The interplay between fragrance and memory prompts powerful emotions. Every season leaves a scent trail, but perhaps none more so than at Christmas. Help set the scene for celebration by tapping into some of those traditional aromas for the home.
Friends and family will enjoy entering an interior redolent of Christmases past. After all, the precious substances of early perfumery made an appearance at the very beginning of the Christmas story. As well as gold the Three Kings carried gifts of frankincense and myrrh - aromatic gum resins used to make incense - when they followed the Star to find the baby Jesus.
These days our Christmas fragrance memories are more likely to be inspired by pine trees and lilies or enticing aromas emanating from the kitchen. Handily these all feature in candles, diffusers and room sprays. With home fragrance always a popular gift, choosing one themed for the time of year is a nice touch. It also narrows the selection criteria considerably, especially if you are not sure what the recipient's preferences might be.
This year I've noticed far more Christmassy scents on offer. Crabtree & Evelyn and Jo Malone have long specialised in this, but other brands, local and imported, are mixing it up with spices, berries, exotic fruits and chocolate box temptations.
Ecoya has even set out to encapsulate the specific smells associated with Christmas in Sydney, London or New York.
Inhale deeply and take a trip.
1. Diptyque Frankincense Candle - $150
This Frankincense candle is one of three new Middle-Eastern inspired Christmas candles from the French company Diptyque. The others are Amber Oud (in red and gold glass) and Oriental Spruce (green and gold) and all are available in a smaller size for $78. (From Mecca Cosmetica stores or online at meccacosmetica.co.nz.)
2. Sir Elton John's Holiday Classic Candle for Nest - $69.95
Fir needle woody blend with citrus notes, comes in regal purple glass. A portion of the proceeds goes to the singer's Aids Foundation. (From Isabel Harris, Teed St, Newmarket.)
3. Aromatherapy Associates Relax Candle with Myrrh and West Indian Bay - $70.50
The spicy associations of this simple-looking mid-sized candle are richly inviting and will have unisex appeal. (From an English range new in at East Day Spa, SkyCity Grand, Auckland, eastdayspa.co.nz.)
4. Cire Trudon Nazareth Candle - $159
Cire Trudon have been making candles since 1643 and these usually come in dark green glass, but for their softly spicy Christmas one it's a rich ruby red (From World Beauty Stores, worldbrand.co.nz.)
5. Jo Malone Roasted Chestnut Home Candle - $275
Although it has an aroma more familiar in the Northern Hemisphere, this large-sized candle with a silver cap will still prove warmly enticing for a traditional Christmas table in this part of the world. (From Jo Malone, Britomart, or ph 0800 JOMSHOP)
6. Ecoya Holiday Caramelised Fig Holiday Candle - $59.95
Fruity foodie fragrances are all the go and this taps into the trend which may be a little sweet and rich for some. For those who prefer a more traditional touch, check out Ecoya's three seasonal city candles. I fancy Christmas in New York or Sydney. (ecoya.com)
7. Michel Design Works Balsam Fir Candle - $40
The packaging prize goes to this American company for its reindeer-decorated, jewel-topped box that only a Grinch wouldn't love. What's inside is pretty smart too, with a fine festive-looking soy candle. There's a matching soap for $20. (From Smith & Caughey's.)
8. The Aromatherapy Co. Noel Candle in Holly Bayberry - $29.99
With small candles (also in Cinnamon Spice) and diffuser sets (in Wild Clove & Cinnamon) both priced at $19.99, the Aromatherapy Co. is on the money in making home fragrance accessible. Made with essential oils, the fragrances are true. (Stockists see thearomatherapycompany.co.nz.)
9. Dunbar Sloane Cranberry & Ginger Room Spray - $34.90
This English range is elegantly boxed olde-world style as you'd expect as a sideline from a venerable auction house. Its home fragrance range includes a decanter-like diffuser at $99.90 (Smith & Caughey's or for other stockists ph 0800 503 500.)
10. Ashley & Co Tartan & Spice Home Perfume - $65
This sizeable New Zealand-made diffuser contains a nice scent mix of cinnamon and spice freshened with crisp apple notes that will see it long outlast Christmas. (From Smith & Caughey's.)
11. Crabtree & Evelyn Noel Home Spray - $26.90
Stow the vanilla, citrus and lavender room fresheners for the season and try this one instead. (Smith & Caughey and Crabtree & Evelyn, Newmarket.)By Janetta Mackay Email Janetta