Holiday Gift Ideas : My Favorite Candles

I love giving gifts, and not just for Christmas. When I want to treat someone to a scented present, a candle is one of my top choices. By lighting the wick, you transform the ambiance of a room in just a matter of minutes. You can give L’Occitane Feuille de Figuier as a memento of the summer, or L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Thé et Pain d’Épices for a bit of winter holiday cheer. With Comme des Garcons’s Jalsaimer candle, you can send your friends on a tour of Rajasthani temples perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. It’s up to you to choose the fantasy.

candles

Although it’s easier to select a scented candle than a bottle of perfume, you should still research your recipient’s tastes. Is she a lover of all things sweet and floral? Does he like clean, understated colognes? In general, you have more leeway when it comes to home fragrances, because while someone may not like wearing gourmand perfumes, they will enjoy the scent of vanilla and gingerbread spices in the air.

Having come across my fair share of candles that were either badly scented and/or overpriced, I have little patience for high-end brands that don’t deliver on their promise.  A good-quality candle should have a strong smell when unlit, fill the space with perfume when burning and also retain its fragrance as long as wax remains in the jar. There should be no scents of soot, burning paper or wool, or other off-odors (assuming that you clip the wick regularly).

It’s best to burn your scented candle for no more than 2 hours at a time. But with the choices below, these 2 hours should be plenty to perfume the whole room.

L’Occitane Fleur d’Or & Acacia Candle

l'occitane

The Fleur d’Or & Acacia candle is part of La Collection de Grasse, inspired by the town of Grasse in Provence. If you like the almond and cucumber peel aroma of mimosa, then Fleur d’Or & Acacia is for you. I’m a big fan of L’Occitane candles, and Fleur d’Or & Acacia laced with honey, mimosa absolute and delicate musk is my latest favorite. L’Occitane promises about 45 hours of burning time, and in my experience, it can be even more if you keep the wick properly trimmed. And can I point to the reasonable price?

For those who prefer something more classical, I recommend the Lavender candle for its rich herbal aromas. 9.5oz/$35. Available at L’Occitane stores.

Parfums de Nicolaï Route du Cedre Candle

nicolai

A dry blend of cedarwood, amber and pine perfumes this high-quality candle. It’s the scent of a library crossed with that of a woodworking shop. Maharadjah is for those who prefer more opulence; it layers vanilla with smoky incense and then liberally spices it up cinnamon and orange peel. 6 oz/$65.00. Available at Beautyhabit and Parfums de Nicolaï boutiques.

Lux and Potager Royal Candles (Arty Fragrance by Elisabeth de Feydeau)

lux

Arty Fragrance by Elisabeth de Feydeau draws its inspiration from Versailles, its glitter, its flamboyance and its aromas. Historian Elisabeth de Feydeau, the author of A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer, certainly knows a thing or two about the French court’s fragrances.  If you want to make someone feel like a queen, Lux is an excellent choice. It purportedly recreates the scent of wax used to polish the wood floors in Marie-Antoinette’s private apartments. The aroma of woods blended with beeswax and honey creates a cozy, warm ambiance.

On the other hand, Potager Royal perfumed with basil is exhilarating and fresh. It reminds me of Cire Trudon Abd El Kader, which is one of my top ten favorite candles, but what gives Potager Royal more complexity is the milky sweetness of green fig and crushed leaves. 45 €. Available at Jovoy Paris, Haute Parfumerie Place Vendôme.

True Grace Black Currant Leaves and Lily (and Natural Wax Candles)

true grace

True Grace candles are made out of natural wax in Wiltshire, UK. I love the tangy, green Black Currant Leaves with its flourish of rose and oakmoss. Lily accented with green jasmine is another excellent choice for the floral lovers, but the collection includes many other alternatives. A very reasonably priced, good quality candle (£18) that’s available at truegrace.co.uk, Fortnum and Mason, and John Lewis.

I found True Grace by asking some of my British friends for their favorite inexpensive, natural wax candles, but if you live in the US, check your organic food stores for interesting local brands. Some of them may not be available outside of your state. A natural beeswax candle doesn’t even need any extra perfume; it smells like melted honey and soft hay.

Annick Goutal Noël Candle

goutalA limited edition candle brought out each year for the holidays, Noël is one of my favorite winter inspired candles. It’s perfumed with mandarin zest, pine bark and sweet resin. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine a Christmas tree in front of you. You also get an elegant glass streaked with gold. 6.2 oz/ £39. Available at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges, Annick Goutal boutiques.

Parfum d’Empire Lys Casablanca and Ambre Absolue Candles

parfumdempire

A relative newcomer to the home fragrance market, Parfum d’Empire has exquisitely scented candles that are as good as its Eau de Parfums. I would happily wear Lys Casablanca in perfume, but so far I enjoy smelling its sun warmed lilies in my bedroom. I almost expect to turn around and find a bouquet of waxy white flowers dusted with yellow pollen. Ambre Absolue is a sweet amber made austere with woods and incense, while Lantana Camara is a fantasy of tropical fruit and flowers. 43 €. Available at parfumdempire.fr.

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir and Orange Blossom Candles

jo-malone

The Duchess of Cambridge may prefer Orange Blossom, but Pomegranate Noir is another Jo Malone top seller. When it’s lit, Pomegranate Noir smells like crushed raspberries and patchouli. A generous dose of incense keeps things interesting, while the milky sweetness of plum adds a voluptuous accent. Orange Blossom is an uplifting swirl of white petals and citrus zest. 7oz/$65, £38. Available at Jo Malone boutiques and counters.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée Du Bosphore Candle

LArtisan_Candles

Among the high-end candles, L’Artisan’s stand out for their quality. The scents are sophisticated and complex, the throw is excellent, and the candles last for ages. Traversée Du Bosphore, inspired by the eponymous perfume, is my latest discovery, and I love its seductive fragrance of rose, iris and leather. It surprises you later by revealing a warm accent of tobacco. Tilleuls Au Vent, Sous la Glycine, Oranger en Fleurs, and L’Ambre  are some of my other L’Artisan favorites. 6.2oz/$70, 45 €. Available at Aedes, Luckyscent, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and L’Artisan boutiques.

L’Artisan Parfumeur La Boule d’Ambre (Amber Ball)

amber_ball
L’Artisan’s Amber Ball is one of my top 10 favorite home fragrance products. The carved wooden ball contains a packet scent with sweet, luscious amber. You refill it every couple of years, but mine is about 5 years old and it still smells strong enough to perfume the closet. Amber Ball Medium is €75 ($140); refill is €45. Amber balls are available at Aedes, L’Artisan counters and boutiques.

Diptyque Encens des Indes and Ecorce de Pin

diptyqueIn general, when it comes to quality to price ratio, you can definitely do much better than Diptyque. Their candles are deliciously perfumed, but I usually find the throw to be moderate. On the other hand, the new limited edition candles are very good: the packaging is beautiful, the scents are very interesting, and the aroma lingers in the room.

Encens des Indes smells like peppery incense, with a touch of licorice and myrrh. A frill of rose adds a layer of sweetness to the dark incense, and in the air, you can smell both of them unfolding simultaneously.

My second favorite is Ecorce de Pin, a scent of smoky woods and pine needles. A warm note of patchouli gives this candle complexity and richness, and the woody aroma lingers in the air long after the candle is extinguished.

Orange Chai, however, is disappointing. It smells terrific in the jar, but after an hour all I smell in the air is the sweet cinnamon. If cinnamon is what you like, you can find much better and much less expensive alternatives at L’Occitane, Yankee Candles or even the drugstore brands. 6.5oz candle/$68.00

Guerlain Hiver en Russie Scented Candle

hiver-en-russie

Guerlain candles are the ultimate luxury, and the quality of the wax and ingredients are obvious as soon as you open the box. Spending $100 on a candle for myself feels far too indulgent, but this is why I love giving gifts. Out of Guerlain’s collection, Hiver en Russie (Winter in Russia), Boudoir Vénitien (Venetian Boudoir), and Pot Pourri Parisien (Parisian Potpourri) stand out for their complex and nuanced aromas. It’s another case where the candles, with appropriate changes to suit the medium of alcohol, could be the Eau de Parfums. Hiver en Russie smells like the Russian Orthodox church with its aroma of frankincense, myrrh and someone’s Shalimar.

Boudoir Vénitien is an intriguing blend of violet, leather and black currant, and it’s just as sumptuous as it sounds. Pot Pourri Parisien has the sparkling top notes of orange, orange blossom and rosemary, but the longer it burns, the more you notice the darkness of patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla. It’s a play on Jicky, but with a darker twist. 180g (6.4oz)/$95. Available at Guerlain boutiques.

Do you have any favorite candles? What are some of the most strongly scented candles you’ve tried?

For other gift ideas, be sure to check out Nowsmellthis. Robin always does excellent seasonal gift guides.

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104 Comments

  • rosarita: Thanks so much for this informative post! I don’t know much about candles and it’s lovely to have a selection set out that’s been well vetted. Exciting to see that Parfum d’Empire has entered the home fragrance market as they are one of my favorite houses. I do have an Amber Ball and it is great for scenting my tiny house. December 3, 2013 at 7:38am Reply

    • Victoria: I received an Amber Ball as a gift, and it turned out to be excellent. Plus, it looks so beautiful with its delicate carving. Even more impressive that it can retain its scent for so long. December 3, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

      • The Blue Squid: Um, I am rather late here, but I would like to say that if you put your amber ball near a couple of open, unlit books of Papier d’Armenie, a resoundingly pleasant smell results. December 9, 2013 at 7:32am Reply

  • Jenna: Thank you for this list. I appreciate your comments about Diptyque. I also find they don’t smell as strong as I would like but the scents are very nice. December 3, 2013 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: True, the scents are interesting and there are some unusual ones in the collection, but for the price, I would have preferred a much better throw. December 3, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the informative post, V. Reading through it was like taking an imaginary olfactive journey! Do you remember that I asked about Diptyque candles in the last ‘Recommend Me a Perfume’? I smelled the ones that people recommended as well as the holiday editions – my favourite was Ecorce de Pin as I love the smell of pine trees. I was really tempted to get one but in the end, I couldn’t justify myself for spending so much money on a candle.

    I usually scent my room with a dish and candle diffuser and essential oil. I like my room to smell fresh so I use eucalyptus, tea tree and rosemary in rotation. I put it on in my bedroom about 30 minutes before going to bed. It really helps to clear my head before going to sleep. December 3, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it! A good candle is not that easy to make, and one needs to know which materials will not get strange off-odors during burning, which will discolor the wax, which will degrade over time, etc. But when you have an excellent candles that does everything I mentioned–burns well, smells good when unlit, lasts for a long time, it’s such a nice treat.

      I also love burning frankincense or Japanese incense. In the kitchen, I keep the air purifier on to make sure that no cooking odors linger. That’s better than trying to cover them up. December 3, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: I didn’t know it’s that challenging to make a good candle. Now I can understand better why these candles are expensive. Thanks for the enlightenment.

        Do you burn pure frankincense? Where do you get them from? Also, do you have your favourites for the Japanese incense? December 3, 2013 at 4:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Complex, nuanced scented require quality ingredients (as well as quality naturals) and careful blends. I’ll quickly add that not all expensive candles are good; many are overpriced and not well-crafted at all. But that goes for perfume too.

          Yes, I burn pure frankincense tears, which I get either when I travel or from incense shops. I bet there must be a European equivalent. You heat a piece of charcoal (also sold at the incense shops) and add frankincense on top. The smoke has a wonderful scent, and it’s very calming and relaxing. When it comes to the Japanese incense, I love Shoyeido. Pretty much everything I tried from them was great. They have very nice cedarwood and sandalwood incense, and the newer blends with violet and rose are excellent. I wish they were made into perfume! December 3, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

          • MissChris: Victoria, Shoyeido makes lovely incense body powders and they sell a pretty holder for the powder as well. http://www.shoyeido.com/category/incense-body-powder December 3, 2013 at 11:20pm Reply

            • Victoria: Goodness, only the exorbitant Belgian custom fees (and expensive shipping) stop me from placing an order right away. Thank you very much. I will ask my mom to bring it for me when she visits, and I will let you know how it worked out. Sounds absolutely wonderful. December 4, 2013 at 3:32pm Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you. I’ve seen some incense stalls at the Christmas market so I should look for some there. December 4, 2013 at 7:24am Reply

            • Victoria: I bet the bio stores in Germany would have it too. In the supermarkets here in Brussels you can find pure frankincense, myrrh, etc. intended to be used as incense. December 4, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

  • Lucas: Hi Victoria!
    That’s a great candle gift guide you prepared for us, and what a perfect timing!

    Your selection pretty well corresponds to my own Holiday shopping guide about candles that I published today.

    I featured different candles, so if Bois de Jasmin readers combine our guides together they will have a really wide choice.

    The strongest scented candles I recently tried were Atelier Cologne Gold Leather candle as well as Dickens candle from Jardins d’Ecrivains. December 3, 2013 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll have to smell those candles too, Lucas. Thanks a lot! December 3, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

      • Lucas: I think you would be charmed by the blend of Dickens candle. It really is something beautiful and perfect for Christmas. December 3, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: It does sound some appealing, Lucas! Thank you again for extra ideas. December 3, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

  • Hannah: I always want to buy my mom candles but highend candles are always out of my price range. I love the Diptyque Christmas packaging. I really liked the Polish-inspired collection (with the paper cutting art) they had a few years ago.
    The Guerlain and Parfums de Nicolai candles sound really nice, too. December 3, 2013 at 8:54am Reply

    • Victoria: You should check the local pharmacies/bio shops, which sometimes have candles made by interesting little brands and that don’t cost that much. My local bio shop has some honey scented candles that are amazing. And they’re 6 euros each. It seems like a tiny local outfit, so I can’t recommend it to others. In the US, I often bought pure beeswax candles for myself and for others. Again, a budget option that smells luxurious. December 3, 2013 at 11:51am Reply

  • FearsMice: Victoria, thank you for the helpful guide! I wonder if you or any of the other posters could recommend a realistic, tomato-vine-scented candle?… December 3, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

    • Nicola: Hello – I don’t know where you are, but if in the UK, True Grace do a lovely Tomato ripening on the vine candle, also a Greenhouse one which evokes the same scent/vibe. Apologies if this is of no use however! December 3, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

      • FearsMice: Nicola, thank you for the recommendation. I visited the True Grace website and their candles do look lust-worthy! Haven’t found a retailer for True Grace here in the US, but am very tempted to just blind-buy… December 3, 2013 at 6:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with Nicola on True Grace. Also, Votivo has a nice tomato leaf candle. December 3, 2013 at 11:52am Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. Oh, just remembered another one–Nature’s Garden Candles Tomato Leaf and Coriander. Spicer and more citrusy than either True Grace or Votivo, but it’s also very nice. December 3, 2013 at 11:53am Reply

        • FearsMice: Victoria, thanks for your help! FWIW though, I couldn’t find anything related to tomato on the Votivo site, and it seems Nature’s Garden no longer sells finished candles, only candle making supplies. The True Grace one is all the more tempting… December 3, 2013 at 6:24pm Reply

          • Victoria: I’m sorry, I didn’t check them out recently, but it’s too bad that neither is available.
            But I found something else online: Christian Tortu Feuille de Tomate and Illuminum Tomato Leaf. I have never burned either one of them, but Christian Tortu other candles were good. December 4, 2013 at 3:37pm Reply

            • FearsMice: Thanks, Victoria — I’m off to check these out! December 4, 2013 at 7:30pm Reply

              • Victoria: If you find your holy grail, please let us know! :) December 5, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

  • Nicola: What a lovely post about one of my favourite scented items, thank you Victoria. I have only one caveat and that concerns the L’Occitane candles (in tins) which I find have silly weedy wicks which can barely sustain enough flame to melt the entire surface of the candle. Maybe I just had a bad one! Otherwise I am so happy you mention the True Grace candles which I love very much. Diptyque are lovely but so spendy that I have transferred my ££s to True Grace whose candles are such good value and the scents as interesting. I have my eye on Sacristy for Christmas and the Tomato one and Rhubarb one for Spring. Eucalyptus and Rosemary is great in the kitchen (particularly in a tin rather than glass!). My dear brother gifted me the Guerlain Hiver en Russie for my birthday as I’d put it on my wishlist. Bless him, he tried to get it in Paris whilst on a holiday there but the boutique was closed so bought in in Harrods on his return to the UK! I am rationing it but will certainly be burning it on Boxing Day when he and the rest of the family come to mine for lunch! If I may I will add one other discovery – a Fragonard candle, Bois something or other in which the wick is a piece of wood which crackles much like a real fire. It sounds and smells gorgeous. Nicola December 3, 2013 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Yay, another True Grace fan! I was so happy with these candles and I wish they were easier to find in other countries. But I’m sure that there are local equivalents.

      We have very generous friends! I got Hiver en Russie as a gift, and I tried the rest of the Guerlain’s collection at my friend’s house (who is a huge Guerlain maniac). So, now I continue the tradition along and get these candles for others. I also should have mentioned their Contes Tahitiens, which is scented with ylang ylang, tiare blossoms and real vanilla essence. It’s so delicious I wish Guerlain made it into a body cream.

      The wick in L’Occitane’s new candles seems a bit sturdier, but I remember encountering the issue with the wick dying out before the wax has melted completely. You still have to be vigilant in trimming it. December 3, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

  • Alessandra: I adore candles, and am convinced they make for one of the nicest Christmas gifts – which, of course, I never get and have to buy for myself, haha. I also think they’re the scented item for which it’s easiest to find amazing quality at reasonable prices. You rarely get that with perfume. Personally, I adore Nicolai’s xmas candle, so I think I’m gonna get that one for myself this year, but I’m very tempted by L’Occitane. I agree, their candles are wonderful. I really want something christmassy right now, tho! Hehe. Much as I ADORE Diptyque, I have to agree that the scents released in the air are moderate. I still buy their candles, tho, so I am probably gonna get Ecorce de Pin etc.. May I also recommend Floris’ Cinnamon and Tangerine?
    I also love Cire Trudon – and sniffing Myrrhe at the shops the other week, I can say it’s heaven – but it’s a bit too expensive, so I rarely buy :(

    One last thing. Dear Victoria, because I can’t really buy both, I’d like your opinion on Diptyque and Goutal’s xmas candles. Which one is the best? December 3, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for the extra recommendations!

      I only have one Cire Trudon candle, but I love their unusual scents. I don’t know if they changed anything since the house changed creative direction (since Rami Mekdachi, the visionary behind Cire Trudon, left), I haven’t tried any of their candles since then.

      Annick Goutal has my vote. The throw is much much better than Diptyque’s! December 3, 2013 at 12:00pm Reply

      • Alessandra: Ok! Will get Goutal’s then :) thanks!!!

        I forgot: Kurkdijan’s candles, too, are excellent. I have one and it perfumes the entire house without even burning, sometimes! Impressive. December 3, 2013 at 12:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t tried those yet, so something else to add to my “sample in the future” list. Thank you, Alessandra! December 3, 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Erin T: Hmmm, very interested in the Traversée Du Bosphore candle! I guess I hadn’t realized it existed. I have been trying to hold off on buy the EdP, since the nasty rumours of its discontinuation, but was worried I wouldn’t wear it much. I love my L’Artisans – I own five of the scents, I guess – but I find I don’t wear them much. Bosphore as a room fragrance might be an excellent choice, instead. The Fleur d’Or & Acacia sounds lovely, too, and not outrageously expensive.

    My favourite candle is probably Cire Trudon Solis Rex (although mine is the old name, Roi Soliel). I love to wear or use the room spray, too. I own CT/Arquiste Merida (lovely guava), as well, and the room spray of Abd El Kader, but I don’t feel so terribly guilty because I got all but the Merida at deep discount when one of my favourite fragrance stores closed down. For some reason, I have a much worse time spending a lot of money on candles, rather than perfume – I feel like such a decadent Westerner burning an expensive candle, I can’t explain it. And the news about Netanyahu’s expense scandal today does not incline me to spend more! Still, I’ve always been interested in the Nicolai ones and also OJ. Have you had any experience with the Ormonde Jayne candles? December 3, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried burning any of OJ’s candles, but they smell very rich in the jar.

      I like Traversée Du Bosphore very much, and I enjoy my decant, but I also don’t think that I would use up a whole bottle. So, despite being tempted by it, I think that I will pass, even if the perfume is on the way to be discontinued.

      Yes, I hear you, but unlike Netanyahu, we spend own hard-earned money on candles (or pistachio ice cream)! December 3, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

      • Alessandra: No way! Are they discontinuing it???? I need to hurry up with my purchase, then :(

        Can I say it? I am tired of these AP policies. Hope they’ll never touch my absolute faves. December 3, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t know if it has been confirmed, it’s just a rumor. For now, it’s staying! December 3, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

          • Alessandra: Fingers crossed for the best! In any case, I find they’re discontinuing far too much, of late. I loved Vanille Absolument – which I found to be an amazing ‘whisky’ vanilla, given the rhum contained – and Verte Violette. Both gone. :( December 3, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m very disappointed about those two being discontinued. Violette was one of the “classics,” and Vanille Absolument was one of the best non-foody vanillas. December 3, 2013 at 4:36pm Reply

              • Alessandra: Couldn’t agree more! December 3, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

      • Andrea Marie: Hello V, thank you for publishing this review-so helpful! I wanted to say that the OJ Frangipani candle that I just got (it is tiny, came with bath oil)is so strong that I don’t need to light it to smell it! I keep it on my bedside table, and it smells wonderful. The bath oil is so fragrant that I hesitate to empty the tub when using it; I want to smell it all day! December 4, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s good to know. I suspected that they would be richly perfumed when lit, because they’re strong even in the jar, but you never know. Maybe, one of my friends will be getting an OJ candle soon. :) December 4, 2013 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Jillie: What a great list. My husband thinks I am a pyromaniac as I am always burning candles, but I love them for the beautiful scent and the happy, flickering glow they give. At this time of the year, I light as many as possible to get me into the Christmas spirit.

    The Traversee candle is a really great recommendation: I have only had the little votive size, but just one perfumes the air really strongly, and the throw is amazing, even when unlit. I couldn’t believe that such a tiny candle could be so powerful. Very good value.

    The Noel is another favourite of mine, as it is so fresh. As you say, it smells just like a Christmas tree (in fact like walking in a forest), and I like burning it to clear the fug of the holiday away. And I like the room spray, too.

    My trouble is that I buy candles as gifts, and then sometimes get tempted to keep them! December 3, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband and I have candlelit dinners every night, because as our landlord renovated the apartment, he failed to put in strong enough lamps in the dining area. So, unless we want to eat in pitch black, we bring in extra lamps or simply candles. Of course, I don’t burn scented candles during dinner, but I know what you mean about the flickering candle light and how relaxing and romantic it feels.

      Glad to have an extra vote of confidence on some of my choices! I wish Annick Goutal’s Noel candle was made available all year round, but perhaps it won’t seem as precious then. :) December 3, 2013 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria, thank you so much for the great list! I will really put it to use as candles are big on my gift list this year. December 3, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! Making these lists is fun, especially after a long day at work. :) December 3, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

  • nikki: Lovely list! I like Frederic Malle’s candles, the flamboyant red, Italian glass container is just gorgeous and I keep it for pens and other things later….I like all their scents, but my favorite so far is the Casablanca lily… December 3, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I also use the empty candle containers for pen or makeup brush holders. Frederic Malle’s candles are beautifully packaged, so it would be a shame to throw away the glass. December 3, 2013 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Alessandra: Agreed. Malle’s candles are also amazing and original… my faves are coffee society and the russian one! December 3, 2013 at 2:10pm Reply

        • Victoria: The sandalwood one is another favorite for me. December 3, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Oh I so glad you mention Abd Del Kader from Cire Trudon. I absolutely adore this scent. I wish it could be a perfume! I would totally consider pouring the scented wax on me….
    I also love Opopanax from Diptyque.
    Kisses.
    Anne December 3, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Another Diptyque candle I tried recently and liked is Mousses. But a friend who owns it said that it has a poor throw, which is a shame. December 3, 2013 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Zazie: Thank you for the lovely suggestions, I fear I’ll have to check a few of these out!
    I have a candle-related wish: I’d love to find one that really smells like a xmas tree… most of the ones that claim such inspiration are too syrupy and sweet to do the trick (the AG and last year’s dyptique) – I’d like to smell the cool and green dustiness of the real trees…
    Anyway: I don’t own it, so I don’t know how it burns, and how good is the throw when unlit – but the most impressive candle I smelled was the frederic malle gardenia. Such an amazing, realistic smell!
    The OJs are very powerful – too bad the “scents” I got weren’t to my taste (Ormonde woman and Orris). December 3, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Bath & Body Works has two seasonal candles, Tree and Balsam. I’m not sure if they’re less sweet than Goutal’s, but many people recommend them. Also, if you pass by Nicolai’s boutique, try Route de Cedre. It’s strong on cedar, but it also has a rich pine needle note. December 3, 2013 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Carolina: For a wintry piney scent that smells like Christmas, I like the little Paddywax candle in Juniper Citrus. Heavenly. You don’t even need to light it! They make great stocking stuffers. December 3, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

    • Carolina: I just double-checked and there are two candles called Juniper Citrus; I know the smaller travel tin size, which has green wax. Not sure if the other candle of the same name (which has white wax) has the exact same scent. December 3, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Carolina! It’s a great recommendation to add to the list. I googled it, and the description seems so appealing. December 3, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

  • The Perfumed Veil: You have one of my all-time, constantly-replenished favorites on your list: Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir candle. It really diffuses so quickly and strongly that sometimes I have to turn it off because the smell gets to be too much (and that’s saying something because I loooove strong smells). Its perfect for this time of year, with its earthy jamminess, and I even burn it in summer. December 3, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

    • Victoria: A good-quality candle sometimes is expensive, but if it’s made well, it can last surprisingly well. For instance, my L’Artisan Sous La Glycine candle is 4 years old and Cire Trudon’s green and minty one I mentioned is now going into its 3rd year, and both are still perfumed. I have a votive of Pomegranate Noir, and I agree that I would be suffocating if I burned it for 2 hours. It’s very strong. December 3, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Safran: Thank you for this great article about candles, I’ll definitely pick one of the recommend ones for this christmas. Talking about quality, I’ve probably mentioned this before ;o), but I have a IUNX candle (Liquidambar) which I bought 2004 at Taizo in Cannes. It’s been standing in my bookshelf without a lid or a box since then and it still has an incredibly beautiful and strong smell!
    Cheers
    Safran December 3, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, you made me miss the IUNX boutique, which had an amazing candle collection. Some scents were unlike any I’ve smelled before or since (brown sugar and lilies; orange blossom water and spices, etc.) I only have IUNX L’Ether perfume from that time, and it’s excellent. December 3, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Mel: I too love the Pomegranate Noir candle. My other favorite for this time of year, if anyone happens to live in L.A., is the Martyn Lawrence Bullard Signature Extraordinaire scent. It’s a dark, gorgeously dirty, incense scent that hangs in the air for hours. The oil content is as high as you can go w/o actually being oil so I only burn mine for less than two hours at a time. Hindu Temple is my second favorite. I don’t know if they can be bought online from his website but they have by far the best boxes. I’m incapable of throwing the boxes away. I’m going to try some of the candles on this list – esp. the Diptyque holiday and the Annick Goutal. I’ve been disappointed with Cire Trudon in the past – especially at that high price point. It’s so hard to know how effectively a candle will actually throw its scent when you’re sniffing it in the store and for 90 bucks I expect performance. But if I try again, it will be the one you recommend, V. Thanks for this list!!! December 3, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hesitated to include Cire Trudon, because I heard some complaints about the quality recently. But then again, they had a creative direction change at one point, so perhaps it has something to do with it. At that price point, I also want something special, and it’s not like the candle market is lacking other interesting options. December 3, 2013 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Squirrely: Trish McEvoy makes great candles. I have one in Orange Ginger and while I’m not wild about the scent (it was a gift), the throw is stupendous, and I plan on purchasing more from the brand. December 3, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried them, but I read reviews online and they were very positive. If you find any other scents that you like, please let me know. December 3, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

  • wefadetogray: I want them all. I know it sounds greedy but that is the truth. I adore candles!
    I actually have never had good luck with Diptyque candles. They always smoke badly and for the price I rather not go through that experience. Right now I am loving Aerin candles. The Pink Climbing rose is delicious! I am not sure how it will project in a big space, though. I live in a small NYC apartment and it scents my whole apartment with a delicate yet detectable aroma. I definitely need to try L’Occitane candle, as you suggest, due to my nostalgic love for Mimosa. I was always unabel to describe how mimosa smells until I read your description.
    Oh! L’Artisan candles are among my favorites for sure.
    Thanks for this wonderful post! I truly need to have them all ;) December 3, 2013 at 1:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried L’Artisan Mimosa Marin? It has been discontinued, but for a while it was one of my favorite mimosa candles, because it was so realistic. Unfortunately, the throw was moderate, not like other L’Artisan’s candles. December 3, 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Figuier: I want them all too! Except the Traversee, that is, a miniature of which I already own and love. I’m especially keen to try the Parfume d’Empire one, as I’m a big admirer of their personal fragrances.

      Other favourites include my mini Lys Soleia candle, which is gorgeous. I keep it in my study, and even unlit it gives of puffs of luscious tropical flowers and vanilla. From the L’Occitane range I can strongly recommend the orange blossom, if they still do it. Beautifully realistic without being cloying or heady. Now I need to decide which one to buy for my sister! December 4, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

      • Victoria: Oh, yes, L’Occitane’s orange blossom is excellent. I didn’t see it at the store, though, and I was told that it might be discontinued. December 4, 2013 at 3:16pm Reply

        • Figuier: Uh-oh, that would be a real shame. For me it smells of being 19 (in a good way!) December 5, 2013 at 4:49am Reply

          • Victoria: L’Occitane is always doing discontinuing something or other. Lately, their collection has been experiencing such a high turnover that it’s hard to keep track of anything. December 5, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

            • Alessandra: Agreed, although for some reason I think they might be allowed to do that. I mean, yes, they are prestigious (and I love them), but they’re not high-end niche à la l’artisan. In a way, that brings me to justify l’occitane a bit more… even if, of course, the whole discontinuing thing is always much annoying. December 5, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

            • Anne of Green Gables: I still resent that they discontinued The Vert. It was one of the first perfumes that I really fell in love with. December 5, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

              • Victoria: That one made no sense to me, unless they want to reintroduce it in their much more expensive “Grasse collection.” December 5, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

                • Anne of Green Gables: Exactly! December 5, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

  • Teri: Ormonde Jayne – Ta’if and Casablanca Lilly candles. The projection is fantastic – two hours can amply perfume an entire floor! Have been using these for the past ten years and the quality has always been consistently strong. Actually “discovered” this when in the Ferragamo boutique in bond street and had to ask them why it smelt so good! December 3, 2013 at 1:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have a weak spot for anything Casablanca lily scented, so I will definitely give OJ’s version a try. I didn’t realize they had one. I smelled Ta’if in the jar, and I agree, it was a bombshell. December 3, 2013 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Rachel: I just sniffed some L’Occitane candles and I liked Winter Forest and Roses. The tins are very cute. December 3, 2013 at 3:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Winter Forest yet, but if it’s dry and balsamic, I think I would like it. Roses is another favorite, and it’s good for those days when I want something romantic and pretty. December 3, 2013 at 4:39pm Reply

    • Alessandra: LOVE winter forest! At least from the jar. Hope it’s quite intense! December 3, 2013 at 5:53pm Reply

  • Austenfan: First of all, what a great and informative post.
    So far I have never even sniffed the high(er) end scented candles. When I was still on a student budget I would occasionally buy scented candles of the very cheap and not so nice smelling kind. Sort of like air freshener in public toilets. Unfortunately this memory has lingered rather. However, I was given a lovely small Guerlain (Philtre d’Amour) candle with a perfume purchase a while ago, so I feel I should explore this part of the fragrant world a little more.I will start by smelling the Occitane candles. Although both the Goutal and Nicolaï ones sound extremely tempting. December 3, 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Happy to share! I don’t burn scented candles nearly as often these days as I did in the past, but I still like them. My mom adores scented candles, so it’s fun to shop for her.

      My worst candle experience was with the cinnamon scented candles one of my college roommate liked to burn after she smoked in the hallway. The mix of cloying, cheap cinnamon and stale tobacco smoke. I’m getting nauseated just thinking about it. December 3, 2013 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Malgorzata Podgorska: Victoria you have mentioned True Grace candles do you consider them being of good quality? Also what type of air purifier are you using in your kitchen to eliminate the odours?
    Many thanks Malgorzata December 4, 2013 at 4:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, they’re definitely very well-crafted, and the collection of scents is diverse enough that it’s possible to find something for everyone.

      I use Homedics Air Purifier, and it works really well. December 4, 2013 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Ilia: Amouage make wonderful candles – the prices will make your eyes tear up, but the scents and quality and very good. I got an Autumn Leaves candle as a present, and it is wonderful, the whole room is scented after only a little while and it lingers for hours. Frederic Malle’s Gardenia la Nuit is also very realistic. I like Jardins d’Ecrivains as well, the candles come in a mason jar and they look very pretty (as well as not too expensive). December 4, 2013 at 6:13am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s true, I had a mini of Autumn Leaves and it was very potent.

      I don’t remember Frederic Malle’s Gardenia, but now I’m curious to try it, or at least, just to take a whiff of it. December 4, 2013 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Andrea Marie: I wanted to mention two more options which are relatively inexpensive: Seda France and Origins. Both have wonderful candles. Seda France is made right here in Texas, but looks quite European. I love the French Tulip and Japanese Quince. They have over 40 fragrances, so have fun choosing!They also use a lot of chinoiserie in their packaging, which makes it quite pretty. Go to http://www.sedafrance.com to see their offerings. Origins has a ginger candle that has a huge throw; it smells warm and spicy. Off to light some candles now; your post has me in the mood for some fragrance in my home! December 4, 2013 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: Both sound terrific. Thank you so much, Andrea! December 4, 2013 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Michael: I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Miller Harris scented candles. They have just redesigned the containers and revised the wax for a longer lasting, more fragrant burn. My favourite scents are Terre d’Iris, Fleurs de Sel, Figue Amere, Le Petit Grain and La Pluie.

    On a related note, Lyn Harris recently launched a new collection of scents. Perfumer’s Library consists of five new eau de parfums – 1) Le Jasmin, 2) Tuberosa, 3) Veti Vert, 4) La Feuille and 5) Verger.

    I popped into the store today to test them and whilst Verger smelled really good on the testing stick, unfortunately it didn’t work on my skin. I ended up purchasing La Feuile, which Lyn interestingly describes as a chypre for women – I love the combination of the green ivy leaves and sumptuous red berries, tempered by a creamy oak moss note. It smells very Christmassy, but at the same time I think it will make a good all-round scent. The packaging is simple yet stylish, and there is a booklet in the box that contains information about each eau de parfum.

    I also left with the Rose En Noir scented candle, which I can only describe as a voluptuous rose scent with plummy raspberry overtones, although it also has black tobacco and pepper listed in the ingredients. December 5, 2013 at 7:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I just didn’t find them to have good throw in comparison to the others I’ve tried in the same price range, which is why I didn’t mention them. Maybe, they’re different now. December 6, 2013 at 7:06am Reply

      • Alessandra: Yes. Same reason why, despite loving them, I didn’t mntion them. December 6, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

        • Victoria: Some of the scents are very nice, though. December 6, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Alessandra: Absolutely! I just prefer buying their perfumes… esp figue amére and fleurs de sel and noix de tubéreuse December 6, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Megan: I’ve just bought a Santa Maria Novella candle – a tobacco one that I loved the smell of. I haven’t burnt it yet but has anybody tried one of their candles before? December 7, 2013 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve only tried their potpourri, and that was super potent! December 8, 2013 at 5:59am Reply

    • Alessandra: I tried the Kyoto one….. yes, they’re ace candles! I didn’t mention them – despite me living in Florence, haha – because I didn’t think of them in relation to anything christmassy… I don’t know if they have a suitable fragrance for the season, should investigate. December 8, 2013 at 6:07am Reply

  • Wendy: I am hard to please with candles. It seems that many I’ve tried just don’t seem to smell much while burning, or smell inconsistently different from one candle to a rebought candle (I’ve had this experience with Diptyque). I do like Sedu. My personal favorite is Pacifica’s Persian Rose, it really throws quite well, I have one in almost every room. Oddly only the rose works wonderfully, the others by Pacifica can’t seem to scent a small room. December 9, 2013 at 5:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I can believe it. For instance, not all L’Artisan candles have a good throw. The ones I’ve mentioned are rich, but their Vanilla is surprisingly weak as was their Mimosa Marin (now discontinued).

      And thank you, I will definitely try Persian Rose. I’m always looking for good rose candles. December 9, 2013 at 6:00am Reply

  • Alessandra: Annick Goutal’s Noel really is the perfect smell of Christmas. My God. Also, what a throw! You were right, Victoria! Again! :) December 24, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: So happy that you like it! :) December 25, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

      • Alessandra: Merry Christmas :) December 26, 2013 at 4:27am Reply

  • Awfulknitter: I’m worried about how much I might spend if I smelled Hiver en Russie – it sounds wonderful!

    I have a small Diptyque Ecorce de Pin, and I love the scent. I have it in a fairly large room, and the fragrance lingers beautifully. Imagine how annoyed I was when I got up the other day and realised that it had been lit all night, burning half the candle while I couldn’t appreciate it! I like it so much I’ve just hunted around on the internet to order a full size candle. January 2, 2014 at 3:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, no! I’ve done it before and not only wasted a candle, but also left a discolored ring on the coffee table from the overheated glass. Do be careful!

      Usually Diptyques don’t have enough throw, but these holiday limited editions are great (except for the Orange Chai one). January 3, 2014 at 7:12am Reply

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  • Joy in Looking for Lost Perfumes  : Thank you for the suggestion. I do like Aramis for its bitter, leather, chypres. I haven’t purchased a bottle in a long time. I will try a decant. October 21, 2014 at 5:18pm

  • Jennifer C in Looking for Lost Perfumes  : You can find it really cheap on Amazon. There was one for $14 but I think it got away from me. I think I can still get one for $20… October 21, 2014 at 4:59pm

  • Elisa in Looking for Lost Perfumes  : Sorry for enabling you but I’m glad you have it! :) October 21, 2014 at 4:55pm

  • cassieflower in Looking for Lost Perfumes  : Hi Elisa, I couldn’t agree more that this is one splendid lily, I love how voluptuous it is, maybe it is the amber and spice that rounds it out. Also,… October 21, 2014 at 4:45pm

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