Mark the 12 days of Christmas with a scent for every occasion. GABRIELLE FAGAN finds fabulous festive fragrances
WITH all the focus on shopping and decorating for Christmas, it can be easy to overlook one vital ingredient - how your home smells.
The right scents conjure atmosphere and enhance an occasion, whether it’s tangy pine or the sweet warming tones of vanilla.
“Imagine Christmas without all the wonderful scents it comes with and you’ll understand why home fragrance is so important at this time of year,” says Clive Harper, managing director of Yankee Candle Europe.
“The smell of pine from the Christmas tree, a pomander with the scent of orange infused with cloves, and the fragrance of fruity spice in mulled wine are all so familiar and as as much of a Christmas tradition as hanging up a stocking on Christmas Eve.”
The favourite scents for this time of year radiate comfort and warmth, from musky evergreens and warm cedarwood to the festive spice of cinnamon.
“Christmas is a time for nostalgia and tradition, for family gatherings and for remembering moments in time, and it is these emotions people seek to recreate and conjure with the home fragrances they choose. After all, smell is the most powerful sense for evoking memories,” says Harper.
There’s a vast array of fragrances to choose from, but Harper believes our scent memory is usually the best guide.
“It’s not so much a case of you picking a home fragrance, more that home fragrance picks you,” he says.
“Fragrance is deeply personal, you don’t have a choice between which scents you like and which you don’t. Throughout our lives we store information on smells, creating a complex stockpile of memories and associations, all of which have a huge impact on whether we like a fragrance or not.”
As a general guide, he says, lavender is a relaxant and a sleep aid, vanilla is comforting, floral scents are generally calming and fruity scents revitalise an atmosphere and are perfect for a party.
Lisa Hipgrave, director of the International Fragrance Association (UK), adds: “Contemporary fragrances can be lovely too. Some room scents recreate the fragrance of snow flakes and ice. These, crisp, cold, fashionable scents are achieved using ingredients with herbal, menthol nuances, as well as white floral notes and aldehydic notes.”
A scent can also complement our decor, she says. “So if you have a stark, contemporary look with white tree decorations with lilies and white roses on the Christmas table, the ‘snow’ scents could be perfect.
“If, however, warm red berries and flowers with red table napkins are more your thing, then the spicy warm scents of cinnamon and cloves may be the perfect choice to enhance the mood.
“Just remember that when your guests arrive the first thing that will greet them is the smell of your home. So set the scene by matching your room fragrance to your style.”
Say it with scent this season and choose from 12 festive fragrances...
:: SHOPPER’S SCENT: Evoke memories of successful shopping trips and Christmas markets with this uplifting, spicy scent. Inspiritus tin, £10, from Catesby’s (www.catesbys.co.uk/01328 711 591).
:: SOOTHE THE STRESS: When that ‘to do’ list seems never-ending, relax with the exclusive scent of a Tahitian vanilla flower, which blooms for just one day. Vanilla Flower luxury candle, £25, from Urban Apothecary London (www.urbanapothecarylondon.com).
:: COMFORTING RITUAL: Roasting chestnuts is a Christmas tradition you can conjure with this candle, which is also laced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and hints of caramel and cedarwood. Roasted Chestnut Deluxe Candle, £80, from Jo Malone (www.jomalone.com/0870 034 2411).
:: LET’S CELEBRATE: An essence of sparkling Brut Champagne mingled with hints of vanilla, barrel oak, apricot and coconut. Voluspa Maison Noir boxed candle in Crisp Champagne, £30, from Cuckooland (www.cuckooland.com/ 01305 755 621).
:: PARTY TIME: This rich sweet scent with fruity notes could create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Gold Dust, £22.75, from Yankee Candle (www.yankeecandle.co.uk/0845 050 2623).
Alternatively, an Amber Noir candle in a glamorous gold jar, £8, from Shearer Candles, has the sensual scent of tuberose, violets and amber (www.shearer-candles.com/0141 445 1066).
:: FLOWER POWER: Reward yourself (or someone else) with a floral bouquet of scent and a visual delight with this luxurious candle in a stunning container featuring Italian artist Piero Fornasetti’s iconic design of the mythical fertility goddess Flora. Fornasetti Flora scented candle, £99, from Selfridges (www.selfridges.com).
:: LETTER TO SANTA: Write those essential requests in a cosy atmosphere, with the scent of cinnamon, tonka bean and mandarin. Christmas Wish home candle, £42, from Neom (www.neomorganics.com/0870 460 4677).
:: ROMANTIC SCENT: Inspired by the vivid history of the country, Ward has conjured a floral, sensual scent with notes of Carnation, Sandalwood, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Patchouli, Amber and Cedarwood. The Gypsy candle, from £25, from Jonathan Ward (www.jonathanwardlondon.com/0118 948 4145).
:: TURN BACK TIME: This blend of woods and spicy amber, with a hint of incense, would appeal to both sexes and could conjure images of wood-panelled rooms and log fires. Dark Amber scented candle, £30, from Osprey London (www.ospreylondon.com/01582 877 205).
:: CAROL SINGERS: Greet visiting singers with a traditional Christmas tipple and the scent of wine and cinnamon. No25 Mulled Wine & Cinnamon glass filled candle, £7, from Boots (www.boots.com).
:: CHRISTMAS EVE: The warm balsamic aroma of frankincense is combined here with the smoky scent of myrhh for a restoring but stimulating scent so appropriate for the night before Christmas. Frankincense & Myrhh candle, £39, from Willow Organic (www.willowbeautyproducts.co.uk/01590 670 483).
:: CHRISTMAS DAY: Cranberry is an essential ingredient for the festive meal and these smokeless tealights, using natural oils, have a warm, fruity fragrance. 30 Wild Cranberry tealights, £3.99, from Lakeland (www.lakeland.co.uk/01539 488 100).