Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Christmas special #4: scented candles

I just love a smelly candle. I can't help myself. Spring, summer, autumn - whenever, but especially in winter and most of all at Christmas, I am a sucker.

I think it is a hyper-bourgeoise reaction against my upbringing. My parents learnt what was smart in the 60s and back then what was very smart was to be extremely posh. And the extremely posh (as opposed to the extremely rich) live in draughty houses with raggedy old carpets on the floor, dogs for central heating and generally tend not to give a shit about how clean things were.

My mother tried to re-create this in our house with the effect that I was always puzzled as to why we didn't have wall-to-wall carpet like other people's houses and why there were always so many cobwebs. And why it was so cold.

So naturally I grew up obsessed with soft furnishings, hand-towels, bath bridges, cashmere socks, fairy lights, performance toiletries, accent walls and smelly candles, which I think are technically known as "home fragrance".

But the hardy Protestant that lurks within me knows that to spend £18 a throw on candles from The White Company (in "Winter" or "Cassis") or £36 YIKES on candles from Diqtyque (in "Fig") is simply profligate and I will go to hell. So I buy them secretly and burn them sparingly, like a weird Scrooge bent over his tiny coal fire.

I always stop at any smelly candle display in any shop in any town and smell them all and look at all the prices, trying to winkle out smelly candles that don't cost quite so much. But they all have the after-nose of a cheap celebrity scent and they're none of them any good.

EXCEPT these Frankincense and Myrrh candles from Shearer (purchasable from WAITROSE!!!), which smell totally Christmassy - and not in a naff way - and are so reasonably-priced (£4 for a small one, I think and £8 for a really big one) that you can put one in every room and not feel even a little bit like a terrible, wankerish credulant.


  1. a woman after my own heart... i too love a candle but find there is a fine line between that fake acrid scent that so many of these nasties have and the true perfume from the better ones... so I find it's worth the extra bob or two to get it right.... I recently discovered Yankee Candles which I always thought were of the cheap and nasty variety but have been proved wrong time and time again... it's just important not to go for anything too sweet and sickly... and then when i'm feeling flush I love Terre D'oc on Marylebone High street which is a candle lovers and scent lovers paradise!

  2. I'm loving this Christmas series. Just about to head out to Waitrose now ( for the ingredients for a trial run pork pie, which if it works, I'm planning on making for my dad for Christmas) and I'll keep a look out. Hope there won't be a Delia effect like rush on them.

  3. ooh blimey - don't hesitate to email with any pork pie questions - esther.walker@gmail.com - first go can be a bit daunting x

  4. jo malone's candles are frighteningly expensive.
    Love the recipes keep them coming :)

  5. Ahhh I love scented candles too... esp at Christmas. Have been eyeing the diptyque ones for quite some time now (and they come in such pretty seasonal glass containers), but haven't bought any due to $$$. Too bad I can't just pop round to Waitrose for one of these Shearer ones (I'm in Hong Kong!) #wishingforawhitechristmas

  6. I always thought the scented candle palaver was a load of smelly old cobblers, then someone gave me a posh one and I changed my mind. Can't bear those fake cheap and nasty Christmas scents though, would rather have proper beeswax (that you can play with afterwards!)