a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Dec, 2008

How to make your house smell good for the holidays

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|parenting

It’s Christmas! And Christmas means company. And company means that we have to get our homes in tip top shape, right? (Work with me here!)

I have a thing about chemical air fresheners, as in, I kind of hate them. In fact, we have very very few artificial-smelling products here at casa Fishbowl. “Clean” does not equal a chemical mashup of fakefresh-evergreen-and-apple smell. A clean home doesn’t need to have any smell at all. Yet at the same time I do understand how nice it is to have a nice-smelling house.

But you don’t need super odour-eliminating technology! And air freshener ads are using our fear of odour to sell us a goods we don’t really need. Heck, they might even be bad for us.

The post about my pinecones (actual craft TBA) and this one by Scattered Mom about the DIY Christmas smell reminded me there are other ways of making your house smell nice for company.

1) Start with a clean house. A clean house won’t be smelly. Deal with stinky boots and hockey bags (now THAT’S a bad smell). If they’re stinky there’s an issue with bacteria that needs to be addressed – dousing with Febreeze is not the answer. If you can’t deal with it right away, throw them in the garage while company’s visiting.

2) Baking! Bake a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread. Or if you’ve run out of time, mix a bit of vanilla extract with water and let it simmer on the stove.

3) Add essential oils into your cleaning routine. I love love love the smell of grapefruit. I bought some grapefruit oil at a local health food store and I use it all the time. I discovered that if I poured three or four drops into my vacuum bag my whole place smells like grapefruit while I vacuum.

4) Boil water and lemon in your microwave for 30-60 seconds. The lemony steam will make it easier to wipe up the interior of the microwave and your kitchen will smell lemony fresh.

There’s a lot of good tips over here too – natural and non – if you’re looking for more info. Or perhaps you have a good-smelling secret you’d like to share?

10 Responses to "How to make your house smell good for the holidays"

1 | Aimee Larsen

December 10th, 2008 at 12:45 pm


This is neat! Thanks!

2 | Miss Vicky

December 10th, 2008 at 1:50 pm


A great Christmas Craft: Cloved Oranges. It’s a little hard on the fingers, shoving the cloves in the rind, but the smell is amazing.

3 | Miss Vicky

December 10th, 2008 at 1:51 pm


Also, a batch of mulled wine or cider is a great way of smelling up the house!

4 | andrea

December 10th, 2008 at 1:56 pm


I deliberately left cloved oranges off the list. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of smell. Personally, I don’t think the world needs more cloves! :)

5 | andrea

December 10th, 2008 at 1:57 pm


Cider: yes. With a cinammon stick to boot.

6 | porter

December 10th, 2008 at 3:46 pm


Oh I’m with Miss Vicky, love the smell of oranges and cloves! I like all of your suggestions and agree with you about artificial scents with the exception of a couple of candles that I really love and the cinnamon pinecones that Micheals sells.
Two things that I love to do in the winter before having company or just because I love it….turn off the heat open all of the windows for an hour. It’s nice to just air out the joint you know? Also, I love to hang the linens out on the line, the bed linens, the towels in both bathrooms and the tea towels. So fresh!

7 | Mark

December 10th, 2008 at 4:24 pm


I’ll take the blame around our house for the anti-clove movement. I have a sensitive nose and cloves are at the top of my list of offending scents. I think it reminds me of the smell that used to be in dentist offices when I was a boy. The amount of amalgam in my molars is a testatement to the hours I’ve spent in a dentist chair and clearly it has tainted my impression of the clove spice.

8 | Scatteredmom

December 10th, 2008 at 7:47 pm


If you really want the smell of gingerbread, don’t fuss with the from scratch, cut out version of gingerbread cookies. buy some ready made Pilsbury dough and and roll bits into balls, then in sugar, then bake.


9 | Chantal

December 12th, 2008 at 11:34 am


I like to put apple juice (or cider if I have some) in a crock pot with mulling spices when I am expecting guests. It smells awesome and we can indulge with a nice warm drink.

10 | vanessa

December 15th, 2008 at 11:31 am


lightbulb oils are effective

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark. We have two daughters: Emma (19) and Sarah (17). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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