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How to Make Your House Smell Amazing (for Pennies)

Created March 9, 2017
Make your home cozy and welcoming for the holidays with stovetop simmering potpourri. It’s easy. It’s natural. It smells great. And it’s waaaayyyy cheaper than those fancy candles.

Adding a festive smell to the air goes a long way to getting everyone in the holiday spirit (even more so than decorations), it’s a nice touch to greet guests, and hey, it’s a wonderful treat to yourself, too.

Lots of people turn to fancy (and, let’s be honest, expensive) jarred candles or wax warmers to get the scent of the holidays in the air. But there’s a cheaper, easier and 100 percent natural alternative to all that: simmering potpourri.

The method couldn’t be easier: Place the scent ingredients you like in a pot with water, then place on the smallest burner on your stove at the lowest setting. Add more water as needed while it simmers throughout the day. Soon, your whole house will smell amazing—and for a fraction of the price.

Below you’ll find five festive scents to try, but feel free to experiment with making your own favorite combo. You really can’t mess this up! Let’s make your house smell good.

Blend #1: Apple Pie

Want your house to smell like you constantly have a warm apple pie bubbling away in the oven? Then this scent is for you. All the smell, none of the hassle of making a pie crust.

To make: In a small saucepan, combine 1 sliced apple (sliced around the “equator” for maximum prettiness), 3 whole cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon whole cloves and 1/2 vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons extract).


Blend #2: Clementine & Clove

This scent balances the clean, citrusy smell of clementines with strong spice notes of cloves. Clementines are wonderful because they are in season during the holidays, but feel free to use whatever citrus fruit you like.


To make: In a small saucepan, combine 2 sliced clementines (sliced around the equator for prettiness factor), 2 tablespoons whole cloves, 1 tablespoon allspice berries and 1 tablespoon crushed cardamom pods.


Blend #3: Sugar Cookie

Get the smell of sugar cookies without actually having four dozen cookies kicking around your house. The key to this scent is lots of vanilla. For the best results, use fresh vanilla beans, or sub in real vanilla extract if you’re having a hard time tracking down the beans.


To make: In a small saucepan, add 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon extract) and 1/2 cup brown sugar.


Blend #4: Peppermint & Pine

Another appropriate name for this scent combo: December in a pot. The key to getting this potpourri nice and fragrant is fresh ingredients. Grab fresh peppermint sprigs from the produce section of your grocery store. And next time you go for a walk, take a pair of scissors with you and snip a few (just a few!) evergreen sprigs.


To make: In a small saucepan, combine 4-5 fresh evergreen tree sprigs, 2 whole cinnamon sticks and 4-5 fresh peppermint sprigs.


Blend #5: Gingerbread

This potpourri relies heavily on—you guessed it—ginger. Skip the ground ginger you get in the spice aisle, and instead grab yourself a hunk of ginger root from the produce section. Don’t worry about getting through it quickly because ginger root freezes well. Just plop the root into a zip-top freezer bag and stash in your freezer. When you need some, just grate or slice off what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.


To make: In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger root, 3 whole cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 1 tablespoon allspice berries, 1 tablespoon crushed cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns, 2 tablespoons molasses and 1/2 vanilla bean.