If your idea of a holiday candle brings to mind the cloying aromas of your mother’s Yankee Candle monstrosities wafting through your childhood home, then consider giving them another chance.
While it’s true that the market is cluttered with festive votives that are seemingly created to offend anyone with a discerning taste in fragrance, there are some truly awesome exceptions. We’ve assembled a range of just such candles that will get you into the season in a subtle way. You may even want to continue burning them long after the celebrations have ended.
Cire Trudon Gabriel Holiday Candle
If we were to imagine a very rich person’s winter ski chalet decked out in its holiday finest, this is what it would probably smell like. There’s the smokiness of the hearth, candied chestnuts cooked up by the in-house chef, and the endless acres of fragrant trees. $105, mrporter.com
Diptyque Épices et Délices Candle
Yes, this candle is inspired by the spiced baked goods that you will definitely be availing yourself of at a family get-together, but this is a Diptyque production, which means its nicely done. (We promised no Yankee Candle crap.) So if you’re not the baking type, just burn this gingerbread, honey and star anise scented baby and convince guests you know your way around an oven. $70, nordstrom.com
R. Nichols Sparkle Noir Candle
There’s nothing to get you into the holiday spirit quite like taking a big whiff of a sidewalk Christmas tree lot. This candle aims to recreate that very specific scent and features a graphic rendering of said lot to drive the point home. $38, nordstrom.com
Molton Brown Fabled Juniper Berries & Lapp Pine Candle
If you prefer to get your trusty ax, hike into the woods, and chop down your own damn tree, then you might smell something like this wintry mix of juniper berry, pine tree and balsam. $49, moltonbrown.com
Context Concolor Fir Candle
All the most evocative smells of the holidays, like the vanilla and cardamom of baked goods, orange from those clove-studded orange thingies, and pine and fir, are jammed into this one candle. It’s basically your family get-together minus the drunk racist uncle. $40, contextskin.com
D.S. & Durga Burning Bazaar Candle
Inspired by real life events, this candle evokes the remains of the great Fabledorf holiday market fire of 1261. Specifically, burnt gingerbread, the ashes of old time-y toys, fire-roasted cloves, and charred birch. $75, shopspring.com