Scents of celebration

With all the focus on shopping and decorating for Christmas, it can be easy to overlook one vital ingredient - how your home smells.

With all the focus on shopping and decorating for Christmas, it can be easy to overlook one vital ingredient - how your home smells.

The right scents conjure atmosphere and enhance an occasion, whether it’s tangy pine or the sweet warming tones of vanilla.

“Imagine Christmas without all the wonderful scents it comes with and you’ll understand why home fragrance is so important at this time of year,” says Clive Harper, managing director of Yankee Candle Europe.

“The smell of pine from the Christmas tree, a pomander with the scent of orange infused with cloves, and the fragrance of fruity spice in mulled wine are all so familiar and as as much of a Christmas tradition as hanging up a stocking on Christmas Eve.”

The favourite scents for this time of year radiate comfort and warmth, from musky evergreens and warm cedarwood to the festive spice of cinnamon.

“Christmas is a time for nostalgia and tradition, for family gatherings and for remembering moments in time, and it is these emotions people seek to recreate and conjure with the home fragrances they choose. After all, smell is the most powerful sense for evoking memories,” says Harper.

There’s a vast array of fragrances to choose from, but Harper believes our scent memory is usually the best guide.

“It’s not so much a case of you picking a home fragrance, more that home fragrance picks you,” he says.

“Fragrance is deeply personal, you don’t have a choice between which scents you like and which you don’t. Throughout our lives we store information on smells, creating a complex stockpile of memories and associations, all of which have a huge impact on whether we like a fragrance or not.”

As a general guide, he says, lavender is a relaxant and a sleep aid, vanilla is comforting, floral scents are generally calming and fruity scents revitalise an atmosphere and are perfect for a party.

Lisa Hipgrave, director of the International Fragrance Association (UK), adds: “Contemporary fragrances can be lovely too. Some room scents recreate the fragrance of snow flakes and ice. These, crisp, cold, fashionable scents are achieved using ingredients with herbal, menthol nuances, as well as white floral notes and aldehydic notes.”

A scent can also complement our decor, she says. “So if you have a stark, contemporary look with white tree decorations with lilies and white roses on the Christmas table, the ‘snow’ scents could be perfect.

“If, however, warm red berries and flowers with red table napkins are more your thing, then the spicy warm scents of cinnamon and cloves may be the perfect choice to enhance the mood.

“Just remember that when your guests arrive the first thing that will greet them is the smell of your home. So set the scene by matching your room fragrance to your style.”