For Emma Pratt, founder of luxury Suffolk home fragrance brand Elsie&Tom, scents have always played an important part in creating a Christmassy ambience. “Christmas is all about exotic spices, festive food, log fires and being cosy with the family,” she says. “When the children were small, they used to help me add the spices and ingredients to the turkey, now I have to entice them with a mulled wine! But it's traditions like this, that are so important to our family,” she says.
And they have provided the inspiration for her Christmas and winter home fragrance ranges. As Emma explains, fragrance is very personal. “We all have a unique fragrance footprint – like a fingerprint,” she says. “Some people like citrus and floral fragrances, whilst others prefer more earthy woody notes.
“Fragrance can evoke so many memories and emotions. We have customers who write to us, with detailed stories about how our fragrances have touched them in some personal way – for example, remind them of time with a loved one. I never thought for a moment this would ever happen.”
To energise, which you might need during twixmas, the time between Boxing Day and new year which is traditionally spent in front of the telly with a tub of Celebrations, Emma says to look out for fragrances containing orange, mint, mandarin, basil, rose and bergamot.
For relaxation, and let’s face it the festive period can have its stresses, go for blends containing sandalwood, patchouli, lavender, cedarwood and vetiver. And dotting scented candles around, perhaps as part of a mantelpiece decoration or table centrepiece, also creates a twinkly, laidback glow which is an invitation to decompress.
“We have three fragrances which are ideal for the festive season: Oriental Orange, Patchouli and Wood, and my all time festive favourite, Festive Calm.” Says Emma.
“The Festive Calm fragrance is a blend of frankincense, clove, cinnamon, orange and lemon essential oils and it truly embodies the fragrances of the Christmas season.” Emma knows first-hand how powerful scent can be. Out of the blue, the day before her 42nd birthday, she had a stroke, which left her unable to speak, see and walk without the help of others or a zimmer frame.
“Aromatherapy and blending essential oils became a key component of my recovery and still helps me today as I continue to suffer with chronic stroke fatigue, which can be extremely debilitating,” She says.
“My fragrance blends have been designed, by me, to help me relax or to feel more energised and focused when I need it. I have always had a very sensitive sense of smell, but I never realised that I could harness it to create something that others could enjoy.
“I would use essential oils like orange and mint in my shower gel to give me an energising boost or lavender and geranium oils in my moisturiser to help me relax and sleep at night. Before I knew it friends would ask me if I could blend fragrances using vetiver and patchouli, so I got blending in earnest.”
Emma, who lives in Ipswich with her husband, children Tom and Elsa and their beloved Staffy, Rosie, started making candles in her kitchen as something to do during the pandemic.
“For a long time before lockdown, I was inadvertently well on my way to blending with wax and creating Elsie&Tom as a home fragrance brand,” she says.
“Having worked in marketing since leaving university, I hadn’t had the time to be really creative for a very long time. Lockdown gave me the space and time to do something for me.
“The first candle I made was awful. It looked horrid, didn’t smell and I realised there was much more science and skill that went into making a candle that looked good, but also had an excellent scent throw. I was hooked and our house soon filled with all my failed attempts.
“I did loads of research and undertook numerous tests of various waxes and oils and finally with the help of my husband, found the magic formula,” she says. She uses 100% natural soya wax for a clean burn and good scent throw and high-grade essential oils.
As Emma explains, there are more than 16 stages to making each candle, but the two most important are the accurate blending of the essential oils to create our unique fragrance blends and ensuring the wax is at the correct (secret) temperature, when adding the oil blends to the wax.
“This temperature, which has taken hundreds of tests to get right, ensures the wax and oils blend, otherwise the fragrance oil sits on the top layers of the soya wax and only provides fragrance for a few hours when the candle is lit.
“We have perfected our blending process, so the fragrance lasts to the very end of the candle, so you get the full benefit and hours of fragrance in your home,” she says.
“We have three fragrances which are ideal for the festive season: Oriental Orange, Patchouli and Wood, and my all-time festive favourite, Festive Calm,” says Emma.
“I would use essential oils like orange and mint in my shower gel to give me an energising boost or lavender and geranium oils in my moisturiser to help me relax and sleep at night. Before I knew it friends would ask me if I could blend fragrances using vetiver and patchouli so I got blending in earnest.
“I did loads of research and undertook numerous tests of various waxes and oils and finally with the help of my husband, found the magic formula,” she says.
Elsie&Tom products are available from Coes in Ipswich, King’s Lynn, Newmarket and Felixstowe, Studio Flex in Ipswich, The Green House in Halesworth, Rug and Carpet Studio in Long Melford and Make Holt. For more information see elsieandtom.co.uk or follow on Instagram @elsieandtomcandles
This extract was published in the East Anglian Daily Times on the 19th November 2022. And online in this article "Aromatherapy can help bust Christmas Stress" Written by Emma Lee, Lifestyle Features Writer for Archant. Photos taken by Charlotte Bond, Newsquest.