Fragrant gift ideas for friends

While looking for fragrant gift ideas for friends, consider this Christmas as an opportunity to say thank you in scented form – for the shared memories, hope-filled future plans and laughter-filled Zoom catch-ups that got you through the last couple of years!

The best thing about these gifts is, you don’t have to plump for one perfume and hope its ‘the one’ – these gift sets include a range of fragrances with something to tempt everyone. So, instead of getting them the same old thing (which can come across as not really having put any thought in), or randomly picking a scent you’re not sure they’d like (which seems a bit impersonal); choose a set based on the type of friendship you have, and on their unique character – you probably know them best in the whole world, after all!

This Christmas looks set to be better than last year, when so many of us were estranged from loved ones; but if you’re unable to see some of your friends in-person again this year, why not send them one of these boxes of joy, gift one to yourself, too, and arrange another Zoom call (possibly with a cocktail on-hand, why not?!) and enjoy some time smelling through the scents together.

That way you’ll really get to know what they love, and it will give you gift ideas for many years to come as a bonus: genius! For friends near or far – give them one of these to say…

 

 

“Thank you for always having my back, no matter what!”

For friends that have stayed with you through good times AND bad – the ones you could call at 2am crying, and they’d listen / come and get you / can always trust. This socially-conscious, luxury fragrance house have bottles created entirely from recycled glass, along with a sustainability program to help the Moroccan women who pick the orange blossoms used in several of perfumer Carlos Benaïm‘s stunning creations. A magic carpet-ride for the senses.

Sana Jardin Discovery Set: £30

 

 

“Thank you for being as ‘strange’ as me, I love you!”

For the friends you share secret in-jokes (perhaps even brains) with, and are just as wonderfully unique as you – the ones you only have to look at to know what they’re thinking, who can make you laugh across a crowded room. The quirky flair of perfumer Christophe Laudamiel is only matched by his genius skills and superior ingredients. Together with raw ingredient pioneer (Elizabeth Gaynes), and a fragrantly-obsessed supermodel (Helena Christensen!), this ultra-luxe niche collection is addictively fabulous.

Strangelove Discovery Set: £60

 

 

“Thank you for creating precious memories, and allowing me to dream!”

 

For the friends that have travelled with you: around the world, and emotionally, too – they’re by your side no matter how far apart you happen to live, and in even the darkest times you can smile at the shared memories you have. All these fragrances capture snapshots of happy memories in scent, crafted with such sophistication, a sense of refinement, true love and great attention to detail by this brilliant British perfumer and former president of The British Society of Perfumers.

Ruth Mastenbroek Discovery Set: £27.50

 

 

“Thank you for inspiring me with your love of myths / art / history / culture!”

 

 

For the friends who always recommend amazing books / art / places & films – you’re always inspired by what they’ve read or seen, places they’ve been or want to take you to. Here’s a house that takes founder Manos Gerakinis‘ family Istanbul heritage and childhood memories of Greece, and intertwines his love of art, history, classical mythology and philosophy. Scents that simmer with spices and precious ingredients, radiating diversity and passion, like friends who have you writing lists of wonderful new things to explore.

Manos Gerakinis Discovery Set: £35

 

 

“Thank you for understanding the REAL me!”


For friends that see right through to your soul, somehow, and always know when you’re upset or need some extra hugs – these ones just ‘get’ you (the real you) and you never have to explain: they just know. Personality types are integral to choosing the perfect perfume because it’s such an emotional connection. So, each of these fragrances is formed around a distinct character profile, allowing the person choosing to have a strong idea of where to begin. A beautifully thoughtful collection, brilliantly explained.

Olfactive O Discovery Set: £30

Fragrances For… special occasions

Now party season is kicking off in earnest (really for the first time in forever, it seems) we’re reaching for fragrances that sparkle, perfumes with a bit more pizzazz, and scents that really set the tone for special occasions of all kinds. It doesn’t matter if its some ultra-glam event or simply a get-together with friends – seek out these to feel frivolous (and FUN!) again…

 

 

CAROLINA HERRERA CONFIDENTIAL
Amethyst Haze
Joining the bejewelled Gems line-up is this appropriately amethyst-toned flacon which, inside and out, takes inspiration from the purple semi-precious stone of its name. The striking, sophisticated Chypre opens with a nose-tingling burst of pink pepper, along with cool cardamom and soft lavender, its heart of cacao and a touch of liquorice of mellowing to creamy woods and a purring patchouli note. Perfect for dressing up and – hallelujah! – going out-out, again.
£235 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

 

GIORGIO ARMANI
My Way Intense

Amplifying the original invitation to encourage meaningful encounters, be carried away on the fragrant breeze to Egypt via heavenly orange blossom, and India by way of a luxuriously velvety tuberose. Swagged with heady blooms, the creamy New Caledonia sandalwood smooths to an addictively voluptuous base of Madagascan vanilla. With consciously sourced ingredients, refillable bottle, and a commitment to reduce their environmental footprint, it’s also an invitation to be bolder, authentic, kinder.
£60 for 30ml eau de parfum
armanibeauty.co.uk

 

 

KAYALI
Invite Only Amber | 23

Succulent cherries are dipped in Provençal honey, rolled in roasted hazelnuts, and wrapped in rose petals. Plumes of smoke and rich amber provide a textural contrast to the scent’s character, and a hypnotic trail you’ll be willingly entranced by. We imagine wearing this while reclining on velvet cushions, dressed in something scandalous and having poems read to us. A decadent feast for the senses (even if actually worn to the supermarket).
From £23 for 10ml eau de parfum
cultbeauty.co.uk

 

 

 


ACQUA DI PARMA
Oud & Spice

The oudh pulsing at the heart of this addition to the Signatures of the Sun Collection is the finest quality available, sourced from Laos, and renowned for its seductive roundness. Opening with the citrus freshness familiar to AdP-lovers, together with a rosy freshness, this rarest of woody essences is then spiced intriguingly with pink pepper, cloves and cinnamon, mellowing as it’s skin-warmed to reveal earthy patchouli and dry, resinous labdanum. Rich, intense, very wearable.
From £199 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

 

 

 

RALPH LAUREN
Ralph’s Club

Everyone should have something in their wardrobe that’s not only perfectly tailored and fitting for every occasion, but somehow feels classic and contemporary at the same time. Ralph’s Club is exactly that kind of fragrance, and the most naturally distilled scent the hiuse have yet produced. Crisp apple and sharp grapefruit are balanced by aromatic lavandin, the smooth allure of Virginian cedarwood the perfect finishing touch. More than your ultimate accessory, it’s part of who you are.
£64 for 50ml eau de parfum
boots.com

Fragrant gift ideas for men this Christmas

Looking for fragrant gift ideas for men but don’t know where to start? Follow our handy guide to find the perfect one…

The days are long gone when chaps wore one scent for life (possibly something sold on TV by an ex sportsman) which they were urged to ‘splash all over’, and those in their immediate vicinity likely wished they hadn’t.

Indeed, we know many of our readers and subscribers are men who love exploring the wider world of fragrances available to them now. But if you’re scent shopping for the special guy in your life – perhaps someone who’s interested but hasn’t quite figured out his personal scent style yet – it can be a tricky business thinking of something that shows you’ve been thoughtful and considered their character, but also pushes them (gently!) out of their comfort zone a little.

So, where to begin?

If you happen to know some names of fragrances they’ve loved wearing, type one in to our simple Find a Fragrance tool: the so-clever algorithm suggests six new scents with similar characters to try. Narrow down the selection by asking yourself…

What type of a chap are you buying for?

Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers to fragrant gift ideas for men, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘gender fluid’ fragrances categories, and men are offered a fragrant feast along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes, opulent ambers and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

However, we know not all chaps will be as open to more experiemental scents styles, so we’ve put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of fragrances to suit all tastes – from more classic and designer names to cult, niche houses they’ll love to explore.

Have a look at our current top picks of fragrant gift ideas for men, below…

 

 

Contemporary scents putting a modern twist on a local apothecary approach to luxury, MALIN+GOETZ have excelled with this NEW Discovery Set of SIX invigorating fragrance delights. £22

 

 

 

Music-lovers will adore these stunningly packaged, musical genre-inspired fragrances. Each of the 14 JUSBOX scents pays homage to an icon or era in music, with their own playlists on Spotify! £35

 

Paring fine fragrance with fashion-leading (cruelty free) pampering treats since 1973, iconic British brand Molton Brown built a global reputation on modern classics, with scents suit all tastes. £33

 

 

Founded in 1730, Floris create beautiful contemporary-style fragrances, as well as true classics. Still run by members of the family, heritage is taken to new levels with this niche-led collection. £35

 

 

The perfect gift for scent lovers to create their own bespoke fragrance, Emmanuelle Moeglin started Experimental Perfume Club in 2016. Now you can share & compare your layer combos! £32

Gift Guide: choosing scents to suit people’s personalities

Can we say ‘the C word’ yet? No, no that one. The other one. Okay, we’ll whisper it: Christmas… Because even though we all grumble about it getting earlier each year; this one, in particular, people seem to be prepping WAY in advance for. Understandable given last year’s sadly curtailed festivities and people’s concerns about 2021’s Big Day.

The thing about gifting fragrance (at any time of year) is that it can be difficult to know where to begin when picking out a perfume for someone else. Especially if you’re not exactly sure of their tastes, and don’t want to spoil the surprise by asking. So, here’s some really handy tips to finding the right scent for the special someone you’re thinking of…

1: If you live with the person or are visiting them soon, have a quick shifty around where they keep their current fragrances if at all possible. You may notice a theme (they’re all rose-based scents or feature leather, for example. Maybe some of them are by the same fragrance house or perfumer?)

2: Make a note of the fragrance name they wear now, then look on our genius Fragrance Finder, which will suggest six other scents they’re likely to also love.

3: If you know what hobbies and personal passions they have, this is a great clue as to their innermost personalities – as are the way they like to dress or how they choose to decorate their home! See below for our scent-matching suggestions for personality types.

4: You’ve a far better chance of striking gold with a scent-match if you gift a Discovery Box or Sample Set – a curated collection of fragrances put together around a theme or showcasing the full range of styles a particular house has to offer.

Which of these character descriptions would suit them best…?

 

Spiritual = Scented Retreat Discovery Box £23 / VIP price £19. Are they in to yoga / meditation / need to relax? Or perhaps want to be more ‘mindful’ but are far too stressed? This scented collection soothes while turning their home into a much-longed for spa-like experience where they can calm, focus and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.

 

Eco-friendly & young at heart = Floral Street £14. If they’re trying to be more environmentally aware and have a fun, bubbly nature, the perfect gift would be these sustainable, vivacious and multi award-winning scents. Floral fragrances as you’ve never smelled them before, effortlessly wearable.  

Heritage lovers = Floris Classic Collection £35. Do they adore historical dramas and great literature, prefer traditional styles of furnishings and vintage clothes? This Floris set encompasses their heritage heroes – exqusite scents from crisp citrus to rich, woody creations.

 

 

Arty & modern = La Maison J.U.S. £30. Are they always off to see the latest contemporary exhibitions, love creative expression & unusual, cult names? Choose this collection of vibrant, beautifully artistic fragrances for impactful fragrant expressionism.

 

 

Characterful & unique = Olfactive O £30. If they’re in to learning more about themselves, love reading about psychology or check their horoscopes, we bet they’ll adore these from a niche house that invites people to explore their innermost soul through scents.

Really, whichever set you choose, there’s a whole range of fragrances in each to suit pretty much everyone, but we hope this gift guide has helped point you in the right perfumed direction! And fear not – in the coming weeks we’ll have even more specifically chosen guides to put you on the right perfumed present path…

The scent of climate change – perfumed ‘polution pods’ on display at COP26 Glasgow

Polution Pods are capturing the smell, quality and exact air temperature in places around the world via geodesic domes at the COP26 forum, where major world leaders are desperately discussing how we can work together to limit the devastating effects of climate change.

On display in Glasgow, where COP26 is currently taking place, it’s hoped that people actually stepping into the Polution Pods will dramatically evoke the conditions people are struggling to live in right now – a brilliant example of how smell can be used to engage all of our senses in artistic and politically provocative ways.

 

 

‘The Pollution Pods are a series of geodesic domes whose air quality, smell and temperature accurately recreate the pollution of five different locations on three continents: London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula in Norway. Michael Pinsky created the pods in 2017 to test whether art can change people’s perceptions of, and actions around, climate change. Now they face their greatest challenge yet – to shift the debate on air pollution and climate change to help secure real change at COP26.’

The Pollution Pods’ have been travelling to reach as many people as possible with their scented message, their journey beginning in Granary Square, London, then drifting to Birmingham, Lancaster and Newcastle and where ‘accompanied by Ride for their Lives – staff from six UK children’s hospitals who cycled 800km from London to Glasgow to deliver messages from the international health community including the Healthy Climate Prescription Letter, signed by 450 medical organisations across the globe.’

The Pollution Pods have been constructed by students from the University of East London and have been generously supported by the Clean Air Fund with additional sponsorship from Airlabs and BuildwithHubs.

If you’re anywhere near Glasgow, we usrge you to experience the scents in person – it really is extraordinary how smell can allow us to travel immediately, via our noses. Obviously we usually prefer doing this with fabulous fine fragrances that take us to exotic locations and happy holiday memories, but it behoves us all to take climate change seriously, and to appreciatel how scent can be used in more artistic, environmentally important ways. 

 

The Polution Pods will remain on display – FREE to enter – in Glasgow until November 12th, and all details of where and how to experience them can be found at whatsonglasgow.co.uk 

By Suzy Nightingale

Spice Up Your Life – the history of spiced scents (and what to wear now)

At this time of year we’re suddenly surrounded by spices – precious ingredients once so rare and expensive they were kept in locked wooden boxes, and have been beloved by perfumers for thousands of years. And ‘noses’ today still love weaving these warmly tingling, simmeringly sensual ingredients into their compositions. So, why are we so attracted to spices, and which fragrances are the best to wear today?

Over the next few weeks we’ll trace them in turn, starting with…

Cinnamon

Even 2000 years ago the Egyptians were using cinnamon in perfumes and incense burned to send scented prayers to the gods (though it probably originates way before that, in China).

Cinnamomum verum is thought to have been an ingredient in the original holy ‘anointing oil’, mentioned in the Bible. The Greeks and Romans used it too, often with its near-relation cassia.  It’s long been considered to have aphrodisiac properties, when eaten – though if spicy scents turn you on, maybe when dabbed onto pulse-points, too.

Cinnamon bark oil ihas to be used very sparingly in a scent – it’s a sensitiser, and as such, you may see ‘cinnamates’ on perfume packaging, as a warning. Where natural cinnamon’s used, it’s likely to have been distilled from the leaves and twigs. But it’s often also synthesised, adding a spicy warmth to amber scents.

Here’s renowned niche perfumer Andy Tauer on the restrictions on using cinnamon, which he shared with The Perfume Society – and why he loves to use it, all the same:

Andy Tauer: ‘Ah… a forbidden fruit. Sensitising cinnamal, potential allergen. So warm, metallic almost, spicy of course, gourmand, hitting the nose with memories of rice pudding with cinnamon sugar, and making your saliva flow. I love to cook with cinnamon. It brings out the flavors of ginger, onions, adds warmth to the cocktail of exotic flavors from clove, pepper, cumin, fenugreek. In my perfumes, I love it – like a synthetic aldehyde – as it switches the light on, brings out the colours and contrasts. One fine day, in perfumery heaven, we will all smell and enjoy cinnamon in heavy doses: Until then, we have to live life with the regulations that we have…’

Here we travel to the land of Assam via the richly resonant aromas of the East. Cinnamon leaf oil and nutmeg make for a lively opening that tingles all the way to wonderfully exotic citrus-fresh elemi oil. Black tea accord marks our fragrant journey with its smoky tendrils slowly opening to the deeper base and that sweet, wet earthiness and smooth wood played out with notes of oudh and vetiver. Honey is drizzled to sweeten the mix but never becomes sickly, the stunningly smooth tobacco accord putting us in mind of freshly-rolled cigars and dense canopies of greenery outlined against mountains beyond.

Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh & Gold Accord £120 for 100ml eau de parfum
Molton Brown

One of those unforgettable ‘sexy church’ scents, the cinnamon here infused into wafts of sheer smokiness, all shot through with a surprising, champagne-like airiness. Transparent in the opening (definitely more organza than velvet, at this stage), Angelique Encens’s warmth emerges on the skin, kindling notes of pepper, sandalwood, patchouli and oodles of smoothly simmering cinnamon. You shall not only go to the ball wearing this, meanwhile, but perhaps find yourself partying way beyond midnight wrapped in its enduring musk, vetiver and incense embrace.

Creed Angelique Encens £275 for 75ml eau de parfum
creedfragrances.co.uk

This fresher take on cinnamon is inspired by ‘mountain of paper, autumnal hues of corduroy… thoughtful parting words and a reminiscence of dry oil paint.’ It’s golden light on crunchy leaves, rich fabrics in earthy colours gleaming in the honeyed light, a cool, herbaceous breeze of rosemary and basil just sing with the fizz of green peppercorns in the top notes – the cinnamon all the while a link to the deep thrum of oudh, earthiness and smooth woods in the base. One to wear while wrapped up for a country walk, breathing glad lungfuls of air and exalting nature.

Mihan Aromatics Mikado Bark £123 for 100ml extrait de parfum
mihanaromatics.com

Lapped by milk, snuggled by soft blooms of immortelle flower, the cinnamon in this is neck-nuzzle-worthy – you’ll definitely want to move closer to the person wearing it. Inspired by Manos Gerakinis’s Greek heritage, the immortelle is a yellow flower found in Greece, its story dating back to the Trojan war. In myth, during Helen’s capture, she asked Paris to validate her beauty against Venus. Paris replied: “Do you not see this flower? Your hair shares the same golden colour and your body smells like the flower while your skin is as soft as its petals. Your beauty will be everlasting.’ The resonant warmth the cinnamon affords sizzles for hours, beautiful indeed..

Manos Gerakinis Immortelle £145 for 100ml eau de parfum
shymimosa.co.uk

Written by Suzy Nightingale