To me, one of the most evocative smells of Christmas is freshly ground nutmeg.
In the eggnog:
Separate ½ dozen eggs
Beat the whites until soft peaks form, set aside. Mix the yolks on high with ½ cup of sugar (or substitute sweetener of your choice to equivalent sweetness—sometimes I use a combination of honey, light amber maple syrup and Agave nectar) until foamy and able to hold soft peaks. Fold in the whites, separately whip a cup cream to the soft peak stage. Very gently add in vanilla extract, dark rum, and brandy to, ahem, “taste”. Fold the cream mixture and the egg mixture together just enough to barely mix. Great at least on full nutmeg over the top. Ladle responsibly. This has MANY calories.
Or the hot buttered rum:
Mix ½ cup butter with ½ cup brown sugar, at least 2 T vanilla and a full freshly grated nutmeg. This is the “cookie dough” and it will keep in the fridge, covered, for a couple weeks.
Mix one heaping soup spoon of cookie dough + 1 jigger black rum + fill mug to brim with boiling water = the best hot buttered rum on the planet. Very nice après snow shoveling.
Or the mince pie:
Apples + pears+ raisins+ dried cranberries+ either orange zest or candied citron+ brown sugar+ a little dab or two of butter+ 2T dark rum+ ½-¾ a freshly grated nutmeg+ pie crust= mince pie, the scent of which will make you whole house smell like Charles Dickens was visiting. I made some mince last night for the kids, the smell was intoxicating.
In fact you can just grate some nutmeg into any sugar cookie or pound cake recipe and voilà the house smells like Christmas. The rum doesn’t hurt either.