10 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas

Fill every room with notes of spice, evergreen, and peppermint using everything from DIY stovetop potpourri to fragrant wreaths.

Photo: Kathryn Barnard

The holiday season is filled with nostalgia and notes of spice, evergreen, and peppermint. To infuse your home with natural, clean fragrance that speaks to this time of year, look to foraged items such as pinecones, citrus fruits, whole cloves, and balsam boughs. They come together in our best DIY projects and ideas—evoking citrus, spice, and everything nice.

stovetop potpourri using pine, berries, cloves

Stovetop Potpourri

Bring the woodsy smell of a winter forest into your home by slowly simmering pine needles, berries, whole cloves, and other spices in a stovetop pot.


Palo Santo Bundles

Into incense? You're in luck—and, perhaps, literally. When burned, these smudge sticks give off the scent of lemons and pine. According to legend, they are said to promote creativity, clear negative energy, and invite good fortune into your space.

Citrus + Spice December 2014

Citrus-and-Spice-Scented Candles

This homemade candle is scented with essential oils of cinnamon-bark, clove-bud, and cardamom. When the soy wax is melted and poured into a glinting copper bowl, it becomes a beautiful gift.

Relatd: Get the Citrus-and-Spice-Scented Candle How-To

Antonis Achilleos

Cinnamon Bird Ornaments

Adorn your Christmas tree with adorable gingerbread birds with fragrant notes of cinnamon and apple. You can decorate the ornament with glitter and beads. While not edible, they certainly smell good enough to eat.

Kathryn Barnard

Fragrant Fire Starters

Burn these muslin bags, which are filled with dried orange slices, sage, lavender, and eucalyptus, in your fireplace to fill your home with holiday spirit and fragrance.

Johnny Miller

Greenery Wreaths

The best holiday decorations look beautiful and smell nice, too. To make these fresh wreathes, use greenery clippings; bay laurel goes best with rose hips while rosemary pairs well with eucalyptus seedpods. The beauty of these miniature wreaths is their simplicity: They're easy to hang in a window and provide immediate, long-lasting fragrance.

scented pinecones with essential oils
Manal Aman

Scented Pinecones

Did you know that pinecones you forage during a walk outside can be treated with essential oils and displayed in your home? They emit a gentle, spice-forward fragrance—and are perfect for the holidays. Use them in a festive garland, a wreath, or a bowl of potpourri.

Balsam in fabric pack

Balsam Sachets

Muslin bags stamped with an evergreen motif and filled with fragrant dried balsam make seasonally appropriate sachets. Here's how to make these pouches, which you can tuck into clothing or linen drawers:

  1. Insert a scrap of cardboard into a muslin bag (available at specialty-food shops and online).
  2. Using a rubber stamp with an evergreen motif and a light-green ink pad, stamp design on the bag; let it dry.
  3. Repeat with a dark-green inkpad to create a shadow effect; let it dry.
  4. Write a message on a small gift tag, and string it onto one of the bag's ties.
  5. Fill the bag with dried balsam, then pull the ties tight and knot to close.
pomander oranges using cloves

Threaded Pomander Balls

Not only do these pomander balls look festive piled in bowls, but they emit a holiday citrus-spiced scent, too. And they're so easy to make—all you need are three items: whole dried cloves, beading cord, and your choice of mixed oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Here's how to make this decoration in four easy steps:

  1. Insert cloves into citrus at points of an arrow, diamond, or other shape, spacing them evenly around the fruits' circumference.
  2. Tie one end of cord around head of a clove, leaving a 2-inch tail.
  3. Wrap cord around each clove head to form desired shape. Some designs (like diamonds) may require tying off the cord after a couple of shapes and retying the cord to another clove.
  4. Continue wrapping cord around cloves until you reach the starting point. Tie together the end of cord and tail left at the start. Trim off any excess.
citrus garland on stairs

Citrus Garland

There's nothing like waking up on Christmas morning and being greeted with the heavenly scent of oranges as you rush down the stairs (towards the tree!). For this holiday garland, we used fresh bay leaves and real citrus fruits, but you could use dried slices, as well. With floral wire, attach small bunches of these leaves and kumquats in between citrus and add ribbon as the finishing touch.

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