The ITG Guide to Holiday Fragrance

Tocca Brigitte
Philosophy Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Demeter Pumpkin Pie
Demeter Cranberry
Noble Isle Whiskey & Water Hand Wash
Guerlain L'Homme L'Eau Boisée

Every beauty site and her sister has a holiday fragrance roundup with suggestions like “Has your mom ever heard of… Oscar de la Renta?!?!?!” “What about Pink Sugar? Your little sister will L-O-V-E it!” “Shalimar is the ideal gift for your aunt’s cousin’s life coach,” etc.

Which is why we decided to do something a little different. The perfumes in this story aren’t for the holidays, they just smell like the holidays—trees, foodstuffs, snow, the whole deal. So if you've ever wanted be a Douglas Fir, or if you've considered attracting suitors with the irresistible bouquet of whiskey toddies, this post is for you, you (cranberry) saucy minx. Let’s get you whiffed up like the inside of a Christmakkuh diorama, shall we?

Things That Smell Like Delicious Snacks
Would you like people to think you have been rolling in gingerbread cookie crumbs? Then try Serge Lutens 5 O'clock aux Gingembre, which smells just like gingersnaps and always succeeds in making us so, so very hungry. Or for something lighter, there's Tocca Brigitte, a nutmeg and vanilla concoction that's like the ghost of ginger cakes past.

Pumpkin pie is another dessert that has a delectable variety of olfactory replicas. Philosophy makes a 3-in1 shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath that's outright gourdmet (Ha...ha?), and Demeter Pumpkin Pie is the clever, lazy individual's solution to holiday potlucks. Step 1: Buy a store pie. Step 2: Spritz self with pumpkin pie perfume. Step 3: No one will question whether you made it.

As for condiments, you can top yourself off with cranberry eau and this delightful spiced chestnut hand lotion . Some of you may be into holiday ham…so there’s a perfume for you, too. And as an after-dinner digestif, we highly recommend Noble Isle Whiskey & Water Hand Wash. Just don't sniff and drive.

Things That Smell Like the Outdoors
CB I Hate Perfume has always been remarkable for complex development and an astonishing ability to capture scents you didn’t know existed, like wet earth, warm tomatoes on the vine, and in one case, an actual snowy day. Winter 1972’s notes are “A field of untouched new fallen snow, hand knit woolen mittens covered with frost, a hint of frozen forest, and sleeping earth,” and it smells precisely like that. We imagine it’s what Frosty the Snowman—seasonal fashion icon and tragically deliquescent hero—would wear for a night out on the town.

If you’re into unexpected scents, CB I Hate Perfume also makes one called Burning Leaves that (you guessed it) smells like the smoky, resinous piles of oak and maple your dad almost sets the yard on fire with every fall.

Things That Smell Like a Sexy Tree
There are a surprising number of scents out there promising to turn you into a conifer, and lots of colognes are reasonably woody. For something that's a little lighter on the verisimilitude but manages to be both beautiful and festive, we love Guerlain L'Homme L'Eau Boisée for men or women. If you really, truly want to smell like "O Tannenbaum" though, you need Juniper Ridge Siskiyou Backpacker's Cologne. This stuff is wild-crafted directly from tree pitch (it’s the second ingredient, right behind alcohol—so heritage!) and it smells like hiking in the Oregon backcountry. It’s evergreen in a bottle, with a few cedar logs in the dry down to keep moths out of your sweaters. CB I Hate Perfume also makes a great Fir Tree fragrance that’s similar, although softer and more of a right-next-to-your-skin scent.

—Lacey Gattis

Photos by Mathea Millman. 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • anana

    Great suggestions!
    If wanting a grown up ginger edge without spending tons on the Serge Lutens (lovely) or Tom Ford (he has a great gingery-sandalwoody one, name escapes me) could try the French pharmacy fail safe Gingembre line by Roger Gallet...there is even a body lotion in this scent, and the price is reasonable enough to let you buy some cookies afterwards, although I am partial to that line's round soap, it will scent your clothes beautifully if you store in your sweater drawer or in your suitcase when traveling ;).

    For the pine fir with a incense spicy edge: Comme des Garcons Wonderwood, a very understated unisex wood in a cool packaging.

  • Kelly

    Lovely scents!

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Beautiful picks! Tocca Brigitte is one of my all-time favourite scents (I have the solid perfume version which is ultra handy) and you're tempting me with the pumpkin pie scent :)

  • Chantel

    Thanks for sharing these great fragrances.

  • Aparnaa

    CB I Hate Perfume also made a limited edition Gingerbread that came back for a couple of years. It smells like component parts of gingerbread. It was the most amazing thing. I'm working off a tiny tiny vial in the desperate hope that he makes another edition...

  • capriciouscat

    Chiming in to add Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau (delicious baking, a whole bakery full of fresh pastries and bread), Fille en Aguilles (sexy Christmas tree and fireplace), Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee (a more sparkly, refreshing outdoor Christmas tree forest), and Hermes Hermessence Ambre Narguile (baking cinnamon cookies with a little bit of tobacco).

  • joannanyc

    "tragically deliquescent hero" ftw! Also, do sandalwood based scents count?

    • pamb

      My favorite sandalwood scents are Nest's Moroccan Amber Body and Soul spray and Thymes Lotus Santal spray. Yummy!


West Elm
Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Hand Lotion, Spiced Chestnut
Serge Lutens
Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre
TOCCA Eau de Parfum, Brigitte, 1.7 fl oz
oscar de la renta
Oscar by Oscar de la Renta Fragrance Gift Set
Pink Sugar
Pink Sugar Pink Sugar 3.4 oz Eau de Toilette Spray
Noble Isle Whisky & Water Hand Wash
Cult Beauty Ltd.
Winter 1972 Water Perfume 100ml
Cult Beauty Ltd.
Burning Leaves Water Perfume 100ml
Demeter W-6632 Cranberry – 4 oz – Cologne Spray
Guerlain Homme L’Eau Boisée Eau de Toilette, 80ml