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Home Fragrance and it’s History

Home Fragrance and Candles

There is nothing like a scent to evoke a time or place, to trigger memories and to relax, comfort or inspire.

In recent years scent has become an intrinsic part of interior design and is often used to create an atmosphere or trigger a specific response – we have all enjoyed the smell of fresh bread in a supermarket!

But while the world of home scents is very much a growth business in this new century it is by no means a new phenomenon. The art of home fragrance has been around for 5,000 years.

In fact it is believed that scents were used to perfume the air before they were used to make bodies more fragrant in the days when bathing was virtually unheard of!

It seems that around 3,000BCE Egyptian priests used aromatic resins, an early incense, to mask the smell of sacrificial offerings and believed that such aromas could connect their followers to the gods but it wasn’t just the priests who had access to incense it was commonly burnt in private homes as well.

But the use of scent was not just the purlieu of the Egyptians, around this time the Romans, Greek and Chinese were also making full use of scent in religious ceremonies as well as in the home but it was the Greeks who made the step from home to hygiene and began to create perfume for the body.

The Church in Europe put a dampner on the fun declaring scent to be frivalous but the rest of the world carried on and many scents and ways of creating them were developed with the Chinese making maximum use for making people and places all smell better and even included it on their paper and in their ink.

It took the Crusaders to bring fragrance back to life in Britain by bringing home gifts of rose water and other aromatics, along with the skills to create perfumes, and the popularity of home scents grew during the plague era when it was believed that the diseases were hanging in the air where the smell was made and that clearing the air would provide some protection.

This was when the personal pomander came into being as people carried their own anti-plague protection with them as they travelled around. Early scientists and alchemists learned new ways to distil perfumes making them cheaper and more accessible and the art of perfumery soon overtook the art of home fragrancing in popularity until in the mid-20th Century synthetic air fresheners were created and were used widely to mask the smells of cooking and the then all-present tobacco.

Gradually the home fragrance business became more skilled and the scents more sophisticated until we now have access to candles, sprays, sachets and all manner of other ways to bring our favourite scents into our home on a daily basis.

Our popular scent sachets, sprays and candles by Greenleaf, Willowbrook & Bridgewater are among the best available at purse friendly prices! Browse our scent section on our website or pop into the Olde Christmas Shoppe and wrap yourself in the comfortable aromas while you choose the ones you want for your home. PS – They are not all about Christmas – although of course some of them are!

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John Muir Way

The John Muir Way

One of Scotland’s Great Trails, the John Muir Way offers walkers and cyclists a unique journey through Scotland’s landscapes, history and heritage.

Traversing central Scotland coast to coast in 134 miles, it links Helensburgh in the west with Dunbar in the east (birthplace of ‘father of national parks’ John Muir).

The Olde Christmas Shoppe  is located in Section 1 of the route and is an ideal stop-over when starting or completing the trail, or base for shorter excursions. We are a 2 minute walk west along the promenade from the starting point at Helensburgh Swimming Pool, marked by a seat made from Scottish oak and a circular stone plinth with engraved footprints and a John Muir quote. There is also a mural depicting John Muir on the Pumping Station nearby.


 The circular stone plinth located next to Helensburgh Swimming Pool with the Olde Christmas Shoppe in the background.


The John Muir mural on the Pumping Station with Helensburgh Pier behind it.

The John Muir Way Passport

The perfect way to mark your progress from coast to coast, the John Muir Way official passport is also your ticket to exclusive offers along the route.

Show it off, frame it, or keep it under your pillow! However you choose to celebrate, the John Muir Way passport records your achievement in completing the 10 sections between Helensburgh and Dunbar.

Whether you’re doing the route in one go or tackling one section at a time, be sure to have your passport stamped to mark your progress. When you’ve collected all ten stamps, you can claim your free completer certificate.

There are ‘stamping stations’ dotted along the route in all sorts of places, from paddle steamers to pubs and castles to cafes. Look out for the STAMPING STATION logo at venues in each section.

Helensburgh Swimming Pool is the Stamping Station for Section 1. We are delighted to welcome John Muir Way passport holders. Simply show your passport to a member of staff to benefit from our offer of 10% 0ff all purchases.

For more information about the coast to coast route, visit

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Wedding favours

The tradition of distributing wedding favours is a very old one and one of the earliest accounts of wedding favours dates back to 16th century England. It was common for couples to give love knots constructed from lace and ribbon to each of their guests as a to represent their bond of love and wedding favours became a tradition that has now spread around the world.

It is not a custom that is restricted to the “lower orders” aristocrats also adopted the tradition and would send guests home with a small gift called a bonbonniere and these were also given out at birthday parties and other celebrations.

The bonbonniere was actually a small decorated box which could be made very simply of wood or jewel encrusted precious metal with everything in between and it would be filled with sugary sweetmeats or sugared almonds.

These gifts, usually consisted of five almonds or other sweets which represented fertility, health, wealth, happiness and longevity and were thought to be lucky. In handing them out the newly-weds were sharing their own happiness and good luck with their friends and family.

If you have received such a gift, nowadays often a tulle wrapped handful of sugared almonds, you will probably have found that there are still five in each favour representing the five wedding wishes.

Increasingly couples give favours according to their wedding’s theme but many countries have traditional favours such as:

Chocolate covered or sugared almonds at an Italian wedding; at a Spanish wedding, guests receive “detalles” perhaps cigars for men and a gift for the women; Russian wedding favours usually take the form of tiny pictures or small candles and trinkets; at weddings in Ireland, it is common for guests to receive small wedding bells and in India, a lucky wedding favour to give guests is a hand-made elephant ornament. 

Just for the interest it is also considered to be lucky if a bride in India has her path crossed by an elephant … lots of unemployed black cats in India!

At the Olde Christmas Shoppe we can provide a wide range of favours or party gifts for all occasions from actual personalised Christmas baubles to jigsaws featuring the photo of your choice, porcelain hanging ornaments, printed slates and many others for all ages.

And of course these can also be used as promotional materials for your business.

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Building a website, and setting her free!

When you set out to build a website – you have no idea how big a job its going to be, how many times you’ll be let down by people and how many facets are actually involved! Every time you think you’re nearly finished you realise that you have hours of work to go on a section you hadn’t even realised you’d need to do until that moment….

But you also find your comrade, the one that makes sense of it all, the one who makes the back of the website easy to operate, easy to understand, exciting almost… that guy for me was the wonderful Matt from Professional Structures, I can’t thank him or recommend him enough!

We have been nearly live for sometime now (something else to note… you’re never finished… If you wait until you’re finished to go live I suspect you never would!), and we nearly didn’t go live today as we still have all the links to embed, you know – the links to our favourite partners in crime.. these are all sorts of people from makers, to photographers, from toy shops to experiences, things like links to the John Muir Way and all the things there are to do locally – and our shipping options aren’t quite right yet – but there’s time for that, we can add as we go – so – today we have made the decision to go live, to send our new baby into the world! We do this with a commitment to developing her, to growing her and tweaking her for ever more! We’re nervous about it as its not finished – its not as shiny as we want it to be – but – we’re happy with it – so here goes – and we hope you like it!

PS.. Our websites a she today… they change sex depending on the mood you’re in!

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We’re not bloggers, and we’re not sure you guys really want to hear what we have to say… which is a whole pile of commentary on life with a lightly Christmas feel to it! We will write about our daily experiences, life as retailers and of course Christmas traditions and Christmas novelties…. or at least we will as soon as we work out how to work this section of the website! Ha! 

Now we’ve figured out how to put text in, how do we put a photo in…. if you see one here we worked it out – if you don’t, feel free to get in touch with some advice on how we might upload a picture!