Home & Living

A Definitive List Of Holiday Candles, Ranked

Every season has its definitive, nostalgia-inducing scent. In summer, it's the balmy combination of warm air, sunscreen and barbecue; come spring you're likely to get a whiff of fresh air and fresh laundry. It's harder, though, to pinpoint winter's signature scent. There is that distinct smell of firewood permeating people's homes or the baked goods wafting from someone's oven or another. But you could also say the fragrance of winter is the ever-present scent of freshly-cut pine.

We aren't ones to pass up a challenge here at HuffPost Home, so we rounded up 20 home fragrances that claim to embody all the things about winter that we love, and put them to the test: What is the most authentic holiday home fragrance out there?

To determine the most Christmas-y scented candle money can buy, we had our editors rate each one on the following:

On a scale of 1-10, how likely is this fragrance to...

... Evoke holiday cheer
... Take me back to childhood holidays
... Make me want to cozy up next to it on a chilly winter night
... Smell like the holiday ingredient it promises

Naturally, we couldn't test every candle, diffuser or air freshener on the market, but here's how the ones we did test ranked:

Caldrea Plum Bergamot Clove
Score: 1.86
What the website says: "Utterly familiar, charmingly new. This glam new take on a holiday pomander burnishes clove and amber over blood orange. Breath in the warmth of the season."
What we say: "Something spicy, but not Christmas." "More like a cologne." "I feel no holiday cheer."
Agraria Balsam
Score: 1.94
What the website says: "A refreshing and luscious marriage that combines the essence of sweet Balsam, California Redwood, a hint of French Sage and the bouquet of White Flowers."
What we say: "Not spicy enough." "Why is this considered holiday?" "I just want cookies and evergreen, dangit!"
Mixture Holiday Jubilee, Holiday Festival
Holiday Jubliee Score: 1.1
What the website says: "A holiday tradition. Light and flakey. Warm almond notes finished off with juicy cherry."
What we say: "If this is what a jubilee smells like, then I don't want to be there."

Holiday Festival Score: 2.45
What the website says: "Burnished chestnut, creamy maple, anise, coconut and a touch of chocolate. Holiday warmth."
What we say: "Evokes vanilla cheer." "Smells like a pile of warm sugar cookies."
Paddywax Balsam + Fir
Score: 2
What the website says: "Our signature Soy Wax, paired with Balsam & Fir fragrance notes, and hand-poured."
What we say: "Soap." "Powdery."
Yankee Candle Mistletoe
Score: 3.3
What the website says: "The woody scents of mistletoe, berried, pine boughs and holly create this holiday tradition."
What we say: "Smells like I'm standing under a Christmas tree." "Would never burn." "What does mistletoe smell like?"
Paddywax Woodland
Score: 3.3
What the website says: "Our signature Soy Wax, paired with Fir, Mistletoe & Fresh Mint fragrance notes."
What we say: "More like a laundry basket."
Paddywax Twilight
Score: 4.8
What the website says: "Our signature soy wax, paired with White Spruce, Holly Leaves & Frosted Cranberry fragrance notes."
What we say: "It's a nice light scent, like soap and flowers. Not feeling the Christmas vibes though."
Good Nature Orange Clove
Score: 5.45
What the website says: "Pomegranate, cinnamon, nutmeg, hyacinth, and ripe plum are blended with aromatic notes of green pine needles, warm cedarwood, black amber, and treemoss."
What we say: "While not very holiday-ish, this would be a nice scent for any season."
Paddywax Wassail
Score: 6
What the website says: "Our signature Soy Wax, paired with Wassail fragrance notes."
What we say: "Mellow, but yummy nevertheless, and the jar is pretty." "It does kind of smell like a warm beverage."
Yankee Candle Christmas Cookie
Score: 6.18
What the website says: "Buttery rich, vanilla-scented, holiday sugar cookies."
What we say: "If holidays mean treats to you, then this is the holidays." "So sweet smelling." "I love cookies, so I was into the baking cookies smell."
Alassis Noble Fir & Juniper
Score: 6.8
What the website says: "Sophisticated scents incorporate familiar aromas with contemporary notes – effusing holiday spirit in unexpected ways throughout the celebratory season."
What we say: "Love it, just not Christmas to me." "Smells like a nice Christmas tree farm."
Glade Sparkling Spruce
Score: 7
What the website says: "Feel the snow crunch under your boots as you join your friends for the tree lighting in the town square. Hints of frosty pine and evergreen fragrance fill the air, along with a wonderful sense of anticipation."
What we say: "Like a fresh forest rain." "Smells like the decoration boxes when you open them." "Is this the one that cute dude sings about in the commercial?"
Good Nature Balsam And Cedar
Score: 7.3
What the website says: "Notes of mandarin orange and holiday berries accent the comforting fragrance of pine, balsam, and fir needles."
What we say: "100, 100, 100." "The pine notes gave me a headache."
Yankee Candle Candy Cane Lane
Score: 8.1
What the website says: "A favorite holiday place where delicious dreams are made, with tingly peppermint, sweet cookies and creamy vanilla icing."
What we say: "It isn't often you find a candle that nails the mint scent..." "Reminds me of baking." "This IS a candy cane."
Mixture Holiday Yule, Holiday Caliente, And Siberian Fir
Holiday Yule Score: 6.6
What the website says: "A blending of strong spruces, pines and firs just cut from the forest."
What we say: "It doesn't smell like a yule log, but this is the holidays in a nutshell." "It nails Christmas for me."

Holiday Caliente Score: 7
What the website says: "Rojo caliente. This is pure red hot cinnamon; almost sinful."
What we say: "Smells like a crackling fire." "Hot cinnamon." "A little on the potpourri side, but a nice scent."

Siberian Fir Score: 9.3
What the website says: "Pure, freshly-cut Christmas tree. A Strong fragrance of Siberian Fir balanced with a touch of sweet nectar."
What we say: "A fir, plus cookies, plus happiness." "Love!!"
Bath & Body Works 'Tis The Season
Score: 9
What the website says: "Celebrate the perfect holiday with a festive medley of bright red apples, cinnamon, cloves and deep green pine notes."
What we say: "It's 'the season' in a jar." "Probably because I spent childhood holidays at Bath & Body Works."
Bath & Body Works Fresh Balsam
Score: 9.3
What the website says: "Bring outdoor beauty inside with the invigorating scent of crisp eucalyptus, fir needles & cedarwood musk."
What we say: "My fave 'tree' related scent by far."

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Mixture's Soy Arctic Fill in "Pumpkin Spice"

What the website says:"Rich pumpkin, fresh spice and a hint of baked crust fill the air."

What we say:
"Lots of cinnamon"
"Lemony, nice and faint."
"This smells like laundry."
Bath & Body Works' "Pumpkin Pecan Waffles"

What the website says: "Indulge in delicious, warm pumpkin pecan waffles drenched in pure maple syrup and sprinkled with brown sugar."

What we say:
"Maple-like, with butter and spice."
"I would have it in my home, but not as a pumpkin candle."
"Smells like dessert."
"NO. NO."
"This smells like that fake buttered popcorn jelly bean tastes and it is SO bad."
Yankee Candle's Pure Radiance in "Crackling Ginger Pumpkin"

What the website says:"Dessert gets a spicy twist in this delectable, fresh-baked blend of ginger, pumpkin and cognac."

What we say:
"Can you even give this a number?"
"No, no, no."
"Smells burnt, but hasn't even been lit yet!"
"It smells like a way-too-sugary, store-bought pumpkin pie that I would never want to eat."
Anthropologie's Bistro Candle Tin in "Pumpkin Chai Latte"

What the website says: "Cinnamon, ginger and cove are blended with caramel cream, coconut milk and warm vanilla bean."

What we say:
"I can't really smell it."
"It smells like some sort of, like, lotion or a body butter."
"Light and crisp, cinnamon-y."
"It's not so potent... in a good way."
Bath & Body Works' "Pumpkin Sugared Donut"

What the website says:"A sweet autumn treat of freshly baked pumpkin doughnut with sugar & spice."

What we say:
"Pretty accurate pumpkin spice-ness."
"Really sweet... Oh my god... no. This smells like burnt sugar."
"This does not live up to its promise! At all!!!!!"
Glade's "Pumpkin Pie Diner™" Jar Candle

What the website says:"Enhance the atmosphere in your home with comforting candlelight and the indulgent aroma of pumpkin pie kissed with cinnamon and topped with whipped cream."

What we say:
"Super waxy."
"Generic (if that's a smell)."
"Kind of nauseating."
"Smells kind of caramel-y/apple-y."
"Smells like putrid butterscotch."
Yankee Candle's Pure Radiance in "Pumpkin"

What the website says:"All the warmth of the season in a creamy blend of pumpkins with a touch of cardamom and brown sugar."

What we say:
"Smells like rotten lemon, cinnamon and cardboard."
"The wood wick and the textured glass make it too tall."
"Smells like artificial citrus and insanely potent spices."
"Smells like soap."
"Not like fall."
Anthropologie's Boulangerie Jar Candle in "Pumpkin Soufflé"

What the website says: "Freshly grated nutmeg and warm pumpkin, combined with rich maple syrup, ginger and sweet vanilla"

What we say:
"Definitely on the sweeter side."
"Citrus! Crazy, crazy citrus."
Yankee Candle's "Spiced Pumpkin"

What the website says: "Enjoy the Fragrance of Pumpkins baked with clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and sweetened with brown sugar."

What we say:
"Definitely spiced."
"More like Christmas than Fall."
"Hints of pine in there."
"It is spicy, but I wouldn't light it in my home."
"This smells like beer and perfume."
"This smells like a cinnamon-spiced candied apple. But not pumpkin pie."
Bath & Body Works' "Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun"

What the website says: "Treat yourself to the fragrance of a fresh from the oven pumpkin cinnamon bun with gooey cinnamon swirls & creamy vanilla icing."

What we say:
"It does smell like something is baking... and it's on the verge of burning."
"This smells like a pastry in a bakery... but I hate that smell."
Yankee Candle's "Pumpkin Ginger Bark"

What the website says:"The perfect autumn treat . . . an indulgent recipe of snappy ginger, warm pumpkin and rich vanilla sugar."

What we say:
"Guess it does smell wood-y/bark-y."
"Is this buttered popcorn?"
"This smells more like gingerbread than pumpkin pie, but it's ok?"
Hillhouse Naturals' "Autumn Harvested"

What the website says:"After the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, relax and savor their restorative scents of cider spiced with nutmeg and ginger in this Soy Blend votive candle."

What we say:

"The colored glass is pretty."
"Too citrus-y."
"It's more orange and clove than pumpkin."
"This is very innocuous."
"This is perfume-y like a candle should be, but it does not smell like food."
Yankee Candle's "Pumpkin Buttercream"

What the website says:"Buttercream gets a spicy twist . . . a traditional recipe of pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and clove."

What we say:
"I can see where they were going with the butterscotch accent."
"Too sweet though."
"Weird after-smell."
"There goes the spice!"
"Has a bad honey smell."
"Very subtle, but pretty accurately pumpkin-ish."
Yankee Candle's "Apple Pumpkin"

What the website says: "Homegrown apples and pumpkins, two of fall's classic aromas, come together for a warm, cozy, inviting fragrance that fills the home with the delicious warmth. The slightly sweet, earthy notes from the pumpkin and clove, with a little bit of spiced apple added, bring the season home and offer a arms-open-welcome to family and friends."

What we say:
"The apple actually helps balance out the pumpkin spice."
"Not bad, but not sure I want my home to smell like this."
"Those notes just don't go together."
"Why is this red?"
"This is fruit punch, this is NOT pumpkin spice."
Diamond Candle's "Pumpkin Chai Ring Candle"

What the website says: "Our Pumpkin Chai Candle features a unique aroma of delectable roasted pumpkin and warm chai spices."

What we say:
"Terrible graphic."
"Lid's too big."
"Oof very strong."
"This is horrid."
"This somehow actually smells like pie crust!"
Paddywax's "Pumpkin Spice Little Happy Candle"

What the website says:"Our signature Soy Wax, paired with Pumpkin & Spice fragrance notes, hand-poured in a white glass vessel, and packaged in a festive box with an inspiring message."

What we say:
"Looks like soap."
"Doesn't smell anything like pumpkin or spice."
"This smells like nothing, with a hint of butter."
"This is perfectly pleasant, but it's not anything like pumpkin spice."