It just isn’t the holiday season without the smell of clove, pine, cinnamon, orange and cranberry floating through the air. But how do you accomplish making your home smell like a holiday wonderland without spending a fortune on air fresheners, harsh aerosol sprays or essential oil diffusers?
Don’t worry — there are several affordable store-bought and DIY options that will help you add a fragrant touch to your holiday decor. From garlands to stovetop potpourri, we rounded up a few ways to add some “scentsational” flavors to your home this season, featuring a few recipes from our favorite Michigan bloggers and a couple Ann Arbor stores that will have everything you need. Happy Holidays!
Light a Holiday Candle
One of our favorite parts of the holiday season is all the amazing candle varieties! There’s just something about scents like cranberry, evergreen, sugar cookie, fresh snow and cinnamon that really make the holidays feel cozy and inviting. If you want to take it to the next level, be sure to pick out a candle with a wood wick, which crackles as it burns! Our favorite spot in Ann Arbor to grab locally made, amazing-smelling candles is FOUND Gallery. Click here to peruse their current candle stock online.
Simmer a Pot of Spices
Did you know that you can make your own potpourri with items sitting in your pantry? All you’ll need is a pot, a stove (or a slow cooker) and some seasonal ingredients and you’ll have your home smelling like the holidays in no time! Just put some water or apple cider in a pot along with ingredients like cinnamon sticks, apples, oranges, cranberries, pinecones or rosemary and simmer on the lowest setting for a few hours. Here’s a list of some incredible stovetop potpourri recipes from Country Living that will help you get your home ready for the season!
Switch Out Your Hand and Dish Soaps
Washing your hands has become even more important this year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve invested in some fancy hand soap over the past few months. But did you know that hand soap—and dish soap for that matter—comes in more scents than just “Tropical Breeze” and “Lemon Zest”? You can actually buy all kinds of household soaps in scents like pomegranate, cranberry, clove, honey, peppermint and more. So switch out your soaps whenever the seasons change because nothing will help get you in the festive mood than sniffing seasonal scents whenever you wash your hands or do the dishes.
Microwave a Jar of Water Infused with Spices and Herbs
If you don’t want to leave a pot on the stove all day, there’s a faster way to get seasonal scents wafting through your kitchen—just use your microwave! Simply mix your favorite seasonal ingredients, like oranges and cinnamon or apples and nutmeg, in heat-resistant glass jars with lids, fill with water and heat in the microwave. Once you remove the lid, the scent will spread throughout your home. And if you want an even stronger scent, you can just keep reheating. Just be sure to use oven mitts to remove the jar from the microwave so you don’t burn your hands.
One of the best (and tastiest) ways to get your home smelling like the holidays is to get baking! Chocolate chip, sugar, gingerbread—no matter what type of cookie is your favorite, letting the scent waft through your home is an absolute treat. Check out this delicious holiday sugar cookie recipe from Michigan blogger Liz from The Lemon Bowl that includes plenty of icing to decorate them with! Or, if you’re looking for something slightly more savory, don’t miss Mandy from Kitchen Joy’s mouthwatering recipe for butter pecan cookies that will have your home smelling like a holiday pie in no time.
When all else fails, go back to the basics. The history of incense goes back more than 6,000 years, matching the first appearance of the first great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, so you know it does a great job. The aromatic stick releases a fragrant smoke when burned, which is used for aromatherapy, meditation and as another amazing way to make your home smell great. You can pick up some local incense for your home on The Himalayan Bazaar’s website!
Pomanders are clove-studded oranges that have been used for centuries to add a little perfume to the air and there’s no better time to break them out than during the holidays! Many people actually hang them from the fireplace mantle or on the Christmas tree as ornaments to add a little color and a beautiful smell to any festive space. You’ll only need a handful of household ingredients like an orange, some cloves, spices, a toothpick and a vegetable peeler to make those adorable decorations. Here’s a whole DIY guide that will help walk you through the process.
Put Vanilla Extract in the Oven
Perhaps the easiest DIY on this list, putting vanilla extract in the oven is a quick and simple way to fool your household into thinking you’ve spent hours at the stove baking cookies, pies and cakes for the holidays. Just put three to four tablespoons of vanilla extract into a small oven-safe bowl and place it in the oven at 275ºF for about an hour. In just a few minutes, your home will smell like a plethora of seasonal desserts.
Mull Some Wine
Nothing caps a night of holiday fun off better than a mug of warm, spicy mulled wine! It just so happens that this tasty beverage is easy to make AND has the added benefit of making your home smell amazing while it’s simmering. Check out this handy list of mulled wine recipes from the Michigan Wine Guy, which features some of our favorite local wines and wineries!
Make Fragrant Fire Starters
You’ve probably been baking plenty of cupcakes and bite-sized holiday appetizers this season, so you might as well get more mileage out of your muffin tin with aromatic fire starters! This exciting craft is simple: lined muffin cups filled with hot wax, spices, and herbs that can be placed in the fireplace to help get the aromatic fire going. Here’s an easy tutorial to get you started.
Perfumed Pine Cones
You probably didn’t know that Ann Arbor (also known as Tree Town) is famous for its abundance of trees. And it’s no surprise that with all those trees comes plenty of pine cones. While you could buy pre-scented pine cones from a local craft store, it’s actually very simple to do yourself! All you’ll need to do is pick up some dropped cones, wash and dry them, then spray them with your favorite vanilla, citrus, or cinnamon-scented oil and place them in a plastic bag for a day to lock in the scent. Then, all that’s left is to display them proudly in a shallow bowl or vase, creating a great smelling—and looking—decor piece that will last all season long!
Craft a Sweet-Smelling Garland
We know you’ve probably made the traditional popcorn and cranberry garland for your holiday tree before, but did you know that you can make holiday garland out of dried orange slices? That’s right! Just take some yarn and thread it through dried orange slices that you’ve cut out in fun shapes. Then, wrap it around your tree or use it on your fireplace mantle for a fun, great-smelling holiday tradition your whole family will love!
Have a Fragrant Holiday Season!
What is your favorite way to add holiday scents to your home? Let us know in the comments below!