Recently, my husband and I made a quick getaway to experience autumn in the tiny town of Lititz, Pennsylvania. The fall colors were at peak; the air was crisp with just an occasional sprinkling of rain. In a word? Perfect.
We bundled up to take in a street festival; wandered through tiny shops; and cheered the sounds of a local one-man band who brought new meaning to the word “talent.” We ate delicious local fare and drank coffee. Lots of coffee.
But the thing that I will forever associate with Lititz is the scent that rushed my olfactory bulb as we walked into our hotel. It seems that the Hilton folks have taken the Wilbur Chocolate Factory — “an American Original since 1884” — and brought it back to life as The Wilbur Lititz, now part of its Tapestry Collection.
The place smells like chocolate! And why wouldn’t it? The original brick walls, both inside and out, have been carefully preserved. I can only imagine how much chocolate came out of that place in almost 135 years of production. We couldn’t help but mention this subtle delight to the concierge, who said with a wink: “Oh, that? We pipe it in!”
Today, the aroma of a home or office is big business. Scent branding is in vogue across a range of industries, including hotels that often pump a signature scent into rooms and lobbies, noted the authors of a 2018 Harvard Business Review article.
Whether it’s gingerbread, cinnamon or, yes, even the smell of gift wrap, the scents of Christmas are a vital — but often overlooked — part of what makes the season merry and bright. The aromas of pine and peppermint instantly signal that the holiday season has arrived. The scents of Christmas send us back through the years — straight to our childhoods.
I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to follow the lead of The Wilbur Lititz’s management team. I am going to pipe in the scents of Christmas with great intention.
Artificial garlands, trees and wreaths are, visually, dead ringers for the real things. They bring so much beauty to our homes, but they do lack the beautiful scent. Nothing beats the smell of fresh-cut pine.
To achieve an authentic pine aroma, use fresh greenery wherever you can. If you don’t have this available from your own yard or a generous neighbor’s, fresh Christmas tree lots are anxious to sell the boughs they cut from the tree trunks, which come off as they prepare the lot. Typically, those scraps of pine are cheap and just perfect for making wreaths, covering mantels and filling the place with the scent of freshly cut pine.
It’s a tradition that goes back centuries, and it’s coming soon to a preschool near you! Making pomanders by stuffing cloves and other spices into the rind of oranges is a simple craft project the kids will enjoy. This releases the oil from the orange rind, allowing its pungent fragrance to mix with the spice aroma.
And don’t toss those pomanders out after the holidays. Let them cure. Even in their dried-up condition, they should last for many years.
Cinnamon-scented pinecones just showed up in my local supermarket with a big price tag on a smallish bag. Why buy them when it’s pretty easy to make scented pinecones ourselves?
Gather pinecones that have fallen from evergreen trees in parks and neighborhoods. Wash and dry them. Once completely dry, spritz them with a solution of water and essential oil in your choice of fragrance. Cinnamon, apple and orange are nice options. Try mixing them to come up with your signature blend. Once well-saturated, seal the pinecones in a plastic bag for 24 hours. Then, remove them and allow them to air-dry.
You can buy it, but why do that when you can make it for a lot less? The simple recipe is 8 ounces of water and 20 drops of peppermint essential oil or peppermint extract. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, preferably glass. Spritz the air, the furniture, pillows — and even the draperies. You’ll achieve a subtle, lovely candy-cane atmosphere — a great Christmas scent!
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at Everyday Cheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”