(Anna Baldwin/Contributed)

Traditions, they inspire connections between families, friends, and even strangers. The wonder of meals shared, crafts created, service given, and community started by the generations before us is not lost on those who participate in them. A tradition can be as simple as watching the same movie every Christmas Eve or as elaborate as baking dozens of cookies for all your friends and neighbors. It can be a smell, sight, or sound that takes us back to a treasured memory or a simpler time.

For my mom, it’s a smell that instantly transports her back to her grandmother’s kitchen in Glennville, Georgia, on Christmas Eve. My great-grandmother, Adeline, made a stove-top potpourri every Christmas Eve to fill her home with a warm and citrusy aroma that paired perfectly with her favorite holiday, Christmas. She spent every Christmas Eve slicing oranges and adding her favorite spices to a worn and very loved pot, letting it simmer as it filled the home with an ambrosial scent.

This tradition has been passed down to my mom, but she loves the potpourri so much that it begins to show up on our stove top at the earliest inkling of fall. When I come home for the holidays, I can always expect a pot on the stove full of oranges, cinnamon sticks, rosemary, cloves, and family memories. It is a simple tradition that I hope will be passed down for many generations to come. The simplicity of this tradition holds so much beauty and years of cultivated love. I hope it brings you joy and inspires you to carry on or create your own traditions this year.

(Courtney Hancock/Contributed)

Stove-top potpourri perfect for Fall and Christmas

What You’ll Need/Ingredients:

1 pot

2 oranges

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

6 cinnamon sticks

0.6 oz whole cloves

6-8 cups of water (dependent on pot size)

Feel free to get creative and add your own spin to it!

(Courtney Hancock/Contributed)


Fill a medium pot ¾ of the way with water and bring to a simmer.

Slice two oranges

Add the orange slices, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to the pot

Once the pot reaches a simmer turn the heat to low

Enjoy as your home fills with this dreamy scent!

(Courtney Hancock/Contributed)

Expert tips:

Check the water every hour or so to make sure the contents of the pot do not burn, since the water will evaporate out of the pot.

You can turn the stove off, cover the pot, and use again the next day. (3 days max)