5 Festive Scents For Winter

Winter arrived sooner than I expected. I didn’t want it to come. I resisted its pleasures. Yet, the other day I woke up to a ballet of snowflakes in the air and I decided that I might as well derive small joys from this cold season. Wearing a warm perfume is one such delight, and I always recall how my mother would dab a tiny bit of Lancôme’s Magie Noire on my wool scarf “to help me stay warmer.” I still associate the spicy-mossy scent of this perfume with snowy days and New Year’s Eve preparations.

For my selection of festive fragrances today, I decided to pick perfumes that evoke the scent of fir trees and gingerbread. Some of them are abstract, others are more realistic. You can decide how far you want to take the fantasy and make your pick accordingly. As always, I would love to know what festive fragrance you like.

One more note: all of the fragrances on my list are suitable for both men and women.

Annick Goutal Nuit Étoilée

The pairing of balsam fir and amber is uplifted with iris and tonka bean for a plush, opulent effect. My preferred concentration is Eau de Parfum, because it smells richer and warmer, but the Eau de Toilette is also interesting for its bright opening. Either way, it feels festive and lush.

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

An exploration of ginger at its finest. Ginger as a note marries the brightness of citrus with the dryness of woods, and Lutens’s fragrance starts out with bright and shimmering bergamot and tea and dives straight into a warm heart of patchouli and cinnamon. A flourish of pepper gives it long lasting spicy bite.

Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace

A charming composition that evokes the scent of roasted chestnuts and clove-spiced pain d’épices. Smoldering woody notes and dark musk–this effect is courtesy of a material called Cashmeran–tone down the sweetness and create a mellow, lingering warmth. A perfect companion for cold mornings and snowy evenings.

Chanel Bois des Iles

Pure elegance and romance. Bois des Iles is a baroque composition of sandalwood and dark spices layered with soft rose and gingerbread. Its sweetness is tempered by dark woods, while the champagne-like hit of aldehydes gives it a beautiful effervescence.

Demeter Fragrance Gingerbread

A warm, straightforward scent of gingerbread with a pleasant warmth, Demeter’s perfume is as uncomplicated as Bois des Iles is sophisticated. Both have their place. Also, gingerbread is a good layering option to give florals like roses or carnations a spicy twist. Although it might sound sacrilegious, layering Gingerbread with Bois des Iles creates a honeyed gingerbread accord.

What festive scents do you reach for these days? What is on your wishlist?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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86 Comments

  • Jill: I love Theorema for this time of year, but I use it sparingly as it is no longer available. I also love Jo Malone Nutmeg and Ginger and Dsh Chataignes du bois. I also love Bois des Iles but have not purchased a full boottle. December 12, 2022 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I also enjoy Theorema at this time of year. I need to find my bottle. December 13, 2022 at 4:25am Reply

  • briony hey: I like Ormonde Woman for its lush pine forest scent. I also love the Unicorn Spell but, like Theorema, you can’t get it anymore. December 12, 2022 at 9:22am Reply

    • MaureenC: Ormonde Woman is my favourite fragrance. I’ve recently finished my second bottle and I’m now saving up for another! December 12, 2022 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Unicorn Spell disappeared completely. I also regret not being able to find it. December 13, 2022 at 4:26am Reply

  • Alityke: I am burning last years Gingerbread candle from Beauty Pie right now! It’s making me crave Yorkshire Parkin.
    I don’t own any ginger fragrances but I enjoy SL Fille en Aiguilles is a winter staple for me December 12, 2022 at 10:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Fille en Aiguilles is a winter staple for me too. December 13, 2022 at 4:26am Reply

  • Kimberly: I bought my first bottle of Kenzo Flower EDP this month. I am surprised at how much I am enjoying it as a winter fragrance. I have a lot of winter type perfumes such as Coromandel, Bois De Iles, Shalimar etc…. They are all beautiful perfumes but I can’t pull myself away from Flower. December 12, 2022 at 10:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Enjoy it! It’s a beautiful scent. December 13, 2022 at 4:27am Reply

  • Constancesuze: I love Bois des Iles and Five O’Clock Au Gingembre, though I don’t have a bottle of the second.
    Other scents that feel very holiday to me are Caron’s Nuit de Noel (the most obvious), L’Artisan’s discontinued Tea for Two, and Amouage’s new Royal Tobacco. December 12, 2022 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: L’Artisan also had an excellent Tea for Two-scented candle. December 13, 2022 at 4:27am Reply

  • Nancy Chan: Thank you for this timely post. I woke up this morning to a fairly thick blanket of snow.
    You have listed one of my go to scent for winter, Chanel’s Bois des Iles. My other winter scents include Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle and Dior’s Touche de parfum. Until today, I have been wearing Guerlain’s Insolence. For some reason I always only wear it from Autumn onwards.

    Not a perfume, but a bath oil. Olverum’s bath oil is definitely the scent of Winter, and Christmas. Essential oils of pine, eucalyptus, geranium, verbena and lavender, lime and lemon make it a winter essential. December 12, 2022 at 10:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Olverum’s oil sound wonderful. What a nice list of winter favorites you have. December 13, 2022 at 4:28am Reply

      • Nancy Chan: Thank you Victoria.

        Olverum bath oil is absolutely lovely! Each bottle of the bath oil is accompanied with a small pamphlet, with a history about how a German couple created the receipt for the oil. December 13, 2022 at 5:20am Reply

        • Nancy Chan: I meant recipe. December 13, 2022 at 5:24am Reply

        • Victoria: Nice! I will check it for gifts. December 13, 2022 at 5:31am Reply

        • Gabriela: That oil sounds wonderful, I am almost blind buying a bottle for myself. December 14, 2022 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Carys: Kenzo Jungle Elephant. I absolutely adore it at this time of year. I also like Zoologist Moth in winter, but appreciate that’s not a perfume for everyone. December 12, 2022 at 11:05am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s definitely unique, though. December 13, 2022 at 4:28am Reply

  • MaureenC: Etro Messe de Minuit is my go to when the temperature is around freezing. I’m no longer religious but I grew up a Catholic and I still love the scent of incense in the winter. I associate it with all the pageantry of the old fashioned Latin mass, however I now realise that it was the spectacle, the smells and bells I enjoyed and it had little to do with the doctrine.
    For pretty much the same reasons I also enjoy Commes des Garçons Avignon and Goutal Ambre Fétiche December 12, 2022 at 11:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Messe de Minuit feels just right when it becomes cold. December 13, 2022 at 4:29am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I love your selection of perfumes for the winter and own several of them. I will definitely be wearing them during the upcoming days and months. Thank you for the reminder! December 12, 2022 at 11:21am Reply

  • Aurora: It’s snowing in the UK too, and your post is very comforting, I agree gingerbread and pine really are the scent of Xmas and I have two sweet pine perfumes, Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilée edp in its deep night bottle and Aqua Allegoria Winter Délice, even sweeter than NE, Guerlain repackaged it and made it part of their Four Seasons Collection but much more expensive than its first incarnation, at least they didn’t change the name as they often do. December 12, 2022 at 11:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Did Winter Délice change in its new incarnation? December 13, 2022 at 4:30am Reply

      • Aurora: I haven’t tested the Four Seasons one, the notes on Fragrantica look a bit different but the pine is still there😀. December 13, 2022 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Deanna: 2 Favourites from September on –

    Coco and Samsara.
    Both comforting, which at the present we need!

    I appreciate that Samsara in its present incarnation has lost the “boot polish” note that marred it in the 80’s, but wished it was more lasting.
    Hope it’s not following down the path of many other of Guerlains watered down classics…. December 12, 2022 at 11:39am Reply

  • Tara C: I love Nuit Étoilée and Five O’Clock au Gingembre. Other seasonal favorites are CdG Zagorsk, MDCI Fêtes Persanes, AG Encens Flamboyant and Chpard Wish. December 12, 2022 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I like your list. I could have also named CdG Zagorsk, AG Encens Flamboyant and Chopard Wish. December 13, 2022 at 4:31am Reply

  • Mona Chipman: Bonjour,
    Since I am a staunch Guerlainophile My winter favorites are ÉPICES VOLÉES, A multi-faceted woody scent formerly known as “Arsène Lupin Voyou” and an Aqua Allegoria scent Winter Delice which is no longer made but can be purchased in a candle form. December 12, 2022 at 11:48am Reply

  • AndreaR: My cold-weather comfort scent is Caron’s Parfum Sacre. I was lucky enough to find a bottle of it at our local Goodwill. December 12, 2022 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: How lucky! It’s a great winter perfume. December 13, 2022 at 4:31am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I have been wearing Nuit Etoilee this week and loving it’s fir and mint notes. I also love Dusita’s Issara, which has a very nice conifer note in the opening. The Vagabond Prince’s Enchanted Forest is another great one for this time of year. December 12, 2022 at 12:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also like Issara for its festive feel. December 13, 2022 at 4:32am Reply

  • Lillian Malki: I must try Nuit Étoilée. It sounds gorgeous. My favorite winter and holiday scents are Fille en Aiguilles, Nuit de Noël and Bois des Iles. For the New Year I love the sparkle and creaminess of Guerlain’s Vega, a bottle of which I thankfully bought a few years ago before it disappeared. December 12, 2022 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that you might enjoy it, especially since you’ve listed some other fragrances in the same genre. December 13, 2022 at 4:32am Reply

  • Hamamelis: I wore Fleur de Chine yesterday, from a large decant. Very festive, but unfortunately discontinued. I will be wearing April Aromatics Calling All Angels, incense and honey, and her Pink Wood, which like you describe Magie Noire did, has this warming quality. And Chanel 5 Eau Premiere, because it reminds me of champagne. December 12, 2022 at 1:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, unfortunately it didn’t stay on the market for long. December 13, 2022 at 4:33am Reply

  • Johaboha: I wear Angel which has a Gingerbread note and the icy blue star bottle fits the festive spirit. I also enjoy souffle de Shalymar intense which is very sweet balsamic and feels so enveloping and also comes in a beautiful dark blue bottle. As with presents, packaging is important for me in this season! Lastly I love joy parfum, the white flowers feel icy in the cold! December 12, 2022 at 1:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such elegant choices. December 13, 2022 at 4:33am Reply

  • Anastasia: Thank you Victoria! One fragrance I really enjoy this festive season is Like this by Etat Libre d’Orange. I wish you merry Christmas and I wish the war to end December 12, 2022 at 2:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you too! December 13, 2022 at 4:34am Reply

  • Aida Hashemi: I absolutely love my Serge Lutens’, Chergui. Once when I was wearing it and a friend hugged me, he said ‘you smell like a caramel cookie.’ The warmth that comparison conjured up, attracts me to it as a scent that can warm you up on a cold winter day ❄️☃️❄️. December 12, 2022 at 3:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a lovely compliment. December 13, 2022 at 4:34am Reply

  • Tatiana Owen: Vintage Calèche and Fille en Aiguilles are my favorite winter fragrances. I don’t wear them too often as it rarely gets cold in Southern California! December 12, 2022 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I can see what you mean. December 13, 2022 at 4:34am Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: I was going to add Like This, but then I saw another reader had! I have most of the ones you mentioned and several of the ones named in the comments. I would add Jo Malone’s Ginger Biscuit and Orange Bitters. December 12, 2022 at 5:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried that Jo Malone, so I will add it to my list. December 13, 2022 at 4:35am Reply

  • kat: I still have a bottle of the original Feminité de Bois which has always been my go to scent for the holidays. I also love Gris by Dior and Bottega Veneta’s Eau de Velours. There’s a theme here, they all remind me of the spices my mother used for gingerbread and Christmas cookies. December 12, 2022 at 5:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also keep Féminité du Bois for the holidays. My bottle is almost empty. December 13, 2022 at 4:35am Reply

  • Jennifer Mariel Shaw: One of my all time favorites is Anne Klein Blazer by Helena Rubenstein. It’s an older style Chypre and I love it all so much. I found it on Ebay fairly recently. I also really love Terre d’Hermes as well as L’air du Temps. Wishing that I could find some Serge Lutin’s Chergui in a small decant.. December 12, 2022 at 6:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chergui is a beautiful warming scent, but I also don’t need a full bottle. December 13, 2022 at 4:36am Reply

    • Janet: I was wild about Blazer back in the eighties. I have tried to find it for a long time, with no luck. I’ll check out e-bay; just hope it smells like the original. December 16, 2022 at 10:08pm Reply

      • Jennifer Mariel Shaw: Janet, I happened to find my bottle on e-bay myself! It comes in the original bottle and it has been a long time favorite since the mid 70’s for me. December 21, 2022 at 7:29pm Reply

  • Perfumelover67: My favorite scents for the holidays are Clinique Wrappings, Comme des Garcons Avignon, Chanel Coco, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Guerlain Ginger Piccante, Serge Lutens 5 O’clock Au Gingembre, Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige. December 13, 2022 at 6:32am Reply

    • Victoria: So many great winter choices here. December 13, 2022 at 7:14am Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: I think Wrappings has vanished! So glad I got the gift set when I first went down the rabbit hole. December 13, 2022 at 6:55pm Reply

      • Brigitte: Unfortunately the current formulation isn’t the same as the original….which I wore religiously in the 90s, always during the Christmas holidays….the original Wrappings I purchased at Macy’s in NYC…it was the streets of Manhattan, snow falling…the scent of evergreen trees sold on Broadway….the gift set is not the same …sadly…. December 16, 2022 at 5:47pm Reply

  • donna m macdonald: My daughter was born in the 80’s when Chanel’s Coco had just been released. I bought several bottles during that long wintry winter that I first cared for her. Recently, I tried Coco again and it feels so right for the winter when my daughter is about to have a baby of her own. I especially love Coco’s dry down that lingers so long. It reminds me of soft baby clothes, warm sweaters, pretty pink blankets and afternoon tea. December 14, 2022 at 8:34am Reply

    • Victoria: A beautiful association! And best wishes to your daughter. December 17, 2022 at 11:40am Reply

  • Samantha: I will be wearing Golden Dust by Sunnamusk, this winter. This scent is good for both winter and the warmer months because it performs well in the warmth. I have the oil version and will be getting the EDP very soon. December 14, 2022 at 9:22am Reply

  • OperaFan: I have Nuit Étoilée in edt, but hadn’t thought to use it in winter. Because of its cooling characteristics I tend to use it on hot summer days to cool down after exercising outside.
    As previously mentioned by others, Ormonde Woman gets a lot of wear thanks to its prominent black hemlock note. I also love Coco in the winter time, and the discontinued Bois de Paradis, with its hot candlewax dripping, potpourri, and rich jam which is my go-to fragrance at Christmas time. December 14, 2022 at 11:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: I miss Bois de Paradis. Your description is spot on. December 17, 2022 at 11:41am Reply

  • My1stGradeTeacher: Caron Nuit de Noel🎄😋 December 15, 2022 at 3:02am Reply

  • Erica: How wonderful, I have both of the first scents. To me they represent the two things I love about winter: the pine forests blanketed in crisp snow, and the cosy feeling of being inside sipping tea and eating gingerbread afterwards.
    Oddly enough, I feel that Nuit étoilée requires either a cold winter night or a very hot summer night to showcase it’s beauty. December 16, 2022 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: A beautiful description! December 17, 2022 at 11:43am Reply

  • la_ninon: Thank you, everyone, for sharing your favorites. Mine are Bois des Iles parfum, Bois d’Armenie, Borneo 1834, Cuir de Russie edt, Jolie Madame, and Cumming/2nd Cumming. December 16, 2022 at 2:44pm Reply

    • la_ninon: Oops also Cartier La Treizieme Heure–I just wish the current formulation were less sheer. December 16, 2022 at 2:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m enjoying learning about everyone’s choices. December 17, 2022 at 11:46am Reply

  • Lorie McMillin: Hi Victoria!! I love your Magie story! My very favorite perfume of course, and I keep grabbing it for any festive event. I teach for Amber a lot in winter. Mona made a delicious amber that’s front and center right now. I also reach for icy cool iris from time to time … Silver Mist for an icicle concept. I even wore Voeu de Noel for our anniversary on the 9th. But it’s a power house and a teensy bit goes a long way!! Merry Christmas and warmest hugs to you!! December 17, 2022 at 1:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also like iris during cold winter days. It somehow fits the mood. December 20, 2022 at 4:13am Reply

  • Jessie: I’ve been wearing Hanae Mori, which is fun because I usually bypass gourmands. It makes me feel like the sugarplum fairy!
    Caron Nuit de Noel is also showcased on my dresser at the moment. December 18, 2022 at 11:23am Reply

    • Victoria: I also took out my Nuit de Noel. It’s the right time for it. December 20, 2022 at 4:14am Reply

  • Alessandra: My festive choices frequently change – not because I am unloyal but because I have many beloved I try to rotate -, but Bois des Iles is my absolute fave winter scent since forever, dreamy, melancholic and comforting. Which one to choose, though? The extrait or the current EDP? I do have to buy it agaion, so dear V, any suggestions are welcome.
    For the rest, I think my festive fragrances this year will be Baccarat Rouge and Like This, but do love the idea of buying Bois des Iles again and Gingembre! December 19, 2022 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I prefer the extrait, but I usually wear the EDT (not available anymore, I think.) The EDP is also good, but the balance in the notes is different. December 20, 2022 at 4:16am Reply

      • Alessandra: EDT not available anymore, no.

        Many thanks for the reply! Extrait it is, then 🙂 December 20, 2022 at 4:17pm Reply

  • Patricia Fieldwalker: I am desperate to find Nuit de Noel by Caron.
    It has a magical meaning for me but I live in Canada and can find only old empty bottles for collectors. I have a very tiny amount of extrait from a bottle I found some years ago which I use sparingly. I also had the lovely EDT in a charming dotted glass bottle . Anything woul be marvellous if you can point me in the right direction 🙏 December 19, 2022 at 9:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is a store in Lake Tahoe called Fragrance Vault, and its owner has an impressive collection of vintage perfumes. If you contact her, I’m sure she can help you find Nuit de Noel.
      https://fragrancevault.net/ December 20, 2022 at 4:21am Reply

  • Figuier: Great list – I really want to try Nuit Etoilée now! At this time of year I like fruity-spicy ‘mulled wine’ type scents- Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais, which I have in a small sample that has lasted me through at least 5 Christmases, and more recently Chypre Shot by Olfactive Studio, quite similar in style though without the definite plum. I also love Lutens Fille en Aiguilles, even though it doesn’t last that long on me. December 21, 2022 at 5:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Chypre Shot is a very good fragrance, and your description is spot on. It layers nicely with Serge Lutens’s Féminité du Bois. December 23, 2022 at 4:36am Reply

  • Rosie: My regular winter perfumes on rotation include Filles de Aiguilles, Coromandel, Coco, Mon Perfume Cherie par Camille and Epic Woman.
    I have treated myself to a full bottle of Diptyque’s Benjoin Boheme, which I really enjoyed from a sample several years ago. I don’t hear it mentioned much, but I find it really beautiful. I’m really looking forward to the warmth and comfort it provides when I open it on Christmas Day. December 22, 2022 at 8:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I also liked Benjoin Bohème. Such a cozy amber scent. December 23, 2022 at 4:38am Reply

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