This time of year, the sense of home and holiday cheer is SO tied in with the smells of the season.

  • That pumpkin pie baking in the oven…
  • The smell of hot cocoa rising from your mug after a hike through the snow….
  • That fresh Christmas tree scent of a tree that was just brought in from outdoors….

Now, despite the fact that I recently compiled and published a printable guide on how to use essential oils safely, the one thing I know how to do well with essential oils is enjoy their scents.

And enjoy their scents I do!

So, over the last couple of years, I’ve played around with various oils to create scent blends that set the mood and make my home feel oh-so-very-cheerful. Today I’m sharing my favorites.

If you don’t have essential oils but still want to create a super-homey potpourri, either place some homemade mulling spices in some water on the stove (or in a slow cooker).

Or if you’re wanting to give potpourri as a simple gift, consider this simple homemade potpourri or this Orange-Cranberry Potpourri. The orange-cranberry variety is my absolute favorite potpourri blend, hands-down, and a super-simple, heartfelt gift just right for this time of year.

OR…. if you don’t have a diffuser, turn these into a room spray by adding the essential oils to 1/2 cup water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (the baking soda helps suspend the essential oils in the water). Place in a spray bottle, shake well, and spritz whenever the need or mood arises…

Okay, on with the good stuff….

So, first of all, how do you diffuse essential oils?

You’ve got a few options:

Use a diffuser

There are a number of brands of essential oil diffuser and many are quite reasonably priced. If you’re using a diffuser for intense therapeutic effects, you’ll want to do some research before you choose one, but this one is a good, basic, no-frills diffuser.

Ultrasonic diffusers are lovely because they disperse oils in a microfine vapor that allows them to be suspended in the air for extended periods of time and to be better inhaled, thus enhancing the scent and effectively filling the room with scent. They’re also super-easy to use.

Suspend them in water

Pour boiling water into a glass or ceramic bowl, then add your drops of essential oils and let the scent fill the room. This is surprisingly effective at dispersing scent, but I find I have to keep refilling the boiling water if I want it to last over several hours. Nonetheless, it definitely the simplest and cheapest method to diffuse essential oils.

Use diffuser reeds

Diffuser reeds localize the scent more rather than fill the room, like a bouquet of flowers. This is a great method if you want to bring a smile to your face each time you walk past the hall table or while sitting on the couch talking with a friend.

To use reeds, place your oil in the reed bottle and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Then flip the reeds so the oily end is in the air. Continue to flip every hour or so for on-going scent.

These holiday-inspired essential oil diffuser recipes will fill your Thanksgiving and Christmas season with scents that will fill your home with warmth and cheer.

Why Essential Oil Potpourri is “Greener” Than Conventional Air Fresheners and Scent Sprays

Not only do essential oil give a cleaner, more vibrant, realistic scent than artificial fragrances found in the commercial air fresheners and scent sprays that abound in every drug store, but they’re healthier too.

Commercial sprays and air fresheners tend to work in one of the three ways:

1. Provide a boatload of fragrance and simply overpower the other odors in the area. Some air fresheners are even designed to coat our nasal passages with an oily coat of fragrance so that’s all we smell. Artificial fragrance is heavily used, most certainly.

2. Mask or cover up other smells, not by providing a more powerful scent but by including ingredients that when atomized and inhaled, actually glom onto our smell receptors and block or dull our ability to detect odor. Weird, but true.

3. Break down the offensive odor at a molecular level to “purify” the room.

All three of these rely on amazing chemistry, but sadly, it’s a chemical, artificial soup in which we stew when our air is filled with these toxins. These ingredients across the board are labeled on the Environmental Working Group’s most dangerous list of contaminants to which we can be exposed, causing everything from mild skin irritation and asthma to hormone disruption and cancer.

One study in 2005 [PDF] tested 74 air freshening products and measured the concentration of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in the air after use. They reported that a total of more than 350 different chemicals and allergens were detected, including (but not limited to!) benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, and phthalates, all of which rate between 8-10 on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

I’ll use essential oils instead, thank you!

Essential oils are a safe way to bring some scented cheer to your home during the holiday season! Here's 20 blends for your favorite method of diffusing that not only will warm your heart, but have some health benefits too!20 Irresistible Essential Oil Potpourri Blends

As always, adjust according to personal preference and according to brand of essential oils. I have an eclectic mix of brands in my house, and I’ve noticed many oils, such as cinnamon leaf, tend to smell different from brand to brand, so again, just adjust according to what you like and according to what you have on hand!

1. Cozy by the Fire Blend

  • 3 drops cinnamon
  • 2 drops sweet orange
  • 2 drops allspice (optional)
  • 1 drop clove bud
  • 1 drop nutmeg

2. Gingerbread

  • 5 drops ginger
  • 4 drops clove bud
  • 2 drops nutmeg
  • 2 drops cinnamon

3. Christmas Tree

  • 6 drops fir needle
  • 3 drops cypress or spruce
  • 1 drop orange
  • 2 drops nutmeg

4. Forest Boughs

  • 6 drops fir needle
  • 4 drops pine
  • 3 drops cypress or spruce
  • 1 drop wintergreen

5. A Walk in the Woods

  • 4 drops frankincense
  • 4 drops fir needle
  • 4 drops cedarwood

6. Falling Leaves

  • 10 drops clove bud
  • 3 drop cinnamon
  • 4 drops black pepper

7. The Winter Woods

  • 4 drops cypress
  • 2 drops sandalwood

8. Spiced Cider

  • 5 drops ginger
  • 4 drops orange
  • 1 drop cinnamon

9. Pumpkin Pie

  • 4 drops cardamom
  • 2 drops cinnamon
  • 2 drops clove bud
  • 1 drop nutmeg

10. Eggnog

  • 8 drops nutmeg
  • 2 drops vanilla
  • 1 drop cinnamon
  • 1 drop black pepper (optional)

11. Cinnamon-Orange Tea

  • 5 drops orange
  • 3 drops cinnamon

12. Candy Canes

  • 4 drops wintergreen
  • 4 drops sweet orange

13. Spiced Chai

  • 5 drops cardamom
  • 3 drops cinnamon
  • 2 drops clove bud
  • 1 drop ginger
  • 1 drop aniseed (optional)

14. Mint Hot Chocolate

(If using a diffuser, double check to make sure using an absolute won’t void the warranty.)

  • 6 drops cacao absolute
  • 2 drops peppermint

15. Mulled Wine

  • 3 drops orange
  • 3 drops mandarin
  • 3 drops clove bud
  • 1 drop cinnamon

16. Cinnamon & Spice

  • 2 drops sweet orange
  • 1 drop cinnamon
  • 1 drop clove bud
  • 1 drop ginger

17. Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • 6 drops rosemary
  • 4 drops sage
  • 2 drop thyme
  • 1 drop black pepper

18. After-the-Feast Digestive Blend

  • 6 drops ginger
  • 4 drops Roman chamomile
  • 2 drop lemongrass

19. Happy Holidays

  • 2 drops fir needle or spruce
  • 2 drops orange
  • 1 drop wintergreen

20. Baby Jesus’ Manger

(Yes, I’ve left all the stable smells out! Heh.)

  • 3 drops frankincense
  • 3 drops myrrh
  • 1 drop sandalwood

What are your favorite holiday essential oil scents?

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