10 Wonderful Scents Associated with the Holidays

No synthetic scent could compare to fresh gingerbread!
No synthetic scent could compare to fresh gingerbread!

Want to give your home a natural, traditional scent this season? Winter may be all about cozying up inside, but some of the most traditional scents are ones you’ll find in nature. From pine trees and oranges to fresh rosemary and dried cloves, try these ten Christmas fragrance ideas (all of which you can find in your home or nearby!) to set the holiday mood.


1. Pine, balsam, spruce, and other varieties of evergreens – especially ones used for wreaths, Christmas trees, and garlands – have a rich, woodsy scent. Candlemakers try to mimic this, but trust us: There’s nothing like the real thing.

2. Citrus fruits, seasonally available in warm climates at wintertime, are traditional gifts for a Christmas stocking. Sliced oranges, lemons, and limes are key ingredients in simmering or dried potpourri.

In Your Spice Cabinet

3. Warm cinnamon lends depth to your favorite cold-weather recipes (try adding some to baked squash or your favorite chili), and the spice is a common ingredient in pies, breakfasts, and other baked goods.

4. You probably wouldn’t want to bite into a whole clove, but when ground, cloves pair as well with meat and marinade as they do with apples or oranges. Try studding an orange with dried cloves for a room-freshening, all-natural pomander.

5. Fresh and dried (not crushed) rosemary sprigs look like little tiny pine trees themselves – which makes them a natural addition to spice blends for filet or to citrus-based cookies.

6. Don’t discount that little container of nutmeg, either: This is a key addition to holiday drinks (like mulled cider and eggnog) so the scent will be familiar, even if you can’t place it at first.

7. Natural vanilla enhances just about anything, whether it's a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to warm apple pie -- splurge on the naturally, not artificially, flavored version -- or a splash of extract in your favorite pancake recipe (just 1/2 teaspoon will give it a special kick).

8. Candy canes, anyone? Brain-boosting peppermint works in dessert icing, your favorite coffee, or homemade candies.

On Your Dessert Table

9. If you want your home to smell like the holidays when guests walk in, then time it so you’re removing a batch of fresh, warm gingerbread from the oven just as they arrive.

10. The smells that you’ll enjoy the most in your house are the ones that recall favorite memories of past holidays. Try making the cakes, cookies, or meals that you remember from childhood celebrations to give your home a holiday scent you can’t resist.

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