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 gourd met (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.
Photos by Mathea Millman.