Holiday Gift Giving: The 10 Best Scents Worth Sharing

Beauty products can bring out all sorts of emotions in us—a jolt of confidence from swiping on a great lipstick, the relaxation of masking—but nothing triggers all the feels quite like fragrance. Psychologists believe scent is more closely tied to our memory than any of our other senses, which is why certain smells can instantly take us back to our childhood or a far off location we once visited. No offense to other beauty products, but no one ever says, “Wow, this brow pencil really reminds me of my honeymoon…” So it’s no wonder fragrances fly off shelves during the holiday shopping season. It’s a gift that can make someone smell good and feel good. But choosing the right one to give can be tricky: just because you like it doesn’t necessarily mean the recipient will. Here are some good rules of thumb—or nose, rather—for selecting a fragrance to give as a present: 1. Citrus scents are the lightest of all perfumes and colognes and tend to be the most universally liked, so they’re usually a safe bet. 2. Anything that smells even remotely sexy should be reserved only for someone you know very, very well, like your best friend or sister. (Giving YSL Opium to your kid’s teacher can really send the wrong message.) 3. If you know which perfume the person already wears, choose a fragrance in the same scent category—floral, fruity, etc—that has similar notes. 4. When in doubt, give a candle… but make it a nice one that comes in a beautiful jar. Giving someone a cheap aromatherapy candle is admitting you put zero thought into his or her present (unless, of course, the person likes cheap aromatherapy candles!). To help you along with your fragrance shopping, we rounded up 10 gorgeous, gift-able scents that our editors Swear By.

Stella McCartney Stella Peony Fragrance

I recently discovered this fragrance after wearing Stella’s original scent for years. I don’t know what it is about peony but to me it smells like pretty flowers that aren’t boring. Like, not your grandma’s flower? More sophisticated but also great for daytime.

Jo Malone Orange Blossom Cologne

Clean, floral and citrus yet super light. Everyone loves this classic scent! It is one of those scents that is subtle but feels very fresh and you never grow tired of it. Can be worn day or night.

Diptyque Paris Baies Candle

This candle is my favorite. The great thing about diptyque is that their candles always burn straight down so there is never any wax leftover! Baies leaves a suddle lingering smell days after the candle has been blown out. This candle is calming, homey, and is not overpowering. It’s a must in any house/apartment.

AERIN Beauty Rose de Grasse Parfum

I know what you’re thinking…I don’t want to smell like my grandmother or a rose bush. Trust me, this scent is nothing like typical rose fragrances. I wear it everyday. It’s pricey and worth every penny.

Glossier You Fragrance

I’m not crazy about perfume in general, but am crazy about this. Love the way it smells, love the way I feel when I smell like it.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue Pure Perfume

I always have the 1 oz size in my bag. This perfume is very light, perfect for quick refreshes throughout the day. The orange scent is energizing and feel-good! It always blends well with whatever perfume I had put on that morning.

Maison Margiela 'Replica' Beach Walk

I actually get a little mood boost every time I spray on this scent, which smells exactly like a sun-drenched afternoon on a Mediterranean beach. Some beachy fragrances are overly sweet, but this one tapers coconut with crisp notes like lemon and bergamot, so it’s subtle. It also has a bit of pink pepper which gives it a slightly sexy edge. I keep the rollerball version stashed in my travel bag so I can dab this on during weekend beach getaways, and now I associate the smell with all my happiest summer memories.

Jo Loves White Rose & Lemon Leaves Fragrance

Jo Malone left her namesake company, and Jo Loves is her new brand. This has white rose and lemon leaves—it just smells like what it is—white rose and lemon leaves! The rose scent isn’t too heavy; there’s a freshness to it because of the lemon leaves. I’ll mix it with other fragrances, like a lemon spritzer. Jo Malone was like the godmother of fragrance mixing, and while she didn’t tell me to mix this with anything, I like to mix it with a men’s fragrance from Penhaligon. I just like the duality of the heaviness with this one.

Byredo Gypsy Water Kabuki Perfume

This sleek brush leaves behind just the right amount of fragrance. The powder may wear off a bit faster than a traditional perfume, but I love pulling the chic tube out of my bag to reapply. The portable packaging is perfect for travel and on-the-go application.

NEST Grapefruit Classic Candle

Love all things NEST Grapefruit scent! Diffusers, candles, you cannot go wrong.

Former beauty editor at Harper's Bazaar, Allure, and Redbook and former editorial director of—now freelance beauty biz maven. I write, edit, consult, curate, post, tweet, Instagram, and occasionally pop up on TV shows like Today and Good Morning America as an on-air expert. Proud hoarder of beauty products in my tiny New York City apartment.