Christmas without a tree
November 23, 2011 3:33 PM   Subscribe

How do I make my house smell like Christmas without a tree?

One of my favorite memories growing up was the smell of a Christmas tree in the house during the holidays. For various reasons I don't want a tree (apartment, needles sticking in carpet, fire hazard, dogs), but want my apartment to smell like Christmas. I have a fireplace and am planning to bake a lot, but what can I do to get the Christmas tree scent while I knock back a few eggnogs?

Note: I'm not really interested in general "holiday" spice scents that smell overtly chemical or are overbearing. I want to get as closely as possible to the way a Christmas tree smells.

I know pine scented candles might be the way to go, but are there particular brands I can get? I'm scared of buying something on eBay for fear that it'll be a really bad sickly sweet parody of a pine tree.
posted by mikesch to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Get a nice fresh wreath from a store. (Our local Whole Foods, for instance, is having them on sale for 10 bucks this Friday. Then you get the visual as well. Smell it before you buy to make sure it fills the bill. Also, merry christmans.
posted by jcworth at 3:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you could get a wreath made with real pine boughs? It wouldn't eliminate the needles problem, but would certainly cut down on the number of them. You could hang it out of reach of the dogs.
posted by summit at 3:37 PM on November 23, 2011

My mother-in-law burns the pine candles from Pier1 this time of year. It's pretty darn convincing.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:40 PM on November 23, 2011

Make eggnogg with gin? Gin smells like a juniper tree.

...I'm joking, but also kind of serious.
posted by Winnemac at 3:42 PM on November 23, 2011

Fresh Balsam candle from Bath and Body Works!
posted by pised at 3:42 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

pinon incense ~
posted by hortense at 3:46 PM on November 23, 2011

Thymes Frasier Fir scent is absolutely great. I am very smell-averse, and this stuff is pretty natural and not overpowering. I have two little candles and they smell lovely even without lighting :)
posted by Madamina at 4:19 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, Big Dipper Wax Works has wonderful candles. I'm not sure how good the pine scent is offhand (combination of rosewood, spruce and fir scents), but if you ever made pomanders at home, their Rejuvenation scent (sweet orange and clove bud) is great.
posted by Madamina at 4:23 PM on November 23, 2011

Oops -- here's the link:
posted by Madamina at 4:24 PM on November 23, 2011

I have oil burners from The Body Shop (which use a tealight candle to heat fragrance oils in a reservoir above the candle) and while I don't see any "Xmas tree" scents in their current lineup, I've bought tree-scented home fragrance oils from them in years past that were definitely fresh and piney tree smells, not at all sweet. A quick Google is turning up "Blue Spruce" and "Silver Fir" Body Shop oils on eBay. I definitely found a little went a long way!
posted by flex at 4:27 PM on November 23, 2011

One of those pine tree scented car deodorizers.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:28 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yankee Candle has a variety of pine aromas and holiday themed aromas. I like Christmas Cookie and Balsam and Cedar. Bed Bath and Beyond usually puts them on sale this time of year in their "Fragrance of the Month" promotion.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:47 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

One of those pine tree scented car deodorizers.

Not unless being carsick in a taxi reminds you of Christmas.

I haven't used it in eons, but I remember Crabtree and Evelyn's Noel potpourri smelled wonderfully like Christmas. I seem to remember it smelled of pine trees and spiced oranges.

In the same vein, although a lot pricier, Diptyque makes amazing scented candles. The pine scent (Pin), Pompador (which is spiced oranges) and Feu de Bois (fireplace fire) either alone or together would evoke a Christmasy smell.
posted by kaybdc at 4:54 PM on November 23, 2011

I definitely found a little went a long way!

Yeah, I used Pine Needle essential oil in a diffuser for this last season and it worked well enough but if I went overboard it didn't smell much like a tree anymore. I think I'd try something the All Natural Maine Balsam fir linked above next time.
posted by Lorin at 4:55 PM on November 23, 2011

2nding the Fresh Balsam candle at Bath & Body. It smells like heaven at Christmastime, and I'm not even Christian.
posted by litnerd at 5:01 PM on November 23, 2011

We found these things at Michaels Craft store called "scentcicles.". They are skinny twig ornaments that give off a Christmas tree scent. Fantastic!!! $5 bucks for a little box of them.
posted by katypickle at 5:33 PM on November 23, 2011

2nding JCWorth above. A couple of charitable organizations here sell Balsam wreaths during the holidays. They have short needles and don't shed much (until they get really dry) The aroma is intense and really, really nice and lasts six weeks.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:02 PM on November 23, 2011

You can collect some pine cones and throw those into the fireplace; they're good for kindling anyhow.
posted by emeiji at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2011

(and leave them about the house as potpurri)
posted by emeiji at 6:27 PM on November 23, 2011

You can usually get the bits they don't need from the Christmas tree lots and make a garland from them.

That, and buy a wreath.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2011

Buy some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and star anise maybe. Put these out as potpurri.
posted by wayland at 9:28 PM on November 23, 2011

Best answer: Christmas Tree by Yankee Candle is very convincing and smells wonderful. If you buy from YC make sure you look online for coupon codes, you can get them much cheaper than 26 bucks a piece.
posted by SuzySmith at 11:25 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding pinon incense; it's wonderful. But the Christmas tree smell I love the most is balsam or Fraser fir (not Douglas fir, another genus)— like others have said without a tree you might consider a wreath, but I'd suggest one made from fir, it will still exude that particular wonderful scent and they do hang on to needles for a long time, especially if they're fresh when you get them.
posted by Red Loop at 7:42 AM on November 24, 2011

This is just one of the many Christmas tree room scent sprays. They're generally aimed at the growing fake tree market but there's no reason you can't just spray it into the air instead of on a tree.
posted by missmagenta at 7:46 AM on November 24, 2011

Best answer: There are a few different pine scented candles from Yankee Candle. I like the Mistletoe the best - smells just like a Fraser fir christmas tree.
posted by ourroute at 10:25 AM on November 24, 2011

Not tree-smelling, but definitely Christmas-smelling: get some oranges and cloves and make pomanders!
posted by arcticwoman at 11:39 AM on November 24, 2011

I know the perfect thing. Better than Crabtree and Evelyn's Noel is their Windsor Forest. It smells like pine/spruce/balsam trees. It is absolutely fantastic and only cost me $9 for the oil drops you put in one of those tea candle diffusers. It's made me so happy for the last two weeks...
posted by kitcat at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2011

If you go the fake scent route, IMHO you get a much more "natural" smell with scented candles and reed diffusers than with sprays or plugins.
posted by radioamy at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2011

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