'Tis the season! — and I'm trying not to get Grinch-y, as I often do at this time of year, when accumulated stresses and obligations (and NYC crowds) finally get to me. One way to stay calm, I find, is to turn to several scents that I associate specifically with the holiday season. I've worn them before, through holidays merry and not-quite-so-merry, and they remind me to stop and savor small, familiar pleasures at this all-too-often overstuffed time of year.
On one hand, Christmas is a time for tradition, and every year I reach for my treasured bottle of Caron Nuit de Noel Parfum on Christmas Eve. I find this fragrance wonderfully difficult to parse: it certainly includes oakmoss and some very dark rose, but I could also be convinced that it smells a bit like church incense, or roasted chestnuts, or a pine forest at night. In other words, it's just abstract enough to lend itself to various fanciful interpretations!
Then again, the holidays are also a time for simple coziness and guilty pleasures, and I frequently revisit Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Winter White (Holiday no. 4), an old favorite dating back to my MakeupAlley days. Winter White is "a soft white musk gourmand" that makes me feel as though I've been indulging in white chocolate and peppermints while wearing a cashmere sweater and a generous dusting of baby powder. It's a love-or-hate kind of fragrance, and I love it. ($6-$130 at the Dawn Spencer Hurwitz website)
LUSH releases a handful of limited-edition holiday products every winter, and this year I'm particularly smitten with Lord of Misrule Shower Cream. Its scent is a quirky balance of piquant (black pepper), earthy (patchouli) and creamy-sweet (vanilla) notes. If you were a fan of LUSH's Skinny Dip (discontinued long ago!!) you may like Lord of Misrule. (Historical note: according to Wikipedia, "The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.") ($9.95-$32.95 at LUSH)
A few years ago, I was shopping in one of Manhattan's department stores for a small-yet-fancy hostess gift, and I ended up lingering in the Antica Farmacista section. Not only did I find an appropriate gift, but I ended up trying and loving Antica Farmacista's Prosecco Hand Cream — a luxury, to be sure. Its fragrance notes are reportedly satsuma, muguet, apricot, passionfruit and black currant, but it really does remind me of a glass of bubbly with a few berries tossed in as garnish. ($18 for 2.5 oz.; also available as Bath & Shower Wash, Body Moisturizer, Room Spray, and much more at Antica Farmacista)
Most holiday-themed home fragrance smells too much like cinnamon buns, candy canes, or straight-up pine trees to appeal to me. For a long time I made an annual purchase of a Diptyque holiday candle, but last year I started shopping small and local with The Lucky Honeybee Apothecary's Christmas Hearth candle. Its scent is a subtle blend of citrus and evergreen and wood notes that feels festive without being too obvious, and it burns cleanly and evenly. ($10 for 6 oz., $17 for 8.5 oz. at the Lucky Honeybee Apothecary website)
How are you (and your abode) smelling this holiday season? Feel free to share in the comments!