Got Myself a Gun – and other Great Holiday Gifts for the Home



I’m having a Holiday Moment, hanging garland and little prisms and generally doing the Holiday Thing, including thinking about how to make my home smell great, which it didn’t when I walked in this evening!    You’ll read about the drains later on but for now let’s talk about The Pretty Smelling Things!  I give you Great Holiday Gifts for the Home!  Whose home?  That’s up to you!  I admit to having bought several of these things….and then I kept them for myself.  Yes, I am Just That Greedy.  But man, they smell GOOOOOD!

Guns.  No, not the automatic shotgun with the explosive shells that I want more than a box of Mallomars.  But just as cool and way less likely to land me in Stateville:  Frederic Malle Perfume Guns.  When these first came out at Barneys I thought ‘oh, right.   Just what I need, some giant industrial cleaning solvent bottle thingy full of room spray.”  Well…okay.  I still don’t LOVE the bottle.  But I am totally in love with what’s IN those bottles.  It’s not an air-freshener; I’m sure M. Malle assumes that the maid has done her daily and your house is already clean.  It’s ……not really even room spray.  It’s Fabulous, amped up to 11.

Great Holiday Gifts for the Home

Start with a house that doesn’t stink (we just cleaned our drains so I’m hyper-sensitive to that. Drains is NASTY!) …a few times a day, spritz some Russian Nights (my current favorite) in the living room…or 1er Mai (always my beloved) in the bedroom.  Over time, the scent will permeate the surroundings, without overwhelming…and the room takes on a scent personality.  And it’s not drains!   This gift would be for the avant-garde – it’s not a pretty bottle.  But if you your giftee loves sophisticated scent, this is a gorgeous way to go.  Russian Nights is actually  a little too sophisticated for my hovel.  I wonder if M. Malle is interested in doing a scent called Shotgun Shack Fulla Rotts?  Eh, probably not.

By the way, a lot of people want to know what Frederic Malle’s house looks like.  eh.  If you’ve seen one fabulous flat you’ve seen ’em all.  I want to know what his house SMELLS like!  I am going to go out on a limb and say it does NOT smell like drains.  Or Rotts.    sigh.


Another beauty……. Annick Goutal Noel.  Blame March for this one.  I think we yark about this every hollerday season  – and with good reason.  This is persackly the way Miss March first described it the scent of a high-end florist’s shop during Christmas season.  It’s also the scent of the most romantic date I’ve ever had in my life, also at Christmastime, when my now-ex and I strolled home  with me clutching a bouquet of two dozen of the most beautiful yellow roses he’d just bought me from A New Leaf on Wells Street.  The crisp, wintry air, the holiday lights, the snow crunching underfoot, the roses, the  wonder when you are in love, scared to death it is a mirage but stunned to have that One Night when everything converges and everything is perfect.  That marriage is long gone but that One Perfect Holiday Night is encapsulated in Noel.   I smile like Greer Garson every time I spray it!     Great Holiday Gifts for the Home


I Don’t Do Candles.  My sinuses, about which I whine all the time, don’t like them.  Except the Malles.  And you already know how fabulous they are (remember how I made such a goober of myself at the Malle Candle Event, when I confused the bowl of silk flowers with the 1er Mai candle (oh, Musette. Do try to pay attention, will you?).  They are incredible scents, every single one of them.  But another candle that smells divine and doesn’t send a mace through my eye is my favorite candlemaker out of Mason City, IA, Camille Lee of Soyphisticated Candles.  They are soy-based, smokeless and give off great scent.  I’m not into gourmand scents so I can’t tell you about those but I can tell you that her ‘holiday’ scents (my italics – I always think of pine/eucalyptus/bay etc as ‘holiday’) are deeply infused with scent.  I leave these unlit and open around my house, and it smells great (except when the drains are icked – but at that point nothing short of boiling water and bleach will do).  “Apples and Oranges”, “Frankincense and Myrrh”..what’s not to love?great holiday gifts for the home


Last but not least:  My beloved Agraria.  No, they do not send me freebies. No,  I am not affiliated.   Yes, I know I am Boring with the Agraria.   But!  What I am is In Love.  I have been forever.  Agraria Bitter Orange is one of the most perfect scents ever created.  It’s Constant Comment tea  in a spray.  I do this:  when I’m feeling like choking the life out of somebody I go take a hot shower with the shower gel, then slicker on the Body Lotion.  I’ll be honest here, the lotion doesn’t hold its scent very long – certainly not like an Amouage or Malle cream or lotion…(and the shower gel scent is gone in a nanosecond)…but that’s not the point – there’s something about the ritual….I then go into the bedroom and spritz on a LOT of the cologne (a) it’s cologne and b) I like to spritz a lot).  Spritzing it in the bedroom does two things, it scents me and it scents the bedroom.  If I am stuck working at home on those days I want to choke the life out of somebody, I walk over to the reed diffuser and give it a whirl.  In a blink I’m a size 6 again, and way the hell calmer.  And the room smells good to boot!  They have  a Balsam which I confess to having NO idea about….I can’t get my nose out of the Bitter Orange.  My BFFFF gave me the cologne for my birthday and I squealed like a third-grade girl!  Great Holiday Gifts for the Home


Okay – NOW it’s Last but not Least:  The Real Thing.  Nothing smells quite like that first evening, after the tree is brought in.  You know how you bring it in and let it settle?  When I was a kid my parents made sure to do that early in the day (or very late at night) so we wouldn’t drive them batty, asking ‘can we hang the ornaments yet?  Huh?  Can we?” 500,000 times.   Papi would always saw the bottom off (which is the really smelly part – that fresh-sawn trunk, with the resins)…and there would be all the jostling with the holder (remember those old steel holders (always red and green) with the iffy legs?   Anyway, the jostling and the sawing filled the house with the smell of a pine forest.  I quickly became anosmic to it – after the first day or so it simply was part of the house smell.  But for that first magical night…oh, yum!  We don’t trim a tree anymore – instead we do baskets and vases and garlands, interwoven with silver dollar eucalyptus and silver ribbon and clear glass globes and it’s all just too chic, blahblahblah.but you know what?  Doesn’t matter.  Bring that pine bough in this house and I’m 7 years old again.  And it’s the Holidays!  And the house smells great!!!


How do you scent your house for the holidays?

  • My favorite home fragrance right now is Mariage Frères incense. It’s simply sublime and worth all the Euros.

    I am (yeah!) finally heading to civilization in a week and spending Christmas in New York. I will be racing to Barney’s to check out the home fragrances. Malle is a master.

    • Musette says:

      ooh, while you’re there check out the bell jars. and the LeLabo lotions…and the new Malle tuberose candle.

      and then, go up Madison to the Malle boutique – say hi to Margaret for me!! it’s a totally different vibe from Barneys.

  • noseknows says:

    Musette, have you sniffed FM Chez Monsieur, “the scent of a men’s den”? What does the haute man cave smell like?

    • Musette says:

      ha! so totally NOT a ‘man cave’. It smells like The Most Interesting Man in the World’s library/den – minus the beer. If El O were a different type of guy (read: less of a ‘guy’) and the dogs didn’t fart so much, I would spray this in his den.


  • Ann says:

    Guns and drains? It’s gotta be Musette, ha! Oh, Lord, woman, you do have me falling out of my chair every time I read one of your posts! All of those products sound fabbo, but I’d especially love to get a whiff of one of those FM guns (one of these days I’m coming to Chi-town to see you and we will take Barney’s by storm!). BTW, how does one do drains? And since we’ve never done it, will our house be exploding soon? If it does, I’m blaming you 😉 Hugs …

    • Ann says:

      P.S. The Agraria balsam is quite loverly — I have their petite diffuser in that scent and it’s nice for small spaces. For bigger rooms, you’d likely need the bigger size.

      • Musette says:

        I have the petit BO in the living room – on those wack days I just give those sticks a twirl. It’s heaven. I’ll try the balsam, next time I’m at NM or SFA. It sounds like a possible winner!

    • Musette says:

      hey, doll! Drains are gross. And ours are cattywampus so every now and then we have to break out the shopvac and ick ’em out. Then you pour boiling water and bleach down to counteract the ick and it’s all good. But for about 23 minutes it’s sheer sewer hell. Come spring El O is ripping out the old plumbing and reworking it so they run easier. And this, darling, is why I do not choke the life out of him. xoxoxoA

  • Martha says:

    I like to get some balsam, or at least pine. Sometimes I’ll get a whole tree, sometimes I’ll just get a swag or even some loose branches to arrange. Balsam fir is my absolute favorite. When I smell that fragrance, I am reminded of my native state, Michigan. I live in Kansas now and the landscape isn’t quite the same.

    • Musette says:

      Oh, dear, no. Not the same at all. There’s something so..wild…about Michigan. And wet. In a good way. That ‘blue’ wet of lakes and pine and balsam and alll the good firs. Not that there’s anything wrong with Kansas. It’s just way different from Michigan.

      • Martha says:

        You are very poetic, and you nailed it. Yeah, after this past summer of drought I long for all those lakes.

  • tammy says:

    Will try and refrain from writing a novel, since candles are My Thang, even more so than perfume. I guess fragrance in general is just my thing, because I love all things scented, but I adore candlelight, so the combination of scent and candles is just about Heaven for me.

    Thirding the Thymes Frazier Fir candle; it really is All That. I used to stock up, but it seems to me that they get too perfumey and less Fir-ish if they sit too long, so now I just buy them new every year. Can’t say as I am thrilled with the new packaging.

    Winter by Slatkin is my second favorite …. it’s just smoky, piney perfection; like catching the smell of woodsmoke while walking in the snowy woods,

    What’s cool about both is that they are relatively inexpensive. Have not had much like with the higher end things; Cire Trudon was an especial disappointment. The few I have tried are so-so, and for 90 bucks, I darn sure need more than so-so. The Annick Goutal Noel is very pretty, and while I don’t think it’s worth it at full price ( kind of light and not a lot of throw), one of the perfume discounters seem to always have the smaller votives on sale for under 10 dollars. The containers are sweet with their gold stars!

    Lastly, WTF is Frederic’s issue with bottles? The perfume bottles are beyond plain and these are unspeakably ugly. I’d have bought at least 3 of the perfumes by now were it not for the bottles, and I am not even going to bother with these room sprays, but damn, I bet they do smell the joint up nice…

    • Musette says:

      tammy! tammytammytammy. You want a CANDLE? Fuggedabout the Malle room sprays. Go for the candles. If I Were a Rich Man (deedledeedle and all that) I would buy every single one of them. And two of the 1er Mai and Rugosa. And my house is small, so that’s sayin’ sumpin’. There’s some loose talk about a Christmas candle. It’s on the Barneys website but no one has yet smelled it. Apparently it’s already sold out before it’s even hit the store! But barring that, I can attest to the longevity, realism and throw of the Malles. Cire Trudon was (and remains) a complete mystery to me. Every time I sniff one I wonder….’why?’

      Since You are CandleThang, you should definitely check out Soyphisticated’s line. I also fell in love with this little Winter Woods …no…Whispering Pines candle from a place called Hillhouse Naturals (it closely approximates the Noel) but can’t find it now.


    • Mals86 says:

      I LOVE that Slatkin Winter candle. Love it. The Thymes Frasier Fir is good, too, but Winter – oh, perfect. I stock up.

  • Patty White says:

    I am all about the pine at christmas. I do those Thymes Frazier Fir big three -wick candles, and OMG, they are the perfect Christmas tree scent. I would burn them year round, but I try to have some restraing so I enjoy them more when I can burn thme. Perfection. Burning things is my specialty. My perfume collection sometimes is dwarfed by my candled collection. Hear you on the house full of rotts/dogs. Especially when it’s snowy outside and they come in from the quick pee dash wet. Wet dog is really just awful.

    • Musette says:

      ‘Burning things is my specialty’

      and this, my darling, is why I adore you so! 😀


  • Sherri Miller says:

    “Shotgun Shack Fulla Rotts”…ROFL! i was considering getting a Rotti pup a few weeks ago, and almost e-mailed you, but then we decided on an English Mastiff. I really love Rotties though!

    Those Malle perfume guns look amazing! I wish there was a way to sample them before spending that much money!
    I really, reallly am tempted to buy the Coffee Society candle unsniffed; it sounds soooo amazing! Have you or anyone else tried that one?

    I will also definitely check out Sophisticated Candles; I am constantly looking for things to spray and burn that don’t irritate dh. You inspired me to get out the Diptyque Holiday candles I bought last month, and they’re really nice, especially the frankincense one. The pine one is the classic that says “Christmas is here”, and I can smell it burning in dh’s office, three rooms away. Diptyques are expensive but they give you a bang for your buck!

    We are doing a live tree, but won’t put it up until next week; everything else is decorated. My husband is bringing back my daughter( who is the Queen of Baking) from college today and she will scent up the house with nice Christmas smells.

    So glad you are back! Missed you like crazy! Hope you enjoy the holidays!!

    • Musette says:

      Oh, darling! PLEASE show pics of that Massie. I love them (and Cane Corsos). The only reason I don’t have Massies or Corsos is a) I don’t want to wipe up a lot of drool and b) I have a house full of Very Large Dog already.

      You will LOVE Camille’s candles. No smoking, no irritants. She knows her stuff (totally not affiliated and she gives me no free stuff – this is just Sharin’ the Love).

      You asked about Coffee Society. It is GORGEOUS! It’s the epitome of intelligentsia at cocktails in a gorgeous library room. Or coffee. Or my mother’s handbag (mutually exclusive). Cigarette. not cigarette smoke – a smattering of tobacco in the bottom of a handbag, some vague hint of coffee and liquor (not sweet liqueur)…. coming into a warm cafe on a cold afternoon….like Russian Nights, this scent is all about ambience in the truest sense of the word.

  • Liz K says:

    Cedre candles/incense from Esteban Paris are my favorite home scent. I store the incense sticks in my lingerie drawer and burn the candles on special occasions. I also uses the incense sticks in the felt lined drawers of our china hutch to counteract the ashtray odor from its previous owner. The Ambre incense is nice too.

    • Musette says:

      ooh! those sound wonderful! On the hutch, have you tried vinegar? I did 2 vinegar washes on an old hutch (3pts vinegar/1pt warm water with a hit of Murphy’s oil soap), I sponged it into the wood, then set a fan on it (obviously I didn’t soak the wood but I gave it whatfor)…did it twice. Got prolly 75% of the smell out and time/attrition took care of the rest. Wipe a couple of drops of orange oil therein and you will have a nice scent (bitter orange oil works well with cigarette smoke, for some weird reason).


      • Liz K says:

        Thanks all for the tips. At this point I just walk by the hutch and cringe because I stored all my pretty papergoods in it before I realized how stinky it is. Now we have to get through about 250 gorgeous paper plates and napkins that smell like the floor of an old bar. Need lots of friends who are anosmic to smoke to come over for cocktails. I tried the baking soda for several weeks but will do the vinegar bath, orange oil, charcoal thing asap. That has GOT to work.

    • tammy says:

      Also, try letting some charcoal briquettes sit in the drawers for awhile, or sprinkle some baking powder ( I think powder, the Arm and Hammer stuff, at any rate) in them, let it sit a few days or so, then vacuum it up.

  • Leslie F. says:

    We also get the live tree, but I also have a Frasier Fir candle from pure palette on etsy, which is great. I just opened up the tin, and the scent is wafting about nicely. I saw Dina C’s comment about the Infusion d’Iris candle; I have been wanting one for a while. hmmmm….

    Thanks for the Soyphisticated Candles site suggestion; I just clicked over there and bought a couple of gifts (ok, one is for me)! A dear friend is moving across the country next summer, so a use-it-up gift is perfect. I’m looking forward to them.

  • Heather Wood says:

    Funny how strongly and how individually we identify “Holiday” smells. The Christmas tree scent is a big one for those of us who grew up with it, and I still fuss with live trees for exactly that reason. I also have a bunch of Stonehenge candles, from Archipelago Botanicals, that I burn only in this season. The scent, which is listed as smoked cedar wood, bergamot, and amber, seems to me to be the very scent of quiet, happy expectancy. The rest of the year, they aren’t my thing. Anybody’s guess why those particular notes spell Christmas to me. The Malle scents sound beautiful, and I will try one if I can ever get past that double-ugly bottle.

    • Musette says:

      Yah. That bottle. It was originally designed for hotel use, I guess..and that would explain the ‘industrial’ look. And Malle’s packaging, save the Barneys 10th Anniversary boxes, is pretty Bauhaus-looking imo, so it makes sense. But I prefer a prettier container. Ask him if he cares what I think! LOL!

      that candle sounds wonderful, btw!

  • Dina C. says:

    We do the live Christmas tree thing, too, and I love that fresh piney smell. In fact, it’s so great that I enjoy the Thymes Fraser Fir votive candles all winter long. Before we actually get the tree, and long after it’s gone, these small votives can make the whole house smell like a pine forest. And somehow it smells genuine, not at all like the fakey cardboard cutout that hangs from a rearview mirror. 🙂 In my bedroom, I have a large unlit Prada Infusion d’Iris candle that smells wonderful. It’s a low level, background smell of woody iris that gently wafts as I walk by my bureau.

    • Musette says:

      My bedroom smells like a hodgepodge of scents because I am a perfume gadfly and a lot of testing goes on therein. Ditto the living room (where my perfume armoire is). I can’t pick out any one scent – it just smells like ‘perfume’. Which ain’t half-bad. And certainly beats smelling like drains.


  • rosarita says:

    I’m just saying hi, Ms A, which I can do cause my internet is finally fixed. We do everything online: telephone, TV, the works, and I kinda panicked when I couldn’t get my Posse fix. Plus I’m commiserating with you re drains; we are trying to get em clean here in our antique bungalow and the drain smell plus old house plus old cat smells aren’t so festive. Those candles sound nice. Thanks for sharing the story of your most romantic date with the snow and the roses; I’m craving snow and it’s smell big time, how about you?

    • Musette says:

      HELLZ NO! You know I hate snow. Well, I don’t hate snow. I hate cold. I hate living in a place where snow is usually not an ‘option’ (which makes me a moron, doesn’t it, since this is a vast country, with varying temp zones :-), though the past few winters have been…odd. I would love for it to snow heavily on Christmas Eve (after everyone has safely arrived at whatever destination) then stay until a warm rain washes it all away on 27 December.

      Yikes on the Internet, double-yikes on the drains. Like you, our little rural life is completely run by online. A stiff wind can knock my business out for a couple of hours. sigh.


  • Sandstorm936 says:

    Normally, I usually don’t scent my place but have tons of candles. Before I was a perfume nut, I was a candle nut. I still do adore the Slatkin & Co. candles. I loaded up on the lilac ones and the bamboo ones. I have to be careful with candles though. I have three Labs that can easily clear a table with their tails or jumping on tables and counters. My candles do come in handy because the power in my area tends to go out quite often and stay out.

    • Musette says:

      I rarely light my candles because I am forgetful (when I put water on to boil or am curing a skillet I always put the timer on, lest I set the house afire). I just brought in some cheapo pine candle which, if lit, would probably shut me down like the Kennedy at rush hour. But unlit, it’s giving off a subtle, greenery aroma.