Gifts That Stink: Your Gift-Giving Guide to Candles, Home Scent and Perfume

Giving someone perfume, or a high-end home scent, or even just a fancy candle can be fraught with danger. We're not talking about swinging by the old (horrible) Yankee Candle for those last-minute hostess gifts, here -- we're talking about a truly thoughtful, gift-worthy, and high-quality scent.

Laying out a chunk of change on a candle, or a jar full of smelly oil and some sticks (a diffuser, FYI), seems weird to some, but the risk of purchasing someone a scent they hate actually decreases when you spend a little more. The products have more refined scents; candles burn cleaner, and longer -- a 6.5-ounce candle from Diptyque burns for about 60 hours. If you are choosing a perfume, a higher-end brand is simply going to have more classic options which are a lot safer than buying someone a bottle of celebrity-brand juice. I don't want to smell like Justin Bieber for Christmas, so I feel like no one else should, either.

Use this list, your good sense, and of course, your nose, to cross the rest of those gifts off of your list and get down to the partying part of the holiday season.


I may have tipped my hand in the opener, but among high-end scent--particularly for home--Diptyque is a classic. Plus, it's French so it just feels fancier.

• Diptyque 10-piece candle set from Nordstrom ($130): Ten of Diptyque's iconic scents, spanning the company's 50-year history; includes two of the signature scents from each decade. The 2-inch, 1.2 ounce candles each have 12 hours of burn time. The presentation is spectacular.

• Shop Gifts at Diptyque: Shop Diptyque direct online if time isn't a factor, and check for special order codes which have been changing every few days during the holiday season to include free gifts and expedited shipping.

Jo Malone

Head straight to Neiman Marcus at the Galleria, and tell Andrea at Jo Malone that I sent you--she'll hook you up with the right Jo Malone candles, perfumes, and diffusers. Easy-wearing scents in unusual combinations, Jo Malone is a great way to go when you are buying perfume without a net. 'Vanilla & Anise' is a classic combination with a cozy holiday feel, but for Houston summers 'Wild Bluebell' is a winner.


My favorite place for stinky stocking stuffers of the 'personal scent' persuasion, Kiehl's sells their scented essential body oils in concentrates, roll-on, and even an Eau de Toilette. Choosing personal scents for others can be tricky, but Kiehl's carries high-quality, affordable classics like Vanilla, Cedarwood, and their cult-status Musk.

Le Labo

Last year, the Dallas Barney's shut down its Le Labo counter, which makes Saks in Houston (one of?) the only places in Texas you can shop Le Labo fragrance in person. If you haven't visited, the counter, please do so--it's so lovely. From the apothecary-style, personalized bottles of scent to the scents themselves--sophisticated, complicated, nuanced--this niche brand deserves your attention. Warning: You will likely walk away with a gift or two for yourself as well.


Yes, you can still order online! (Though you'll have to pay for it, slackers!) You can still get your gifts by Christmas if you order through Luckyscent by 12/23. Shop Diptyque and Le Labo, and tons of other niche brands, for home or personal scent, plus other goodies like eco-friendly The Laundress products, RGB nail polish, perfume accessories, and books for perfume/scent aficionados. Make sure you check out the Luckyscent Gift Guide as well.

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