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How to Make Stovetop Christmas Potpourri (With Printable Gift Tags!)

How to Make Stovetop Christmas Potpourri – This holiday potpourri recipe is like bottling up the Christmas smell! It’s a great way to make your home smell like the holidays and makes a fantastic gift. Scroll down for a how-to video and FREE PRINTABLE gift tags for gifting! 

Overhead view of Christmas potpourri in a white saucepan with water.

I mention this every so often, but my family moved a LOT growing up. My dad’s job often had new opportunities in different states, so we moved every 2-3 years, which made for plenty of chances to meet new people, learn how to get along some place new, and experience new things. Even so, it was a LOT of constant change, which was, at times, really hard.

Thankfully, my family was (and is!) very close, which made all that upheaval much easier to bear. I also always took comfort in holiday traditions. My family jokes about how much I love traditions around the holidays, but to me, traditions are little anchors that feel like home, no matter where I live or who I’m with. I’ve written at length about our family’s holiday traditions, but one that I love from my own home growing up was my mom making the smell of Christmas with her stovetop Christmas potpourri.

The stovetop potpourri is a blend of citrus and warm spices that instantly makes me feel cozy and safe. Here’s what makes it special…

Christmas potpourri in a white saucepan with water with steam bubbling out of the pan.

What Makes This Christmas Potpourri Recipe Amazing:

  • IT SMELLS LIKE CHRISTMAS! The combination of citrus, warm spices, cranberries, and rosemary instantly make the house smell like the holidays. It’s the Christmas smell on demand!
  • IT’S A GREAT WAY TO RESCUE SAD PRODUCE. Ever open an orange and find it’s actually pretty dry? Toss it in a saucepan for Christmas potpourri! It also works with grapefruit, mandarins, tangerines, and more–whatever needs to be used.
  • IT’S FLEXIBLE! Like I said above, you can use a variety of citrus for this stovetop holiday potpourri recipe. You can also skip the cranberries or use diced apples in their place. Like a different spice blend? Feel free to play with it! Try mixing in cardamom pods, a bit of freshly grated nutmeg, or a splash of vanilla.
  • IT’S A GREAT HOLIDAY GIFT! This is literally giving someone the smell of the holidays! See below for my tips on how to package this + a FREE printable gift tag you can use for gifting.

So what do you put in Christmas potpourri? Well, it’s simple, really…

Ingredients for Stovetop Christmas Potpourri - Cranberries, oranges, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves.

Here Are The Ingredients For Stovetop Christmas Potpourri:

  • Oranges, Lemons, or Grapefruit. The citrus adds brightness and freshness that’s so lovely with the spices and herbs. I most often use oranges, but you can use mandarin oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, etc. It all works!
  • Cranberries. These aren’t *strictly* necessary, since they add more color than aroma, but they look absolutely beautiful in the packages, are super affordable this time of year, and add a lovely touch in the pot.
  • Fresh Rosemary. This adds depth and an almost pine-y scent to Christmas potpourri. It’s gorgeous with the citrus!
  • Cinnamon Sticks. These are less messy, easier to package for gifting, and the scent is longer-lasting in my experience.
  • Whole Cloves. Like cinnamon sticks, using whole cloves helps prolong their shelf life and helps the aroma last longer. A few go a long way, so you can make one jar of whole cloves last a long time!

What Else Can You Put On The Stove To Make It Smell Like Christmas?

The ingredients above are my go-to basic ingredients for stovetop holiday potpourri, but you can also add extras, like star anise, grated nutmeg, a splash of vanilla extract, dried apples, or sage leaves. Each one adds a slightly different scent to the stovetop potpourri, and can be lovely!

Stovetop Christmas Potpourri in a white saucepan

Shortcuts, Substitutions & Suggestions For Stovetop Potpourri:

1. SET IT AND FORGET IT IN A SLOW COOKER! You can totally put this covered in a slow cooker/crock pot on HIGH for hours without needing to add more water. (The lid prevents evaporation). If you leave the lid off your slow cooker, you’ll want to check it every hour or so to see if it needs more water. (This option is perfect for a holiday party!)

2. SWAP YOUR CITRUS. You can use many different kinds of citrus for this. I’ve used grapefruit, Cuties (mandarins), tangerines, lemons, etc. Feel free to use what’s on sale, or what’s looking sad in your fridge.

3. SUBSTITUTIONS + VARIATIONS. Besides citrus, you can also swap out the cranberries for diced apples, use ground spices instead of whole, or add a splash of vanilla to the pot for some sweetness.

4. STOCK UP TO SIMPLIFY! I don’t use whole spices very often in my kitchen, but they’re easier than ever to find. Sprouts has bulk spice bins that are great for this, or there’s Target or World Market (cinnamon sticks and cloves). Aaaand, I LOVE Amazon (cinnamon sticks and cloves).

Overhead view of Christmas potpourri in a white saucepan with water.

Here’s How To Make It Smell Like Christmas! (Directions for Stovetop Potpourri)

  1. Slice or quarter your orange. This looks pretty, but also gives you better access to the citrus scent!
  2. Place all ingredients in a saucepan with 4-6 cups water. (You’ll refill the water as needed while it simmers.
  3. Bring to a simmer over low heat. You don’t want a boil–just a very slight simmer.
  4. Let it simmer as long as you like, adding more water as needed. You can simmer stovetop potpourri for hours on low heat–just check the water level, since water will evaporate over time.
Free printable labels for Stovetop Christmas Potpourri printed on white and brown kraft paper
Front view of Christmas potpourri packaged to gift, with ribbon and free printable tags.

How To Package Christmas Potpourri For Gifting (+Free Printable Gift Tags)

When you make it at home, I suggest slicing or quartering your oranges, but for gifting, it works best if you leave everything as whole as possible. Here’s the best way to package Christmas potpourri for gifting, step-by-step:

  1. Gather your ingredients and packing materials. I use large cellophane treat bags to pack everything up, along with some ribbon and our printable gift tags.
  2. First, add the cranberries and orange to the bottom of the treat bag.
  3. Then, add rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.
  4. Twist the bag closed and secure with a twist tie, if possible. (Most treat bags come with twist ties!)
  5. Then, finish with the ribbon and tag. First, I tie a tight knot. Then, slide on a gift tag with a hole punched in one corner, and tie a bow.

Don’t Forget Your Christmas Potpourri Gift Tags!

It’s nothing super fancy, but you can download and print my gift tags HERE. I’ve got them in color + black & white. I love how the black & white looks on brown kraft paper, and love the color for white cardstock.

Christmas potpourri packaged with ribbons and printable tags

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions For Stovetop Christmas Potpourri:

How Long Does Stovetop Potpourri Last? It can be simmered for hours and hours over 2-3 days. Just keep refilling the water every 1-2 hours, as needed. To prolong its life, refrigerate it overnight!

Can You Drink Christmas Potpourri? I wouldn’t recommend it. While everything is edible, and it smells amazing, it will be VERY bitter. (A few people have asked!)

How Many Days Does Stovetop Potpourri Stay Fresh? 2-3 days for best results, though if you refrigerate it in between uses, you can stretch it as long as 3-4 days.

Can You Make Christmas Potpourri in the Slow Cooker? You bet! It works like a charm. Add the ingredients to a slow cooker and cover with the lid to slow down evaporation. Simmer covered in a slow cooker/crock pot on HIGH for hours. If you leave the lid off your slow cooker, you’ll want to check it every hour or so to see if it needs more water. (This option is perfect for a holiday party!)

How Far Ahead Is It Safe To Put These Together For Gifting? If you store them packaged in the fridge, you can make them at least 4-5 days in advance! They’ll stay fresh as long as your cranberries and rosemary stay fresh! (Oranges & whole spices will last much longer)

Looking For More Gift Ideas? You Might Like…

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Christmas potpourri in a white saucepan with water.

How to Make Stovetop Christmas Potpourri (With Printable Gift Tags!)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Batch Potpourri 1x

Description

How to Make Stovetop Christmas Potpourri – This recipe is like bottling up the Christmas smell! It’s a great way to make your home smell like the holidays and makes a fantastic gift. 


Ingredients

Scale

For The Christmas Potpourri:

  • 1 cup cranberries (or 1 apple, diced)
  • 1 orange
  • 23 sprigs rosemary
  • 23 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp cloves

To Package For Gifting:


Instructions

To Make Christmas Potpourri On The Stovetop: 

  1. Slice or quarter your orange and place all ingredients in a saucepan with 4-6 cups water.
  2. Bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Let it simmer as long as you like, adding more water as needed.

To Make Christmas Potpourri In A Slow Cooker:

  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker with 4-6 cups water.
  2. Set on HIGH covered and let it cook for several hours or uncovered on HIGH for more scent.
  3. If uncovered, add more water as necessary (when covered, the water won’t evaporate very quickly)

To Package Christmas Potpourri For Gifting:

  1. Print your tags using the free printable. Cut out tags and punch a hole in one of the top corners.
  2. Use a large cellophane treat bag to pack the potpourri. Add orange and cranberries first, then add cinnamon, rosemary, and cloves.
  3. Tie a knot in the top with a ribbon. Slide one end of the ribbon through the hole in the tag until the tag is tucked securely at the top near your first knot. Tie a bow to secure the tag.

Notes

Swap Your Citrus – You can use many different kinds of citrus for this. I’ve used grapefruit, Cuties (mandarins), tangerines, lemons, etc. Feel free to use what’s on sale, or what’s looking sad in your fridge.

Substitutions – Besides citrus, you can also swap out the cranberries for diced apples, use ground spices instead of whole, or add a splash of vanilla to the pot for some sweetness.

Stock Up! – I don’t use whole spices very often in my kitchen, but they’re easier than ever to find. Sprouts has bulk spice bins that are great for this, or there’s Target or World Market (cinnamon sticks and cloves). Aaaand, I LOVE Amazon (cinnamon sticks and cloves). #amazonforever

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Potpourri
  • Method: Stovetop

Keywords: christmas potpourri, christmas smell, stovetop christmas potpourri, holiday potpourri, stovetop holiday potpourri

40 Comments

  1. Love this! I’ve been simmering for a few days and it still smells wonderful. I would like to make some for a friend, but have no more fresh rosemary. What could I substitute?
    Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying it! You can skip the rosemary entirely and still have a great smell from the citrus and spices! Otherwise, fresh mint or fresh thyme can be nice. 😊

  2. Thank you so much for this!

    Our 15 year old daughter LOVES scents and I did this for her. Had it simmering on the stove. She was so surprised and excited. It looks beautiful too!

    1. Jenny – This totally made my day! I’m so glad it was a win for you! And THANK YOU for taking the time to leave a review. I appreciate it so much!

  3. This is wonderful and sooo easy. It’s very uplifting for this Thanksgiving weekend and I can’t wait to make gift bags for Christmas. Thank you!

  4. Made this yesterday using lemon instead of orange. Eyeballed amounts of everything, threw it in my small (1.5 quart?) Crockpot and simmered all day. Wonderful scent! Now going to make a few for gifts, but will use oranges instead of lemons. Thank you for the recipe!

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