Style

The One Thing I Do When Guests Come Over

The One Thing I Do Before Guests Come Over

Whenever friends stop by, I always do the same thing…

Scent is so important. When it comes to my home, I try my best to make it smell nice. But I have a dog and a next-door neighbor whose lone hobby seems to be perpetually cooking spaghetti bolognese. No matter how many candles or eucalyptus branches I buy, it smells like an apartment building — a hybrid scent that’s somewhere between chicken soup and Lysol, and seems neither clean nor appetizing.

That’s why, when guests are coming over, I’ll spritz a bit of perfume — my signature fragrance — into the air just before they arrive. It’s more effective than room spray, and a little goes a long way. The best thing is, it doesn’t make my home smell like I’ve tried, it just makes it smell like me.

“WHY does it smell so good in here?” says everyone. At which point, I shrug and say, “Oh, it’s just my normal perfume.”

(Random tip: Lately, I’ve taken to using hair perfume, which is like a brilliant, one-third-the-price version of the regular stuff. You can use it the same way you would any fragrance, and it won’t dry out hair. As you go about your life, little puffs of scent waft up from your hair, like a gift that keeps on giving.)

Do you have any rituals for when guests come over? Do you have any favorite scents right now? Let us know!

P.S. My life in perfume and a perfume smell test.

(Photo of Caroline’s apartment by Tory Williams.)

  1. Max says...

    I put fragrant stars on my table! Mmm that taste good!

  2. Andrej P says...

    I use Air-Wick plug-ins, candles and sprays!

  3. sasha says...

    I do the same !!! ^^

  4. Anna says...

    I have to spritz essential oil dispersed in water instead (which I actually love anyway) because perfume makes me dizzy and foggy-headed. But yes, smell is a wonderful thing to tune for your living space.

  5. Nicole A. says...

    Scent IS so important! I use Air-Wick plug-ins, Sentsy melts, candles, and sprays! I stick to floral as opposed to fruit or any food flavored scents, myself, just because they tend to exacerbate cravings and have me munching on things I don’t really need. I’ve been told by a friend that sometimes, my apartment smells so fragrant that it can be discerned even outside the closed front door! Haha.

  6. The one thing I do when guests come over is try and get the dog into the back yard so that he doesn’t jump all over them like the complete maniac huge Labrador that he is.
    I have some lavender spruce that I spritz too :)

  7. Lolly says...

    I clean the toilet and set out a new towel. Yours wins. Lol.

  8. So my husband and I use Jazz Club and By the Fireplace by replica, and we are often told that our place smells like us because they are so long wearing!

  9. Linda says...

    Wait a second… Caroline is back??? That’s awesome! I really wish I could handle scents… I can do vanilla and maybe something fruity, but everything else seems to give me a massive headache.

    • I’m in the same boat (though vanilla and fruity things are headache inducing for me). It is the worst when people go through the effort to make their places smell nice and I just want to say PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.

  10. Caroline is back?!!?!?! HOORAY

  11. Gosh I do nothing, but this is making me think I need to start. Our apartment is old and has a constant musty odor. Occasionally, the scent ranges from dusty to burnt food (our downstairs neighbors) to old cat pee (we don’t have a cat….nor has there ever been a cat in the apartment according to our landlord). We’ve lived here so long we hardly notice the smell anymore…but I’m sure our guests are well aware of the scent. I better invest in some perfume it sounds like! Thanks for sharing

    – Grace

  12. Shannon says...

    Would love to see a post on natural/organic fragrances!

    Agreed that the chemicals in regular perfumes are icky – but it doesn’t mean we can’t find other fun ways to make our spaces (and ourselves) smell good :)

    • Stephanie L says...

      try a diffuser and essential oils, it works amazing. I love diffusing peppermint in my home!

  13. Maywyn says...

    Lovely post!

    I spray a bit of cologne on a 1960s plastic wreath hanging on the bathroom wall. As the scent mellows, it makes the air smell fresh. The liquid doesn’t dry out like it does on a fabric shower curtain.

  14. Amanda says...

    So happy to see a post from Caroline! I have missed her posts on A Cup of Jo! ~Happy Weekend!

  15. Christy says...

    I bought a new perfume (that I read about through a Beauty Uniform post on COJ) before a long-awaited trip to Paris last spring. I used it every day of the trip, and now when I use it at home it immediately brings back wonderful memories and makes me feel (briefly!) like I am back in Paris. I highly recommend this for trip memory-making!

    • Lauren E. says...

      I always regret not doing this for my wedding. I read a blog post somewhere that said if you use the same scent for your shower, bachelorette, and wedding (or whatever wedding events you’re participating in) the scent of that perfume will always take you back to that special time. :) Love the idea of doing it on a trip, too.

    • kaela says...

      I did the exact same thing. Then Marc Jacobs discontinued it. Hahaha I refuse to get rid of the bottle and basically stick the thing up my nose whenever I need a pick me up. ;)

    • Kathleen says...

      I did this for our honeymoon! I wore the same perfume everyday on the trip. Now, every year on our anniversary I wear the perfume and it takes me right back to our wonderful trip. It really does work!

  16. melissa says...

    I love the spritz of perfume!

    What I do is not a really a ritual but, just as important. I find that hand towels in guest bathrooms become pretty gross; especially when multiple guests use them throughout the evening.

    So, instead of hand towels, I swear by the Kleenex brand disposable hand towels. My guests get a fresh “towel” each time!!!

  17. Vacuum. Fresh flowers. Quickly clean the mirrors. Stash everything you’ve not had a chance to clean into your bedroom closet ;)

  18. tracy says...

    Where is that coffee table from? It’s gorgeous!

  19. Nad says...

    Love your writing ! So glad to see you back on the team. Happy weekend from Thailand

  20. Emily Tan says...

    I’ve discovered the glory that is Price’s Chef’s Candle. It will not fragrance your room. Instead it removes odours and imparts a subtle freshness that you can’t quite identify but when you walk in, it’s like sticking your face out a window onto a herby garden. Very subtle but makes a big difference. Like umami in a dish.

  21. Jen D. says...

    Oh my perfume! I actually have pretty acute artificial fragrance sensitivity. I get almost instantly nauseous and a splitting headache whenever I come into contact with artificial fragrances. When I was pregnant it was even worse, I had to go to the emergency room because it triggered my first migraine with aura (numbness in my arm and side, light/vision issues) that took me out for three days. So yes, maybe not the best way to make all your guests comfortable. Clearing out the clutter and fresh flowers (yellow or white) that are fragrant free is usually how I get my house ready for guests. Oh, and, setting out crisp clean hand towels.

    • Kristie says...

      Agreed. It’s a lovely thought, and I’m sure it’s great for folks whose bodies can handle that, but allergies to artificial fragrances are common, too. If someone did this before I came over, my body would at best be quite uncomfortable. I might have to leave. I cannot share a room with scented candles or those sticks folks put in a jar of scent. I recently gave up and left a friend’s art opening after spending a couple hours trying to stay on the other side of the room from a man wearing heavy cologne and falling into cough-choking fits every time I failed. I try not to complain, because I don’t like to embarrass people, but it can be very awkward and uncomfortable!

    • katie says...

      This is something my Mother always struggled with, and if she hadn’t physically come up in a rash (which she did!) I think I’d have thought she just didn’t “like” artificial fragrance.. but it’s a full blown reaction. I’ve started to get it as I’ve got older, a brand new car freshener made me have to jump out and throw up, and I get headaches from those god awful plug-in things in people’s houses. I need nose plugs to survive them! Haha xxx

    • I do too! My arms and hands swell up.

  22. Margaret says...

    My mother has been doing this specifically when her grandchild, my niece, comes to visit. She’s been wearing Este Lauder’s Beautiful for as long as I can remember and she keeps a bottle by the back door to spray herself mere minutes before these special guests arrive. And she’s been doing this consistently since my niece was born – insisting that she wants her granddaughter to remember exactly what Granny smells like. I once caught her spritzing the inside of my niece’s suitcase right as she was about to leave! As much as we make fun of her for this, it certainly works – I have a very specific and distinct memory of what my mom smells like. And I can’t smell Beautiful without thinking of her. <3

    • ximena says...

      I love this <3

  23. Great tip, Caroline.

  24. Faye says...

    Unfortunately, I’m also in camp “just say no.” My husband and son have severe scent sensitivity and will immediately get head-achey and nauseous if there is artificial sent – like perfume or a heavily scented candle – in a room. The WORST is when you’re on an airplane and someone gets out all their scented lotions and starts going to town. It’s just weird to me that people aren’t aware that this really negatively impacts the health of a whole lot of the population.

  25. In Ireland it’s pretty much expected that you lay every food stuff in your fridge and cupboard out for guests as well as filling them with tea until it’s coming out of their friggin’ ears. Your reputation is on the line every time steps in to your house!
    This clip from the comedian Dylan Moran pretty much sums hosting in rural Ireland and never fails to have me in stitches over how spot on it is!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IJRQbAuXVM

    • C says...

      This is definitely something I wouldn’t mind being treated to as a guest!

  26. Lena says...

    Oh I didn’t know you are back on A Cup of Jo, Caroline – so glad!
    I always loved you posts :)

  27. Clara says...

    The One Thing I Always Do When Guests Come Over: I open the door ;)

  28. Leslie says...

    Caroline could write about her favorite pen and tbh I’d still click through. Missed you around here!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww that is cute :)

  29. Daynna Shannon says...

    Oh, and that wall color is f*cking amazing, Caroline.

  30. Daynna Shannon says...

    I’m fairly certain Caroline knows the sensitivities of the people she has over. Considering they exclaim over how amazing her place smells, Im going to hazard a guess that they are not allergic, in any sense of the word, to strong scents or perfumes. Caroline seems quite warm and caring. I think she’s got this covered.

    However, I did learn that there are really great ways to leave comments that inform others of possible bad interactions that one might not be aware of and then… there are those less versed in niceties and comments that, to me, sound far-too-close-to-mansplaining for my comfort.

    • L says...

      I agree with you. My mom is sensitive to scents, so I make sure not to put on perfume or use room sprays when she’s visiting. I would think most people would read the “always” in the title as more of a generalization than something to be taken literally, but I guess not everyone would.

    • Kristie says...

      These conversations can be incredibly awkward! I go out of my to avoid having them if at all possible. I am a straightforward and honest person, and I am told I am unusually good with words, but I try not to tell people that I am allergic to the way they choose to make their homes and bodies beautiful. There are people with these issues who are not good with words or who have odd boundaries who can make their needs felt clearly but awkwardly. There are many more of us who suffer quietly in an attempt to be kind. I am allergic to darn near every scented thing every person I know and love uses. That’s just something I have to deal with; it isn’t reasonable to ask every person I know and love to change their grooming and decorating habits. If I were Caroline’s friend, I would end up coughing right after we said hello, ask for water, and quietly swallow a Benadryl when she left for the water. If asked, I would play down my body’s reaction to avoid causing discomfort for my hostess. I would also make a silent mental note to avoid going to her house again in the future, and plan our meetings in public places or my home.

  31. This is a great tip! I always love the way my bedroom smells after I spray my perfume, but I never thought about using it in the rest of my apartment!

  32. Jenna says...

    Plants! I teach high school science, and those rooms can get funky. I started propagating spider plants (I swear, those things will not die) in little mugs and now I have them all over my classroom. When I open my door, I can tell the air in my classroom is fresher than in the hallway. No particular scent, but just smells like clean, fresh air.

  33. Melanie says...

    Love Caroline, but hate this idea. It recently came out that perfume (and other scented products) are a major contributor to air pollution.

  34. Nicole says...

    My scent sensitive husband would HATE this. Definitely not always the best tip. And me with allergies might not appreciate it either. We are a scent free home

  35. I try to follow Ina Garten’s hosting rule: take off your shoes. Your guests will feel relaxed when they see that you are!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, love that she’s always barefoot or in slippers!

  36. Laura says...

    Talking about scents – Replica’s By the Fireplace is my favorite. It makes me feel all cozy and moody and ready to go out. As much as I love it, it does seem to swing to the wintertime scents. Not that I’m too picky, but I’m looking for something a bit lighter as the year warms up. Anyone have suggestions? I don’t like too flowery or fruity scents (so nothing that can be mistaken as being from Claire’s haha). :)

  37. jac says...

    I like you, Caroline. : )

  38. Mariamne says...

    What kind of a dog is that?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      She’s a yorkie/maltese mix!

  39. Abbey Leroux says...

    Hell yes to hair perfume! I cannot get enough of my Balmain Hair Silk. It lasts forever and smells so sexy.

    • Daynna Shannon says...

      Why does this comment feel a bit condescending?

    • Cara says...

      I don’t think the comment was condescending. Discussion here is always so civil, but readers should be able to disagree with a recommendation in a post or the common opinion of other readers without being called condescending! (Someone else said some comments here sound like “mansplaining.”) In this case, Nina was not necessarily even disagreeing but offering new information that is probably of interest to a lot of readers here. Some people have sensitivities to scents, some are concerned about environmental and health impacts, some of us are just not fans of them — while many other people love them. All of that is relevant to discussion here.

  40. VP says...

    I highly recommend the Lampe Berger! It’s a little pricey, but the scents last a long time after just letting it diffuse for about 20 minutes. The scents are very nice and can cover up the strong smells of Indian cooking in my house! I wrote a blog post on it here, if you’re interested! That’s saying something because I never really take the time to write about material goods.
    https://penpaperstorm.com/2016/10/16/the-lampe-berger/

    • nadine says...

      thank you a lot for the link Elle! i didn’t know, i have a cat and recently got a diffuser, i’ll immediately stop using it .

    • nadine says...

      oh and Caroline, your dog is such a cutie! love the pose too..

    • Daynna Shannon says...

      Now that’s how to leave a good comment! Thanks for the info re: cats and oils. I didn’t know and will now be much more vigilant.

  41. Marina says...

    Random decor question – is the table lamp the one from West Elm? It’s super cute!

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Thank you! That’s an oldie from Target!

  42. I live in downtown San Francisco and got an air purifier recently. Honestly, it’s been a game changer. I have it going at night and it cleans the air while helping me sleep (I think I’ve been breathing better). Its nice white noise hum is soothing as well. I’ll turn it on during the day if I’m home. I’ve basically recommended them to everyone.

    • Amy says...

      Hi Maia, can I ask what brand you went with? I would not even know where to start……but we probably need one! Thank you!

    • Addie says...

      Which one did you get? I’ve been trying to find one, but haven’t been able to go through all the reviews yet!

    • I got the Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter on Amazon after doing a fair bit of research. The one by Molekule is all the rage right now because SF tech things, but I figured I’d start low and see if it did anything before putting down $700 for one. My Levoit has been working great in my studio apartment for the past 4 months.

  43. TJ says...

    I do this in my bedroom, but mainly because I like to walk in and have it smell good and tailored to me.

    Side note: I get that people can have scent allergies or sensitivities, but I sure case can just agree that this is just what SHE does for herself and her friends. Her apartment isn’t a public space or work or something.

  44. Erin G. says...

    Caroline! You sent me down an Internet rabbit hole to uncover the best way to get dang perfume samples (that don’t come in the Sephora favorites pack – because, yeah, one might be wearable but I’m guessing most are gonna get tossed). So, anyway, wanted to share with other readers that this company/site Lucky Scent (https://www.luckyscent.com) does affordable tiny samples of a really wide variety of perfumes. I found 10 I wanted to try (including your signature scent, Caroline) and now can’t wait to get my samples in the mail! Here’s hoping I can find a new scent that makes people ask why my house smells so good.

    • Taylor says...

      Thank you for doing the leg work I was to lazy to do! Headed to order some now!

    • Lorange says...

      Surrender to Chance is also good for perfume samples. Funky website, excellent service! https://surrendertochance.com/

    • And if you’re really into fragrance, I recommend The Drydown newsletter.

  45. Tonie says...

    Beautiful!!! I do this all the time. I am normal… nice to know others are doing the exact same thing. Cherry thanks!

  46. Karla says...

    We make “café de olla” every single day, my roomie likes really strong coffee and I prefer decaf so we start every morning making a big, comunal pot of boiling water with a couple cinnamon sticks, cloves, aniseed and sometimes ginger. The first to come home after work just turns on the stove for a few minutes, if we have guests we can offer them a cup of hot spicy “tea” or they can make their own café de olla.
    We foster kittens and puppies so of course we have a lot of guests over and no one has complained about the smell

    • Laura says...

      mmm cinnamon. we call it “te de canela” and just boil water with cinnamon – it smells heavenly and reminds me of cold, dark evenings. it’s even better when adding coffee to it.

  47. Nicola says...

    When someone comes over, I start the kettle. Sharing a cup of tea warms the heart and hands and often leads to a good chin wag (i.e. conversation)

    • Sophie says...

      yes to this!

  48. I’m really liking my palo santo sticks lately. I find it more mellow than incense (which makes me feel a little sick to my stomach for some reason?) and kind of enjoy watching it smolder. And I don’t have one anymore, but I used to grind lemons in the garbage disposal which was always nice. Now I just pour baking soda and white vinegar down the drain about once a month to get rid of stinky sink smells.

  49. Ashley W says...

    Big fan of fresh air to clear things up, and maybe a couple mild candles.

    I’m not sure if I technically have a perfume or scent allergy, but I can’t stand perfumey scents, and they can irritate my nose and throat. Which leads to me coughing when I’m around people wearing perfume or cologne. So maybe I do… :/

    Funny story, my parents were visiting last week, so they watched baby while my husband and I went out to a movie for the first time in ages. I left the room for a minute, and comes back smelling perfume. I thought for some reason my mom had put some on (not like her, but whatever…) We get in the car, and I realize the perfume I thought my mom was wearing was actually my husband’s cologne! He said he hadn’t worn it in years, and felt the need to take our “date” up a notch. I didn’t have the heart to remind him he had stopped wearing it because I don’t like perfumes!! Now if it becomes a habit we’ll have to have a talk… :)

    • Definitely sounds like an allergy! I reckon these allergies are more common than people think, because there’ll be a lot of people like you who don’t realise that’s what they have. And if you spend a lot of time in perfumed environments, you don’t even notice – now that I’ve made my own home completely perfume-free (i.e. all cleaning, laundry, and personal care products are unscented) I notice the fragrances elsewhere much more. And recent research has suggested that these things are bad for everyone, not just those with allergies – the VOCs from cleaning and laundry products, perfumes, shampoos, etc are apparently a major part of urban air pollution, and as unhealthy as smoking or car fumes.

    • I was allergic to my husband’s cologne! I found some I was okay with and gifted them. I think there was a dear prudence letter about a similar situation!

  50. Val says...

    Love that couch. Can you please share the source?
    That dog is so adorable!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Not Caroline but I think it is an Article sofa.

  51. Betsy says...

    Whenever guests come over, my roommate and I have the same schtick: “Can we get you anything to drink? Water? Lemon water? Coffee flavored water? Tea flavored water?” Literally the only beverages at our disposal.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  52. Tracy says...

    The website description of the perfume made me LOL! Who doesn’t want this in a scent?!?! “Gypsy Water is a glamorization of the Romani, or Gypsy, lifestyle. The scent of fresh soil, deep forests and campfires evokes the dream of a free, colorful lifestyle close to nature.”

    • B.B. says...

      SAME. I mean…. what on earth???

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much for your comments. i want to reassure you that we removed both links to the perfume. our sincere apologies for letting those links go up. we strive to be inclusive and accepting and sensitive to all cultures, and work hard to make readers feel welcome and respected through all our content. this was definitely a big oversight on our part, and thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

  53. Tanith says...

    I light incense or candles… while panic-cleaning!

  54. I burn a few candles from my sister’s Detroit-based all-natural candle company (www.detroitrose.com). Her scents are sophisticated, the candles present beautifully, and people comment on how good it smells in our home every single time I light one.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that her company is detroit based! can’t wait to check it out.

  55. riye says...

    I make sure the litterboxes are clean and wipe down the bathroom. I’m allergic to most perfumes but that hair product sounds like the perfect gift for a good friend’s birthday, which is coming up. :-)

  56. Glenda says...

    When I start to cook I always light a candle. I hate the lingering smell of food.

  57. Cooper says...

    Mmmm, I’m love perfume! I carry a rollerball in my purse and apply a little to my wrists or neck in the restroom. My dates were often baffled about why I smelled so nice, haha.

  58. jules says...

    HA! They used to do this in the morning before opening Abercrombie + Fitch stores back in the day when they RULED the mall.

    • DIANA says...

      That explains the thick fragrance in there

  59. Kristyn says...

    Is Caroline back? (Please say yes!!)

  60. Sorry, but I most vehemently disagree with spraying the room with anything. As a person with severe scent allergies, I cannot visit homes with scent of any kind — candles, perfumes, heavy hair sprays, after shaves, room sprays or even strong household cleaners. If you feel you must spray something, please PLEASE using a little vodka/essential oil mix. Anything other than that could possibly give someone a headache, stomach ache, joint aches and at worse, set off an asthma attack. Thank you.

    • Jessica says...

      Agreed, perfume gives me sneezing fits, especially in a spray form (rollerballs seem to be mostly fine, though it’s not that way for everyone).

    • Winter Blue says...

      Yeah, I’m in this column too. Fragrant smells are generally actually evaporative chemicals called VOC’s – the same thing you now avoid when you paint. I’ve been avoiding them for a few years now and it’s remarkable how offensive they are when you encounter them.

    • C says...

      This is a lovely idea for people who aren’t affected by smells but I am afraid I have to agree that one might avoid doing this if they aren’t sure if the company would like it. I have had to leave parties before because a scented candle was lit, and I cannot shop in anthropologie because of the way it smells. I love the suggestion of opening a window for a few minutes or putting a lemon through the dish disposal. And it is nice that you’re able to make your apartment smell like you.

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      I hear you. I only do this with friends who have no sensitivities to scent. I live in a small fifth-floor walkup, so the people who drop by are generally limited to a small group of people I know quite well. :)

    • Yep, asthma attack right here. This also applies to people dousing themselves in fragrances before heading to public places! Especially anywhere where you’ll be stuck next to the same people for any length of time – a concert hall is one example, and somewhere that you really don’t want to start coughing uncontrollably…

    • Sara says...

      I agree, I run a no fragrance household, even hand soap, for two reasons. Many perfumes and room scents contain artificial fragrances which are bad, very bad. I am also sensitive to smells, not in a horrible migraine kind of way, but I notice them and I feel like my personal space is being violated with something I can’t control. I try to avoid hugging my mother-in-law when I can because even one quick embrace and her perfume sits on my shirt until its laundered. Scent, like sounds, go beyond your person and can be offensive and annoying in a subtle way, like that guy who always whistles two cubicles over.

  61. Robin says...

    I try to open the windows for a couple minutes, even when it’s below freezing outside. Nothing beats fresh air.

  62. LJ says...

    Maybe your spaghetti cooking neighbor is Toru Okada from the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle!

    • Alexandra Marie says...

      Yess!!!!

    • Hah!

  63. Our pediatrician recommend EO for our babies – there is also a line of oils called Kid Safe that are specifically for young children. EOs have been around since the beginning of time. Don’t scare people off. Young Living and DoTerra are also amazing, even the NOW brand at wholefoods – they are game changers for immunity, colds, and a million ailments.

    • Jen says...

      Stress Away by Young Living and Serenity by DoTerra are my FAV!!!!

  64. Maria says...

    Caroline, you evil genius. I missed you.

  65. I always put lemon or lime in the garbage disposal too!

    Another awesome trick I heard of is to “naturally” clean your microwave (this might have been from CoJ, honestly!) is to microwave lemons in water for 8 minutes (basically boil them) and it naturally soaks off the grease & grime allowing you to wipe down the microwave with a cloth – it ALSO makes the kitchen smell fantastic!

    Then I put the boiled lemons in the garbage or disposal & they just keep giving off good lemony oil scent.

    It’s great – especially for lemons that are wilted & almost ready to mold.

    • great idea! My microwave smells like burnt popcorn and I’m dying for the smell to go away (its been MONTHS).

  66. I’ve gotten into essential oils! My faves are: lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, sweet orange, cinnamon, and frankincense.

    • Carrie says...

      I’m a big fan of essential oils. Indian Sandalwood is AMAZING! It’s the only oil I’ll use for perfume, not even so much for therapeutic reasons, although I also feel tranquil as balls when I use it.

  67. Lana says...

    I’ve used candles and room sprays and had complaints of being too fragrant. In order to please my company, I’ve found that putting old lemons or something fragrant in the garbage disposal makes the house smell good naturally, along with the other ideas of taking out garbage and cleaning the house.

    I tend to clean tile, vacuum and polish the day before because of the heavy odors associated with cleaning products.

  68. Yes, I like my home smelling good when guest come over. I tend to light a candle and vacuum the rug with the scented rug powder so that it leaves a long lasting smell. And also I spray everything down with febreze. To get the entire house smelling fresh.

  69. Becky says...

    Your dog is adorable! And your decor is totally magazine worthy. But your dog is really adorable :)

  70. Rebecca says...

    This is such a thoughtful touch, and I used to do the same…until my best friend became extremely allergic to fragrance! :-O

    Nicholas Kristof did a piece in the Times about this recently:

    “I recommend that others consult consumer guides at ewg.org to reduce their exposures to toxic chemicals. Likewise, if I had downloaded the Detox Me smartphone app, I would have known to get rid of those mothballs, along with air fresheners and scented candles. (Science lesson: A less fragrant house means cleaner pee.)”

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/23/opinion/columnists/poisons-in-our-bodies.html

    • M says...

      This is a great idea, I agree, but as someone allergic to fragrance, I can get a migraine almost instantly upon being in a closed space with perfume. Essential oils don’t both me (I find the citrus ones to be the least offensive), so I diffuse a bit before guests come over.

    • Sarah D. says...

      Rebecca, thanks for linking this article. I know all about BPA, but had no idea that now we have to watch out for BPF!! It’s crazy to me that these chemicals can be put into circulation before the studies are out to warn against them. Thanks again.

  71. Kimberly G says...

    I like the popularity of essential oil diffusers now! I recently bought one on amazon, and I wished I’d gotten a bigger one. There’s also some great essential oil reed diffusers (and room sprays, come to think of it) at Whole Foods Market and I’m sure other niche shops.
    Eucalyptus, citrus scents smell nice and fresh, personally I like woodsy scents like cedar, sandalwood and pine.
    Lavender is key for relaxing.

    I am not a paid representative of Young living oils, doterra, Amazon, or WFM, I swear.

  72. Count me among the folks who use diffusers! I also buy a bunch of Trader Joe’s flowers, and put vases in just about every room. Pretty flowers draw the eye away from any dust bunnies that might be lurking.

  73. Audrey F says...

    In the colder months, I simmer some orange slices, clove, apple slices, and cinnamon sticks in water and it smells so lovely.

  74. Elizabeth Williams says...

    Caroline – can you do a home tour of your apartment? It looks incredible. Also – come back full-time to COJ!!!!!!

  75. Kirsten says...

    Pretty much every time we have friends over, we’re having a dinner party, so we just make the house smell like amazing food! I do always make a point to clean the toilet and switch out the bathroom hand towel. And the fact that many friends comment on how NICE my bathroom is should give you a sense of the standards of my fellow graduate student friends…

    • Christina says...

      THE.BEST! Thank you for finding these outside of Paris and reminding me about them!!! I have a smudge stick that I burn and wave around, it makes the house smell slightly camp-fire-ey, which I love. And it erases bad juju.

  76. Irina says...

    Our house can smell funky at times but we don’t like to use fragrances. So, we open a bunch of windows and air the place out before people come over. Taking out the garbage and mopping the floor helps with stink too :) And, most of the time I bake a loaf of bread or some sort of dessert in the hours before our guests arrive, which adds a yummy and welcoming scent.

    • Sasha says...

      Nothing smells better than freshly baked bread

  77. J says...

    We usually burn incense of light a candle. And then I quickly wipe down the bathroom, change the hand towel and tidy up any visible mess.

  78. Robin says...

    When guests come over and I want our home to feel like a cozy log cabin, I put juniper essential oil in the diffuser and drop a few leaves of dried wild sage right on the top of the wood stove. It’s a great combo.

  79. Heather D says...

    I usually spritz a few sprays of a light bath & body/ victoria’s secret type body spray. Smells great, but not too overpowering.

  80. Caroline’s writing is the best!!!

  81. I loooove perfume so much! Gypsy Water is one of my favorites and definitely the most clever name for perfume!

  82. Carly says...

    Jo Malone diffusers are a must.

  83. Mallory says...

    Whenever friends are stopping by, I light a small candle in the bathroom. I want to make sure my friends feel comfortable doing whatever they need to do in there and it not have it leave a scent behind. I think a candle is right up there with the need for a plunger! Additionally, it makes it easier to find a light switch and adds to the decor!

  84. Lauren says...

    I’ve gotten really into incense lately. Pretty sure my guests don’t enjoy it as much as I do, but it’s better than doing nothing (probably?). Plus it’s dirt cheap! I had no idea! I spend less than a dollar per week, but it’s one of those things that feels like a little indulgence.

  85. Caroline says...

    Oh no why does the name of that perfume have to be racist?! I recognize that some individuals might still use the term ‘gypsy’ but this company embraces it and capitalizes on it. I can’t fathom how they would go through the whole process of coming up with a name, branding it, marketing it, sticking it on multiple products, and never have one single person say ‘oh…wait a minute…’. Or maybe they just didn’t care. I guess ‘Roma’ wasn’t as ‘exotic’ or sexy. Oh well, I really like the idea of using a scent before friends come over but I’m gonna have to do go down the online-reviews rabbit hole all by my lonesome self.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Wow, you are NOT kidding!!! I thought maybe yours was an overreaction, but thank you for this comment. I followed the link and read the “fragrance story,” and it’s appalling.

    • Sasha says...

      Just replace gypsy or Roma with any other ethnic or racial group and you’ll realize how ridiculous and offensive this fragrance is.
      I’m resisting the urge to type out a few, with a lovely and absurd description, because even thinking it feels so offensive.

    • Steph says...

      THIS. Please, please, please stop promoting products from companies who profit from the commodification of a racial slur. In this case, the sly and knowing nod to Romani culture in the description makes it all the more offensive. There’s no such thing as ironic post-racism – ask a Romani person how much they appreciate this “celebration” of their culture. There are so many better choices. This website can and should do better.

    • Nina says...

      So true – thanks for bringing it up.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      these are smart, great points, and i apologize for this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we are changing the link now so that we are not promoting that scent in any way. thank you xoxoxo

  86. Mel says...

    This perfume idea is brilliant. Thank you!!

  87. Andrea says...

    Based on a Sunday lunch we hosted this weekend, I’ve decided that taking a shower is my future hosting goal. If it doesn’t happen earlier in the day, all the last minute things crowd it out.

    • Julie says...

      Hahahahahahaha

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha yes!! :)

  88. Lisa says...

    I would rather smell dog or spaghetti bolognese than a perfume laden with artificial scents and endocrine disruptors! Folks, please think of your friends with sensitivities to parabens and parfum :)

    • Tess Williams says...

      agreed! overly perfumed people and spaces really make me nauseous and light headed!

    • Diana L. Tisdale says...

      Agreed! We have teachers that use wax warmers and I wonder how many kids have a headache everyday from it!

    • Sue Harris says...

      Yes, thank you for this. I have a very difficult time with overly scented places. I can’t use any kind of scented detergents or softeners and I rarely use my own perfume because most scents are just way too strong and I can’t breathe!

    • Sasha says...

      Yes. I wish everyone was aware and thoughtful about this. Those toxic chemical scents also destroy your actual sense of smell. I shudder to think what they do to dogs, with such sensitive olfactory senses.

    • Rebecca says...

      Oh my gosh, I never thought about DOGS and their sense of smell in relation to perfume! I remember reading that their sense of smell is 200x greater than a human’s. Two hundred times! (And I think that’s accurate because mine can smell a package of butter being silently opened in the kitchen even from the other side of the apartment :) They must feel so overwhelmed by fragrance…

    • Nicole says...

      Yes—plus, I have a friend whose cat got incredibly sick because of the oil they used. Many are toxic for cats and/or dogs.

  89. Emilie says...

    I’m all about my diffuser. While I was pregnant a friend gifted it to me for self-care, and I was a little flummoxed by it. Then I started using it and it was a game-changer. The essential oils instantly transform your mood, and they are not bad for my husband’s lungs the way scented candles are. Plus, with a newborn I often don’t have time to clean before people come over. I put on the diffuser with a citrus-y scent and people inevitably assume I just cleaned. So worth it!

    • Tristen says...

      Me too! We got it solely to cover diaper pail smells but now we’re obsessed. Over the years we have collected an embarrassing collection of essential oils and we love concocting our blends. It’s grey and dreary outside but my diffuser has sweet orange and bergamot going strong, so if I close my eyes, I’m basically in Hawaii.

    • Heather says...

      Be careful what you diffuse if you have someone coming over with medical sensitivities. For example, I diffused peppermint once around my asthmatic father, who immediately began coughing and swallowing weirdly, saying it made his breathing feel funny. EO’s are also not safe for babies/ children under 2. Sorry to be THAT person. But I feel like I have to get the word out!