If I could live inside an IKEA, I absolutely would —and now that I know about the IKEA Swedish FIKA afternoon tea event taking place at one very specific IKEA location in May, I am absolutely doubling down on that position. Offered as part of the IKEA Family program, the Swedish FIKA event introduces store patrons to the concept of fika by walking you through the whole thing. It sounds both delicious and entertaining… except that there is one catch: It’s only happening at one location that I know of. You’ve got to be near the IKEA in Manchester, UK in order to experience it.
(BRB, moving to Manchester and taking up residence inside the IKEA there.)
“Fika” doesn’t really translate directly into English; the closest we’ve got is “coffee break,” but there’s much more to the concept than that. The website SwedishFood.com calls it “a concept, a state of mind, an attitude, and an important part of Swedish culture”; considered by many to be an essential daily event, it’s a social event or ritual where you specifically carve out time in your day to share a cup of coffee or tea and a snack with your friends or coworkers. “All Swedes consider it important to make time to stop and socialize: to take a pause,” writes SwedishFood.com. “It refreshes the brain and strengthens relationships. And it makes good business sense: firms have better teams and are more productive where fika is institutionalized.” You absolutely cannot fika (which, yes, can also be used as a verb) by yourself; that’s just having coffee. The social aspect is necessary for fika to be… well, fika.
IKEA Family, meanwhile, launched in 1984 as the retailer’s rewards program — although unlike many customer loyalty/rewards programs, you don’t earn points or anything with it when you shop at IKEA. Instead, being a member of IKEA Family gets special discounts, café perks like free tea and coffee and BOGO frozen yogurt, and access to special events (of which the Swedish FIKA is one). According to the official IKEA timeline, IKEA Family currently operates in 16 countries covering 167 stores and has about 15 million members — and also, it is totally free to join.
I have no idea how I managed to go this long without knowing that this program exists. I love IKEA. I have spent more time either at its stores or browsing its catalogue than any human really should. And yet, I sincerely did not know it was even a Thing until today.
Sometimes, I think I am too obtuse for my own good.
Anyway, knowing about IKEA Family in advance would not have improved my lot with regards to the Swedish FIKA event anyway, due to the fact that I do not live in Manchester. As such, I am currently experiencing severe FOMO, because this event looks like it is well worth the £5 it costs: The menu includes your choice of canapes, prawn and egg or the vegetarian seaweed pearl and egg option; either a meatball open sandwich or a cheese open sandwich; "Krustader" (which IKEA’s grocery section tells me are basically crostini) with either herring or cheese and gherkin; Daim cake, which The Kitchn describes as “the love child of an almond cake and a Daim candy” (Daim being a kind of Heath bar-like sweet); cinnamon buns; cookies and biscuits from IKEA’s Kafferprep line; and (of course) tea or coffee.
But there’s more to the event than just the food itself; you’ll also have a “knowledgeable [member] of IKEA FOOD” on hand to “talk you through each section of FIKA” and explain “how it came to be a Swedish tradition.” Then you’ll make a few canapes yourself — and when you leave, you’ll walk away with your very own FIKA cookbook.
Yes to all of that.
The event is only open to people who are 18 or older; you can make a reservation for two people per booking, with every IKEA Family member being entitled to bring one guest. The £5 fee is per head, so if you’re bringing a friend with you, it’ll cost £10 for the both of you.
Of course, you will likely also be experiencing FOMO right now even if you do live in Manchester, because guess what? The event is very, very sold out. There were originally six sessions available — three on May 28 and three on May 29, with each sitting lasting for 45 minutes and starting on the hour, every hour beginning at 2 p.m. — but according to the event detail page, all of the sessions are currently booked up.
But hey, that doesn’t mean you can’t create your very own Swedish FIKA whenever you have a free moment. Instead of gulping down coffee at your desk, step away for a minute — and grab a friend or two who’s available then, too. Enjoy your drink, enjoy your snack, and enjoy the company. It might, as Quartz notes, be the key to creating a happy work environment for yourself — or at least one aspect of your work life you can adjust to give yourself a happier environment overall. Skål!