Holiday Gifts for All Senses : Perfume, Incense, Makeup

While the first part of my holiday gift guide this year was dominated by edible things, the second is an eclectic mix of skincare, perfume, incense, soaps and a few beautiful makeup items. Many gifts on the list are suitable for men. A large portion is reasonably priced, including a selection of under $25 delights that would make great stocking stuffers. As always, I look forward to your gift ideas. If you have come across anything interesting (or if there is something you would like to receive), please share in the comments.

Gifts Under $25

incense sachet

Shoyeido Johin Incense Sachet

I have several of Shoyeido’s incense sachets stuffed in various linen closets, and they have a rich, elegant perfume of sandalwood, clove and camphor. Johin incense is rich in patchouli and sandalwood, for instance, and the sachets are made out of colorful textured fabric. Sachets are small, but they keep their aroma for months. Available from shoyeido’s website. Each sachet retails for $7.50.


Rancé Olio Di Rose Bar Soap

Rancé’s soaps are handmade and hard milled, which means that they don’t soften too much in the shower and stay fragrant until the end. Olio di Rose is a perfect soap for anyone who loves the honeyed aroma of roses.  Available from luckyscent. 100g bar/$10.


Oriza L. Legrand Violette Comme Il Faut Soap

“Violet As It Must Be” [sic] is scented like violet bonbons. A perfect soap to pair with a violet perfume like Penhaligon’s Violetta or Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. Made in France. Available at luckyscent. 125 gram bar/$15.

incense perfume

Shoyeido Gokuhin Incense Body Powder

If like me you’re tempted to use Shoyeido fine incense as perfume, then their incense body powder will be a perfect discovery. There are several varieties, but I very much like Gokuhin scented with patchouli, clove, sandalwood and cinnamon. To apply, rub a small amount on the wrists, neck or anywhere you like to perfume yourself. Available at Shoyeido. 1 packet of incense powder, .5 oz./$17.50.


Costes Soap

Scented with sandalwood, incense and rose, this is one of my favorite soaps. The texture of the glycerine based bar is luxurious, and it’s a pleasure to use. Available at luckyscent, aedes and directly from Costes. 100 gram bar/$22.

lait provence

Compagnie de Provence Lait Corporel (Body Lotion)

A well-formulated, reasonably priced body lotion that comes in several scents. My favorite is Rose, but Cherry is a sophisticated blend perfect for those who love fruity aromas. Available at luckyscent. 10 fl.oz./ $25.

incense nippon kodo

Nippon Kodo Mainichi Byakudan

An excellent sandalwood incense that comes with a Paulownia wood box and a ceramic incense stand. Each stick burns for about 13 min. Available at Mitsuwa and luckyscent. 60 sticks/$23.

Gifts Between $25-50

kitten incense

Shoyeido Kitten Incense Holder

Adorable is an understatement. Can be used with stick or cone-shaped incense. Available from Shoyeido’s website and stores. $29.95.


Lafco Feu De Bois Soaps

An unusual soap scented with a rich smoky perfume. The soap base is a blend of olive, coconut and almond oils. Made in Italy. Available at Lafco NY and luckyscent. 3 soaps x 4.5oz/$34.


Charlotte Tilbury Rose Gold Lip Cosmetic Bag

Charlotte Tilbury has a number of attractive cosmetic bags. They are sturdy, well-designed and pretty. Mine is used for holding perfume decants, a function it performs admirably. Available at Selfridges. $37.


Aesop Coriander Seed Body Cleanser

The aroma of this cleanser is instantly uplifting, a mix of coriander and pepper, with a hint of citrus.  The gel doesn’t produce a thick foam, but it cleanses well and leaves skin soft. Available at Aesop, Barneys, luckyscent. 500ml, 17.0fl oz/$45.


Clarins Treatment Fragrance Set

Clarins’s so-called Treatments fragrances are light colognes, accented with herbs. This gift set includes the Eau Dynamisante Spray, Eau Ressourçante Spray and Eau des Jardins Spray. Well-priced, high-quality perfumes. Available at Clarins counters. $45.

clarins2Clarins Eau Ressourçante collection – Pure Pleasures

My favorite Clarins Treatment perfume is Eau Ressourçante, a melange of basil and lemon. This gift set includes the Eau Ressourçante Spray (100ml), Eau Ressourçante Silky-Smooth Body Cream (100ml) and Eau Ressourçante Bath and Shower Milk (50ml). All presented in a woven wash bag. Similar sets are available for the Eau Dynamisante scent. Available at the Clarins counters. $45.


Atelier Cologne Discovery Box

A perfect way to introduce someone to several diffrent perfumes, for instance, Orange Sanguine, Pomélo Paradis, Vanille Insensée, Rose Anonyme, or Vétiver Fatal Colognes Absolues. Available at Atelier Cologne. The box can be customized. 5 x 7 ml (0,24 fl.oz)/$50.

Gifts Between $55 and $75

mariage freres incense

Mariage Frères Thé De Lune Incense

An amber and black tea perfumed incense from a renowned French tea importer. Other scents inspired by their teas are also available. Each box contains 50 blue incense sticks and a silver-plated incense holder. $60.

tom ford jasmin

Tom Ford Private Blend Jasmin Rouge Body Moisturizer

I rarely can justify Tom Ford prices for myself, but I’m happy to buy his products as gifts. For instance, Jasmin Rouge is one of the nicest jasmine scented body creams. Highly perfumed and moisturizing.  Jasmin Rouge includes notes of bergamot, mandarine, cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon, ginger, clary, neroli, ylang-ylang, vanilla, leather, amber, and wood. Available at Barney’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue. 150ml (5oz)/$65.

annick adrien

Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien Body Cream

Another luxurious cream. Eau d’Hadrien is scented with the classical Goutal fragrance of bergamot, lemon and cypress. Available at Annick Goutal counters. 200ml/$70.


Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set

Another great perfume set. Includes 12 perfumes from Ormonde Jayne’s regular line. Available at Selfridges and Senteurs d’Ailleurs. 12 x 2ml/$72.

molton brown

Molton Brown Shower Gel Set for Him

A great gift set that includes three of Molton Brown’s best shower gels–Bushukan (sweet lemon and pepper), Silverbirch (smoky woods), and Black Peppercorn (incense and black pepper). Ideal for anyone who loves woody and spicy scents. Available at Selfridges. 3 x 300ml/$75.

Gifts Over $75


Rancé Acqua Di Colonia Box Of 6 Soaps

Acqua Di Colonia soaps are scented with a blend of bergamot, orange blossom and moss. The presentation in a white gift box is beautiful. Available at luckyscent. 6 x 175g/$76.

shu uemura small paletteShu Uemura Eye Shadow Palette

I love Shu Uemura’s eye shadows, and I’m addicted to their palettes. The color selection isn’t what I’d call classical, but it’s part of the appeal. They make me want to experiment and try more adventurous pairings. I also love glitter and sparkle. This palette is available in Cool and Warm shades. I already bought a cool one for myself, and I’m very happy with it. The blues and greens are more wearable than they might appear in the pan. Available at Barneys and Selfridges. $81.

owl incense burner

Nippon Kodo Owl Japanese Iron Incense Burner

Another quirky incense holder. According to Nippon Kodo, another meaning of the Chinese character for “owl” is “keep the happiness”. Available at Nippon Kodo. $90. (But it’s worth keeping in mind that in Persian and North Indian cultures, owls, by contrast, aren’t such auspicious symbols, so if your gift recipient hails from that region, I’d consider something else.)

shu uemura big paletteShu Uemura Maison Kitsune Indigo Eye and Cheek Palette

A smokey eye and cheek palette from Shu Uemura is a blend of Tokyo and Paris street style inspirations. One of my new makeup obsessions these days, although for myself I bought Plum, a mix of plum and lilac-grey shades for eyes and orange for cheeks. $90.

jo malone

Jo Malone Cologne Set

Jo Malone sets never fail to please, and this box with two of my favorites, Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Lime Basil & Mandarin is a fantastic gift. At Jo Malone counters, other sets are also available, including gift boxes with body products. $105.

For more gift ideas, please see Robin’s Holiday 2015 List and EauMG’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Vintage Beauties.



  • kate: So many great ideas! I especially appreciate the under $25 choices. December 11, 2015 at 8:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked this assortment. December 11, 2015 at 9:07am Reply

  • Scented Salon: These are thoughtful and eclectic gifts anyone would be lucky to receive. I like the Ormonde Jayne sample set and really want the Mariage Freres incense: it is sooo elegant.

    I already bought all my gifts online and most were scented: a French Lilac set for my mom and Duc de Vervins for my stepdad. My sister in law is getting “Scents of Time,” a book about perfume through history that comes with little essential oils.

    Every Christmas I treat myself to an expensive bottle of perfume that I would not normally buy so that is going to be exciting. I think this year it is going to be Note Vanillee. December 11, 2015 at 9:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Yours are such wonderful gifts. I know that many think that perfume is a tricky gift, but if you plan it well, such presents are much appreciated. For instance, my friends love perfume assortments. Sometimes I make sample packages myself, which I wrap alongside the main gift, whatever it might be. December 11, 2015 at 9:10am Reply

      • Scented Salon: Good idea. I have some many full bottles that I could easily buy small but beautiful flacons and share my perfume that way! Always the bringer of good ideas, you. December 11, 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: My mom found pretty atomizers at Sephora, which beat the plastic sample vials. The Sephora atomizers also come in different colors.

          I’m sure you’re well organized and won’t make this mistake, but on occasion I’d forget to label the vials! Not good. 🙂 December 12, 2015 at 4:29am Reply

  • Solanace: Off topic, but cute: my little daughter’s teacher told me yesterday she smells everything. She had just smelled a crayon and asked if it was made of play dough. 🙂 December 11, 2015 at 9:37am Reply

    • Michaela: How cute! December 11, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s adorable. But I imagine that you smell lots of things together. She’s very sweet and precocious. December 11, 2015 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Michaela: I like the kitten incense holder, soaps and perfume samples best! But I’d be happy with any of your gift choices.

    Other gifts I’d like to receive are Laurel Burch jewelry or bags:
    I’m a dog lover myself but I so love her cats and horses! December 11, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Beautiful! I love her combination of colors and textures. December 11, 2015 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Celeste Church: Another gift idea I will probably give to everyone is “The Book of Lost Fragrances” by M.J. Rose….fiction, and really perfect for perfume lovers. Have you read it??
    I really love your gift ideas….the incense based on tea, especially. Thanks for all the great ideas! December 11, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: A great idea on The Book of Lost Fragrances. I read it and enjoyed it.

      The tea incense is wonderful, and although it’s more expensive than I usually pay for incense, it was worth it. December 11, 2015 at 1:36pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I love the incense sachets. I’m wondering if they are available in Europe.
    The cosmetic bag is very nice too but I’ve already chosen one for myself – made from Japanese fabrics by a mother and daugher team: December 11, 2015 at 11:12am Reply

  • Karen (A): Very fun list! Only problem is reading it, I’m going ohhh I like that, and hmmmm that sounds nice – so now that my list of things I’d like has expanded, guess I’d better get thinking about what others might want! December 11, 2015 at 1:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: And I’m browsing through rainboweyes’s links and thinking the same thing. 🙂 December 11, 2015 at 1:45pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: I’ve got the same dilemma! Here’s another favourite shop of mine:
        I love their hamam towels, especially in the summer. They are quite thin but absorb water very well. December 11, 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: You’re such a source of inspirations and ideas! I love this shop, and I’ve bookmarked the page. My aunt and I were just talking about the towels we had at my great-grandmother’s. They were handmade and while thin, very absorbent and quick to dry. I have a tiny face towel from that collection, but I always wanted to find something bigger. These look very similar, and I love the colors. December 12, 2015 at 4:32am Reply

        • Andy: I too love the hammam towels, and the ones at that link are especially beautiful–I like the one with varying greens called ‘jungle.’ Whenever I travel, I throw in one of these, because they’re so lightweight and can be used as a towel or even impromptu beach blanket or travel blanket if need be. I never thought to give one as a gift but it’s a great idea! December 12, 2015 at 7:38am Reply

          • Karen (A): Hammam towels are terrific! We always buy a bunch when in Turkey, and they are great for travel. As you say, a good beach blanket, plus for women easy to wrap around and stays closed if you want a quick beach cover up. December 12, 2015 at 9:21am Reply

            • Victoria: We had the usually terry cloth towels which took forever to dry, and my husband did an extensive towel research (a geek, it figures.) In the end, he discovered that Turkish cotton was the best for our needs. But after all of the research, he was too tired to find a place where to buy them. I might just go for rainboweyes’s suggestion. December 13, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

              • Karen (A): Jennifer’s Hamam, a shop in the Arasta Bazaar (behind the Blue Mosque, and a much quieter, smaller alternative to the Grand Bazaar) has great towels. They are hand-woven – there are lots of vendors selling nice towels there, but her shop is the only name I can remember! She’s also done a lot to promote hand-made, high quality items made in Turkey. As with most places, a lot of “traditional” things (such as copper goods) being sold are made in China.

       December 14, 2015 at 7:00am Reply

          • Victoria: The green towels are the ones that caught my eye first. The purple ones were my other favorites. December 13, 2015 at 10:00am Reply

            • rainboweyes: I’m happy you enjoyed my gift recommendations 🙂
              Today I’ve come across Dalit goods – crafted by the people of India’s lowest cast, if I understood correctly – soaps, candles etc. Have you ever heard of those? December 13, 2015 at 12:15pm Reply

              • Victoria: I haven’t heard of that particular outfit, but I read about various brands along the same lines. There are also plenty of various initiative to revive disappearing artisanal crafts in India. Like these Kashmiri examples:
       December 14, 2015 at 12:57pm Reply

  • flavius: Speaking of Ormonde Jayne and having in mind how much I agreed with the reviews of their previous work written by you, Victoria, I was wondering, did you have a chance to test OJ’s latest perfume, Vanille D’Iris? Wanted to blind buy it, for myself, bless me. 🙂 December 11, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it yet. I hope that someone else who did can chime in. The notes make it sound very good. December 12, 2015 at 4:27am Reply

  • Fazal: I read that Shoyeido first as Shiseido and I am like, since when they are into incense and soaps 😀 December 11, 2015 at 9:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, I now wonder if they do have incense. At their store in Tokyo Shiseido had lots of products I haven’t seen elsewhere. December 12, 2015 at 4:33am Reply

  • Andy: These gifts are all luscious! I am a fan of the Compagnie de Provence products too, and though I haven’t tried the lotions, I’ve given the hand soaps as gifts before. The pamplemousse one smells to me like grapefruit peels and blooming honeysuckle, so nice for a kitchen or bathroom. December 12, 2015 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for reminding me of the Pamplemousse soap. Yes, it’s fantastic! December 13, 2015 at 9:59am Reply

  • limegreen: I just gave the small Diptyque holiday candle Sapin to a friend. It’s a beautiful Christmasy pine fragrance, without the astringent pine smell (or pine sol). Diptyque always has nice holiday candles but this one really smells perfect for the holidays. Comes in a beautiful box and sleeve, which is nice because I’m a terrible gift wrapper. 🙂 December 12, 2015 at 8:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I gave a couple of Diptyque candles last year, and the holidays editions especially stood out. The design is very attractive, and the candles have a good longevity. I wish the throw were better, but Diptyque’s Sapin is definitely one of the better pine scented candles out there. December 13, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

  • Lynley: I’ve been eyeing off those Shu Uemura palettes myself- such fun colours!

    Just a heads up on the Rancé soaps for anyone who doesnt like using animal products- these contain sodium tallowate. I tried to research them before buying some last year but found very little information. I only use vegetable derived soaps so was very disappointed to see this and they now just scent my wardrobe.. December 12, 2015 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy with mine, and I love the finishes. All palettes are a mix of matte, satin and sparkly colors. December 13, 2015 at 9:49am Reply

  • Aurora: What a thoughtful list. I especially like the recommendations for soaps as I love to give them as presents.

    Every year Penhaligon’s has a couple of silver plated Christmas decorations, they’re £20 are of very good quality and they make delightful gifts. December 15, 2015 at 6:12am Reply

    • Victoria: Very happy that you liked them.

      Penhaligon’s does wonderful gift sets too. I haven’t seen their Christmas ornaments, but I will have to stop by the store. December 15, 2015 at 9:05am Reply

  • Surbhi: Victoria,

    I almost considered treating myself with some of your suggestions.

    Sandalwood Shaving gift set is my favorite gift shopping so far (the art of shaving). (I always find it difficult to shop for men). Still have few more gifts to buy. December 17, 2015 at 12:12am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband has been enjoying his very much. The cream smells very good, and the texture is luxurious. December 17, 2015 at 8:35am Reply

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