this thing's incredible

I Found the Best Scent for My Fake Christmas Tree

Best Fake Christmas Tree Scent
Take it all in. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This year, in an apparently misguided attempt to reduce my environmental footprint, I got myself an artificial Christmas tree. Though I’m still racked with guilt about its carbon impact, the fake tree does have its conveniences. I’m very happy not to water the thing or clean up after its pine needles. I won’t miss lugging it outside come January 3. If I’m being totally honest, though, there is one thing the artificial tree will never replicate, and that’s the bracing, Christmassy scent of pine or cedar or balsam.

But, surely, I thought, we’ve come up with a way to fake that, too? To find the best fake pine scent for my (your) artificial tree, I rounded up all the internet had to offer by way of tree scenters, excluding candles and room sprays (which, if we’re getting technical, really are separate categories). Below, a ranking of what I got — while nothing was bad, some did stand out either for scent longevity and/or pleasantness.

A pack of green, cylinder-shaped ornaments that are meant to scent your tree discreetly. I actually said, “Ohh!” as soon as I unscrewed the bottle. The fragrance-infused paper material is incredibly strong right out of the package. (You may want to note that ScentSicles makes other scents, but I went for the clean Douglas Fir of White Winter, rather than ordinary pine or some juniper-tinged monstrosity.) Every time I left the room and came back, I was pleasantly surprised; the smell was clean and slightly astringent — the opposite of cloying. As days went on, I noticed that the smell remained. It’s been about a week now, and the smell has died down, so I’d say ScentSicles’s claim that it lasts 30 days is a stretch. But, if I were to do it over again, I’d use just two or three ScentSicles at a time, cycling through two or three more once the originals died down. They’re so strong, that might just be enough.

You can find it for a slightly more expensive price at Amazon, too.

Another green-ornament entry, these actually smelled even better to me than the ScentSicles, but where the ScentSicles are meant to disappear into your tree, the Yankee Candle icicles (glittery, spiraled icicles) want to draw attention to themselves. That’s minus points for me. Also, maybe because they’re scented gels (much like those Glade canisters you pop open and leave in a sad room), the smell didn’t last as long as the paper ScentSicles did. I’d say it dissipated after two or three days, which is not a super bargain, considering that you get just six in a pack. I’d recommend shelling out for at least three packs. And if you’re really desperate, you can even stow the plastic package the icicles come in somewhere near the tree. It’s redolent.

I wanted to like this so much, if only because the bottle’s singular purpose and official-sounding label made it seem like the kind of thing that must work (like Poo-Pourri). But I’ve concluded that sprays just don’t have the lasting power of an ornament that stays on the tree. I’d enjoy the smell as soon as I sprayed it onto my tree, but after an hour or so, I’d leave the room and come back, then ask (no one in particular), “Does the tree still smell?” Control freaks will argue that a spray will allow you to adjust the concentration of scent, but I want a full blast of fir, not teensy puffs. The scent itself was blandly nice, and less robust or character-driven than the ScentSicles or Yankee Candle. It’s the Charlie Puth of fake-tree scents.

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I Found the Best Scent for My Fake Christmas Tree