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9 Wonderfully Simple Ways to Make Your House Smell Like the Holidays

Sugar cookies. Fresh-cut pine trees. Hot apple cider. Some of the best things that come with the holidays are the wonderful smells that fill your home courtesy of all the traditional trappings of the season. Winter holidays would not be the same without this warm, cozy goodness.

“One way to evoke holiday memories into your home is by infusing the nostalgic scent of Christmas trees, vanilla, cinnamon, warm burning fires, and of course peppermint,” says Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert and a judge on NBC’s “Making It,” a DIY competition show.

So where should you turn to source these wonderful scents and make your house smell as festive? Follow these scent-sational tips from the experts.

1. Use fresh greenery

Wreaths, garlands, and arrangements filled with winter foliage go hand in hand with any holiday decor. Johnson suggests using real greenery in your floral displays or centerpieces at your table.

“Toss sprigs of sage, rosemary, or pine into your table centerpiece to pack an extra holiday punch in your dining room,” says Johnson.

2. Make pomander balls

Pomander balls—or citrus fruits pierced by whole cloves—can create a great smelling decoration to spice up your home. And that they are believed to ward off bad spirits and diseases and bring strength and fortune is a bonus!

To make, use any firm citrus fruit such as an orange or grapefruit. Carve a design into the skin of the fruit using a vegetable peeler. Poke a row of holes into the fruit with a toothpick to make your design. Push the cloves into the holes. Your beautiful, fragrant pomanders can be placed in a bowl as a centerpiece.

3. Light a scented candle

scented candle can easily set the mood for your home and can offer an immediate sense of the season. But go easy on the aromas.

“I feel most people overdo it, lighting candles in every possible holiday scent. That creates olfactory chaos,” says Diane Torrisi, owner of Diane Torrisi Designs, in Naples, FL. “My tip is to choose a favorite scent and keep it consistent throughout the house. Don’t forget the bathrooms!”

Her favorite is from Ralph Lauren, which she says is sophisticated and never overbearing.

“And please keep the scented candles away from the dining table that will clash with the wonderful food scents of the holidays,” says Torrisi.

4. Simmer a pot

A quick and easy way to fill your home with sumptuous smells of the season is by simmering a pot of water on the stove on low heat with orange and apple peels, cranberries, nutmeg, anise, cloves, and stick cinnamon.

A slow cooker can also be used to simmer the fragrant liquid.

5. Break out the holiday drinks

Who doesn’t enjoy a holiday beverage to kick things up? Mulled wine, apple cider, and hot cocoa can fill the house with irresistible aromas.

“Holiday beverages are also very personal choices. I would recommend taking a regular, like hot cocoa, and giving it a twist with a splash of Baileys, Kahlua, or RumChata—making it an original family drink,” says Torrisi.

Entertaining expert Mark Addison, author of “Cocktail Chameleon,” says his favorite holiday beverage is his signature cranberry sauce punch. It’s a Champagne cocktail that begins by stewing fresh or frozen cranberries with spices, orange peel, and dark brown sugar.

6. Bake some treats

The scrumptious smells of apple pie, gingerbread men, or sugar cookies baking in the oven will get guests giddy with anticipation.

“There’s nothing better than the aroma of freshly baked cookies, especially when they’re for Santa,” says Johnson.

7. Apply essential oils

Using essential oils during the holidays is a big part of holiday house preparation for Julie Lancia, who, along with her twin sister, Jodie Kammerer, runs the blog The Design Twins. She says essential oils can be added throughout the house to create discreet aromas.

“I love to add essential oils to a bowl of pine cones. Unlike candles, these are safe to use round the clock and provide a continuous mood-enhancing aroma throughout the season,” says Lancia.

8. Create cloth sachets

Homemade potpourris can make use of holiday aromatics like cinnamon, pine, and orange. But you might want to ditch the bowl presentation.

“Bowls of intense-smelling potpourri are a bit outdated and cluttered. Instead, all you need are cloth sachets,” says Addison.

To make a serene-smelling sachet, place the following items in a small linen bag: 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 star anise pod, 1 tablespoons allspice berries, and 1 tablespoon whole cloves. Keep the spices at room temperature for up to six months.

Addison likes to discreetly place sachets around the kitchen and living room.

9. Place holiday-scented hand soap in the guest bathroom

With the amount of guests you’re likely to receive during the holidays, your bathroom is likely to see a lot of traffic. Keep it smelling holiday fresh with soaps that smell like evergreen, peppermint, or orange clove.

“The bathroom can sometimes be overlooked as a room to decorate for the holidays,” says Johnson. “But a simple swap of holiday scented soaps can add an unexpected touch.”

By Ava Durrani, – November 13, 2019

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