We Tested (and Graded!) 16 Christmas-Tree-Scented Candles On the Market This Holiday Season
Diptyque Pine Tree of Light
Description: "From this light is born the captivating scent of fir trees, warmed by the delicate, neighbouring cedars," according to the brand's website.
Smell Notes: "The strong scent was practically headache inducing fresh out of the box, but it’s drastically subtler when the candle is burning," one tester writes. "It doesn’t deliver on the 'captivating scent of fir trees' like it promises—it smells more like perfume with evergreen undertones—but it’s very pleasant nonetheless. Diptyque candles are pricey, there’s no doubt, but they last for a while (this one will get me through the holidays and beyond) and I love using the pretty jar to hold makeup brushes, Q-tips and more when I’m done burning it."
Buy It! $72; saksfifthavenue.com
Capri Blue Fir & Firewood
Description: This candle claims to have a "woodsy" smell, offering a "fruity, green aroma of apple, clove, fir, pine needle, white birch, cedar, vetiver, and musk" when lit.
Smell Notes: "Capri Blue candles are my absolute favorite, and the fir and firewood scent did not disappoint," our tester writes. "Before you even take a match to this candle, it's reminscient of the holidays, and although it's a bit more perfume-scented than an actual evergreen, the hints of Christmas tree fill the whole room when the candle is burning. It offers 85 hours of burn time, which will last you well through the holiday season even if you burn it every night, which I highly recommend you do. Plus, the holiday scent sticks around long after you've blown out the candle for the night."
Buy It! $30; anthropologie.com
Ralph Lauren Bedford Holiday
Description: Offering 150 hours of burn time, this soy wax candle boasts a "festive blend of pine needles, juniper berries, cypress and vetiver."
Smell Notes: "Bedford Holiday blends an authentic Christmas tree scent with some perfume-y undertones," that gave our tester some initial reservations, "but wound up winning me over." It will make your living room smell like you have a (smallish) real tree, but also some fancy candles burning — something you might find in a home in Bedford, New York, the well-heeled suburb near where Ralph himself has a country house, and, I can only assume, after which the scent is named. At $60 for a smallish votive, there are probably better values on this list."
Buy It! $60; ralphlauren.com
Williams Sonoma Winter Forest
Description: This candle (which can be monogrammed!) blends pine with cedar wood, cinnamon, patchouli, thyme and citrus to "bring the deep, woodsy aroma of an evergreen forest into your home."
Smell Notes: "I’m really not much of a candle guy, but I truly cannot rave enough about this. The second you open the box, the smell of Christmas hits you—not in an obnoxious or lab-manufactured way, but like stepping on to an actual Christmas tree lot," one tester writes. "As it burns, that aroma only gets more pleasant. My only complaint is that I wish it burned longer, but honestly I would buy multiple to keep the scent all season long. This is a must have for those with a fake Christmas tree who want the scent of a real one!"
Buy It! $19.95; williams-sonoma.com
Thymes Forest Cedar Candle
Description: Offering 44 hours of burn time through a non-metal wick, this candle gives off a "spicy-scented resinous wood" fragrance of Cedar mixed with ground nutmeg, cedarwoods, cinnamon bark, and fir needles.
Smell Notes: "This nature-themed candle smells vaguely minty, like a breath of fresh air or maybe just expensive toothpaste," one tester writes. "While it is no replacement for your Christmas tree, it still condenses the spirit of the holiday into a layered yet subdued scent. The trees etched on the votive design glow when the candle is lit, providing the visual cue to a journey through a winter forest while in the comfort of your home. It doesn’t last long, but it burns bright."
Buy It! $32; thymes.com
Thymes Frasier Fir
Description: This candle is meant to give off fragrances of Siberian Fir, cedarwood, sandalwood.
Smell Notes: "I was so excited to try this candle," our tester writes. "The packaging is really pretty and it smells the most authentically like a Christmas tree out of any other candle I’ve smelled. The pre-light scent definitely gets an A+... But then the disappointment came. After over an hour of burning I could barely smell anything. It burns very slow and the wax hadn’t even melted to the edges after a few hours. I first tried it in my (New York City-sized) living room before bringing it into my bedroom hoping the smaller space helped. It unfortunately didn’t."
Buy It! $35; francescas.com
Threshold Ribbed Glass Jar Frasier Fir
Description: This candle offers 28 hours of burn time and promises to fill your home with "fresh scents of fir."
Smell Notes: "This veers wonderfully close to Christmas-tree-in-a-can smell, without the cloying air-freshener undertones," the tester notes. "It's familiar, friendly and not overpowering, but just managed to pervade a decent-size bedroom, and was especially pleasant to pass by in a small hall where it made a bigger impact."
Buy It! $12.99; target.com
Yankee Candle Balsam & Cedar
Description: A festive blend of balsam fir, aromatic cedar wood, and juniper berry in a large glass jar
Smell Notes: "Nothing makes me more nostalgic during the holidays than lighting up a Yankee Candle. One whiff of their festive candles, and I’m instantly transported back to grade school, when I would roam the store to smell their unique new scents (after shopping at Delia’s and before eating a bag of Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzels)," one tester reminisces. "Needless to say, while I no longer shop at Delia’s, I still burn Yankee Candles, and I was eager to test out this new holiday offering. I love a big, meaty candle because it usually lasts longer. I’ve been burning this bad boy for the past two weeks and it has barely dwindled. The initial sniff test was a bit overwhelming, but when I lit the green wax it gave off that fresh cut Christmas tree pine scent that I would burn all year long if I could (and might, if my husband doesn’t object). It also wafted through my house, and I even had guests ask how I found a Christmas tree that smelled so amazing. (I didn't give away the secret.)"
Buy It! $29.50; target.com
Bath & Body Works Fresh Balsam
Description: This 3-wick candle promises to deliver 45 hours of burn time and fill your room with "woodland balsam, crisp eucalyptus, fir branches, cedarwood" scents.
Smell Notes: "I can still remember the year that my parents decided to swap out the real Christmas tree for the fake one," our tester writes. "I came home that day from school and was told the tree was up and ready to be decorated in the family room and the first thing I said was, 'It is? I can’t smell it!” Just like that, a sensation I never even realized I associated with the holidays was gone. Because it was the '80s, mom got potpourri to fix the problem, which never really did the job. If it were today, I would have just suggested she buy this candle. It smells exactly as I remembered; crisp, sweet, and invigorating. It’s instantly nostalgic. And because it’s made with essential oils, it doesn’t have that overpowering synthetic chemical after-burn that ruins the experience. Plus, it lasts. I burned it about two hours a night for a week and am barely a quarter way through."
Buy It! $24.50; bathandbodyworks.com
Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Woodsmoke Cedar
Description: This Joanna-Gaines-approved candle comes in a tin jar and promises 70 hours of burn time with "woodsy and cedar" fragrances.
Smell Notes: "This is the perfect candle if you prefer your holiday cheer on the chill side," our tester writes. "Pre-light, the cedar scent is gentle and subtle, and even when lit, it's basically what a Christmas tree farm would smell like if you were 10 miles away from it. So if you're someone who doesn't want your entire house to smell like a Christmas tree (a.k.a. someone who does not rotate their coffee mugs to include Santa-shaped ones post-Thanksgiving), this is perfect for your un-decked halls."
Buy It! $12.99; target.com
Rifle Paper Co. Holiday
Description: A festive candle with hints of cranberry, balsam fir and cedarwood and a 60 hour burn time.
Smell Notes: "The pre-light smell of this candle was glorious, and the cranberry wasn't overpowering or artificial, so I was so excited to take it home and burn it," one tester writes. "However, once I got home, I was a bit disappointed that it didn't fill my room with the scent I'd hoped for unless I stuck my nose super close to the flame (don't try this at home). This candle is great for sniffing and subtle hints of holiday cheer in your apartment, but not so great for burning when you want your entire apartment to smell like a Christmas tree farm."
Buy It! $28; riflepaperco.com
Description: This candle promises to wrap up a lot of scents into one 3-wick jar that will burn for 90-110 hours: "Freshly cut pine trees and pomander balls. Mom's sugar cookies and grandma's pies, warm from the oven. Crackling fires on crisp winter evenings."
Smell Notes: "This candle smells of pine, so it certainly gets away with 'holiday' in its name, but I honestly want to burn it all winter long (and I almost could! The thing is massive, but with three wicks, I know it’ll go quicker than I’d like it to)," one tester writes. "With even stronger notes of a crackling fire — and subtle hints of spice — the scent makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and giant cozy socks. It warmed my entire room… and maybe a little bit my soul too."
Buy It! $60; homesickcandles.com
Yankee Candle Frosted Fir
Description: This crisp candle promises to burn for 65-80 hours and mixes a scent of "frosted fir, crisp pine needle, and balsam" with a top note of "winter citrus."
Smell Notes: "Before I even lit this candle, it had a really nice evergreen scent mixed with a hint of sandalwood that wasn’t too heady—it definitely smelled more expensive than it was, almost like a high-end men’s cologne," our tester writes. "It gave my desk a bright and clean scent that I really enjoyed. When lit, it kept its same scent and did a good job making my living room smell nice but not overpowering. I wouldn’t say it smells exactly like a freshly cut Christmas tree, but maybe that’s the sandalwood-y part. I’ll certainly be burning it all month long, and will likely use it out of season as well."
Buy It! $24.99; kohls.com
Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus
Description: A limited-edition scent offering hints of pine needle and Eucalyptus to encapsulate the "magic of Christmas morning."
Smell Notes: "I’m a bit of a scented candle snob," this tester writes. "Maybe it’s because my nose has been scarred by that area in every mall where Bath & Body Works and The Body Shop battle for overly-perfumed supremacy, or I’ve just attended a few too many dinner parties where the scent of vanilla pillars mingled unappetizingly with the meal. But as a Jo Malone fragrance devotee—hello, fellow Grapefruit, Pomegranate, and Orange Blossom cologne fans!—I was willing to trust. And I’m glad I did. The elegant candle, which comes in the classic Jo Malone glass vessel, struck a lovely balance of fresh pine tree and soothing eucalyptus. When lit, the scent was subtle—with the eucalyptus coming in a little stronger than the pine—and filled my apartment with a light, crisp, Christmas-y fragrance. It smelled like winter … while at a mountain lodge surrounded by snow-capped trees … while sitting in the spa … next to a bowl of pinecones. The candle, however, did burn rather quickly (I can’t imagine getting 35 hours of burn time, as the package suggests), but the scent is immediately noticeable so it doesn’t require keeping it lit too long."
Buy It! $72; nordstrom.com
LAFCO Winter Balsam Votive
Description: A 2 oz. earthy fragrance meant to smell like a "winter forest" using a blend of scents including mint-infused eucalyptus, balsam fir needle, oud wood, sandalwood, patchoili, vetiver, cedarwood and burnished amber.
Smell Notes: "Not burning, it smelled kind of musky, a little bit more like an old cabin in the woods than the actual woods themselves. Not bad but not instantly 'Christmas-y,'" one tester writes. "When it was burning, the smell was really faint — as in, hard to smell unless you were standing right over it — but much cleaner, almost like classic bar soap. It burned slowly and evenly and the packaging is very pretty, so it wasn't a total loss, but I want a Christmas-tree scented candle to really deliver."
Buy It! $17; lafco.com
Nest Birchwood Pine
Description: A woodsy, aromatic candle that evokes the "aroma of a winter forest" by mixing white pine, fir balsam and birchwood with rich musk and amber scents.
Smell Notes: "Full disclosure: There was a Hallmark Christmas movie playing in the background the first time I lit this candle, so I'm not ruling out the possibility of a bias," this tester admits. "However, before I even grabbed a lighter, I was hit with a fragrance that I can only describe to you as festive AF. The white pine, fir balsam, and birchwood notes come together to make all of your white Christmas dreams come true, and once lit, this candle smells exactly how you expect your house to smell once you put up the tree. (This is extra nice if you live in an apartment with a baby tree that will never reach that level of Santa readiness.) If you've ever lit up a Nest candle, you probably know the drill: These candles, more often than not in my experience, thrive on the slow-burning, stronger-scented side, which is perfect, in this case, if you are really leaning into the holiday thing this year."
Buy It! $42; nordstrom.com