When it comes to Christmas presents, a gift set solves all stresses. The crucial thing is that they’re beautifully presented, usually in a nice manageable box, so all you need do is add a further layer of wrapping – if indeed that.
In the case of this list, the centrepiece is a fragrance, packaged irresistibly. Ideally you get other things with the scent, perhaps a lovely soap (why, why, why do we underrate soap as presents?), a body cream or a scented candle (what did women do for presents before we had those?). Or else you get a series of mini scents, good for carrying on the go.
With lavish decoration and a lovely box, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. Some houses let you make up your own fabulous gift sets; I’ve suggested a couple here.
This list will help you avoid my father’s example; shopping on Christmas Eve for my mother, he saw an eye-catching number at the fragrance counter and handed over a wad of fivers to a sympathetic assistant. It was only on unwrapping, we discovered it was an aftershave with talcum powder.
Shop the foolproof fragrance gifts below.
Penhaligon Dolly Mix
Penhaligon’s gift sets are the most fun by a mile: sweetie tins in jolly red stripes and Nutcracker colours. There’s a whole range, but this one is particularly adorable: five dinky little bottles of Penhaligon’s finest eaux de toilette and eaux de parfum.
Buy now £40.00, Selfridges
Acqua di Parma x Emilio Pucci eau de cologne gift set
Is there anyone who doesn’t like the classic Acqua di Parma cologne with fresh, zesty, and uplifting notes? This set has a 100ml bottle of cologne, a little deodorant spray and body wash, but frankly, you’d buy it for the fabulous Emilio Pucci box decorated in the characteristic swirls.
Buy now £130.00, Selfridges
Jo Malone Myrrh and Tonka gift set
Could there be anything more Christmassy than a scent with myrrh? Not that you smell it and think ah, myrrh…where’s the frankincense? What you get is a warm and delicious scent with a kind of creaminess from the tonka bean. The set comes with 50ml of Cologne Intense and a 50ml body cream with the same addictive aroma.
Buy now £108.00, Selfridges
Byredo Rose of No Man’s Land Wooden Box
Byredo’s founder, Ben Gorham, is keen on sustainability and this very chic reusable wooden box is based on Indian Mamta Devi’s design. The inlays can be removed, which is very handy for reusing. The gift box comes with 100ml eau de parfum of any one of six of Byredo’s cult scents; the intriguing Rose of No Man’s Land has Turkish rose at heart, named after the nurses of the Great War.
Buy now £155.00, Selfridges
Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert Gift Set
This is one of our favourite Hermes scents - it’s a distinctively fresh and elegant citrus. Here it comes in a terrifically colourful box, with 100ml of eau de cologne plus a teeny travel-size bottle and soap. Who wouldn’t like this under the tree?
Buy now £85.00, Harrods
Jo Malone Silver Christmas Cracker
We are a sucker for lovely packaging, and this splendid Christmas cracker (which, alas, you can’t actually pull) just looks fabulous. It contains teeny English Oak and Hazelnut Cologne, Grapefruit body and hand wash and a little body crème. A very acceptable present to find on your plate on Christmas morning.
Buy now £32.00, Jo Malone
Diptyque Discovery Eaux de Parfums set
This is a thing of beauty. It contains five little bottles of Diptyque’s loveliest eaux de parfum complete with a cloth holder for travel - a particularly intriguing Japanese-inspired Do Son. The set has a very sophisticated box design. If you can’t choose one scent, why not have them all?
Buy now £92.00, John Lewis
Ormonde Jayne Evernia eau de Parfum
This is one of our favourite fragrance houses. Evernia is Linda Pilkington’s latest scent, based on woody oakmoss with soft orris root and a floral mix that includes Moroccan rose. It’s enticing; once you smell it, you want to come closer to find out more. It’s unisex.
The Christmas candle range is also beautifully presented and includes Nocturne, which also has oakmoss, and conjures up the season. If you order them together, they come in the signature striking orange box.
Buy now £110.00, Harrods
Farmacia Santa Maria Novella Melograno eau de cologne
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Farmacia Santa Maria Novella soaps; in fact all their products are intensely covetable. Did you know they originated in a Dominican friary?
The Melograno, or pomegranate, is just lovely: the cologne is delicious and the soap equally so. In fact, if you were to throw in the bath salts, it would be our ideal gift set.
Ordered together, they come attractively boxed. And when it comes to heritage, the workshop is celebrating its eight hundredth anniversary.
Buy now £75.00, S M Novella
Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady gift set
Frédéric Malle is a name to reckon with in fragrance and Portrait of a Lady is terrifically elegant; it’s the woman I’d rather like to be in scent form. This very extravagant gift set comprises an eau de parfum, shower cream and hair mist. Failing that, just get the Eau de Parfum.
Buy now £345.00, Harvey Nichols