How to Smell like Christmas

There are certain smells associated with Christmas that we don’t come across in the course of the ordinary year (i.e. the boring non-Christmas period). Now, I might be romanticising things here, but I have vivid Christmas memories of the exact smell of 1970s tinsel, the smell of roasting beef (we didn’t eat turkey) and Mum and Dad smoking all day. In the 1970s you were  encouraged to smoke all day and anywhere you pleased. Unimaginable now, I know, but the scent of cigarettes always takes me back to the family home back where chocolate advent calendars hadn’t been invented  and the internet was just a twinkle in the sky.

These days, any kind of foodie/boozy scent has me thinking wistfully of Christmas and I use it as an excuse to step outside my usual chypre scented comfort zone and into cosy, smoky gourmands.  Basically, I want to smell good enough to eat.

Here are five fragrances that have me salivating around Christmas time. They are rich, evocative, wintry and absolutely delicious. Dive in with me.  Sherry?

Zadig et Voltaire This Is Her

The plain white bottle from this achingly cool Parisian brand doesn’t look particular festive but it has dominant chestnut notes and lashings of whipped cream. This is an unusual fragrance, but I like it because of that.  They could have played it safe but no, they thought they’d confuse our brains with jasmine and chestnuts and whipped cream and cashmere wool and pink pepper and, did I say whipped cream? It sounds confusing but I promise you, this scent really works and I could happily plough through a whole bottle, and the body lotion and candle too. You can find it here.

4160 Tuesdays at Pitti

4160 Tuesdays Captured by Candlelight

With overtones of Cluedo and Agatha Christie in the intriguing title, this fragrance smells as Christmassy as a tangerine in the bottom of your pillow case. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Christingle service, but it reminded me vividly of that. What happens is that children attend a simplified Christmas service in a church (an old one for preference) and each child is given an orange with a candle embedded in it. Jutting out of the orange are cocktail stick with little Haribo gummy sweets on. Combine the old wood of church pews with the orange, the sweets, the candlelight and the flask of Baileys you have in your bag, and you’ve got Captured by Candlelight. Check it out here on the 4160 website, which is dangerously tempting at this time of year.

Hypnotic Poison

Christmas isn’t Christmas without some sort of marzipan encounter.  Hypnotic poison allows you to carry that scent around on your skin. With rich, boozy vanilla and thick, rich almonds, Hypnotic Poison is hard to beat, and very long lasting. By the way, just holding the pumpkin shaped bottle feels like magic. I keep thinking its going to turn into a tiny coach at midnight.  You can buy it here.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

The nose behind Hermes Elixir des Merveilles is none other than legend Jean Claude Ellena.  Famous for his blending, which is often described as having the delicacy of a watercolour painting, Elixir des Merveilles is a gourmand that has the kind of mouth-watering appeal that never feels too rich for a second helping.  To my nose, this smells like caramelised oranges, but without any stickiness.  Imagine a crème brûlée with slightly seared bitter orange fruit.  I’m not usually a fan of gourmands, except at Christmas, obvs, but this one has me drooling with undisguised avarice. You can buy it here.

Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla

Never let it be said that I don’t cater for all budgets.  This cheap and cheerful vanilla scent from trusty Yves Rocher stopped me in my tracks and made me check the price again. Twice. This is a rich, golden vanilla scent that smacks of boozy vanilla liquor, rather than the more commonly found synthetic cupcake note that sometimes poses as vanilla.  Not, this one, though, No Sir. Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla will make everyone ask what you are wearing. Even the most curmudgeonly perfume resister will be unable to stop sniffing you. Don’t blame me. Blame Yves Rocher! Oh, and the price? My 30ml bottle was the princely sum of £3.99 five weeks ago.

How about you?

What will be wearing this Christmas? Something cosy? Something new? Do you always wear the same fragrance at Christmas? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.

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9 thoughts on “How to Smell like Christmas”

  1. I have that little Yves Rocher bottle and I love it! I’m always up for a good cheapie. This is Her sounds so interesting. I just won a rollerball of DSH Chataignes du Bois on ÇaFleureBon and it also features chestnut, which is a note I haven’t encountered before but definitely screams “Holiday”!

    1. Ah! Trust dear Dawn to come up with the goods. I love her stuff. She is so versatile. It’s funny how chestnut feels just right at Christmas but I probably wouldn’t consider it the rest of the year. I love that you love Yves Rocher too! I’m always trying to convert people. xx

  2. I came to the conclusion a while ago that I can boil the smell of Christmas down to 3 scents ..orange, clove and Christmas tree. I’m sure that there are additions overlying it, but those are the basics, for me.

    With all three I know I would smell like a candle and have someone approach me with a box of matches and intent, so usually go for one or 2 notes…so the few years old bottle of Cinnabar (still smells great) will be dragged out on 24/12 for another year. I think it has a lot of orange blossom (possibly me favourite note) but so much spice, including my other favourite, clove. Think there may have been a reform but can avoid finding out for another year…

    Lovely post Sam, I truly enjoy the way you value niche and mainstream, cheap and dear…perfume is a pretty much essential part of life for many of us and your blog really understands that it can be good in many forms-thank you x

    1. That means the world to me Laura. What a lovely thing to say. I do try and include perfumes for every taste and budget. I’m sometimes on a lemonade budget rather than a champagne one, so the cheapies have been my friends during lean times.

      As for Cinnabar- you can’t go wrong. My fear is that they will stop making it one day as it fall out of favour so it’s up to the customers to keep buying it. I think it has been reformulated, but I still like it and we have to make the best of it these days. By the way, your summary of Christmas notes is spot on. You’re making me want to mull some wine! xxx

  3. My Christmas favourite is Body Shop’s Red Musk, which smells of Christmas spices. I have the perfume oil so mix it with moisturizer too for added Christmas tingle.

    My other Christmas cheapie is jacomo 08 from the art collection. It smells of rich spices and Christmas tea.

    Both need lots of respraying, but at this drowning in your perfume seems almost obligatory.

    1. I totally agree Rachel, in cold weather, bring it on, spray with abandon! It’s interesting that you mix this with moisturiser. I’m starting to think it’s the best way of keeping scent on. My friend wear the LUSH Karma lotion and doesn’t need the perfume. It lasts all day and is just gorgeous. I may well be a convert soon!

  4. Good to here that about Cinnabar Sam, I feel more confident about getting a new bottle now! I would miss it awfully if it went, so indeed yes, we need to support.

    (And so cold I’ve been tempted to crack the Lidl Gluwein stash, £4.99 a litre and lovely with an added dash of brandy and orange slices)

  5. I just found your blog after searching for reviews of Lancôme LVEB L’Eclat.

    My christmas perfume has been Armani Sensi since I got it back in 2003. It was my signature everyday perfume, but after it got DC’ed I started only wearing it in December to save it. I’ve paid a lot on ebay for extra bottles.

    A few days ago I smelled LVEB L’Eclat and I’m head over heels with it. I hope to get it for christmas and if now, I will buy it myself.

    That could be my new signature fragrance. For the past year Louis Vuitton Contre Moi has been it, but it started smelling wrong, so I’m taking a break from it.

    1. Hello Trine, I’m always delighted to get a new reader, thank you and welcome! I really like LVEB l@eclat, but dislike the original LVEB- it’s far too sweet. However, LVEB l’Eclat has really dialled down the sugar and smells great. I’m so glad you may have found another signature. it’s awful when your favourite gets discontinued, isn’t it? (Looks at last inch of Gucci Envy). I do hope my blog will continue to provide enjoyment. I’m so pleased you found it! Sam xx

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