How to Make Homemade Potpourri for Christmas

Here's an easy recipe for homemade simmering potpourri that's perfect for the Christmas season, with an inviting combination of orange and cinnamon, plus subtle notes of vanilla. Because it's made for heating on the stovetop with water, the fragrance permeates throughout the house as the potpourri simmers. You can also wrap it up as a thoughtful hostess gift, so you can share the lovely scents of the season.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Things You'll Need

  • 2 oranges

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Mason jar, 16 oz.

  • 5 sticks of cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon of whole cloves

  • 2 vanilla beans

  • Instructions printed on paper

  • Card stock

  • Glue stick

  • Hole punch

  • Scissors

  • Ribbon

Step 1: Peel the Oranges

Remove the peel of the oranges with a vegetable peeler, moving the peeler vertically on the orange so you have long strips. Try not to get too much of the white pith with the peel.

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When you're finished, save the oranges to eat at a later time.

Step 2: Dry the Orange Peels

Place the orange peels on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and heat in your oven on the lowest temperature (about 170 degrees) for 1 ½ hours.

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Check the oven every 30 minutes to make sure the orange peels do not burn. You'll know they are dry when they curl up.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Place Orange Peels in Mason Jar

Place the dried peels of the two oranges in a mason jar. This potpourri will be assembled in a mason jar so that when it's done, the potpourri can be stored and sealed in the jar. Sealing the potpourri not only preserves the scent of the ingredients, it intensifies it. Also, the jar makes the potpourri ready for gift-giving.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Add the Rest of the Ingredients

Add five cinnamon sticks to the mason jar.

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Add one tablespoon of whole cloves.

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Finish with two vanilla beans. They are usually long, so bend them if necessary to fit in the jar. Then place the lid on the jar and secure tightly until ready to use.

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How to Simmer the Potpourri

When you're in the mood to fill your home with the comforting scent of this potpourri, open the jar and place the contents in a small pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover all the ingredients. Then set the burner to low. You can also use a crock pot to heat the potpourri.

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As the potpourri simmers, the orange peels will expand to their original shape, and the cinnamon sticks will open up. Keep a watch on the pot to make sure there is enough water. You don't want the pot drying out.

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Use a kitchen timer to remind you every 30 minutes to check the water level in the pot.

How to Gift Wrap the Potpourri

Step 1: Prepare Instruction Tag

If you're giving this potpourri as a gift, you'll want to include a tag explaining that the potpourri is meant to be placed in a pot, covered with water and simmered on the stovetop. Print out the instructions on a piece of paper, cut it out, and mount it on a piece of card stock with a glue stick. Punch a hole on the side and run a piece of twine through the hole.

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Step 2: Tie the Tag to the Jar

Tie the tag around the rim of the jar where the grooves for the lid are. Trim off any excess twine with scissors. Then place the lid back on, securing it tightly.

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Step 3: Wrap a Ribbon Around the Jar

Tie a ribbon around the jar, positioning it vertically so you don't cover up the contents of the jar. Add a bow to the top of the jar lid, and your potpourri makes a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!