Much of what makes our house feel like home over the holidays is the cozy accents, inviting wall decor, and festive ornaments—but there’s one aspect of decorating that simply cannot be overlooked: making your home smell like the holidays.
And somehow, without even explaining, you know this means—cinnamon and clove mixed with warm vanilla, pine, and fresh tree trimmings—there’s a distinct scent, and keeping that in mind can help you design your home with intention and holiday cheer this season.
Here are some tips from the experts on getting that smell naturally (and easily) into your space.
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Create Scented Ornaments
Of course, we’ve all heard of scented candles and have probably added them into our homes, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and more. But, when it comes to holiday decorating, you can get a little creative.
“Make your own odorous ornaments!” shares Aya Bradley, Home Design, Indoor Plant, and DIY Editor at The Golden. “Mix your own dough of applesauce, cinnamon, and regular old white glue. Then, use a rolling pin to flatten portions of the mixture between plastic wrap. You can then use cookie cutters to make the shapes you want. Poke a hole at the top with a straw so you can attach the string later on. Cook them in the oven until they harden.”
Not only is this non-toxic and easy to create on your own, but these DIY-designs also double as decorations for your tree or mantel.
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Diffuse a Christmas Oil Mix
Whether you swear by them or simply like the smells, adding an intentional mixture of essential oils to your space can create all of the Christmas vibes.
“Create a mixture of cypress, cinnamon bark, myrrh, sweet juniper berry, and wild orange to come up with a festive winter scent,” shares Joshua Blackburn, founder and Director of Design & Constructional at Evolving Home. You can put the mix directly into your diffuser, he says, or you can simply add it to a spray bottle.
A few other ways you can add essential oils to your home are by putting a few drops on a dryer sheet or dryer ball and adding that to your laundry process, spritzing towels and sheets, or spraying centerpieces (and even your tree) to spread the scents throughout your home.
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Keep the Drinks Flowing
One of the easiest ways to make your home smell like the holidays is to keep a hot, batched drink on the stove at all times. An easy one is apple cider with added spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pumpkin, or cloves. Hot chocolate, eggnog, or a holiday-flavored coffee work, too.
“You can even make pine needle tea,” shares Theresa Tesolin, co-founder and Chief Editor of RusticWise. Simply gather and clean pine needles and steep them on your stove, then add honey or sugar for flavor.
If you’re not into the drinks as much, you can steep different holiday ingredients solely for their smells. Orange peels mixed with cloves, cinnamon, cranberries, and even rosemary can do the trick. Just make sure you don't leave a stovetop on and unattended.
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Clean With Intention
There are, of course, many ways to upgrade the smells of your home, but what about shifting how you clean? Kyrie Luke, Founder of Healthfully Rooted Home, shares a few cleaning tips that go a long way in terms of holiday smells.
“Mix baking soda and pine essential oil and sprinkle on your carpet before you vacuum,” she says. This is a rather simple tip, but a great way to freshen up your space while giving every room a holiday smell. Luke also encourages essential oils, but rather than just spraying them here and there, she suggests sprinkling the oils inside of garbage cans to reduce unpleasant odors.
You can also upgrade your soaps to more winter-themed scents: pine, cinnamon, or even vanilla, which not only make your hands smell good, but the entire bathroom, too.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Make Homemade Potpourri
If you’re looking for another natural, DIY approach, create your own smell-good potpourri mix. Start with whole fruits and herbs, for example, oranges, pine, cinnamon, apples, etc.
“Slice your fruits into thin strips and lay them on an aluminum covered baking sheet,” shares the interior design team at Retro Designers. “Bake at 200 degrees between 2 - 4 hours flipping occasionally or until dry. Once baked, you can display baked fruits in a decorative bowl or vase, sprinkling in sticks of cinnamon and sprigs of pine. [Or], you can also use baked fruits to make a potpourri: simply add fruits and spices such as cinnamon, pine, etc. to a saucepan along with 1 1/2 cups of water and simmer on low until fragrant.”
You can also use the baked, dried fruits for a scented garland, strung together with needle and twine. However, just be cautious about making this too overwhelming as far as colors and scents. Sometimes less can be more for the perfect fragrance.
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One of the easiest (and perhaps cheapest) ways to make your home smell like the holiday is to do more of what you’re already planning on doing—baking. From roasting yams and chestnuts to making a batch of Christmas cookies, there’s no doubt about it: the holiday vibes spread through your whole house when you bake.
Baking is a great way to make the house feel cheery and create a ‘homey’ feeling for any guests you have over. And the best part? You don’t have to spend anything more than what you already were spending on the ingredients.