Confession: I literally live two houses down from a Christmas tree farm and I have a fake tree.
Artificial Christmas trees get a bad rap especially from people who are committed to the real tree experience and can get a little pushy. I say live and let live and let everyone’s tree choice be their own.
In defense of the artificial Christmas tree.
I’ve had real trees and they’re beautiful, unique, and smell fantastic. And yes artificial trees don’t have that nostalgic pine scent, but you know what else they don’t have? Bugs living in them.
Artificial trees don’t need to be watered. They don’t shed anywhere near the kind of needles that a real tree does. They don’t drip sap which is impossible to remove. They won’t dry out and become a six foot tall fire hazard. Ever witnessed the terrifying fireball that happens when an old Christmas tree is thrown on a winter bonfire? (Or is that just a New England thing?) Artificial trees can come pre-lit and in any shape, size, or color you can think of. And, maybe my favorite, you won’t have to buy your fake tree again next year.
So if the pine smell is the only thing you’re missing–we can fix that. Here are the five best products out there right now. I’ve omitted pine sprays because I’ve tried them and they work for exactly 15 seconds and I want something that will last.
1. Scentsicles Pine Scented Ornaments
Scentsicles are Christmas tree ornaments that resemble icicles (except green) and are highly scented so that your tree has that lingering pine smell. If pine sprays are perfume for your tree which fades quickly, Scentsicles are those little pine tree shaped air fresheners for your car–but for your tree. A jar comes with six ornaments and how many you use at a time depends on how large your tree is and how intense you want your pine scent to be. These ornaments produce a strong, festive scent that fades over the course of around a week, so it’s best to ration these out if you can and replace them when they start to fade.
These ornaments are available in It’s a Wonderful Pine, Christmas Time Spruce, White Winter Fir, and O Christmas Tree. You may be thinking, how many ways can a thing smell like pine? All the best fragrances are layered. One note scents tend to fall flat or be outright abrasive. So it’s all a matter of what the evergreens are blended with that gives it that Christmas tree atmosphere. It’s a Wonderful Pine has a foundation of amber, a heart of cedar and cypress, top notes of orange, Siberian fir, and pineapple, and traces of cinnamon. Christmas Time Spruce has a base of oak moss, cedar, and patchouli, a heart of Siberian pine and balsam fir, and herbaceous top notes. White Winter Fir has a foundation of fir and cedar wood, a heart of scotch pine and fir blooms, and top notes of blood orange zest. Lastly, O Christmas Tree has a woodsy base of moss and musk, heart notes of bright clementine, cedar wood, and juniper berries, with top notes of fir, oak, and pine.
2. Antica Farmacista Platinum Round Holiday Candle
While they aren’t directly on your tree, candles can make your whole room smell like the holidays. Sure, it’s one tiny extra step to light a candle when you decide to sit and admire your tree, but that also means your candle will last longer than scented ornaments. For an evergreen candle, I recommend this Holiday Candle by Antica Farmacista which has a burn time of around 60 hours. I was sent samples of several scents from this fragrance house and they are all bright, intricate, and balanced. Holiday has a heart of crisp, fresh evergreen with notes of toasted chestnut and caramelized sugar for warmth. The layered scent gives the candle more dimension and can make a pine scent feel more realistic somehow. I don’t have this candle, but my experience of Antica Farmacista candles is that they have a long clean burn and a fragrance that will fill a room. Each candle comes in a sturdy gift box and with a box of their own matches.
3. Scented Pine Cones
Yes, I know the idea of scented pine cones might bring back terrible memories of rushing into a store to get past the bins of pine cones by the door that have been drenched in artificial cinnamon. These aren’t that. This one pound bag of loblolly pine cones have had their natural pine fragrance enhanced so they are extra pine-y. Pine cones are some of my favorite ornaments for my woodland themed Yule tree because they look so natural on the tree. You can make your fake tree smell real by adding real pine.
4. Yankee Candle Balsam & Cedar Scented Snowflake Ornaments
If scented ornaments sound good to you, but you’re not into the plain sticks or pine cones, check out these sparkly snowflake ornaments by Yankee Candle. This set of three green ornaments are scented with Yankee Candle’s Balsam and Cedar fragrance and will give off a fresh evergreen scent for your artificial Christmas tree. There are three different snowflakes and all are studded with silver glitter to better blend in with your other ornaments. I will say that these, while cuter, are not as strong as the Scentsicles sticks, but if you’re just looking for a light pine fragrance or you have a smaller tree these will work for you.
5. Paine’s Cabin Burner With 10 Fir Balsam Incense Logs
For a rustic, vintage approach go with Paine’s incense. I’ve had one of these Log Cabin Incense Burners for years (bought with my own money). The burner is shaped like a little log cabin and when you burn your incense the smoke comes out the chimney and it’s just about the coziest thing to see in the winter. Paine’s incense logs are made of balsam fir wood–nothing else added, just grounded up balsam fir branches pressed into these little logs. You get authentic, honest-to-goodness pine scent with these, though it’s more of the smokey, fireplace variety than the fresh-cut pine fragrance.
Because they don’t have any sort of igniting chemicals added, these incense do take a little longer to catch so you’ll want to light these over a candle and not a match. Once they do catch though, they burn well. Unless you’re in a large space, I doubt you’ll ever need to burn an entire stick at once. This burner comes with 10 incense logs and replacements are easy to come by and cheap.