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The 6 Best Home Scents If You're Having Guests Over, Experts Say

Up your hosting game with these universally pleasing aromas.

You probably put a lot of thought into making your home look nice when having guests over—but do you give as much consideration to how it smells? According to experts, the scent in your home can make or break guests' experience, so it's important to choose one carefully.

"A scent is a simple way to elevate the atmosphere and offer a more memorable experience," says Jen Nash, senior design lead at Magnet. "Smell is often called our most powerful sense as it is strongly linked to the parts of our brain responsible for memory and emotion. Different scents have the power to evoke different feelings, meaning you can tailor your scent to complement the desired ambiance you are looking to create."

"These scents can be incorporated into the space in many different ways but opting for a candle, diffuser, or wax burner is the best way to subtly diffuse a scent throughout the room," she adds.

Nash advises staying away from scents that are too sweet or otherwise overwhelming—and opting for softer and more natural fragrances instead. According to Melony Huber, an interior design stylist/buyer and founder of La Peony, people with sensitivities to certain smells may even experience nausea and headaches when exposed to overpowering scents.

With all that in mind, here are some expert-approved home scents to try next time you're having company.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Living Room When Guests Come Over.


A bottle of sandalwood essential oil with red sandalwood chips
iStock / Madeleine_Steinbach

Warm, rich, and earthy sandalwood has a universally pleasing aroma that guests are bound to love, says Ben McInerney, founder of

It lends just a touch of creamy sweetness to your space without being too cloying or intense. As a bonus, McInerney notes that this scent can promote relaxation in your home.

"Sandalwood is a subtle scent that is seductive and musky so it's perfect for hosting dinner and cocktail parties in the evening where you are looking to create an intimate and cozy atmosphere," explains Nash. "It induces calmness, helping your guests to sit back and enjoy the soiree."


lavender oils, worry less

According to Artem Kropovinsky, an interior designer and founder of Arsight, there's a reason why lavender is such a popular home scent. "It's soothing and helps to set a tranquil mood."

Studies show that lavender can actually relieve stress and anxiety and even help you get a better quality night's sleep.

So, consider misting a lavender spray on your linens if you're having overnight guests, or lighting a lavender candle in your guest bedroom to promote rest and relaxation.

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Woman pouring eucalyptus essential oil into bowl on wooden table
iStock / Sergey Kirsanov

Eucalyptus is a scent that's commonly used at spas—and with good reason. This tree boasts a refreshing fragrance with hints of mint, citrus, and even honey.

"It creates a cozy atmosphere any time of the day," says McInerney.

Fun fact: lavender and eucalyptus scents complement each other beautifully, so you can feel free to incorporate both into your living space for a universally pleasing, nature-inspired aroma.


Cozy home decor: burning candles

The vetiver plant, which is native to India, has a distinctive scent that's often compared to fresh-cut grass.

"Vetiver is a warm and pleasant aroma that is known to have a relaxing and grounding effect, helping to alleviate anxiety and keep the mind focused," says Nash. "Often referred to as 'the oil of tranquillity,' it's a perfect scent to incorporate into your home if you are hosting a more laid-back event such as coffee with friends or a book club.''

READ THIS NEXT: The 6 Best Things to Ask Guests to Bring—If They Offer.

Orange blossom

air freshener diffuser on table
New Africa / Shutterstock

Although most experts agree that you need to be careful with floral scents—which can sometimes be too intense—Chantelle Hartman Malarkey, an interior designer and hosting expert, notes that the right scent can set the perfect fun, cheerful and carefree vibe for warm-weather social gatherings.

Specifically, Nash recommends opting for orange blossom. "With a complex mix of floral and citrus notes, orange blossom is an energizing scent that will uplift a room and the people in it," she explains. "It's particularly ideal for summer parties and entertaining as it works well in an open space and can help detract from any lingering cooking smells."


cinnamon sticks

You might not think to use this spicy scent when guests come over, but McInerney says it can instantly make your space feel more homey and inviting. Better yet, it may even help stoke their appetite if you're planning a dinner party.

"Cinnamon is soft and warm—it's great for creating an inviting atmosphere and helps tickle the taste buds in anticipation for an upcoming meal," he tells Best Life.

Since cinnamon tends to be associated with the holidays, consider reserving this scent for fall and winter gatherings.

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more
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