Holiday Gifts for All Senses : Perfume Discovery Sets

And so December begins. The selection of holiday sets and packages at stores and online is downright overwhelming, and I don’t pretend to offer you a comprehensive guide. It’s only a collection of my favorite things, gifts I’ve given before to friends and family (and the ones they’ve enjoyed) and whatever I have seen and liked myself. Today the spotlight is on perfume sets.

perfume set

Giving perfume as gifts is tricky, but if you decide to introduce a friend to fragrance, a set of mini bottles or samples is perfect. One gift idea is to make your own decants and package them in spray atomizers. Clear, well-attached labels and a quality atomizer are a must, but the rest is easy–a colorful box, a few notes describing perfumes, and a ribbon. If you would rather go with commercial sets, below are a few ideas for both men and women.

Another gift idea is a set of perfume and lotion, a good idea if you know a fragrance your gift recipient wears. The only problem is that many luxury brands’ body products are a disappointment. A big price tag won’t guarantee a quality lotion or a moisturizing cream or that they would even smell close to the original perfume. I include a few favorites that I found well done, but in all cases, I recommend sampling the body products at store.

Two exceptions aside, all sets are under $100. While I include a few suggestions on where to find them online, the list is far from exhaustive.

L’Artisan Parfumeur  The Perfume Box

l'artisan samples

L’Artisan always does excellent holiday sets, and this selection of 10 samples is terrific and well-priced. $20 gets you and your lucky gift recipient 10 x 2 ml vials of Batucada Eau de Toilette, Caligna Eau de Parfum, La Chasse Aux Papillonsr Eau de Toilette, L’Eau D’Ambre Extreme Eau de Parfum, Fou D’Absinthe Eau de Parfum, Mure Et Musc Extreme Eau de Parfum, Nuit De Tubereuse Eau de Parfum, Premier Figuier Eau de Toilette, Seville a L’Aube Eau de Parfum, and Timbuktu Eau de Parfum. $20. Available at Luckyscent, Aedes, Barneys and major department stores.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Discovery Gift Set

l'a

Another L’Artisan gift set, with 4 x 7ml vials of La Chasse aux Papillons EdT, Mure et Musc EdT, Nuit de Tubéreuse EdP, Séville à L’Aube EdP. I’d be happy with it myself, since it includes all of my favorites, and this size is perfect for travel. $60 4 x 7ml. Available at Luckyscent, Aedes, Barneys and major department stores.

Lancôme Les Miniatures

lancome 1

 

A charming set of mini perfumes includes both classics and contemporary best-sellers: La Vie Est Belle 4ml, Trésor 7.5ml, Trésor Midnight Rose 5ml, Miracle 5ml, and Ô de Lancôme 7.5ml. $30-40, depending on the retailer. Available at major department stores.

Atelier Cologne Cologne Absolue Collection Voyage

atelier-cologne

A very nice set containing all seven Cologne Absolues in a Venitian blue gift box: Orange Sanguine, Grand Néroli, Bois Blonds, Trèfle Pur, Oolang Infini, Vanille Insensée and Ambre Nue. Note: Luckyscent.com offers one free 7.5ml spray of Mistral Patchouli (while supplies last) with its set. $95 7 x 7.5ml. Available at Luckyscent, Aedes, Beautyhabit, Neiman Marcus.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Gift Set

orange sanguine

Atelier Cologne offers these sets in several other fragrances; I merely picked the one I adore, Orange Sanguine, a juicy, refreshing orange. A Venitian blue gift box contains Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue 30 ml, handcrafted leather travel pouch for cologne, Orange Sanguine soap, postcard samples – 4 (to share with friends and family!).  $85. Available at Luckyscent, Aedes, Beautyhabit, Neiman Marcus.

Les Parfums de Rosine Perfumed Gel Concrete

rosine

A solid perfume in a pretty package (8 ml). Rosine offers them in different scents, but one I tried and loved was La Rose de Rosine. It’s a soft, creamy rose with a lingering trail of tonka bean. $30. Available at Beautyhabit.

La Maison de la Vanille Toutes les Vanilles du Monde Gift Set

vanille set

These vanillas are nicely crafted and they make either one luxurious gift or several great stocking stuffers. The set includes Vanille Givree des Antilles, Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar, Vanille Noire du Mexique, Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti, and Vanille Divine des Tropiques. 5 x 15 ml, $50. Available at Beautyhabit.

Prada Infusion d’Iris Eau de Parfum Set

prada

A pretty box and a good body lotion complete this set. Eau de Parfum 50ml, body lotion 100ml. $85. Available at major retailers. Other Prada scents are available in similar sets.

Ann Gérard Discovery Set

ann gerard

Spray bottles of all four fragrances plus booklet. Cuir de Nacre Extrait de Parfum – 7.5 ml, Ciel d’Opale Eau de Parfum – 7.5 ml, Perle de Mousse Eau de Parfum – 7.5 ml, Rose Cut Eau de Parfum (new!) – 7.5 ml. $85. Available at Beautyhabit and directly from Ann Gérard.

Guerlain Habit Rouge Set

habit rouge

A personal favorite. This gift set includes Habit Rouge Eau de Toilette 100ml, shower gel 75ml and a wash bag. The shower gel is very good, even without the accompanying perfume. $85-90, depending on the retailers. Available at major department stores.

Penhaligon’s Unisex Scent Library

penhaligonssamples

I admit that I’m not a huge fan of Penhaligon’s perfumes, but so many of my friends enjoyed their holiday sets that I’m happy to indulge them again this year.  This set contains 1.5ml bottles of Blenheim Bouquet, Endymion, Sartorial, Quercus, Opus 1870, Artemisia, Malabah, Ellenisia, Lily of the Valley, Bluebell.  £16. Available at major department stores.

Penhaligon’s Gentleman’s Mini Fragrance Collection

pnh

5ml bottles of Blenheim Bouquet, Juniper Sling, Bayolea, Sartorial and Opus 1870 in a whimsical package. Penhaligon’s offers a Lady’s Collection too, but I prefer the selection in this set. Both Juniper Sling and Sartorial are among Penhaligon’s best fragrances. $55. Available at major department stores.

Fragonard Parfumeur Good Luck Concerto Solid Perfume

fragonard

Cute stocking stuffers, Fragonard solid perfumes are fun and easy to wear. Good Luck Concerto, for example, is a citrusy jasmine with an accent of sweet amber and tea. Alcohol free. Fragonard offers a big selection of these perfumes. 3 g, $9. Available at Beautyhabit.

Arquiste Travel Sets

arquiste

Arquiste  features an excellent selection of perfumes, and these sets are very appealing. They are on the expensive side, even though the sample size is generous. The Floral set includes 5 ml each of Flor y Canto, Fleur de Louis, Infanta en Flor, and Boutonnière no. 7. $70. The Citrus and Woods set includes 5ml each of L’Etrog, L’Etrog Acqua, Anima Dulcis, Aleksandr, and The Architects Club. $80. Available at Luckyscent and Aedes.

Amouage Fragrance Sampler Set

amouage-women

A set of six Amouage Eaux de Parfums: Gold, Reflection, Jubilation, Epic, Memoir, Honour, Dia, Ciel and Ubar. 6 x 2ml, $60. There is also a set for men, which includes 12 x 2ml spray vials of Gold, Dia, Ciel, Silver, Reflection, Lyric, Jubilation XXV, Epic, Memoir, Honour, Interlude, and is priced at $100. Available at Selfridges, Luckyscent, Aedes.

Van Cleef & Arpels First Gift Set

first

A classic. The body lotion is terrific. Eau de parfum 100ml, body lotion, pouch. $80-85, depending on the retailer. Available at major department stores.

Perfume Pocket Set by Comme des Garçons

cdg

I decided not to include the expensive beyond belief sets from the luxury niche brands, from Frédéric Malle to Tom Ford, mostly because I wanted to focus on selections under $100. The only two exceptions are Comme des Garçons and Maison Francis Kurkdjian. A substantial set from Comme des Garçons includes 25ml sizes of 2 Eau de Parfum, 2 Man Eau de Toilette, Amazingreen Eau de Parfum, and Wonderwood Eau de Parfum.  $245 is steep, but you actually get quite a bit of perfume and an excellent selection. If not as a gift, consider splitting this set with another Comme des Garçons lover.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Fragrance Wardrobe For Him and For Her

mfk

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s sets for men and women are expensive, but they are a decent value (and make good candidates for splits). The Fragrance Wardrobe for Him includes 11ml travel sprays of Aqua Universalis, Aqua Universalis Forte, Aqua Vitae, OUD, APOM pour Homme, Lumière Noire pour Homme, Amyris pour Homme, and Masculin Pluriel. The Fragrance Wardrobe for Her includes Aqua Universalis, Aqua Universalis Forte, Aqua Vitae, OUD, APOM pour Femme, Lumière Noire pour Femme, Amyris pour Femme, and Féminin Pluriel. Each set is $195. Available at Luckyscent and Neiman Marcus.

Don’t forget to check other blogs for great gift ideas, for instance, Now Smell This.

So, if you could have a scented gift this holiday season, what would it be? 

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57 Comments

  • Karen: Thanks Victoria! The Fragonard solid tin looks like a perfect stocking stuffer, and at that price really affordable. December 1, 2014 at 7:40am Reply

    • Victoria: They’re really well-made, and for the price, just terrific. I highlighted only one, but there are many others to choose from. December 1, 2014 at 8:16am Reply

      • Martha: Did you see that Beautyhabit also had sets? I got Lavande and Vanille for gifts and wondering about the Aquarelles set for myself. It includes Violette
        • Vanille
        • Rose de Mai
        • Fleur d’Oranger December 1, 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t tried Lavande yet, so I’m curious what you think about it, but Vanille is very nice. A fun, foody vanilla that’s nevertheless is not too sweet.

          Thank you for mentioning the sets! I missed them somehow, but yes, they do look great. Violette solid perfume is nice. December 1, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Therése: I have the perfume box from L’Artisan, I really like it. A very practical way of testing a line. And I gave the Penhaligon’s scent Library to a friend on her birthday and it was a success.

    That Amouage sampler sounds interesting… December 1, 2014 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Many people commented on the blogs last year about the Amouage sampler, and when I saw it at Selfridges, I really liked it as a gift idea.

      L’Artisan’s box is great, and I also have one. 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 11:48am Reply

  • Sandra: Thanks Victoria!
    I do have the discovery set (12 vials) from Amouage for women and I have to say I really have enjoyed it. Its a nice way to sample their perfume, since I found that with this particular house for me its never been love at first sniff.

    I have a soft spot of Ciel and own a FB-its my “serenity in a bottle” for those hectic days. But if $ were no object I would of more then one from this collection.

    I would recommend the Amouage set as a gift to a perfume lover since each perfume I find so different. Its a fun journey sampling each one. December 1, 2014 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your vote of confidence, Sandra! I liked the size of each sample and the selection is so big that someone might find a perfume to enjoy, whatever their tastes. Or just enjoy trying something new. December 1, 2014 at 11:51am Reply

  • Patricia: These are fantastic, Victoria! I just ordered the L’Artisan sampler for a friend who is just branching out in her perfume choices. 🙂

    Like Therese, I’d love to have the Amouage sampler. One of my favorite gifts of all time was the sampler box from Parfums MDCI. Darling little bottles with 9 ml. each! December 1, 2014 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I got the sampler for a friend who already liked a couple of L’Artisan perfumes, so I thought that it would be ideal. Let’s see how it goes. 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 11:51am Reply

  • limegreen: What fun ideas, Victoria, thanks so much! Your friends are very lucky to be on the receiving end of your gift ideas. 🙂
    I love the L’Artisan sampler — it’s free US shipping if you order directly from their website so even more attractive to have a gift sent to someone. Of course holiday shopping is also about finding goodies for ourselves! 🙂 I, too, think the Amouage sampler looks appealing for myself, did not know it existed, thank you for the heads up. I have been enjoying a sample of Amouage Journey Woman and have become interested in the line.
    This is a tired refrain but I wish more houses would do a sampler set that’s reasonably priced, even if they are little 1 ml vials like the Atelier sample set, complete with their fun postcards. December 1, 2014 at 10:02am Reply

    • Victoria: I also wish that more did samplers and discovery sets. It’s such a good way to try something the line, especially since many have multiple perfumes. December 1, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • Polly: These are wonderful ideas. Thank you so much, Victoria! December 1, 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! I had fun putting this list together. 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

  • Tijana: I love gift sets! I rarely purchase fragrances as a gift, unless I am buying it for someone close to me, but I definitely see several on this list that I would love to be gifted! 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I have a few friends who appreciate perfume gifts, especially since they know of my vocation and kind of expect something scented. 🙂 And it’s just so much fun to share my passion with others, so I’m always on a lookout for a nice discovery set. December 1, 2014 at 11:55am Reply

      • Tijana: I would also very much trust your judgement Victoria in selecting a fragrant gift! 🙂

        If anything, I think what to me would be really interesting, is that, putting aside what you know someone uses and tends to lean mostly to using fragrance-wise, is what would you as a gifter actually select for them!? It is a difficult task I think, as I would want to choose something that tends to be in the vicinity of the notes that the person loves, but has just enough of the “kick” of something else, to be a bit different and unexpected than what they would think of typically buying.

        Maybe I am over-complicating – LOL – which is why I don’t dare buy a fragrance for someone! 🙂 December 2, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s difficult, but if your friend likes perfume, s/he might enjoy trying something new. For this reason, a selection of several samples is a good option. Of course, you also have to consider the budget. An Amouage sampler might be nice, but if that person isn’t likely to spend that kind of money on a bottle of perfume, then it’s not the best choice. December 2, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

          • Tijana: Great advice – thank you!!! December 2, 2014 at 7:11pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Let’s also hear it for food and music! December 1, 2014 at 12:24pm Reply

  • AnnieA: I bought the Orange Sanguine set for myself as I was running low. Excellent value, and their soaps are great. December 1, 2014 at 1:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also really liked their soaps when I got the set. They’re a bit more than I would usually spend on a bar of soap, but the quality is very nice. And the true to the original perfume. December 1, 2014 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Martha: Thank you ! I ordered 2 different Fragonard perfumes. They’re really cute. December 1, 2014 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Which ones didn’t you order? December 1, 2014 at 2:48pm Reply

  • Jordi: These collections look great, I was thinking something in perfumes for my mother but I wasn”t sure on what since she enjoys perfumes but doesnt have any in particular as signature. I considered introducing her some classic guerlains but your ideas and recommendations might be just what I was looking for. As usual, your blog is a gem to follow, even if my days don’t allow me to comment as much as i’d like to lately. December 1, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’d love to hear what you end up selecting. If I see other discovery sets, I will add them on. I make these lists for myself, but I figure that they might be useful for others too.

      And no worries! I love comments, but of course, I understand that other more important things get in the way. Heaven willing, we’ll still be here after the rush of the holiday period subsides. 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 2:52pm Reply

  • Theresa: Andy Tauer also has discovery sets- you can select 5 different fragrances, and he packages them in the most darling custom aluminum tin. The fragrances are so potent that just a single spray is all you’ll need – so the samples last a loong time. and they are very unusual. December 1, 2014 at 3:24pm Reply

    • Annette: Oh, yes, I’ve got three of such sets. Plus Andy always includes a handwritten note so your purchase seems very personalised. Wonderful stuff and a great gift idea. December 1, 2014 at 7:25pm Reply

      • Victoria: Great! I will check to look into those too. December 2, 2014 at 4:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Theresa! Sounds like a fantastic gift. December 2, 2014 at 4:29am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you ever so much for taking the time to put this list together: I have a cousin who relies almost entirely on me for her perfume needs – what I give her sets her up for a full year, she rarely use scent. I’ll buy and send her the Penhaligon’s set for men, they are easier to wear aren’t they, I find the feminine ones sometimes oppressively, well, feminine.

    If I were to get a coffret from someone this year I wish it would be one of the Chanel Les Exclusifs: I have trouble deciding which one at the moment! I hope you will get many wonderfully perfumed gifts this Xmas, Victoria. December 1, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: A coffret of Les Exclusifs would be a great gift! What are your top favorites? December 2, 2014 at 5:47am Reply

      • Aurora: My favorites are Bois des Iles and No 22.
        I so wish Chanel made all their Exclusifs in extrait and have a sampler set of them for Xmas.

        What are your very favorites, Victoria? December 2, 2014 at 10:22am Reply

        • Victoria: I love Cuir de Russie and Coromandel, but they’re more of a special mood perfumes for me. The two I wear most often are Beige and 28 La Pausa. Bois des Iles and No 22 are gorgeous, and I have those too. Actually, this foggy, chilly weather is perfect for a wanderlust perfume like Bois des Iles. December 2, 2014 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Aurora: uses – oh sorry for this December 1, 2014 at 4:24pm Reply

  • Morelle: Discovery sets are wonderful things! Thanks for the timely reminder, I will probably treat myself to the one from L’Artisan for Xmas.
    Two sets I have really enjoyed were the ones from Ormonde Jayne and Etat Libre d’Orange, and I gave a friend the discovery set from Les Parfums de Rosine which she liked a lot. December 1, 2014 at 6:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Does ELDO still make discovery sets, because I checked online and I didn’t see any. That would be another great option, since their collection is so diverse and really well-crafted. December 2, 2014 at 4:29am Reply

      • Morelle: ELDO’s’discovery coffret’ is available at their home page. You have to look under ‘Perfumes/La Collection’ (whichever language you prefer). It’s the very last item in the picture gallery.
        I got mine early on in my then new-found passion for scents, and it was really a great opportunity to expand my tastes. Of course I did not like everything, but even the disliked ones were very interesting, and there were several scents which became permanent favourites. December 2, 2014 at 4:37pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! I found it, and yes, it’s a great set. December 3, 2014 at 8:30am Reply

  • Hannah: The Comme des Garcons set looks great. I thought about buying and splitting (keeping ”2” for myself) but I wish they had something other than Amazingreen (either the original CDG or 888 in my opinion). And I don’t have very much money.

    I want to get my mom incense but I’m still looking for which I want to get. December 1, 2014 at 8:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Japanese incense or are you looking more generally? December 2, 2014 at 4:27am Reply

      • Hannah: Looking generally, but leaning towards Japanese. I think I’m going to get the Shoyeido plum blossoms/baika-ju incense that is on luckyscent, because I’ve heard good things about Shoyeido, I can afford it, the box is very pretty, and I’m getting other things from Luckyscent anyway. December 3, 2014 at 1:09pm Reply

  • sunmisun: I love this list and perfume discovery sets! It’s so great for the scent newbies (like myself).

    For the L’Artisan fans, Sephora also has a 4 piece set in really cute mini spray bottles (.17oz). It features Caligna, La Chasse aux Papillons, Mure et Musc Extreme and Timbuktu. It’s 40, so slightly more than the other sampler – but a bit more juice. December 1, 2014 at 11:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, thank you so much for mentioning this set. I have a friend who wanted Caligna and Mure et Musc, and I know that she already wears Timbuktu. And the price is still ok for these perfumes. December 2, 2014 at 4:25am Reply

  • Austenfan: It was an Amouage sample set that started my love for Gold… December 2, 2014 at 7:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Too bad Gold now is very different from what it used to be… Still good, but different. December 2, 2014 at 9:42am Reply

      • Austenfan: When did Gold change? My full bottle smells just like my sample and I’ve just realised I can’t remember when I got my sample set. December 2, 2014 at 9:48am Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t remember off the top of my head, but there were several changes over the years. I’d need to take a look at my samples and notes to tell you more precisely. December 2, 2014 at 9:50am Reply

  • spe: An Ormonde Jayne sounds great! Need to look into that! Also, Hermes offers the travel sizes of the Hermessence and classics : 40$ each, but I think you need to get 4 of them at a time, so 160$. Still a nice way to try them. Thank you for the list! December 2, 2014 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Hermessence sets are especially nice if you already love several and just want small sizes. But many perfumes in that collection just don’t last well on me, so the small vials would be used up too quickly to justify the price. December 2, 2014 at 9:46am Reply

      • spe: Oh, yes, I have the same issue with all except Vetiver Tonka. Thank goodness it’s one I enjoy! Going to sample Cuir d’Ange this afternoon. December 2, 2014 at 7:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: Please let me know what you think of Cuir d’Ange and whether it lasts on you. I love it, but it doesn’t last too well. December 3, 2014 at 8:41am Reply

  • angeldiva: Hi Victoria Hi Everyone!
    Just ordered the L’artisan Perfume Box from their website , and HELLO!!!! free shipping! I don’t even know these scents, but for $22. I’m going to try them.
    I need to spoil myself this Christmas because I am a orphaned, single, childless woman who just lost her only close friend…
    So, please point your kindly, metaphysical bottles of perfume my way and SPRAY! LOL
    Also, just discovered The Perfume Court and ordered decants of;
    Clinique – Wrappings and Aromatics Elixir
    EL – Private Collection
    Gucci- Envy
    Kenzo- Jungle Elephant
    Balmain- Ambergris

    Happy Holidays, Everyone!
    Angela diva December 7, 2014 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Happy holidays to you! I’m sorry for the difficult times you’re going through, but if small pleasures help you regain your balance, then we’re here to help with perfume recommendations. And of course, lots of virtual hugs! 🙂 December 8, 2014 at 8:08am Reply

      • angeldiva: Small pleasures and cyber shopping! Thank-you so much for the virtual hugs!! I bought some Elvis Christmas music and Blondie CD’s to keep me company.
        Plus, something good happened today…
        Peace December 8, 2014 at 10:09pm Reply

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