Essence of Christmas

essence of christmas

I used to throw an annual cookie exchange and would put together a little party favor for the guests. One year I gave each friend a bag containing the “Essence of Christmas”. This is something my mom always had simmering on the stovetop at our house during the holiday season; it makes your whole house smell like Christmas. It is easy to make in big batches, and if you are already in cocoa kit or rosemary nut production, you should have a large supply of clear bags and labels– perfect for packaging these goodies. Share with neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or bring as a hostess gift to parties.

essence of christmas close up


  • 1 t. cloves
  • 4-5 juniper berries (can be hard to find, Whole Foods usually has these with the bulk spices from Thanksgiving to Christmas)
  • 1 orange (navel oranges– cannot use clementines or tangerines)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks


  • Slice orange and add slices with spices to a pot with 4-5 cups of water. Simmer on the stove to emit a wonderful Christmas fragrance. Refill water as necessary.

The Label

  • Include the directions listed above along with a little holiday message.

essence of christmas label

4 thoughts on “Essence of Christmas

  1. how do you manage the juiciness of the orange slices? And how long will it keep before you have to make it up? Thanks!! Love this idea for teachers, you see

    • If you are giving this as a gift, you give one whole orange–unsliced– in a bag with the other ingredients. The orange will last in the bag with the spices about a week and then may start to mold (especially if there is any kind of humidity). When you are ready to fill your house with the Christmas smell, slice the orange and put in a pot with water and the other ingredients. Simmer on the stovetop. As the water gets low, you can refill and keep simmering.

  2. Thanks for the idea, Roommom! I’ve had a pot on the stove with this all month, but never thought of bagging it all up. I’m giving them to guests as party favors at our Christmas party this weekend! Bags are loaded and ready to go! Wondering if it’s possible to dry the slices of orange and make a potpourri? It’d look pretty, but would it smell as fragrant? A project for next year…

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