Want to have a nice pre-holiday smell at home but loathe the ubiquitous spiced cinnamon that makes its way to every product associated with Christmas? I’ve done my research and am here to share the fruits of my labour.
Of course scents are something extremely personal, so you will go with whatever you fancy. Just don’t feel your home must reek of cheap vanilla for weeks before Christmas Eve (unless this is your particular thing, and I do not judge). As far as scents for home go, I tend to veer towards woody notes. I discovered incenses last year and have quite grown on them – regardless of their scent, they tend to have an incense-y smell on top, which is woody, which is something I like. I lived in a dormitory during my first year of university and there were some roommates who were very partial to cheap joss-sticks that one could buy at various small shops selling knickknacks. Fear not – there are many very nice incenses around without the migraine-inducing smell of amber.
Astier de Villatte incenses are very nice. They come in boxes of about 120 sticks, each burning some 20 minutes. I found the scent Atelier de Balthus during my last trip to Paris and was immediately sold. Turpentine, smoke, honey, cedar wood and tobacco. Very chic. Love it. Another AdV scent worth checking out is Jerusalem, which goes nicely with the Christian holiday theme should you look for biblical references. Jerusalem is cedar (surprise), cypress, oud and gum resin. The scent is very subtle (I have the candle) and thus suitable for homes.
Cire Trudon have been making spendy waxware since the 17th century, and some of their concoctions are truly exquisite. I really like their Prolétaire (very pure Lily of the Valley in the most sophisticated way there is), but it’s a bit summery and also the name does not bode well with the opulence of the season. Instead I can very warmly recommend Odalisque, which I discovered burning at the Céline (with accent) flagship store in Paris a year ago, while Phoebe Philo was still at the helm of the house and everything was sublime. Odalisque is a heady mix of citrus, wood, orange blossom and narghile, which Wikipedia tells me is an ancient tobacco pipe. I haven’t smelled anything quite like it – it manages to be discreet, heady, tangy and sexy at the same time. Put it on top of your Christmas wish list and do like me – only ever admire the candle in its box because it is too gorgeous to be actually burned.
For a more sober and affordable choice I quite like the Méditation -candle by La Belle Mèche Apothicaire. I’m on to my second candle now and like its unassuming scent. It’s a mixture of patchouli and incense essential oils. Méditation not as bombastic as its French sisters above, but does the job very well. Also it has nothing christmassy about it, yet it’s seasonal enough for the purpose.
Finally a favourite since the first time I convinced myself to spending insane amounts of money on candles: Feu de Bois by Diptyque. I’ve said it before and will say it again: you cannot go wrong with this one. Unless you hate the smell of burnt wood. In that case I don’t know what to recommend.