Illuminating Fragrance: The Christmas Candle Dilemma

I love candles.  I burn more than one at least 3 times a week through every season of the year.  I am always happy to receive a candle for any occasion, birthday, anniversary, just because , however I do have a bit of an issue with the ‘Christmas candle’.  The ‘Christmas Candle’ is marketed during the festive season and generally has a fragrance that I would not like at any time of the year, let alone during the festive season.  It just does not work for me.

yankee christmas eve


Equally, a candle that I would love at any time of the year not just at Christmas that is marketed as a Christmas fragrance is also irritating.  Especially when to add further insult to injury, it is ‘dressed’ in snowflakes, pine cones, St Nicolas  jingle bells, nativity scenes etc.   Fine during the Christmas season but after January sixth I find myself hiding the Santa/snow flask glass holder when burning the candle, because it is no longer the festive season.

Christmas Tree Candle


Don’t get me wrong there are some great Christmas candles out there…(Origins Warming Candle really does smell divine)  but personally, I  don’t want to create the smell of snow in my home.  Snow belongs outside where is can melt and turn into sludge and go down the drain.  How does a Christmas cookie differ from a normal cookie?  I love the smell of pine, but frankly not only at Christmas and most of all, what does Christmas Eve smell like?

Origins Warming Candle


When I give candles as a gift, I don’t want them just to be burnt during the festive season and then put away til the next year, a candle is for 60 or 100 or 300 hours, not just for Christmas! For me a candle is mood enhancing, so if you are giving a festive candle, what kind of mood are you trying to create for that person?   Or are you just giving them a candle because you know they love the fragrance / brand ?  Or because  you can’t think of anything else to give them?  Fragrance is a very personal thing especially home fragrance.  Not all women want their homes to smell or roses, not all men like leathery fragrances and you can’t tell just by looking at a person whether they will love or hate lavender.  That said, a candle if you get it right, can be the most amazing gift, forever imprinting you and that fragrance in that person’s memory.

Roja Dove Candle


So, if you are giving a candle as a  gift at Christmas – here are some things to consider…

If you don’t know a person very well, an unscented candle can be a good option.  Unscented candles are beautiful in their own right especially if you give them more then one. Often labelled as church, pillar or alter candles they can be a beautiful centrepiece. My interior design buddy tells me that groups of three or five are very aesthetically pleasing.

pillar candles


Alternatively there are some beautifully decorated unscented candles too…



Are there people in your life whose job, family, work is stressing them out.  A calming fragrance is what they need.  Calming for one person is stimulating for another but generally I would steer clear of heady floral and resonant oud fragrances… (unless you know for a fact they love these fragrances).  A fragrance blend rather than a single note also works well as is means you are less likely to get it wrong.  They may not like ginger as a note, but blended with orange they may love it.





If you are gifting a candle to someone who likes me loves candle, you will no doubt know what fragrance family they like, so you can either go with a safe bet – a fragrance of brand that they are familiar with, or and this is my favourite kind of candle gift – you can introduce to a new brand

modern alchemy


jasmine and tuberose


If you are giving a candle to someone who is not a candle fan, but is a beauty fan, a nice way to introduce them to the joy of a good candle is via their favourite fragrance …

victor and rolf candle

Acqua di parma harrods source

… or skincare range

Molton Brown candle

this works


In the brain the  area responsible for smell (olfactory bulb), the amygdala (where emotions are processed) and the hippocampus (area responsible for associated learning) are interconnected.  When you smell a new scent you associate it with a person place of event so a scented candle really is a great gift.

Who are you giving a candle to this year?


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