We cut our own tree from a local tree farm. Not because we’re wildly ‘GREEN’ or anything like that. It started as just a great opportunity for a bunch of boys to get to hack away at a tree with a saw. But it’s evolved into wonderful yearly Christmas tradition which conveniently involves a sharpened tool. I still go along to provide hand-wringing safety coaching, and my husband leads the band of merry men.
Now, the smell of a freshly cut tree is a wonderful thing, but I’ve found that it seems to quickly fade and is soon completely drowned out by the cacophony of everyday household smells. So when the guys trimmed the tree’s height to fit our room, imagine more enthusiastic sawing, I rescued some of the smaller branch pieces, all sticky with sap, and threw them in a vacant bulb jar. I’ve been sticking my nose in that jar for a whiff of The Season for the last couple of weeks. Clean, sharp and fresh – I’m LOVING this homemade aroma jar of evergreen winter fragrance!
Even if you don’t go to the tree farm or buy a live tree (OH to have a pre-lit someday!) your garden can be wonderful resource, even in the dead of winter. You can make an aroma jar with clippings of evergreens from your own trees and shrubs, you could beg a few twigs from a neighbor, or even stop along a country road and get some cuttings from a humble cedar tree.
So get outside and take your clippers along! You’re going to end up with something nice for yourself, or a unique handmade gift to share with neighbors, a grandparent, the babysitter or the hostess of this weekend’s party, for practically pennies, if not entirely free of cost. And free is my favorite!
Trim some lively branches from any evergreen tree.
You’ll want haul in two or three boughs, with at least a finger-sized central branch. The strongest scent comes from cut sections of these branches, so cut some one inch-ish sections of thicker branch pieces to put in the bottom of your jar to get that strong evergreen smell. *If you are sensitive to sap, you might want to wear gloves.
Then tour your gardens, fencerows, and hedges looking for other fragrant or decorative items to include in your aroma jar. Look for sturdy stems like these rose hips (below) which will last through the holidays. Consider cutting some seed pods, other berries (watch out for white poison ivy berries!), more varieties of fir branches, small pinecones, even nuts! I found a black walnut to add – it has a really distinctive aroma. My grandmother always prepared black walnut fudge for our Christmas celebration, so adding some cracked pieces of that to my aroma jar triggers some great memories of her. *If your cuttings are wet, let them dry on layers of newspapers overnight.
Here’s what I collected, all I needed to make four small aroma jars. I have my nubs of evergreen branches, some frasier fir and white pine twigs, a few Rose of Sharon seedpods, rose hips, and some honeysuckle berries.
Use whatever containers you have on hand. Raid your summer vase collection, your unused glassware stash, or enlist the recycled food and condiment jars you have stashed away for summer lightning bug hunts. Maybe you have some mason jars left over from canning? Containers with lids will trap the fresh scent for an even longer time.
Add bits of the fragrant cuttings to your container – whatever suits your fancy. You can make it extra special with a scrap of ribbon or a twine bow tied around the neck of the jar or vase. String something on the ribbon or twine for even more charm – a tiny jingle bell, an old key, a discarded bit of vintage jewelry, or a small vintage ornament from the local thrift shop.
Enjoy your handmade aroma jar, straight from your own garden! Just open the jar and poke your nose in to recapture that fresh evergreen fragrance, naturally, any time you need a Holiday boost.
These make terrific ‘homemade gift’ projects to do with your children, but remember to keep the aroma jar away from toddlers who might consider it edible! I had poison control on speed dial when my youngest was a tiny guy – somehow, this would’ve looked like salad to him!
*** Visit my Etsy shop if you’d like to purchase one of the closed jars featured in this post! ***
Susan is a forty-something, at-home mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, teacher, friend – trying to walk out a joyful life following the Lord Jesus Christ. She is the mom of all boys, parenting teens and navigating her way through the middle years hand-in-hand with her husband. She documents the grand adventures of their lives at her blog Sweet Annabelle. She has a passion for gardening and hopes to share some of her successes, failures, tips, tricks and tutorials with us! She also has a rocking cool Etsy shop where she sells all kinds of vintage treasures.
Connect with Susan. You’ll be glad you did!