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Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Potpourri

In a package from a "boutique" Christmas shop, for about $10 per bag. Or,

homemade, using whole cinnamon sticks (salvaged from jars of homemade watermelon pickles, then simmered in water for a bit, to remove syrupy film), whole cloves, 1 orange (sliced thin and dried in dehydrator then sprinkled with ground cinnamon), and cedar sprigs from our woodlot, also dehydrated to preserve the color. 

The key to aromatic potpourri is in the scented oil. You can use essential oil, or fragrance oil (from the candle and fragrance section of craft stores like Michael's). I've used a Woodland Pine-scented fragrance oil for this potpourri. I bought the tiny bottle several years ago and only use a few drops at a time -- a small bottle lasts a long time.

I sprinkle a couple of drops of fragrance oil on the potpourri every morning. I also add some ground cinnamon, right over the dish of potpourri, every few days. (Cinnamon oil would be even better, but this is a "what I have" project.)

Homemade potpourri is different from store-bought, in that the fragrance is not overwhelming from the beginning. But with daily additions, I can control the strength of aroma, to be just barely detectable to me -- a background scent, not a focal point in the room.

I love that it's decorative, too. The oranges don't add scent, but visual contrast. Packaged in cellophane bags, this would make a nice hostess gift during the holidays. I may have to make up another batch just to have at the ready for gifting! 

The materials for my batch of potpourri costs about 75 cents to $1 (the small orange, some whole cloves and some of the fragrance oil). Knowing how inexpensive and easy it is to make at home, it does make me cringe at the idea of buying a bag for $10 at the boutique Christmas shop.


  1. Hi, Lili--

    Hope your holiday is going wonderfully! We did this for gifts one year, and I was impressed with how little of the scented oil we needed to use. We did base ours on fir balsam needles, which helped, of course. But I actually still have enough oil leftover from that project to make oodles more. Hmmm... maybe it's time to dig that out and use it! :)

    Anyway, this is one of those great projects that technically is cheaper each time you do it, until you run out of the initial investment of materials. Love that! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      Making holiday potpourri is a really satisfying craft. Most of the ingredients can be had for near free, and the only cost is in the oils. And as you say, once you buy the oil, for several years your project is near-free.

  2. Great tip! I've always made my own pot pourri as well. You gave me an idea: we moved to an artificial Christmas tree this year, and I know that we'll miss the pine scent. I read that Yankee Candle sells pine scented sticks to hang in artificial trees, why not tuck in a branch from the woods (not many conifers here but I can ask a friend) or buy a small bottle of pine oil/essence and coat a pinecone that I can add to the tree?

    1. Hi Carol,
      I love that idea of coating a pine cone (or two o three) in fragrance oil and tucking them into the tree's branches! I'll be trying that this year!

  3. A great idea, Lili. I have almost all of those things on hand too. That would definitely make a very nice gift. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      I know that I would love to receive a package of homemade potpourri as a gift! And a lot of us do have most of the items needed (plus this sort of project is very flexible in what you can use).

  4. I like the idea that you are gradually adding scent as it diminishes. The ones in the stores are way too strong for me. If you didn't have cinnamon sticks to recycle, this would be a bit more expensive, but still less than in the store.

    I'm trying to think about who I might give this to, and I'm coming up blank. I have a few friends that react badly to any kinds of scents, including oils, and others that have pets around that this wouldn't be good for. However, I do like the idea, so I'll keep thinking.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Several years ago, I was given a box of nice potpourri that was so highly fragrant, that I would only take out about a 1 cup portion at a time, from a 4 cup package. It was over-powering for the first several years. I guess this is how the manufacturers insure that their potpourri has a long enough shelf-life in the store. But I agree, too strong a fragrance.

      I'm not sure potpourri and cats would be a good combination, unless kept in a fabric bag. The cats that I had would have spent time each day scattering the potpourri, much to their delight.


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