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.
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.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.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).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 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.