People with homes that smell like Christmas always use these scents (and they aren’t pine or cinnamon)

For a Christmassy fragrance, here are the best notes to scent your home

a christmas fireplace with garland
(Image credit: Crate & Barrel)

Scent is one of our most important senses at Christmas. There are so many nostalgic aromas to bring back fond memories; the smoky crackling fire, mulled wine, and the roast turkey fresh out of the oven. All are pivotal scents to our holiday experience, but how do people get their homes to smell like Christmas leading up to the big day, and what are the specific notes we should look for when searching for a festive home fragrance?

As we spend more time inside we become more preoccupied with how to make our home smell good. Some people's homes just smell like the embodiment of Christmas without feeling like you have been hit in the face with a cinnamon stick, and that subtle season scent is exactly what we're hoping to achieve. To find out how, we spoke to some scent experts to discover the perfect Christmas home fragrance, what to combine for the ultimate scent experience, and how to get the most out of your chosen products.

What makes the the perfect Christmas home fragrance?

a kitchen decorated for christmas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cinnamon is overdone at Christmas time. While we love the scent of fresh cinnamon wafting through the home as a result of home cooking, home fragrances using the scent can often be overpowering and synthetic-smelling.

In the best-smelling homes, a scent is chosen based on how it makes you feel. 'For us, it's all about warmth, nostalgia, and celebration,' says Jo Malone, scent expert and founder of Jo Loves. 'We create fragrances that bring the essence of the season to your home. Think cozy fires, spiced treats, and holiday joy.' 

The holidays are different for everyone which is important to remember when searching for your perfect Christmas aroma. It's equally important to think about how you want to make the space feel. For the living room Niko Dafkos, co-founder of home fragrance brand Earl of East, suggests the brand's smoke and musk candle. 'It's a cozy blend of green balsam fir, wood smoke, and musky patchouli, that offers the unmistakable comfort of a flickering fireplace,' he says. 

While this comforting scent might be perfect for social spaces, you might be looking for something more uplifting in your entryway, or extra relaxing for your bedroom, so keep this in mind when you shop. 

What Christmas scents pair well together?

a living room with a christmas tree

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

To perfect winter scent-layering, experts recommend pairing certain notes together to create an all-encompassing feeling. 'To maximize impact, layer scents from the same family,' explains Jo. 'Begin with a scented candle to set the mood, then use a room spray or diffuser for a consistent aroma.'

Mixing woody notes with warm spices is the perfect combination for a luxurious aroma. 'Winter calls for rich, comforting scents,' Jo notes. 'That's why we love mixing notes like cedar and sandalwood with spices like cinnamon and clove. Equally crisp notes like pine or eucalyptus paired with sweet vanilla or amber create a perfect balance, like a winter wonderland.'

At Christmas, there's no such thing as over the top. 'The more the merrier' are words to live by in the holidays, and the same should be said for candles. Lighting different candles in every room can help to create scent-scapes that differentiate zones, and they can also create gorgeous unique scents in the areas where they merge. 

'Our three holiday candles - Sapin, Délice, and Coton - each offer something quite different,' says Amanda Morgan from luxury fragrance brand Diptyque. 'Yet, when paired together, they conjure the most incredible holiday atmosphere.' Try creating your own fusions by pairing your favorite candles, diffusers, and incense together. 

How can we get more out of our home fragrance?

Dark living room with Christmas tree covered in gold beaded decorations and lights, with dramatic green foliage garland over mantlepiece

(Image credit: David Lawson Design)

After time you may go 'nose blind' to the scents in your home. To avoid this happening, we asked experts for their tips on how to get the most out of our home fragrances by really amping them up. 

General candle care is an easy way to ensure you get the most out of your scented wax, says Amanda. 'When using the candle for the first time, leave it to burn for two or three hours to prevent tunneling,' she says. 'We suggest using a lid or snuffer to avoid smoke and any splashing of liquid wax.' Regularly cutting the wick will also result in a more even burn, keeping your candle in the optimum condition for scenting your home.

Utilizing different methods of fragrancing your home can also help to create a more potent scent. 'Scented candles are an obvious choice but we find that mixing candles with incense creates the best atmosphere for relaxation,' says Niko. Natural ways to scent your home are also popular in winter. 'The addition of natural seasonal greenery in your home like pine, fir, and cedar branches, not only looks the part, but will enhance the seasonal aromas of your winter candles and fragrances, and vice versa,' Niko adds. This is a great way to amp up your scent this season.

Lastly, positioning is key if you want to create a real impact. 'Strategic placement in high-traffic areas ensures an immersive experience,' says Jo. Try a diffuser in the entryway to greet people as they move through the house and fragrance soft furnishings that hold scent well. Curtains, throws and cushions are all good options. Dowse them in a room spray and you will reap the rewards for weeks to come, and remember to rotate scents regularly to keep things fresh and avoid olfactory fatigue.

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.