These days, gift boxes of oranges and bags of clementines and tangelos are on sale at Christmastime. I confess that we probably eat more Cuties in December than . . . wait, do they sell Cuties the rest of the year?
A few years ago, I started saving the peels from our Cuties early in December. Once it gets a little closer to Christmas, I put the peels in a pot, add some cinnamon sticks and water, and put it on to simmer for hours. Our whole house smells Christmas-y.
A couple months ago, a friend showed me an idea: putting these "aromatics" in jars. They'd make great neighbor gifts! The article has several other scent ideas, but the one I whipped up took these things:
Christmas Scent Jar
- peels of 2 large Cuties
- ~1/2 navel orange, cut into crosswise slices (and then in half, but that's optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (scored and broken into inch pieces, which is optional)
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 1 pint jar, ring & lid
I put the peels in first, then used a knife to move the peels away from the sides of the jar to slide in the orange slices (to look pretty). I added the cinnamon pieces and cloves that way, too, then filled it with water. Screw on the lid and ring, and voila!
There are tons of options for what to do with the mix. I'll probably do the same thing I've done in years past: the stovetop method. But you can also use an open slow cooker, a fondue pot, a candle warmer, a mug warmer and more. (Though I should say my friend tried the candle warmer method and didn't smell anything.)
Want to share these with your neighbors? Here are some free printable tags to go along with them! They're 3"x4.5" (small enough to fit on an index card). Feel free to glue them on cute paper and sign the back.
And of course, you don't have to use oranges and cinnamon. You can use pine needles or small branches, your favorite herbs, a gingerbread spice blend with slices of ginger and cinnamon sticks), or anything else that says Christmas to you. Maybe your spent vanilla beans can find one last use (after you've scraped out the seeds and made vanilla sugar, naturally).
I can't wait to get this simmering on my stove today!
(And yes, that's snow, and that's my backyard. Trade you.)
What smells like Christmas to you?