Fill your home with the scents of the season with this Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri

This potpourri is the perfect way to make your home smell warm and inviting this Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the holiday season.

Sarah's Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri will fill your home with the scents of the season.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

FARGO — While the official start of winter is still a few weeks away, the recent snowfall and chilly temperatures mean that it is time to embrace the Norwegian tradition of køselig. While difficult to translate into English, to me køselig is a celebration of the joys of winter: thick sweaters, brisk walks, ice skating, hot cocoa, warm blankets, cozy fires, mulled wine, festive music, books, homemade cookies, candles, woolen socks and gathering with friends and family in a home that smells like Christmas.

This Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri is a simple and effective way to fill your house with the scents of the season. It features fresh fruit, like cranberries, apples, pears and oranges, and any blend of warm spices like whole cloves, nutmeg, ginger and star anise.

When using fruit, I do not remove the peel, as it has wonderful aromatic qualities and helps the slices hold their form. I prefer using whole spices, when possible, as they keep their fragrance longer than dried spices and can last for several days in the potpourri without needing to be replaced.

My mother always had a pot of mulled cider on the stove during the holidays when I was growing up, filled with apple cider, oranges studded with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. She made it for us to drink and enjoy throughout the season, and today’s recipe is inspired by the wonderful memories I have of a warm and fragrant holiday home.

My basic potpourri recipe consists of orange slices, fresh cranberries, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, bay leaf and a liquid – this can be apple juice, water or a combination of the two. You could stop there or throw in any variety of aromatic add-ins, including fresh ginger, nutmeg, star anise, rosemary, pine cones, pine sprigs, mint, apple, pear, citrus peel, brewed coffee and even extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint.


Whole cloves are studded into the cap of a sliced orange to fuse the fragrances together as they steep in the potpourri.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Simmering potpourri is easy to make – simply fill a saucepan or pot halfway with water, add your ingredients and simmer over low heat for hours, as desired. The liquid will evaporate as the potpourri simmers, so it is a good idea to keep an eye on it and add more as needed. I use a saucepan for my potpourri, and you could also use a large pot or a slow cooker. The amount of ingredients can be adjusted to your personal taste, and the steeped potpourri can be kept covered to reuse for about 3 to 4 days.

This Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri is the perfect way to make your home smell warm and inviting this Thanksgiving weekend and throughout the holiday season. So, put a pot of fresh fragrance on the stove, light some candles, grab a book or turn on the tunes and let yourself embrace the winter, køselig style. Have a blessed, cozy, fragrant and delicious Thanksgiving!

Sliced oranges, fresh cranberries, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves are used to make the base recipe for Sarah's Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Enter Sarah’s 10th Anniversary Giveaway Update: I am hosting a holiday giveaway on my blog at every week between now and Christmas, featuring some of my favorite foodie gifts. Congratulations to Beth Viland, this week’s lucky winner of a traditional Scandinavian almond cake pan. Enter today at for a chance to win Sarah’s next giveaway, featuring a bottle of Mistra Estates extra-virgin olive oil.

Festively Fragrant DIY Potpourri

Base Ingredients:

Water or apple cider/juice, or a combination
1 orange, cut into thick slices
½ cup fresh cranberries
3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 bay leaf

Fragrance add-ins, any combination of:

Fresh or crystallized ginger
Whole nutmeg
Star anise
Sliced apple or pear, unpeeled
Citrus or apple peel
Extracts – vanilla, almond, peppermint
Pine cones
Rosemary or pine sprigs
Brewed coffee
Coffee grounds



Fill a saucepan or pot halfway with the liquid and add the ingredients. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and let simmer as desired. The water will evaporate as the potpourri simmers, so keep an eye on it and add more as needed.

When done, remove the potpourri from the stove, cover and keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator. The potpourri can be reused for up to 3 to 4 days.

More recipes from Sarah Nasello

Recipe Time Capsule:

This week in...

Recipes can be found with the article at

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at
What To Read Next
Miniature masterpieces support the library throughout the year as part of the Love Your Local Artist fundraiser.
This week, gardening columnist Don Kinzler fields questions about planting potatoes, rabbit-resistant shrubs, and how to prevent tomato blossom end rot.
Trends include vegetable gardens in raised pods and a continuing surge in using native plants and grasses.
"Sheer force is just one type of strength. There are other ways to be strong," writes Jill Pertler.