Create an ambience redolent of Christmas with our pick of candles to enhance the festive mood. Some of the fragrances are also available in room diffusers, allowing you to layer aromas for background and more intense effect.
If you regularly use candles, try switching to a Christmas version this month - or how about giving one as a gift to that hard-to-buy-for person or unexpected guest? It's safer going Christmassy than trying to guess what style of fragrance might suit someone you don't know well.
My old favourite is Jo Malone's Pine & Eucalyptus candle and because I faithfully stow it when the tree comes down I still have a good chunk of last year's left to light up. Once I get my act together and dig out the decorations in a week or two, it will be reignited.
Cire Trudon also make a Nazareth candle that is sought out each year by fragrance aficionados. For affordable options, the Aromatherapy Co's old faithful Juniper Berry and White Thyme candle in a small glass lab bottle is hard to beat at $14.99.
This year, these three companies and a number of others have brought out additional Christmas candles, meaning there is plenty to sniff out.
If you widen the net beyond the strictly seasonal releases, then you will find other candles that still suit the season including spicy options from Diptyque, marshmallow from MOR, and locally made selections ranging from Curtis & Clarke's Pomander through to various native floral fragrances, such as pohutukawa from Banks & Co.
1. Nest Birchwood Candle $28.95
This votive-sized candle looks as pretty as a wintry forest scene and blends, appropriately, white pine, fir balsam and birchwood aromas over a base of amber and musk. A little line-up would look lovely on a white linen tablecloth. From East Day Spa and Spring Spa. See eastdayspa.com.
2. Aromatherapy Co Therapy Range Wild Pine & Holly Berry Candle $29.99
Perfect for giving to a work colleague or school teacher, this natural wax candle comes in a recycled brown cardboard box, with a smart red and gold sleeve tied with string. Its mellow pine aroma is sweetened with a happy mix of berries.
As well as this seasonal special, there are seven other natural wax permanent line Therapy Range candles, all fragranced with essential oils. These include the Therapy Kitchen and Therapy Garden choices. Find at Farmers or see thearomatherapycompany.co.nz.
3. Ecoya Caramelised Plum Pudding $49.95
This limited-edition candle comes in a smart, silver-lidded Madison jar and a colourful box. The aroma reminds me more of biscuits sandwiched with jam than pudding, but there's no denying the caramel top notes. I prefer Ecoya's Fresh Pine Needles candle which takes another seasonal twist.
It is not as purely pine as others out there, but the refreshing citrus mix suits our summer celebrations while also being nicely underpinned by the warmth of pine and rosewood. From department stores and selected gift and boutique stores. Stockists ph (09) 367 9471. See ecoya.com.
4. Cire Trudon Bethlehem $159
Joining the historic French candlemaker's limited-edition Nazareth and Melchior candles this season is Bethlehem, a silver stunner meant to evoke the night sky when Jesus was born in a manger. The fragrance is a warm, amber mix infused with spices, woods and musk. For the season, Melchior has also been introduced in a large size. From World Beauty stores, worldbrand.co.nz.
5. Diptyque Pine Wood Candle $106
Diptyque breaks into colour for its limited-edition candles and I adore the look of this green one, and an incense option in orange. Both are also available in a small size for $72.
The more traditional clear glass presentation applies to the permanent collection's Pomander and Eucalyptus fragrances. The Pine Wood fragrance is also offered in hanging scent ovals, with a gift box of three costing $136. From Mecca Cosmetic stores, meccacosmetica.co.nz.
6. Jo Malone Blue Spruce Deluxe $395
This new limited-edition large-sized candle from Jo Malone is a softer scent than the perennially popular Pine & Eucalyptus, but retains the Christmas tree associations. As well as spruce and cedar there are notes of cinnamon, patchouli and amber, giving it a warm roundness.
Deluxe versions of the decadent Pomegranate Noir and the summery Lime, Basil and Mandarin fragrances are also now available, alongside Pine & Euculyptus candles in standard ($130) and luxury ($840) sizes. From Jo Malone Britomart, ph 0800 JOMSHOP.
MOR Wick Trimmer $34.99 and Jo Malone Wick Trimmer $70
Choose from silver or black in these accessories for the candle-lover. Both are nicely boxed for gift-giving. Shop around also for decorative candle snuffers, which are stocked in some gift boutiques, or seek out silver ones in antique stores. MOR from Redcurrent, Smith & Caughey's and selected gift stores and pharmacies, or see morcosmetics.co.nz; Jo Malone as above.