DIY Simmering Scent: Potpourri for the Stovetop

Make your own DIY Simmering Scent (Potpourri) to give as a homemade gift for the holidays. Easy and budget friendly Christmas gift idea!

jars of stovetop potpourri with tags

*This post was originally published in 2017. It’s been updated with new images, fresh links, and more information. Enjoy!

Everyone has their own way of celebrating the holidays…especially Christmas. However, there are a few things that are universal, and that families all over the world incorporate into their own traditions. A Christmas tree, pine boughs, Christmas music, baked goods, and candy. In addition to the sights and sounds of Christmas, there are also smells. That’s where this DIY Simmering Scent (or Potpourri) comes in. What if you could package up those smells and give them away as a wonderful, made-from-the-heart gift? Well…you can.

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my disclosure statement.

simmering scent potpourri ingredients

DIY Simmering Scent: Potpourri for the Stovetop

Making your own DIY simmering scent (or potpourri) is not only easy, it’s a budget-friendly and fun project. It’s an all-natural way to make your home smell good without candles, sprays, or other chemicals. Combine your favorite natural elements, add water, simmer on the stove, and breathe in the lovely smell of Christmas. Here is a list of possible natural elements that can be used:

Combine any of the elements listed above for your very own personal simmering scent. For one “serving,” measure enough scent mixture to fill one to two cups. Note: if you are making the potpourri for yourself, and plan to use it immediately, fresh citrus, cranberries, and apples work beautifully. If you plan to package it, it’s best to use dried fruit. 

jars of stovetop potpourri

Directions for simmering

Place the scent mixture in a pan or tea kettle on the stove. Add enough water to cover the scent mixture. (Some items will float. That’s what you want.) Heat on medium until it begins to slightly boil and then turn the burner as low as it can go. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it, and if the water begins to evaporate, just add more. Make sure the water never evaporates completely.

handcrafted christmas simmering scent potpourri

If you want to give your simmering scent as a gift, it can be packaged in canning jars, cellophane bags tied with ribbon, or kraft coffee bags. For a lovely, custom touch to your packaging, tie on a tag with festive red and white twine. Get the printable tag featured in this post by filling out the form below. I recommend that you print the tags on good quality white cardstock. If you are already an OSP email subscriber, please fill out the form to get your tags. (Don’t worry…you will not have duplicate subscriptions.)

This project is not only a gift to give away, it’s a gift for yourself. Sometimes all it takes is a very small thing to trigger a wonderful memory. By using simmering holiday scents in your home during the Christmas season, you can begin a family tradition that will last for years. Someday, perhaps one of your children or grandchildren will smell cinnamon or citrus, and be instantly transported back to your home during the holidays. What a perfectly lovely thought.

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  1. Thank you. Love your receioes and crafts. Merry Christmas

  2. Linda Hickey says:

    Thank you for sharing. I love this gift idea.

  3. I think a mini crock pot for heating the potpourri is perfect for when you are short on stove space and this way it can be placed in any room besides the kitchen. I’m sure the water wouldn’t evaporate as quickly too.

  4. Is the jar idea shown using an 8oz jelly jar?

  5. Karen Katler says:

    I just finished making 12 of these jars for gifts. They are absolutely darling. I added a card with the simmering instructions and I also got the dried oranges and apples at Trader Joe’s. I just love receiving your emails and seeing all the wonderful ideas.

  6. 5 stars
    This is lovely! I wonder if it would work in a crockpot (to keep the water warm but not take up stove space)!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Cynthia…yes, I think it would!

  7. Carol Audette says:

    Ann, Thanks so much for all the wonderful ideas for home made gifts! I especially love the potpourri in the jar. I’m have a Yule Tide gathering Saturday and I hope to have that potpourri simmering on my stove, it will smell wonderful! Happy Holidays

  8. Donna Jones says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for all your wonderful ideas to make our lives enriched and enjoyable.

  9. Hi Ann~
    What a great gift idea. Having friends over for lunch, and a little thank you sitting on their plate, plus very festive.

    Thank you.

  10. 5 stars
    Thank you for another great idea! Great project for my granddaughter and I to do together. Merry Christmas.

  11. Tracy Cook says:

    5 stars
    Dear Ann
    Well it’s Christmas 2021 already. I’ve been in hospital on and off since August so had little time to make gifts like usual so hopefully will manage these.
    Can the mixture be re boiled ?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Tracy…you can keep adding water to one batch of the potpourri until it loses the scent. You should be able to warm it a few times. Hope you are feeling better!

  12. carol bittner says:

    I love the idea of simmering scents; such a nice thrifty and natural way to have your home smell of all the things you love. Thanks for sharing Ann. Have a wonderful holiday season. I reallly like the 2018 calendar; will have to get new ink cartridges before I print mine; want to make sure the colors turn out right. I printed a picture last week and it had a red tint to everything. Don’t want that for my calendar.

  13. thanks for sharing your idea with us..

  14. A few questions on how to use the simmering scent as a gift. Do you drain the water before placing in the jar or cellophane bag? Do you allow it to dry first? After it simmers for 15-20 minutes, do you turn off the burner and then let the scent permiate? In other words, does the pot need to be simmering all day if you want scent all day? Once in a bag, does it need to be placed in a pot of water to experience the scent again? or is it like dried potpourri and it’s simply placed in container? Sorry for all the questions!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Diane! Place the potpourri in a bag/jar BEFORE adding water. It should be completely dry. The recipient will add the water. You can let the pan simmer as long as you desire but watch it closely and if the water evaporates, just add more. Don’t let it dry out on the burner. To get the scent, it does need to be simmering.

  15. I absolutely love your ideas and On Sutton Place!!!!!!!!!

    I have used so many of your suggestions.

  16. I have loved your 2017 calendar. I just printed two of the 2018…one for me and one as a gift (including the notebook and tabs from amazon). Thank you for sharing.