The power of home fragrance cannot be underestimated in these cold winter months. Lighting a scented candle is one of the fastest ways to transform the feel of a room at this time of year, when a sense of being cosily cocooned is key. 

A luxurious candle or scent diffuser is the perfect mood-lifting gift to brighten up long winter nights, the festive season and beyond.

After testing a wide range of candles and diffusers on the strength and balance of their scent, along with the quality of ingredients used, burn time and standard of gift packaging, we’ve picked our top buys for friends, family or even better, for yourself.

The best scented candles and diffusers

Some fragrances instantly evoke Christmas, with strong, heady notes of cinnamon, cloves and myrrh filling the rooms with festive ambience. 

Yet some of the candles we tested were lovely and subtle — a hint of the Christmas magic to come — rather than being overpowering. 

Festive feel: the Perfect Peace candle’s pine, myrrh and fresh lime peel fragrance will work all winter season

“Musky winter fragrances that are reminiscent of pine needles with hints of black pepper and citrus work great for cosy living rooms and perfectly encapsulate the Christmas spirit,” says John Lewis & Partners buyer, Sara Allbright. 

“Cinnamon scents and warm spices work great in bedrooms to complement an ambient atmosphere.”

Feu de Beaumont’s Myrrh and Tonka Bean candle, topped by a 22-carat gold plate lid, is a warming, woody fragrance that encapsulates the cocooning spirit of Christmas. 

Give the gift of wellbeing this Christmas with one of Neom’s signature scents, made from 100 per cent natural ingredients. Each fragrance combination has been designed to be mood-lifting, reduce stress or boost energy. Neom’s Perfect Peace is a festive scent blended with pine, myrrh and fresh lime peel, which will work all winter season. 

The White Company’s Fir Tree candle is another festive number, adding that “real Christmas tree” smell to any room. 

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Go for the trio: Diptyque’s Blissful Amber scent, far left in this trio, has soothing lavender and geranium mixed with rich amber

For those who prefer to sidestep the festive fragrance traditions, perfumer Ormonde Jayne’s Montabaco reed diffuser is an elegant alternative — with leather, magnolia and tea leaf notes combined to luxurious effect. In a large eight-sided glass bottle, it’s a real statement piece, too. 

Cowshed’s Winter Candle blends neroli with rose and clove, the result is warming and relaxing, while Blissful Amber by Diptyque has soothing lavender and geranium mixed with rich amber.

Placement tip

“Using a cluster in front of a mirror will help give the illusion of more space, ” adds Allbright. “Everything is bigger and bolder at Christmas so don’t be afraid to get creative with sizes, colours and finishes to add the wow factor to your home!”

Don’t keep for best

While you can’t dictate when your host will choose to light their gifted candle, if you are splurging on yourself  it’s worth making sure you don’t save it for too long. 

“Make sure candles are kept out of drafts so you get a clean, even burn and don’t keep them for best – the fragrance will eventually go off, begin to discolour and compromise burn performance,” says Cowshed’s Alice McGhee.

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