Design Holidays & Celebrations

11 Ways to Make Your House Smell Like Christmas

The aromas of gingerbread, pine, and peppermint are hallmarks of the holiday season. If you’re going tree-free this year and have no intention of baking, however, try one of these traditional ways to infuse your home with delightful, wintry scents.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Scents and the Season

Christmas enchants all the senses, captivating us with the sound of carols and jingling bells, the sight of decorated trees and brightly wrapped presents, the sweet taste of cookies, and the hugs and handclasps of holiday greetings. But it may be the smells of Christmas that delight us most. We treasure the aromas of balsam wreaths and garlands, mulled cider and candy canes, and those herbs and spices that enliven special treats that we make but once a year.

Unfortunately, you can’t be baking 24/7. Even in the most Christmas-y home, the smells of the season sometimes taper off. That’s when you can try some of these clever—and often visually striking—strategies for keeping those good smells going all season long.

Hang Fresh Greenery

Nothing beats the smell of fresh-cut pine. In fact, the scent may be the most appealing thing about buying a live Christmas tree! Use fresh winter greenery wherever you can, whether it’s in wreaths, garlands, sprays, or arrangements. The smell will permeate your home and put you in a festive mood.

Make Pomanders

Clove-studded fruits like oranges and apples have been used to mask odors for centuries. Making pomanders is a simple craft project even the kids can enjoy. After decorating the fruits, roll them in a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sandalwood oil to let them cure, and they should last for years.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Clean the House With Citrus

Scent Your Pinecones

Cinnamon-scented pine cones are in nearly every store during the holidays, but you can DIY them very easily. Wash and dry your pine cones after collecting them. Then spritz them with a solution of water mixed with essential oils like cinnamon, apple, or orange. Seal them in a plastic bag for 24 hours, then remove and let them air-dry.

Make Scented Fire Starters

Get the house warm and smelling great with homemade scented fire starters. Making these is just like baking cupcakes, only easier—and they’ll make the task of starting a fire easier, too. For a full tutorial, visit Hello Natural.  

Simmer Smells on the Stove

If you can boil water, you can make your house smell like Christmas. Simmer a pot of water on the stove and add aromatics like cinnamon sticks, pine, orange peel, and cloves. Check Rachel Schultz’s site for a full recipe. Before you know it, the whole place will be bathed with the warm, spicy scents of the season.

RELATED: 11 Super Simple Ways to Make Your House Smell Fresh

Mull Some Wine

Mulled wine fills family and friends with warm holiday cheer, and has the added benefit of making your home smell super Christmasy. Whether your favorite spiced wine is a quick-boil version or one you simmer in a Crock Pot all afternoon, the resulting aromas are sure to be, well, intoxicating. 

RELATED: Spiced Wine Recipe

DIY Some Peppermint Spray

The sweet and spicy smell of peppermint is an instant mood lifter. Make your own homemade peppermint spray by adding about 20 drops of peppermint essential oil to 8 ounces of distilled water, then pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the air, furniture, and draperies for a candy-cane fresh aroma.

Make a Liquid Candle

Etsy via The Halloween Witch

Create a custom scented lantern in a mason jar using a lantern wick and any oil that burns, even the olive oil that’s in your kitchen cabinet. Add your favorite aromatics, like vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, pine cones, or oranges. More cost-effective than a wax candle, it looks festive and smells delicious.

RELATED: How to Make Scented Candles

Stash a Few Sachets

The internet is awash in recipes for seasonally scented sachets. For one easy-to-make piney packet, all you’ll need is 1⁄4 cup of dried rosemary, pine and Balsam fir essential oils, an 8-inch square of cotton or linen fabric, and some ribbon or string. Tuck your sachets into drawers or incorporate them into your holiday decorations to infuse your spaces with the fragrance of Christmas trees.

Roll Out Some Scented Ornaments

It’s surprisingly simple to make a collection of scented Christmas ornaments. Sugar Salted‘s recipe requires just baking soda, cornstarch, water, and the essential oils of your choice. Cook over medium heat until thick, cool the mixture, knead it, roll it out, and use cookie cutters to cut the dough into the desired shapes. Make a hole in each ornament for hanging, then let them air-dry. Display these fragrant decorations on the tree, on wreaths or garlands, or on hooks throughout the house.

RELATED: 10 Clever Ways to Use Baking Soda for Fresher Indoor Air

DIY a Reed Diffuser

At any time of year, reed diffusers are great at releasing a constant flow of fragrance into the home. Change things up for the holidays by using fir needle, pine, orange, cinnamon, peppermint, or other Christmas-y essential oils in your diffuser. Get started with this straightforward tutorial from Sugar & Cloth. Don’t forget to flip the reeds when the fragrance starts fading, and be sure to keep your diffuser away from children and pets.