When you reminisce of holidays past, whether you realize it or not, the aromas come into your mind as well as the holiday experiences. I could go into the science of this, the limbic system which is tied into the deepest emotional part of your brain. But this article is not about science, it’s about using what you have on hand or what you could easily get to make this season magical for you and your family.
Whether it’s Christmas 2012 or Christmas 1912, there are scents that we’ve all been enjoying exactly the same throughout history. However, something that is unique to this period in history is the opportunity that we have. It’s like no other in time and I shall explain this soon enough. My goal is to inspire you to get out there and find the opportunities that lie before us as we begin by creating a nice Holiday Potpourri.
What is in your garden or forest that summons you?
Most of us have some sort of nature around us, whether it’s just a tiny garden or a large piece of land. If you have children in your home, it’s time to take them by the hand and go for a walk into nature. Bring a basket with you as you collect anything that reminds you of the season. Pine cones and Holly sprigs are obvious choices. Pine needles actually give a lovely scent, while wooden and dried objects will be more for looks and also act as fixatives in your blend. Holly and anything with strong colors of red will give that cheery holiday look. Remember that your potpourri botanicals need to have longevity throughout the season, so think long term pine cones as opposed to delicate flowers that will just dry and turn brown. If you have flowers that dry well, such as Strawflower, Yarrow, or African Marigold, they will last throughout the entire season, making them perfect choices. Most seed pods and nuts will also work nicely and add a nice variety to your display.
What is in your Aromatherapy Treasure Chest that says ‘The Holidays’?
Hopefully by now you know what an essential oil is. If not, please visit our Research Room and study up on the subject or please visit your local bookstore to learn more about them (there are also some great book recommendations below). To me, aromatherapy via essential oils, resins, concretes and absolutes is a magical phenomena. These elements open up a world of scent, literally! At this writing you have the entire world to choose from when purchasing essential oils and other scent bases. You can find everything from the gift of the Magi, Frankincense and Myrrh from Somalia to exotically rich Rose Absolute from Morocco, and from warm and earthy Vetivert from India to fresh Fir Balsam from Canada. I honestly don’t think that this opportunity is as appreciated as it should be! There was a time when having these delicacies at our fingertips was just a dream, something that only royalty could possibly enjoy… if they were so lucky. But with the technological advantages that we have today (the internet and a wide range of shipping options), we can harness the power of the kingdoms of old in a matter of days! These really are incredible times that we live in. Now is the time to take full advantage of this extremely awesome opportunity.
Putting it together…
Now that you have your natural elements you’ll want to arrange them in beautiful bowls. Natural botanicals will generally look best in natural materials such as glass or wood. Look around your home and decide on where your potpourri will be going and then choose the proper bowls for each space. Clean your botanical elements well and let them dry completely before placing them in their bowls.
Now it’s time to choose your scents. The more experienced you are with blending aromas the more separate scents you’ll be able to blend together. Less is more when it comes to blending, so please keep it simple. You ideally should have no more than 3 different scents blended together in any one room. You may want to choose different blends for different rooms to set different moods. So for example, make your living room the fresh Balsam, Cinnamon and Orange room. Your bedroom could be the sultry Vetivert, Vanilla and Rose retreat. While your office could be the Lavender, Peppermint and Grapefruit den of ‘think’iquity. If you’re new at blending scents, try some in a small bottle first before you scent your potpourri. Once you’re happy with your blend, you can sprinkle your fixative items (wood, seed pods, cork, etc…) with a few drops. As the scent fades (which it will do after a day or so), add more of your blend. You should be able to smell the scent subtly when you walk in the room. It should not hit you over the head. To warm up a room with your scent quickly you can add a drop or two to a light bulb, then turn it on. The heat will help the scent to release into the air.
Another gorgeous holiday scent blend that has been enjoyed since the early days is citrus and clove. Simply poke whole Cloves into an Orange (pictured above). The Orange will last for several days, releasing the heavenly scent into the air for all to enjoy. I especially like this blend used in the kitchen. It also looks so cheery when placed in a ceramic bowl with other Oranges or Clementine for eating. If you haven’t tried this yet, make sure that this is the year you do. It’s an inexpensive way to make priceless family memories.
The seasonal scents traditionally used in cooking are an outstanding way to scent your kitchen in particular. My favorites are the ones found in gingerbread cookies. Ginger, Clove, Cinnamon and Nutmeg are obvious choices. But also remember Anise and Cardamom. Grapefruit and Lime are also fresh and inviting. Have fun and remember that you have many different rooms to experiment in. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t try to) use every scent you have in one room. The idea is to invite your guests in, not repel them. There’s nothing as wonderful as a delightfully scented holiday room. The more you experiment the better you’ll get at it. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season full of happiness and blissful scents!
Written by Sharon Houghton