There’s nothing quite like cozying up by the fire with a good book and a warm cup of cocoa. However, since I’m living in a Brooklyn apartment that might actually be equivalent in size to a fireplace, I’m forced to make do with candles.

I’ve made several attempts to winterize my space thanks to an array of scents: bonfire, vanilla, cranberry, evergreen. I’m swiping matches multiple times per day in order to capture the season, but not only am I running out of matches, I’m running out of candles.

Rather than head to the mom and pop store for a new scent, I decided to discover other ways to celebrate this festive time of year. There are plenty of ways to make your home smell like Christmas—without candles. If you’re looking for some alternatives, here’s where to start.

Step one: Take advantage of natural products.

cinnamon nutmeg and cloves


As lovely as cinnamon candles can be, nothing beats the real thing. Try boiling a pot of water with some cinnamon sticks to enhance a cozy vibe in your home. Lifestyle blogger Stephanie Gerber, the brains behind Hello Glow, is totally in favor of this option—for multiple reasons. “The boiling water releases moisture into the air in the form of steam; the same way as a humidifier,” she tells Chowhound. “The moisture in the air is great for the house—and [your] skin. To circulate the air, add a fan next to the stove to blow the air around a bit. Just don’t forget to keep adding water!”

Step two: Schedule wine o’clock.

Smoking Bishop (mulled red wine with port)


Any plan that throws wine into the mix is obviously worth pursuing. Making mulled wine—complete with spices and citrus—not only warms a cold winter night with a bold flavor and scent, but it adds a little gusto to an ordinary dinner. While you’re boiling that pot of water and cinnamon, find a couple of extra sticks for your drink. Get our Mulled Wine recipe.

Step three: Get your Betty Crocker on.


There’s no substitute for warm gingerbread men or sugar cookies during the holiday season. Baking Christmas cookies fills your home with a festive aroma and provides a treat at the end of the process, so this is clearly a win-win option. Plus, with these tips, you’ll be baking like a pro. Get ready for your house to smell like Santa’s workshop.

Step four: Find a fun DIY project.

Alexandra Wolf

New York City-based floral artist Christy Doramus, founder of Crowns by Christy, highly suggests making a garland. Assemble pine, pinecones (you can find fragrant ones at Whole Foods) and roses, and you’ll have a lovely centerpiece for your Christmas dinner that’ll smell just as lovely as the meal you’re preparing. Grab the goods—in addition to garden shears and florist wire—and get started. Here are the instructions Christy provides to Chowhound. This garland is destined to be an annual project.

First thing’s first: Begin with one stem of greenery and twist one to two stems of your accents to the greenery stem with florist wire, wrapping the pieces tightly together three to four times around.

Secondly: Continue this process, wrapping stems to the growing strand with florist wire until you have one piece of garland that is half of the total desired length. Repeat with a second half. 

Lastly: Once you have two halves completed, place the stem ends together and wrap them together tightly with florist wire in the center.

If you’re left with a few extra pinecones, take advantage with another craft that lets you decorate and utilize the fragrance. Visit Pinterest to get your creative juices flowing.  

Step five: Find some festive reed diffusers.


Though I might be partial to candles, there is always another way to access the aroma of Christmas. If you’re not too keen on keeping an open flame (totally understandable, especially if you have children and pets), reed diffusers can get the job done. Holiday Forest Pine and Cranberry & Woods are some delightfully festive options.

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