5 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas, According to a Fragrance Expert

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Interior white kitchen and light christmas decor. Preparing homemade cookies at kitchen. Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. New Year and Christmas concept.
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If you ask my daughter, Christmas season starts the day after Halloween. According to her, this means that from November 1st until Christmas Day you are obligated to do the following:

  1. Play (and sing) Christmas songs (loudly). She’s partial to Holly Jolly Christmas.
  2. Watch all the Christmas movies (including the bad ones). We love Elf most of all.
  3. Make your home smell like Christmas (whatever that means to you). This year she bought her own fake Christmas tree and a pine-scented candle to go along with it.

If you ask me, Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. Otherwise, I completely agree with her. And while holiday songs and movies are easy enough to find, holiday scents are a bit trickier. That’s why I asked my friend Abigail Cooke Stone, fragrance expert and founder of Otherland scented candles, for her best tips for infusing your home with an eau de Christmas. Here’s what she had to say.

Make pomanders!

If you’ve never made pomanders before, you’re missing out. “Pomanders are a delightful old-world tradition that smell just as divine as they are beautiful,” Abigail says. “The aroma of juicy orange and fragrant zest combines with spicy, festive cloves for a distinctive and memorable holiday aroma.” And making them couldn’t be simpler: Start with fresh oranges and use a skewer to poke holes into the skin in a decorative pattern. Next, fill the holes with the pointy ends of individual cloves. Make a few and stack them in a bowl. For a festive touch, wrap a ribbon around it!

Decorate with fresh greenery.

Around the holidays, you’ll find plenty of beautiful greenery at farmers markets and florists. “Fragrant branches of pine, spruce, and evergreen (as well as magnolia leaves, holly, and more!) are readily available and affordable,” Abigail says. “You may even be able to score some clippings for free that can be bunched together to create a decorative swag, wreath, or garland for your table.” To keep the fragrance fresh, make sure to mist your greenery on a daily basis.

Credit: Carly Diaz

Try stovetop potpourri. 

Stovetop potpourri is even simpler to make than pomanders. “Try a mulling spice blend or good ol’ cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom pods, along with orange peels and slices,” Abigail says. She also suggests saving any fully intact spices (aka not grounds or fresh) for simmering a second (or third) time.  

Credit: Leela Cyd

Bake something festive (and fragrant).

Bake almost any holiday cookie and your kitchen will smell amazing. Abigail is partial to classic butter cookies and spiced gingerbread. “The scents of holiday treats are filled with nostalgia and emotion,” Abigail says. “I love the multi-sensory element of holiday baking that makes it a truly memory-making experience.”

Use scented candles to enhance other scents.

Scented candles are wonderful for scenting your own home and also for giving the gift of scent. Abigail’s favorite trick is to augment holiday traditions that already have scents with candles that take the experience to the next level. “I love to elevate my experience of baking cookies by incorporating our Dessert First (gingersnap crisp / black cardamom / milky tea) candle while I’m decorating the cookies,” she says. “The deliciousness of the candle and the baking sugar cookies enhance one another marvelously!”

How are you making your home feel like Christmas this year?