21 of the best home fragrances that are great for Christmas gifting

Get cozy with the best home fragrances for every season, including festive favorites

A trio of the best home fragrances from Damselfry, Nest New York and Skandinavisk on gold glitter background
(Image credit: Future / Damselfly / Nest NY / Skandinavisk)

Cozy season is on now, so it's time to stock up on the best home fragrances to scent your space. Smell is so personal, and can evoke so many memories, so whether you bundle up with warm vanilla or crisp balsam to set the mood — the choice is yours. Everything from air fresheners to candles and diffusers will add some ambiance to your living room, bedroom, or bathroom. 

There are so many home fragrance brands out there. So, to make your search easier I can be your eyes and nose, and the best part is that you don't even have to leave your couch and confuse your nose hovering over a handful of different options.

Every fragrance (including the best candles) featured below has been tested by me or a member of the Real Homes team so that you can buy knowing you're spending your money wisely. Four of the items we've listed are $20 and under, so whether you're looking for an affordable option, or have the capacity to splash a little more cash for someone special — there's a pick for every person.

Home fragrance deals

Shop these home fragrance deals to see great deals with up to 50% off seasonal scents. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Prices were correct at the time of publishing.

1. Skandinavisk ROSENHAVE 'Rose Garden' Mini Scented Candle, 2.3 oz |

1. Skandinavisk ROSENHAVE 'Rose Garden' Mini Scented Candle, 2.3 oz | Was $25 Now $20 (save $5) at Amazon

Make your home smell like a floral sanctuary with a quartet of geranium, elderflower, rose and blackcurrant notes all blended into this beautiful home fragrance. This candle is made with sustainably farmed, non-GMO Swedish rapeseed wax blend in painted glass votive with a pure cotton wick and engraved FSC-certified beechwood lid. Hello, Sweden.

2. Aather Meet in the Greenhouse Candle | Was $52

2. Aather Meet in the Greenhouse Candle | Was $52 Now $26 (save $26) at Candles Direct

If you want the smell of fresh air without putting on your jacket (and potentially bumping into people you want to avoid), invest in this candle. With notes of bitter orange and fig leaf in a traditional mouth-blown glass jar, this is quiet luxury with a Mediterranean twist.

3. Damselfly Universe Scented Candle | Was $65.28

3. Damselfly Universe Scented Candle | Was $65.28 Now $39.17 (save $26.11) at MyBag

Hand-poured in Australia, this dreamy fragrance embodies notes of vanilla bean, anjou pear, a hint of white musk, and the sweetest citrus florals. It's made with lead-free wicks, and non-toxic coconut wax, and currently is 40% off.

4. Neom Portable Wellbeing Pod Mini Essential Oil Diffuser | Was $69

4. Neom Portable Wellbeing Pod Mini Essential Oil Diffuser | Was $69, Now $58.65 (save $17.25) at SkinStore using code SS15

I tested this mini essential oil diffuser and can safely say it's a great home investment. The pink model looks so cool on a coffee table, no one would even know it's a diffuser!

Headshot of Annie Collyer
Annie Collyer

Hi! I'm Annie, head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. I've tested 100+ home fragrances since I joined the team in 2018. I've also reviewed fragrances for Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, and Woman & Home. I test these candles, reed diffusers, and essential oil diffusers in my two-bedroom apartment that I share with my husband and my pug. Only my favorites and the fragrances I would repurchase made it to this list. I tend to know whether I like a fragrance before it's half empty, and I'll move fragrances around my home as I use them, to see which room(s) they work best in.

The best home fragrances to buy right now

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Year-round home fragrances

These year-round scents are fitting for all seasons, meaning they can be used until they run out. 

Fall home fragrances

Fall home fragrances have a special place in our hearts. Think woody, spicy, bold... they're simply the best for making a cozy impression.

Spring and summer home fragrances

These spring and summer scents are subtle, fresh, fruity, and floral, and they welcome the sticky warmth of summer so are never overpowering. Perfect for warmer weather, they evoke the smell of a perfect summer's day.

Types of home fragrance

Using a candle to scent your space offers an explosion of fragrance over time. Be sure to consider the wax of your candle, with soy being the best and most clean option in our opinion, and also consider the candle's size in comparison to your room size, and how many hours it can burn for. Another thing to think about is the safety of lighting a candle at home. If you have small children or wandering pets, then you might be better off with a much less risky reed diffuser.

Reed diffusers
You can't really go wrong with a reed diffuser. They are sensational if you want more control over how strong the scent will be or have concerns about the safety of burning candles. Keep in mind that you'll need to flip the sticks to change which end is in the oil every couple of weeks (some reed diffusers require this every other day) for a fragrance boost. Add reeds or remove reeds to control fragrance depending on the size of your space. Though they're not necessarily dangerous, you will still want to place them out of the way of children or pets to avoid spills on your furniture. I would avoid putting them in bedrooms, but if you do, take it out while you sleep because pets shouldn't inhale them all day long.

Essential oil diffusers
Using essential oil drops and water, essential oil diffusers produce water-fragranced vapor into the air of your home to make it smell nice. We've only included one essential oil diffuser in this list, and it actually works without water. Instead, it uses cold fusion rather than water to get those essential oils diffusing. Essential oil diffusers are a lot safer to use to scent your home, especially since if you accidentally leave them on, they usually automatically shut off once their water tank empties. They just need to be placed near a plug socket (usually!).

How to choose a home fragrance

Fragrance is very subjective. Put simply — just choose what you love the smell of. if you're unsure, there are a few general rules that can help you make the right choice.

Living rooms: The living room is usually the largest room in the house and can take a strong fragrance. Bold florals, rich amber-based or woody-smoky fragrances, and sweet scents can all travel beautifully across a living room. We'd avoid anything herbal or overly subtle, as you probably won't be able to smell it much.

Bedrooms: Choosing a scent for a bedroom is all about making sure you won't disrupt your sleep with an overly strong or stimulating fragrance. Avoid citruses or cloyingly sweet scents. We recommend subtly blended white florals, minimalist scents with tea notes, or herbal fragrances with lavender or chamomile.

Kitchens: The best fragrance for a kitchen will need to blend perfectly with the smells of food being prepared, so it's always a good idea to pick something that harmonizes with those smells. Notes of tomato, passion fruit, basil, citrus, or mint all work really well in kitchens. While a reed diffuser works well in any other room, we avoid putting them in kitchens where they might take on cooking smells, or heat could impact their oils.

Bathrooms: This is your wild card of a room that can accommodate almost any fragrance, strong or subtle — it's all about preference. We prefer to stick to herbal or fresh fragrances in a bathroom and wouldn't opt for anything too heavy, especially if your bathroom is windowless.

Entryways: An entryway announces what your home is like to guests, so why not go for a blast of scent? Opulent white florals, rose scents, or complex woody fragrances will make a strong first impression.

Home office: A home office fragrance (or a room in which you work) needs to support productivity without being too distracting. Bright citruses will help you stay awake and concentrate, while a grounded fragrance with notes of amber or tobacco will conjure up a calm and controlled atmosphere. An essential oil diffuser can work well in a home office, too, for a calming scent that's not too soothing.

What to consider when choosing a home fragrance

We've listed a range of specs above, along with each product we recommend. Specifications differ from reed diffusers to candles, but when it comes to both of these home fragrances, we've made sure to list both size and scent. Go for a larger candle if you are considering this for a big space. If it's a reed diffuser, then be sure to use all of the reeds if your space is large. Consider each fragrance's notes and think about the scents you usually pick up, or ones you already own (and like) at home.

When it comes to candles we've also been sure to list the burn time of each fragrance. Consider this and compare it to the candle's price. The last specification for candles that we listed is wax. This is mostly down to personal preference, but we have found that soy wax burns cleaner than others — and it does tend to be a better option for breathing in.

Reed diffusers
When listing reed diffusers, we've made sure to check if each reed diffuser has to be fully replaced once finished or if refills are available. Refilling your reed diffuser isn't only an eco-friendly option, but it's also more affordable than buying the entire diffuser vessel and fragrance again and again. Some vessels are recyclable, too.


Is now a good time to buy home fragrances?

We at Real Homes compare prices and provide insight using the Amazon price tracking site, camelcamelcamel. This allows us to see the lowest and highest prices recorded and provide guidance on the right time to buy home fragrance.

How we test home fragrance

Home fragrance testing image with reed diffusers, candles and room sprays on coffee table

A collection of home fragrances on Annie's coffee table

(Image credit: Future/Annie Collyer)

As well as taking on this job and testing the bulk of the fragrances in this guide, I do rely on team members' noses, too. In the case where I have too many fragrances at one time, I'll hand them over to members of the team and they will follow the same process to review. They'll light it and move it around their home until they find somewhere suitable for it to live. They'll also wait until the fragrance is half used to make a verdict and I add it to this list on the next update.

Finding the right home fragrance for you may take a little trial and error. Are you more of a candle person or do you like a subtle air freshener? Think about your surroundings — you'll need to keep flames away from little ones and pets so candles may not be the best solution. If you're prone to knocking over a glass reed diffuser, maybe a plug-in air freshener would be a better option.

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. I've been part of the Real Homes team since 2018, when I joined as Deals Editor. Along with covering major sales events — from Black Friday to Amazon Prime Day — I review home must-haves so that you can buy with peace of mind. Mostly focusing on home fragrance and sleep, as well as a few vacuum cleaners, I've tested pretty much every item you can think of that you need in your home. I live on the outskirts of the city in a two-bed apartment with my husband and my pug, Doug. So I am always searching for compact alternatives and ways to save floor space. What about when I am not typing away? Well, you'll find me enjoying an iced coffee (no matter the season) and trying out the latest brunch spots the city has to offer, or booking my next holiday. Where else can you find my words? Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, Gardeningetc, and Woman & Home.

With contributions from