The best Christmas scents – candles and diffusers to make your home smell like a winter wonderland

Start festive scentscaping with our pick of the best Christmas scents

Christmas candles, a bowl of bay leaves, and other Christmas scents set out alongside some baubles on a dresser
(Image credit: Future PLC/Maxwell Attenborough)

The very best Christmas scents are guaranteed to remind you, right from the very first sniff, that it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Now, plenty of people have been inspired to give their home a signature scent of late – and little wonder: using candles, diffusers, essential oils, room sprays and flowers to perfume your home is very much an extension of your home decor nowadays.

Rather than stick to the best home fragrance you always use, though, Christmas calls for something a little... well, a little special. A little merry, a little bright, and a lot festive on the nose. So, how to go about achieving all of this and more?

The best Christmas scents

When it comes to sourcing the very best Christmas scents, there are lots of places to take inspiration.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, frankincense, and sandalwood are all deliciously spice scents that are inspired with warmth, for example, making them the perfect addition to your favourite cosy living room ideas.

The orange, too, has been a big part of Christmastime tradition since the 19th century, when people began popping clementines in stockings hung over the fireplace. And there are plenty more scents that have become synonymous with the holiday season, too.

Decorated Christmas tree in a country style brown living room, white sofa, cushions, fireplace, lit fire, decorated mantelpiece, large mirror, coffee table.

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Blackmore)

'Here at Floral Street, we don’t create a Christmas candle or diffuser. It’s not that I’m being a Grinch, but we want people to be able to conjure up their own festive scent,' says Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street.

'Rather than trying to capture the smell of Christmas into one smell, we want to encourage people to scentscape their own homes by layering a few different fragrances around the home and choosing notes that mean something to them.'

Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street
Michelle Feeney

Michelle Feeney led MAC Cosmetics to become the world’s biggest make-up brand, before going on to become CEO of St Tropez. Nowadays, though, she is the founder and creative force behind Floral Street, a modern British fragrance brand with sustainability and eco-responsibility at its very core.

'Why not pop two different diffusers in one room and see how you like the combination?' continues Michelle, noting that Christmas-specific fragrances can be a little prescriptive.

'By choosing your own combination of a few different candles, diffusers or room sprays around the house, you can create something custom to your own home, and something that will evoke those memories for years to come. In this country, the festive season also smells different to different people – maybe you’re celebrating Hannukah or Diwali, so those typical notes of cinnamon and pine might not resonate with you.'

If you're looking to add some oomph to your Christmas decor this year, then, we recommend making sure you activate all the senses. Here's how to spread enchantment throughout your home with our pick of the best Christmas scents.

1. Vanilla

One of the best Christmas scents (albeit the most underrated) is the creamy and comforting tones of vanilla.

'I love this "good enough to eat" gourmand scent with its familiar and comforting aroma,' says Michelle, describing it as 'warming and welcoming to guests'.

'Burning a vanilla scented candle, like the Floral Street Vanilla Bloom creates a welcoming ambiance for any festive gathering,' she continues. 'Once this is done, then place a complementing diffuser in the room where you eat will create a joyful mood in that space.'

2. Citrus

Easily one of the best Christmas scents, not to mention the most traditional, the fresh and zesty smell of orange is one long associated with festive gifts, baking, and decor – especially if you like to dry orange slices for decorations in your air fryer.

Still, while clementines are the most famous Christmas fruit, that's not to say you can't broaden your horizons a little...

'To get me energised prepping for Christmas Day I’ll burn Floral Street Grapefruit Bloom candlesin my kitchen with their uplifting ingredients of bergamot and pink grapefruit,' says Michelle. 

'I love the bright and light feel to the space and this clean and crisp scent feels like freshly squeezed juice for the senses! I always say you should have your daily dose of upbeat optimism during the darker, winter months.'

3. Pine

To quote Ideal Home editor Heather Young, 'nothing beats the smell of a real Christmas tree' at this time of year – so it makes sense that pine (and fir) is considered by many to be one of the best Christmas scents of all.

'The festive season is when scents become less floral and it's more about picking pines and ferns from your garden and bringing them indoors to stimulate your senses,' says Michelle. 

'I always feel you should "go with the season" and this time of year these fresh and woody yet almost sweet scents perfectly evoke the feelings of winter.'

4. Cinnamon

We've already lauded cinnamon as one of the best ways to make your home smell good, but it's also one of the best Christmas scents.

'Smell is the strongest trigger for memories and when you want to create new ones, scent is a beautiful way to enhance and remember specific moments and special times of the year,' says Michelle.  

'I lived in the US for over a decade and I have such great memories of both Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of the scents that takes me back there is cinnamon with its warming, homely aroma that reminds me of the joyful gatherings with family and friends during that time.'

5. Open fires

Christmas is synonymous with chestnuts roasting over open fires, or so Nat King Cole would have us believe, so it makes sense that the scent of a cosy fireplace features highly among the best Christmas candles.

'At this time of year, I like to burn a mix of our smoky Fireplace Candle, which is reminiscent of warming, cosy evenings, and crisp White Rose Candle, because the scents and the mono chrome glass vessels beautifully complement each other,' says Michelle.

So, yes, consider freshly ignited logs and smoky bonfires one of the best Christmas scents around – but don't be afraid to add your own twist to them, be that with florals or fruits!

6. Woods and spices

Easily one of the best Christmas scents around, the scents of woods and spices are everywhere at this time of year.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for anyone who wants to add some woodsy and spiced magic to their ds and spices,' says Michelle., who advises you blend these with dark florals wherever you can.

'Our Floral Street Midnight Tulip candle is perfect for creating a cosy ambiance with its blend of iconic black tulip, incense, patchouli and powdery damask rose. Or you can just pop the same Scented Reeds in any favourite vessel, to boost that warm and spicy room mode.'

Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for anyone who wants to add some woodsy and spice magic to their Christmas decorations...


What is the best Christmas scent?

There are many scents that have become synonymous with Christmas over the years, but typical aromas associated with the season tend to be spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, and pine also features heavily. 

'You’ll also find plenty of foodie notes like vanilla,' says Michelle. 'This way, if you’re cooking in the kitchen and you have gorgeous smells coming from the oven, your home fragrance can enhance that rather than compete with it or overpower it.'

Citrus notes are also counted among the best Christmas scents, as are the likes of frankincense and myrrh (for obvious reasons!).

How do I make my house smell like Christmas?

There are plenty of ways to make your house smell like Christmas, from buying a festive candle, room spray or diffuser, hanging dried orange slices up around the fireplace, using essential oils, swapping out your hand soaps, or even simmering a pot of water with oranges, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.

What scent represents Christmas?

There are many scents that are said to represent Christmas, although many would agree that there's little better than the punchy fresh pine scent of a real Christmas tree! 

Remember, everyone has an opinion on the best Christmas scents, but the most important one of all is your own. 

Track down those smells that evoke memories of holidays past, whether that be fresh pine, punchy citrus, comforting vanilla, or something completely different (personally, this writer finds that rosemary – and chocolate – is the easiest way to invoke some festive magic in her house!).

Good luck with your festive scent-scaping, and may all of your base notes be merry and bright.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.