The Holiday Sensorium

By Jason Kessler / November 8, 2012

The holidays are super-charged when it comes to your senses. Christmas music overloads your ears while your neighbor’s flashing twinkle lights blind you as you try to fall asleep. Sugary treats and festive foods like latkes and honey-glazed ham (most likely not served together) overwhelm your taste buds. Your hands can’t wait to rip apart that snowman-themed wrapping paper as you open your gifts. Front and center in the holiday sensory experience are the smells of the season. The crisp woodsy pine of a Christmas tree. The intoxicating aroma of a pumpkin pie just out of the oven. Even that familiar scent of candy canes is enough to get me in the holiday spirit. In my opinion, there’s nothing quite like smelling the holidays.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. There’s an entire cottage industry built around holiday products, and the organic world is more than happy to join the party. The scent world is dominated by synthetics, so it’s great to have organic options to get you into the spirit of the season. The New York-based company, The Soap and Paper Factory, has a great line of products in their Roland Pine collection. The shea butter soap is free of parabens, petrochemicals, additives, dyes and phthalates so you know that the rich forest scent is the real deal. You can lather up and turn yourself into a human Christmas tree if you want to score some bonus holiday points with your loved ones.

Peppermint is another great smell that evokes late-night stocking stuffing and early-morning gift opening. That clean minty aroma always reminds me of the childhood candy canes that inevitably ended up all over my hands. Not a rare fragrance, you can find peppermint-scented products from a huge range of organic companies. One of the godfathers of the movement is Dr. Bronner’s, which makes a variety of products with organic peppermint and spearmint oil to give them their minty charm. The products are all certified fair trade and completely organic, so your wintertime scent comes with a clean conscience, too.

For a lot of people, the first harbinger of the holidays is when your local (or not so local) coffee shop starts offering pumpkin spice lattes. Éminence, a Hungarian maker of organic skincare, takes this fact to heart by offering a Pumpkin Latte Hydration Masque. It may not be the most guy-friendly product in the world, but if you want to smell like a freshly baked pumpkin pie, this is the best way to do it without slathering pie filling on your face.

No matter what scent you go with to get you in the holiday mood, there are a ton of products that cater to your olfactory needs. Frankly, it doesn’t even have to be the holidays. Since memory and scent are so tightly intertwined, you can use holiday-scented products any time of the year to bring you back to your Holiday Happy Place. It’s the smell-equivalent of listening to Christmas music in July. As the stress of the season overwhelms your other senses, make sure to take a deep breath and breathe in the holidays. Then go tell your neighbor to turn off those stupid twinkle lights so you can go to sleep.

JASON KESSLER is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungryClown.

Jason Kessler

Jason Kessler

Jason Kessler is a lifestyle writer/columnist for Bon Appetit, Food Republic and a slew of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @FlyDine.
Jason Kessler

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