Against a background of glitzy decorations, beautifully wrapped presents and festive fare, Christmas is as much a sensory experience as it is a sumptuous feast, and enhancing your space with the right fragrance is like the fairy on top of the tree.
Creating an atmospheric setting not only makes friends and family feel welcome, but placing scented candles in the main living areas, to complement your decorative scheme, can transform a home and set the stage for some nostalgic memories.
“ On Christmas Day, I always like to burn many scents together and create a unique scent for the day. Burning Feu de Bois and Ambre, both from the woody family, creates a scent of an open log fire and warm toasty marshmallows,” says Amanda Morgan at Diptyque. “I also like Pomander [orange and cinnamon], creating a warm scent like minced pies and festive treats.”
And that’s the joy of a perfumed glow - you can give guests a hint of things to come. And while decorating a mantelpiece or side table can look grand and impressive, with clusters of votives arranged among pine cones, red berries and cinnamon sticks, the idea is a simple one, and the secret is to focus on key areas where you will entertain.
“Take time to think about how you want your home to feel this Christmas, before you choose a colour scheme,” advises Debbie Wild, London lifestyle director at Jo Malone. “Red, green and white are Christmas classics, while you could go for something more unexpected with silvers and purples, for instance. The countryside is full of green foliage this time of year, from beautifully scented pine to holly, ivy and rosemary sprigs, to birch, beech and berry branches.
“Embrace these and use them as your base. Mix different hues of green, combining dark and lush pine needles with the silvery foliage of clean and fresh eucalyptus, and then nestle an aromatic pine and eucalyptus diffuser or candle alongside, to echo the arrangement.”
Morgan agrees: “It’s nice to choose a scent that works with your theme, whether it be pine or cypress to enhance the scent of your tree, or a spiced plum or warm orange to allow the smells of mulled wine and Christmas cake to fill the room.”
Or why not go one step further and burn candles with spice and gourmand notes, to fill your home with the scents of Christmas baking?
“Our Marron candle combines two of the season’s most delicious notes, spicy chestnut and mouthwatering vanilla, for an unexpected take on the Christmas theme,” adds Francois Henin at Jovoy.
Little touches, such as fragranced Christmas decorations which can be hung from a wreath or swags on the mantelpiece and staircase, are a wonderful way to add a subtle hint of spruce or fir, lift the spirits and get you in the mood.
Other additions, such as soft throws and velvet cushions, will complement more exotic, spicy scents, and if you fancy a touch of dark romance, snow white flowers, silvery green foliage, black candles and a vase of red amaryllis will create a moody, sensual atmosphere, and somewhere to snuggle up if you don’t have a roaring fire.
And while ‘tis the season for extravagance, the experts advise never to burn scented candles on the Christmas table.
“Scatter a few small fragrance candles around the area to allow for a subtle hint, without overpowering the smell and taste of your Christmas feast,” urges candle chandler Rachel Vosper.
By all means, go to town with fragrance-free candles in a beautiful candelabra to create the right ambience and halo of light, otherwise a trio of unscented pillar candles placed in the centre of the table will work just as well.
And for the last word, candle etiquette will reward your hard work and attention to detail. “To obtain optimum burn, always allow the entire surface of the candle to become molten, as this will ensure an even burn and prevent tunnelling,” says Vosper.
Don’t burn candles for longer than four hours, or less than an hour, keep wicks trimmed to 6mm and never leave a burning candle unattended.