What home fragrance experts use to make their homes smell amazing at Christmas – aside from candles

From Jo Loves to The White Company, we ask fragrance experts how they scent their homes for the holidays

Mulled wine with orange slices and cinnamon sticks
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Scents are incredibly evocative, and it's never quite as obvious as over the holidays. Knowing how to make your home smell great for Christmas will not only delight your senses, but instantly signal to every friend and family member who comes by that the festive times are here. 

A lot of us head straight to candles when scenting our homes. However, as much as we love the best Christmas scents in that form, it's far from the only option at your fingertips.

How to make your home smell great for Christmas – what the professionals do

Who could possibly know more about scenting your home than fragrancing experts? Exactly. 

So we've gone straight to the pros to not only find out how to make your space smell gorgeous without lighting a single candle, but how they do this themselves in their own homes each December.

Jo Malone CBE

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)

'I find joy in creating a multi-sensory experience at home during Christmas,' Jo Malone CBE, founder of Jo Loves. 'Beyond candles, I love to infuse different scents throughout various spaces.'

'For the living room, I might use Jo Loves A Fragrance Diffuser in Christmas Trees, Plum Pudding or Snowflakes, creating a festive aura. Clean citrus notes, like those found in our Seville Orange & Neroli, Jo Loves A Lifestyle Fragrance are perfect for the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.'

'In the dining room, I enjoy mimicking the garden with fresh herbs and the fragrance of lemon or orange trees. For cosy spaces, warm wood and clean notes such as vetiver and amber work beautifully.'

Floral Street

Mulled wine with orange slices and cinnamon sticks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Typical aromas associated with Christmas tend to be spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, and pine also features heavily in my home over December,' says Michelle Feeney, founder of Floral Street. 'But you’ll also find plenty of foodie notes like vanilla – I’m a big fan of using vanilla fragrances around the holiday period, as it’s so warming and welcoming to guests.'

'Don't be afraid to layer a few diffusers or scented reeds around the home to create your own custom scent. I like to add bright, festive colours into my home too. The Floral Street Midnight Tulip diffuser with its vivid red jar, looks beautiful alongside the yellow of the  Vanilla Bloom diffuser. The smells complement each other gorgeously – they're rich, warm, and enigmatic fragrances. Why not pair with some festive dried flowers too?'

'Food smells are also hugely evocative for me during the festive season. Personally, I think you can't really beat a bubbling pot of mulled wine in the kitchen! It truly fills the home with natural fragrance, especially if you add some cinnamon or cloves.'

'The focus of gourmand can be continuous throughout the home, especially during a festive period, so a woody, spicy scent in the living room to embrace that wintery feel using the Santal diffuser paired with Midnight Tulip scented reeds moving into the dining room can create that festive scent scape from room to room that lasts the full festive period.'

The White Company

A living room with a teddy sofa and a decorated Christmas tree

(Image credit: The White Company)

'Room fragrance sprays are perfect as an instant refresh – a quick spritz is all you need. I use Fir Tree in the sitting room where we have our tree as it delivers a beautiful 'true' tree scent which is so Christmassy,' says Mark Winstanley, chief creative officer of The White Company.

'Fireside is warming a relaxing and the nearest you can get to having lit a real fire and our best-selling Winter will always inspire with its notes of spicy cinnamon, clove and orange – it really does mark that Christmas is coming – use in the hallway as it is so festive and welcoming.'

'Diffusers are an easy way to scent space – set up and forget ! Scent infused liquid with a number of richly aromatic essential oils that deliver fragrance through rattan reeds. Switch up the number of reeds to boost scent or create a subtler fragrance.'

'We are lucky to live in the country and have a lovely garden so gathering greenery and branches to fill the house at Christmas is my job! These and cuts from our tree provide something quite nostalgic - a scent that captures the magic of winter.'

'And don’t overlook an electronic diffuser, I can’t recommend one enough. Just add water and one of our fantastic scented oils for up to 16 hours of scent delivery.'

Charles Farris

Cinnamon sticks and powder

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Though scented candles are our bread and butter, I love the simplicity of reed diffusers,' says Timothy Duggan-Rees, retail director of candle company Charles Farris. 'Their distinctive designs are subtle and prominent simultaneously, so they blend in perfectly amongst other festive decor. I currently have a winter spice-scented diffuser by the front door, so I’m greeted with a festive aroma whenever I walk in - it’s perfect for getting me back in that cosy Christmas spirit.'

'Christmas is also a great time for experimenting with more homemade scents. The warm, spicy scent of Christmas is rooted in entirely natural ingredients that you can place around your house. Instead of sourcing from a bottle of essential oils fill a small bowl with cinnamon sticks, pinecones, and dried orange peels in the living room or hallway. This will add warm, earthy colours to your home and a similarly natural scent reminiscent of the season.'

'My last suggestion - whilst not explicitly Christmas themed - still brings the fragrant power of nature to your home. If you have lavender growing in your garden, pick out a bunch, tie them together with some string, and leave them to dry in a dark, warm room for about a week.  Alternatively, set the stalks in the oven for 10 minutes at around 100 degrees Celsius until dry. Once dried, place them in a tall container like a glass vase, and put it anywhere in your house you want to relax, like the bedroom or bathroom. The fragrant power of nature to relax, alleviate worry, and invoke memories of years past will never fail to amaze me!'


Dried orange Christmas garland in window.

(Image credit: Future)

I'd always much rather opt for natural ingredients over artificial, and my number one favourite is dried eucalyptus, it looks so good and gives off an incredible fragrance,' says Poppy Wall, co-founder, Eym 

'Going into your garden or the woods and foraging holly, pinecones, and foliage also creates an incredible seasonal smell, also it looks lovely and good it's so good for the soul to get out in nature.'

'My favourite Christmas essential oils are Vetiver and Frankincense, they are deep and woody, so they complement a fire beautifully.'


How can I make my house smell Christmassy?

Christmas is a wonderfully fragrant time in the home, but you can boost this even further with some tactical thinking. Of course, you can use the best Christmas scents in the form of candles and diffusers - when in doubt look to the classics of pine, cinnamon and citrus.

If candles, specifically, are your vibe, then lighting the best Christmas candles will ensure your home is hitting all the touchpoints, adding scents but also that a cosy atmosphere thanks to gently flickering flames.

Then, of course, are the natural elements. Pick up whole cloves, available on Amazon and stick into oranges to enjoy the two scents mingling together. Add vases of fresh eucalyptus around the place, too, to add a fresh layer to your scentscape.

How do you make a fake Christmas tree smell real?

The age old dilemma of artificial Christmas tree or real tree often boils down to one thing - the smell. But luckily, that's easily solved with a few thoughtful touches. 

One of the easies way to make yours smell fresh and real is by adding clever Christmas tree scent sticks from Amazon. These slender sticks are deep green to disappear into the branches of your tree while they produce a festive aroma from within the branches.

You can also add a few drops of Pine Needle essential oil from Amazon into an oil burner in the same room as the tree.

Finally, as we heard above, the Fir Tree Collection from The White Company offers a range of ways to add that classic pine scent into your home and the space around your tree, whether from candles, diffusers, oils or home sprays.

So there we have it - how the fragrance pros themselves make their homes smell beautiful at Christmas. A mixture of room sprays, diffusers and taking advantage of natural scents. Smells like the festive season to me!

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.