than the feeling of being cozy (I know, it’s like the most comfortable descriptive word you know just got flipped on its head, but it’s okay, it’s just gezellig) so it encompasses all of the nuance that comes with describing any emotion plus the concept that this new feeling word is also connected with the environment—which can really be any type of environment as long as you’re fully enjoying the company and the moment.

Bring Your Holiday Party from Cozy to Gezellig with Essential Oils

The word may be new, but this feeling definitely isn’t. It’s the feeling that all the Christmas carolers are sharing at your doorstep and the feeling you’re excited to cultivate at your holiday party—whether you’re throwing a silly sweater party or a classy soiree.

One of the best ways to hack an environmental feeling is with scent. Scent intimately tied to memory—and emotion—so creating your own essential oil blend for an occasion, especially one that encompasses well known scents of comfort, is a really great way to set the gezellig mood.

If you have a few minutes to make yourself a blend, try something like this:

My Gezellig Blend

Lavender. 1.5 – 2 parts. This is well-known to be comforting to most people. Lavender calms social nerves and helps people settle into the moment.

Sandalwood. 1.5 – 2 parts. The middle notes of sandalwood are warm and inviting. Sandalwood is traditionally used in meditations and has the evolutionary effect of initiating healing directly in our cells, starting with our olfactory receptors.

Pine or cedar. 1 part. This is the time of year for the evergreen trees. Cedar wreaths and snow covered pine trees fill us with the most comfortable feelings that truly center us by bringing us closer to the winter season.

Vanilla or patchouli. ½ – 1 part. I really like patchouli in my blends because it adds deeper notes that harbor warmth with a hint of sweetness and personal memories of good times with friends, but with it’s hippie history not everyone agrees. If you’re not a patchouli fan, or have friends that you’re not sure about, vanilla is a safer way to go it has the same effect—a little bit sexy along with adding that warmth sweetness you’re looking for in the moment.

Nutmeg or cinnamon. ¼ part. So this is another personal choice, both options are fantastic and they’re both really, really strong essential oils so only add ¼ part to a blend or only one or two drops. These are ultra warming and inviting scents. They fill any space with the possibility of warm pie and laughter—exactly what we’re looking for at our holiday party.

How to Make the Blend

So in the above, I used parts to explain my blend because you might choose to make your own blend in a dropper for continued use or you might add the essential oils to the water for your diffuser just for the night.

It means you might have to do a little bit of math—sorry, remember? I do a lot of math—but here’s the basic way to go:

If you’re just filling your diffuser for the night. I would say this will make about 2-3 cups of diffuser water. It’s not an exact science because it’s totally based on how you’re feeling and how strongly you like your room to smell so feel free to play with this recipe too.

1 drop nutmeg or cinnamon
2-4 drops of vanilla or patchouli
4 drops of your evergreen tree
6-8 drops of sandalwood
6-8 drops of lavender

If you’re making a blend that you can share, you’ll just need to multiply this recipe and put it into its own bottle. I like 5 or 10ml amber glass bottles that have either a diffuser top or a dropper.

Pro hostess tip: if you’re going to make yourself the blend, get a few rollerballs like these, fill them with a light carrier oil (like avocado or grapeseed), put 10-15 drops of your blend into them, and give them as gift to your guests. The scent will bring them the most gezellig memories.

Tell us a story that is the most gezellig in the comments below.

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  1. Justine says

    Your recipe is purrrrfect for our furry friends Sol and Moggy. I will put some on their fur and when the guests are loving them up the guests will get the essence into their Being and our furry friends will feel gezellig too! Mmmmm peace from Mother Earth

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