Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas With Simmering Stovetop Potpourri

simmering potpourriWhenever I smell certain scents it can transport me back in time in an instant. For example last week I walked past someone wearing a perfume that brought back memories of the perfume I used to wear in high school and I instantly felt like I had slipped back in time and was actually there again. (Frightening thought! lol)  The same thing happens for me when I smell what I call Christmas scents….cinnamon, orange, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla. I am immediately put into the “Christmas Spirit” and fond recollections of Christmases past come flooding to my mind.

Today at the grocery store I spied some oranges and decided it was high time to put together some simmering potpourri for the house. I gathered up the usual ingredients and then I recalled my sister Rebecca telling me recently about the Williams Sonoma scent she had been able to replicate using essential oils. It was basically lemon, rosemary and vanilla. I decided to try a stovetop version of that as well.


simmering potpourri

While there really isn’t much to making your own simmering potpourri…I will put it in recipe format just to make it extra easy.

First I made up my usual brew….Christmas Potpourri:

In a small saucepan add:

  • 1 cut up orange (you can also slice the orange)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half (I think it releases more of the fragrance)
  • 1 cup of fresh cranberries
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons cloves (whole or ground)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons nutmeg

Water to fill to about 1 inch below the rim. (You could also use apple juice or cider!)

Place on stove and simmer on low. Soon your house will smell like happiness! :-)


simmering potpourri

simmering potpourri


Before the “scents of Christmas” got too intense I decided to take it off the stove and put together the Williams Sonoma Signature Scent Potpourri…I couldn’t wait to see (smell?) what it smelled like.

In a small saucepan add:

  • 1 – 2 sliced up lemons
  • 2 – 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons vanilla

Water to about 1 inch below the rim. Place on stove and simmer on low.

Oh my!  This had the BEST scent! Even though it wasn’t technically “Christmas potpourri”…it sure smelled nice…and from now on is going to REMIND me of Christmas every time I smell it. :-)  Funny how our sense of smell works like that.


simmering potpourri


simmering potpourri


What does your home smell like at Christmastime? 


Enjoy This Post? Never Miss Another!

Subscribe to Jillee's FREE email newsletter and receive more great tips and ideas!



  1. jkincolorado says

    I love the addition of Rosemary – never thought to do that! I usually simmer cinnamon sticks, cloves, vanilla and a little water on the stove. I’ll be adding Rosemary this year thanks to your suggestion!

  2. Kristi Myers says

    I love wonderful smells in my house, I guess that’s why I am so tempted in the candle section of a store! I can’t wait to try your suggestions for today. This sounds like a great idea to use when showing properties for sale or rent! Thanks Jillee, God Bless You.

  3. Linda says

    I have given the ingredients for simmering potpourri as gifts for several years…an orange, a lemon, a few whole cloves, a cinnamon stick & a couple of bay leaves. Put in a little clear Christmas bag and then in a small basket or container. This year I decided to dehydrate the oranges & lemons first. Makes a very pretty (and useful) little gift to have on hand for “emergencies”! Or for people you would like to give ‘just a lttle something’ to without spending a lot.

  4. Jess F says

    What do you think about doing this in a small crockpot (one of those for dips) and then being able to hide it in the living room so the smell gets that room? Our house was built in 1910 so does NOT have the open concept main floor and I would worry that the aroma would be too strong in the kitchen before it got to the living room…

    • Kim in Michigan says

      Jess, i think that is a great idea! and safer too! I have left the pot on the stove to long, once or twice..NOT a happy smell when that happens! I started using a clip on timer, (my shirt) so i would not forget! I will have to check out the crock pot dip containers! Thanks for the idea!

  5. CTY says

    THANX for the idea. Never thought much about scents & the holiday season but I love the smell of rosemary and mint separately of course; and then Suave made a Rosemary Mint shampoo & conditioner. Now I am crazy for those scents together. Sad to say Suave has discontinued the scent. I have been stocking up whenever I see it. Gone from stores now in my area–alas but I search online with mixed results.
    I have both growing in my garden–I think I’ll experiment some. Like the little crock pot idea.

  6. Dee says

    I bought a small crockpot to use for potpourri a month or so ago. It works quite well but I think the fragrance is enhanced more when it is done on the stove. It doesn’t seem to reach all of the house when doen in the crockpot. It does work however. I jumpstart mine by bringing the water to a boil and then adding it to the crockpot.

      • Betty says

        Saw your comment about the perfume fragrance that took you back to High School, now don’t make fun of me but when I feel a special longing for my mother I have a bottle of Tabu(bought for this purpose)that I go and just smell for a second or two, that was her favorite perfume. Might seem silly but when I smell it I sense her around me.

  7. KimH says

    My mother has always done this… therefore, so have I… People always ask me what Im baking I tell them just good smells.. I’ll have to try the lemon, rosemary & vanilla.. sounds like it’d smell wonderful. Have a great day!

  8. Sharon says

    I too love christmas smells. In England they used to sell Christmas essential oils many years ago. Loved it. I do my own, orange oil, cinnamon oil and a touch of clove oil. Brings back so many memories of England where I’m from. I have a large burner, fill with water add oils light t light and lasts for hours. Oh I just need a british mince pie and a cup of tea!! Love love your tips.
    Merry Christmas!

  9. Sharon says

    Oh, I have another tip. Satsumas studded with cloves. Smells wonderful. Don’t know how much Cloves are in USA but were cheap in England…still have a bag from years ago. I put them in bowls around the house, can hurt fingers when you press cloves in! Well worth the pain !

  10. Down under says

    Long time reader, first time commenter!! I currently have the lemon/rosemary/vanilla on the stove and my house smells divine!! After you’ve finished with it on the stove you can strain it and use as a rinse for your hair, the rosemary will give your hair a great smell and super shine!! Works for blonde or brunette :) live your posts jillee, I’ve just become a stay at home mum and your ideas give me a good thing to do everyday x

  11. Kristina Price says

    The lemon with rosemary sounded so good I went out and bought the supplies. Promptly put it on the stove while we put up the tree. I’m gonna give saving it for one more simmer a try. Have put it in a Mason jar and stuck it in the frig. We’ll see what happens!

  12. Comet says

    I have a small–two cup mebbe?–enamel decorative infuser that you fill with–whatever–and light a tea light under in a small holder and it can be placed in any safe area. If you started this on the stove you could ladle what you needed into the small pot and take anywhere. There was a company doing little packets of–who knows WHAT was in there–varied scents to go in these or in your vacuum or you could place in a drawer or take the little packs and sprinkle in a dish or with pot pourri. I fell in loooove with their Vanilla only to have them vanish from stores and on line. Sigh.

    Same with my beloved Honey Vanilla Body Wash from Vita Bath! Don’t you hate when that happens??? You fall in love with something and then it vanishes?!

  13. Lisa says

    LOVE the Williams Sonoma combo – I used it during Thanksgiving holiday weekend. How can it smell so awesome? Dried Rosemary worked as well as the fresh for me. Oh, and I did use the little dip crock that came with my big crock and it worked fab. I had to replenish the water about 2 times through the day and then unplugged it before going to bed. Start with fresh ingredients the next morning.

  14. Kim Delger says

    The rosemary in your picture is gorgeous! You should see the “fresh” rosemary I find at my local grocery store…Yikes! Hopefully, it will still smell great…regardless of how it looks.

    • Cynthia says

      You could put it all together with dry ingredients. During the holidays, you can find dried orange and lemon in the grocery store, and use dried cranberries and whole spices. Package it all up in a pretty gift bag. Sounds like a lovely and affordable gift! Go to GFS or Sam’s Club to get whole cloves much cheaper than in the grocery store, and store them in the freezer. They’ll stay fresh until next year! And you can grind them using a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle for your recipes. I buy peppercorns the same way, since we go through so much in my house.
      The other option is to put it all in water and then can it. That way, the recipient can just pour it into a pot and turn on the stove. But, it would involve more work on your part. It’s up to you, though! Either way, it would make a lovely gift.

  15. Cynthia says

    This sounds amazing. My family loves candles, and especially food-scented candles! My personal favorite is Cinnamon and Clove Buds from Bath & Body Works. But, you know, good-quality candles can be expensive! This seems much cheaper and just as simple to use.

  16. says

    Great idea. Very creative.Orange and Cinnamon goes well together.

    You can might also want to get some Ceylon Cinnamon leaf oil, dilute it to 1% with 99% water and spray it around the house, like on curtains (does not stain on 99% of surfaces), in the corner floor of the toilet (visitors love it when they go to use the toilet) and any decorations like wreaths, the Christmas tree and flower arrangements.

    Research has shown that the scent of Cinnamon uplifts the mood and makes everyone agreeable. Very useful if you have rowdy in-laws or friends. Keeps everyone calm and alert during the busy holidays. And spray a little in your car too, to get in the mood of Christmas.

    By the way Cinnamon Oil can is also a powerful all natural disinfectant. Great for wiping down the Kitchen counter tops (especially that cutting board to prevent Salmonella)

  17. Verneshia L. says

    Can this concoction be simmered first and then use liquid be use in the simmer pot with candles or in a spray bottle. I have a lil pot, n lil simmering pot, I like the candles because it saves on power bills.

  18. Cori M says

    I wanted to thank you for your Christmas Potpourri recipe. My grama passed away 2 years ago in January and Christmas is still hard for my family as she was such a huge part of it. This scent smells like my Grama’s house on Christmas Eve growing up. I had Christmas Eve at my house this year and I put this on the stove. I cannot tell you how many comments I got on it and how it smelled like her. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!! It is amazing how a smell can make us feel better. Our senses are amazing.
    I am about to try the other one today. I am excited to see how it smells as well. I am sure delicious.
    Thank you again. Happy New Year.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *