I am obsessed with my apartment smelling nice, and these are my favorite Christmas candles this year

Deck the halls with a lush new scented candle

Christmas candles on coffee table in Annie's living room with tree in shot
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(Image credit: Future/Annie Stenhouse)

As a self-confessed candle buff (ask my husband if you don't believe me) I can definitely recommend a Christmas candle — or six — this holiday season. Because nothing screams Christmas more than turning your tree lights on, putting on The Holiday, and lighting your favorite festive scent, waiting for its smell to fill your room with pure joy. Oh, and snapping a satisfying story for Instagram of course because if you don't post it, it didn't happen — right?

I've spent my fair share of time testing candles in my two-bedroom apartment that I share with my (sometimes smelly) pug. All of the candles I love are featured in this guide, plus a few extra for the holiday season. Before recommending, I always light a candle several times to check for tunneling and soot, and because I am trying to be more sustainable I will always find something to do with the vessel afterward.

I try these candles so that you know if they're good before you buy them, and not only are these all great for lighting in your own apartment or home this December, but they make incredible gifts. Don't believe me? I've already bought more than one of them for my friends who always tell me how nice my apartment smells whenever they come over (isn't that just the best compliment ever?).

I can have plenty more home fragrance recommendations where those came from, too, from reed diffusers to room sprays.

The 6 Christmas candles you should buy this December

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More of our favorite scented candles


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Scented candles in Annie's living room on her coffee table

A range of scented candles in Annie's living room, during testing

(Image credit: Future)

I live in a spacious two-bedroom apartment in South East London and I am forever on the lookout for new scents. I tend to lean towards anything warm and spicy but in the warmer months, I do love a fresh fragrance. Each and every one of these candles in this guide has either been tested by me (Annie), or another member of the Real Homes team. I will always test these candles until they've burned almost halfway, or even more, and I think about everything from their throw ability to how clean they burn, and of course: their scent and packaging. I've reviewed 30+ candles, so the ones featured in this guide are only the best of the best.

Which ones are my top favorites? You got me there as it's really difficult to choose, but I forever go back to Nest New York's Himalayan Salt & Rosewater candle (opens in new tab), which is available at Cult Beauty, for year-round use. Otherwise, for fall and winter, I am obsessed with The White Company's Fireside (opens in new tab) and always will be. I've got it in both a candle and a reed diffuser.

While testing these candles, I am completely aware of the environmental impact, which is why, at Real Homes, we have guides on what to do with leftover candle wax, and how to reuse a candle jar.

How to know which scented candle is best for me?

It's actually quite difficult to choose a fragrance online, hence why I am giving you my trusted opinion on which ones I consider to be the best. If you already know where you are going to put your new candle, though, you can use this as a rough guide. 

For the living area, it's best to consider your aesthetic or decor. You can pretty much go for any scent in this room, from floral to herbal and even spicy. I would recommend going for a scent to match the season, and avoiding any heavy woody or spicy scents in the spring and summer. However, you do want to go for a strong scent, to fill each corner of this room especially if you spend a lot of time in there.

For kitchens it's best to reach for something lighter and airier; the last thing you want to do is compete with food aromas, so I would suggest a herbal or ozonic aroma. Perhaps even something fresh but make sure it's not too overpowering.

For a bedroom you'll want to opt for an aroma that's lavender or vanilla-based; you'll want to calm your senses and create a peaceful oasis. Anything scented with essential oils is also a great option for a bedroom. Also, make sure it looks nice as you don't want it to stick out on your dresser or nightstand.

A few things to consider when buying a candle

It’s all too easy to be guided by price when it comes to buying a scented candle but the most important things are quality, burn time, and fragrance. Think about the scent you want to fill your room with — something soft and subtle, calming and soothing, or something that packs a punch?

Soy wax candles are better for your health as they burn cleaner and produce much less soot than paraffin versions. This helps keep your space pollution-free and is kinder on pets, too as well as avoiding stains building up on walls over time.

And if you want to be able to give a candle as a gift, look for a design that comes in an attractive tin, box, or jar with a luxe look. Candles are great accessories for room revamps or bathroom makeovers so choose the packaging carefully.

Up next: Obsessed with that TikTok-famous candle warmer? We found 6 budget-friendly options

Annie Collyer
Head Ecommerce Editor

Hi! I'm Annie, and I'm the Head Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes. Along with my team, I'm here to review all of the products you might be considering buying for your home. As someone who lives in a flat with a small amount of storage space to work with, and with two indoor pets to clean up after, I am forever searching for stylish yet functional appliances that won't blemish my decor if I can't fit them in a cupboard. I love decorating my living room for each season, while my other hobbies include drinking a decent cup of coffee, going on park walks with my dog and enjoying an Instagrammable brunch with my husband.

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