What does Christmas smell like?
Is there anything better than the smell of Christmas? The right scent can trigger memories of Christmas past, affect our moods and emotions, and make us feel nostalgic. The smell of a real Christmas tree, an orange-scented pomander infused with cloves, and the wonderful whiff of mulled wine as it gently simmers on the hob are as much of a Christmas tradition as making a gingerbread house, writing a letter to Santa (or maybe tracking him these days), and wearing matching pyjamas.
Nostalgia and tradition play an important role at Christmas. The fragrances associated with the Christmas and winter holiday season really get you in the festive spirit. Indeed, the very words themselves conjure that seasonal sense of cosiness and warmth: cinnamon, mulled spices, oranges, cloves, hot chocolate and cranberries. Thus scents really help to create a festive ambience, whether in the home, the store or in a hotel. As Nina McLaughlin writes in her book Hammerhead: The Making of a Carpenter, “Sawdust spewed and dusted down onto the pavement, resting in craters in the cement, and the smell of pine moved with it, bright and clean, the smell of Christmas, renewal.” There’s something nostalgic in Christmas scenting – but also a hint of the new year to come.
In a survey commissioned by scenting experts Ambius, roast turkey was voted the UK’s favourite seasonal smell (36%), with Christmas trees (30%), cinnamon (27%) and mince pies (26%) following not far behind. Sadly, brussel sprouts didn’t do too well, ranking in joint 17th spot with just 7% supporting the festive dinnertime favourite.
With 80% of respondents indicating that it is these familiar scents that put them in the festive mood, scent can help businesses increase footfall and dwell time, influence impulse purchases and lead to loyalty and referrals. Across many industries, scent creates a deep connection with consumers and guests. It can help to link a place with positive memories and emotions and offer brands a way to establish a personal, human-centred relationship. But which smell should your business choose? Whether you’re a retail store, hotel, or car showroom, below is a pick of scents to make your business environment smell a bit more like the festive holiday season.
- Christmas tree
The fragrance of a real white pine or birch tree is a real favourite, with some 30% of people (particularly females) citing it as their favourite Christmas scent. That special fragrance comes from ‘pinene’, prevalent in pines and part of a class of hydrocarbons known as terpenes.
- Fir and balsam
A favourite variant of the Christmas tree, where pine mixes with a peppery base.
It has to be cinnamon, right? This key festive ingredient, found in mulled wine, bread, biscuits, panforte, porridge, leftover curry – to name but a few – is such a seasonal hit that 27% of people think the aroma of the bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum tree is the best Christmas scent of all.
The combined smell of fresh evergreens and pine needles stimulates the senses in tandem. Thyme notes sharpen focus, while sage notes relieve depression. Possibly more suitable come Boxing Day, after you’ve stepped on the scales, or when it’s time to go back to work.
- Mulled spices
The warming aroma of heated and spiced wine and cider, with combinations of cinnamon, clove, orange peel and peppercorns, create an incredibly cosy and nostalgic fragrance.
- Peppermint latte
Did you know that a cool, active peppermint aroma can help calm and focus during this sometimes over-busy season?
A warm vanilla fragrance is a time-honoured way to de-stress frazzled Christmas shoppers and creates a comforting Christmas.
- Pumpkin spiced latte
This combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove is an autumnal winner and a great glimpse of the holiday to come.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same with gingerbread. Particularly beloved in the US, this spicy combination conjures the baking traditions of the season and powerful childhood memories.