We expect to indulge all of our senses during the holidays, whether we're dining on sweets, marveling at the softness of cashmere, listening to music by George Frideric Handel or scanning the crowds at LAX as we eagerly await the return of a prodigal son.
Yet it is the sense of smell that anchors the season: bayberry and cloves, ginger and pine, cranberries and vanilla. Maybe that's why we gravitate to home fragrances as gifts — and the newest offerings are as pretty to look at it as they are delightful to sniff — packaged in vessels so opulent that no gift-wrapping is required.
In the market for a perfumed ornament? Jo Malone's beribboned metal baubles are scented with pine and eucalyptus or frosted cherry and clove. And Ladurée's wax orbs come in four elegant scents: rice powder; sweet powdered rose; leather and wax; and amber, musk and patchouli.
Aromatic sachets by Votivo add cheer to a closet, a drawer or the holiday tree and come in seven fragrances, including birch wood with hints of mint, and red currant mixed with vanilla bean and raspberry.
The newest candles and diffuser oils come in decorative containers that can last long after the holidays, whether showcased as objets d'art or used to stash rings or treasures. Diptyque's popular, woodsy Feu de Bois — or Wood Fire — candle comes newly packaged in a light-diffusing, handblown glass dome on a Bakelite stand. And Antica Farmacista's Luminoso crystal decanter has been reissued with a new diffuser oil that has notes of evergreen and roasted chestnuts.
Acqua di Parma's limited-edition holiday candles in three scents — Mahogany wood, Linden flower and Tonka Spice with ginger, cloves, tonka bean and vanilla — come in colorful handblown Murano glass vessels. Fornasetti Profumi's stylish candle has a ceramic container inspired by the green, labyrinth-like pattern of malachite and a scent that combines notes of pine, sage, galbanum and cedar with patchouli, sandalwood and amber.
Closer to home, Laguna Candles has partnered with local artisans to create handblown containers filled with the brand's citrusy Laguna Paradise scent.
And the new all-natural vegetable wax Lite + Cycle candles, which Los Angeles-based artist Kristi Head creates using sage essential oil, promise to "ignite a positive spirit." Really, what better way to welcome 2015?