5 Ways to Make a Home Smell Amazingly Christmassy by Decorating With Fresh Foliage

Decorating with foliage not only looks festive, but it can create a Christmassy home fragrance, if you do it right

Home with foliage Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Future / Sarah Kaye Representation)

A home festooned with holiday decorations looks festive and fun. Yet it's scent that activates the olfactory part of the brain and creates fond memories. Decorating with fresh foliage is a surefire way to make your home smell Christmassy. 

From a real spruce tree to eucalyptus, laurel and rosemary; fragrant foliage - and even flowers and fruit - will evoke a festive feeling that you'll remember for years to come. 

'I love everything about the holidays - especially decorating with beautiful foliage and florals that fill the home with joyful scents,' says Chassie Post a lifestyle expert from 1-800-Flowers.com. 'It’s the perfect season to create memories with loved ones (and celebrate our favorite traditions) by weaving scent throughout the house. I enlist both traditional and not-so-traditional foliage and flowers to spread festive fragrance throughout my home.'

Here's the Christmas decorating ideas experts use to fill their home with beautiful festive scents, too. 

1. Weave scented foliage and fruit into an indoor wreath

indoor Christmas wreath over a fireplace

(Image credit: Future / Mary Wadsworth)

Evergreen wreaths are a festive tradition that hark back to ancient Europe, where they were likely used in the marking of the winter solstice (December 21st) in the northern hemisphere.  Hanging advent wreaths on our front doors has been a custom since Victorian times. However, a more recent trend is to hang the best wreaths indoors or place them on a mantelpiece. 

'I opt for tonal wreaths to decorate feature walls around the home,' says Whitney Bromberg Hawkins, founder of Flowerbx. 'Wreaths can even double up as dinner party centrepieces. A dried citrus wreath is wonderfully nostalgic with sliced clementines, cinnamon and lime, while an Alpine wreath has scented eucalyptus, orange slices and pine cones for festive fragrance.'

'Hanging a wreath on an interior door, a mirror or even a bookshelf looks lovely,' says Chassie Post, 1-800-Flowers.com's lifestyle expert. 'Keep an eye out for wreaths with leafy, mint-y and crisp smelling eucalyptus. If you don’t feel like hanging them, they also look chic and effortless leaning against the wall on a sideboard, console, or mantel. And they make a fabulous centerpiece laid flat on the dining room table!.'

2. Drape gorgeous evergreen garlands over surfaces

Nancy & Betty Christmas crackers

(Image credit: Nancy & Betty)

Evergreen garlands look gorgeous draped over a mantlepiece, along a table or around a bannister. Branches of fresh fir or spruce will add a festive fragrance. Yet, even a Christmas garland of faux foliage, can be bolstered with small branches of real scented leaves intertwined.  

Ask a florist what fragranced foliage they have, or forage in your yard or local woods for Wormwood, Tricolor sage or Laurel. 

'Any flat surface provides an opportunity to decorate and diffuse holiday scent,' says Chassie. 'From a kitchen island to a sideboard or mantel. A garland can look (and smell) as festive on the table as it does on a banister or around a door too. Instead of a table runner, arrange a garland of fir, spruce or pine down the center of your table.'

3. Add evergreens, herbs and fruit to a table centrepiece

Christmas table decoration

(Image credit: Future / Sarah Kaye Representation)

Foliage table decorations are a simple and stylish way to add Christmas scents to your home. Including herbs such as rosemary, potted firs and even pomegranates and other fruits in a centrepiece will add a subtle aroma to your space for the holidays.  

'I think of the dining room table as center stage,' says Chassie. 'Creating a festive tablescape with seasonal evergreens and foliage is easy, effective, and wonderfully fragrant. Traditional Christmas tale decor that features fragrant evergreens can really set the holiday tone. Add a plaid bow and some gold or silver jingle bells or ornaments for a jolly touch.' 

'Table-top trees made of herbs, like rosemary, can add to the aroma of holiday cooking,' Chassie adds. 'Or the calming fragrance of a lavender table-top tree can bring relaxation to a space.'

4. Bring in scented foliage bouquets or baskets

Willow Crossley

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Many of us include a vase or two of flowers when decorating for the holidays. For added seasonal scents, consider fresh foliage too in your Christmas flower arrangements.  

'A beautiful basket of evergreens stands-in beautifully and can be hung on a door, mirror, or placed on any flat surface - even the floor,' says Chassie. 'Another favorite of mine is fresh magnolia leaves that offer a more subtle scent. The smell of these beautiful boughs always transports me to my childhood in the South. 

'Their giant waxy leaves with velvet-like undersides have an earthy scent that reminds me of home. And I love that Magnolia branches and leaves are just as popular as their majestic flower.

'For drama, both in look and scent, I'd choose a bouquet of Candy Cane Lillies. The two-tone color way expresses holiday in the most glamorous way. 

'To carry their unmistakable scent throughout the house, I recommend cutting a few stems short and arranging in bud vases to place on coffee tables, side tables, mantels, powder room sinks and more. They also make memorable gifts.'

5. Choose a real fir tree

a real Christmas tree with decorations

(Image credit: Future / Sarah Kaye)

Many Christmas tree purists love a real fir or spruce for its scent as much as its traditional style, but which has the best fragrance?

'The Nordmann Fir is one of the most popular Christmas tree types. Along with its symmetrical shape, well-spaced branches and dark green foliage, it has excellent needle retention, making it an ideal choice for families with children and pets,' says Christmas tree expert Andy Little. 'However, the Norway Spruce is a more traditional-looking tree that emits a long-lasting fragrance and has plenty of branches, providing ample space for hanging decorations.

'The Fraser Fir is also popular due to its needle retention, dark blue-green colour and fresh scent,' Andy adds. 'With a little care a pot grown tree can be planted outside to enjoy year after year.'

'A real Christmas tree is not only a beautiful sight to behold, but the celebratory scent fills your home with the spirit of the holidays,' says Chassie. 'If you don’t have room for a big tree, table-top trees are a great way to decorate your space and offer the festive scent you're after.'

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.