When it comes to Valentine’s Day, the gifts we give are meant to be intimate in order to show that we value and love the people closest to us. Giving someone a fragrance can be a great way to give an ultra-personal and long-lasting gift they’ll cherish every time they wear it.
“It feels like a special experience,” says Bryan Edwards, co-founder of Snif. “It has this personal ability, personal aspect to it that other gifts really don’t have.”
Smell is also strongly tied to memory, with the ability to transport us back to a time, place or person in just one whiff. That’s why fragrances also make great commemorative gifts for new life chapters or special occasions; just by the simple act of wearing them they can create an olfactory brain bookmark. But everyone has different likes and preferences when it comes to fragrance, which makes nailing down the perfect scent quite daunting.
Luckily, there are plenty of great options, from full-size bottles to sample sets and fragrance trials, that can make the gifting experience easier for both givers and receivers. We asked fragrance experts for their tips on how to successfully gift fragrances and rounded up a few ideas to help you on your Valentine’s Day hunt.
How to gift a fragrance
When gifting a fragrance, it’s helpful to have a slight idea of the kinds of scents your loved one likes — sweet, clean, fresh, spicy, smoky, woody or a nice blend. Try to look for fragrances that somewhat aligns with these preferences, but also offer something new that makes them different from what they already have in their collection.
If all else fails, you can lean into more gourmand scents that are on theme for the holiday.
“For Valentine’s Day, get all the food in the bottle,” says Laurice Rahmé, founder of Bond No. 9. Think of scents with comforting food notes like vanilla, chocolate, Champagne and black currant. And if you’re still not finding luck with any of those, “we always recommend oud,” says Rahmé.
Ultimately, don’t be too discouraged if you feel you can’t find the downright perfect scent. Fragrance gifting is tough, but with the right sentiment and a little effort, you could end up giving someone a scent they really love.
“You can do as much homework as you want ahead of time. You can know the person as well as you. You can live with them,” says Edwards. “Until they put the fragrance on their bodies and they actually have a sense for wearing it and using it throughout their lives and throughout their days, then you really don’t know if you actually have a winner on your hand.”
Valentine’s Day fragrance ideas
Discovery sets are a great choice for those who really feel lost when it comes to fragrance, since they let you smell multiple options in one go. They can introduce your loved one to a new brand or to one they’ve always wanted to try for a fraction of the cost of a full bottle. Plus, if one ends up being a major hit, you’ll have a surefire gift idea for the next holiday or special occasion.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Snif has launched its Mini Bestsellers Bundle complete with their Sweet Ash, Tart Deco and Way With Woods fragrances. Alternatively, you can buy individual 10-milliliter versions of six of Snif’s most popular fragrances for $25 each, the lowest price point for the brand yet. “You can give someone something luxury and it doesn't necessarily have to break your own bank,” says Edwards.
If you're really looking to gift a luxury gift, Bond No. 9 offers a collection of 30 of their New York-inspired fragrances in 7-milliliter sprays. The collection features bestsellers like Greenwich Village, a sophisticated but playful fragrance laced with notes of lychee, mandarin, peony and vanilla that's perfect for all the aspiring Carrie Bradshaws in your life, and Chinatown, a fruity floral and delicately feminine scent.
A bestselling fragrance and one of our favorite perfumes overall, this seductive scent features gourmand notes of black coffee and vanilla balanced with white florals. Plenty of reviewers have described it as a “sexy” perfume — perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Know someone who loves fragrance and is constantly scouting for new niche scents? Gift them this travel trio of 10-milliliter fragrances from the Black-owned and Atlanta-based brand Savoir Faire.
“Instead of a rose bouquet, which doesn't last that long, it's great to have a rose bouquet in a bottle, right?” says Rahmé. With notes of tangerine, rose and soft amber, this Nolita scent is a fresh, light fragrance that comes in a perfectly Valentine’s-appropriate bottle adorned with pink and red kisses.
Beloved by the likes of John F. Kennedy and Hollywood stars like Cary Grant, the original Eight & Bob scent is designed for the most distinguished people you know. A timeless fragrance created with notes of pink pepper, sandalwood and cardamom, it’s perfect for adding class to everyday endeavors and special events alike.
If you’re not confident about investing in a single fragrance, Snif’s trial kits are a great way to gift multiple fragrance options. “It can sort of de-risk the gift giving experience," says Edwards. Handpick up to three full-sized bottles, and your loved one can choose which one they like best after they’ve smelled them IRL.
A blend of fresh, fruity and floral, Elorea’s Heaven fragrance is perfect for wear all year. This subtle, unisex fragrance is great for the person who isn't interested in having a huge fragrance collection, but just needs a reliable fragrance that entices spray after spray.
House of Bo creates some of our beauty editor’s favorite fragrances, and this trio of its newest Tesoro collection features a broad array of scent profiles. Featuring aquatic El Sireno, floral Rosario and rich Infinitoud, there’s something for everyone and every occasion.
For less than $50, Dime Beauty’s fragrance line is a great option for those who want to give a scent without breaking the bank. The inviting sandalwood and gardenia notes in I Love Your Smell, Baby are a big hit with shoppers, garnering over 1,100 5-star reviews for this sweet scent.
Inspired by dark Turkish coffee with notes of spicy cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, Intoxicated is a gourmand fragrance that captures the warmth of taking a long sip of your favorite latte or mocha.
What better fragrance to gift on a Valentine’s date than one literally called On A Date? With notes of patchouli, rose petal and blackcurrant liquor, the newest fragrance in the Replica line is a sweet scent ready to bring a sensual air to any occasion.
While some fragrances are more subdued, others are intended to make an impact. Tom Ford’s Black Orchid is an attention-grabbing scent made with black orchid extract, ylang ylang and creamy vanilla that creates a warm, spicy lure that lingers long after you spray.
This unique perfume reacts with the body’s own pheromones to create a warm and inviting impression. It has notes of white tea, orange blossom, lavender, vanilla and dry musk that melt together beautifully.
Some people thrive during winter. Maybe it’s the excitement of fresh snow, the drop in temperatures or the tsunami of warm relief that comes from escaping them. Après from Ellis Brooklyn is made for those who cherish their time in winter wonderlands with notes of juniper berries, bourbon and cedar.
An earthy, smokey and truly woody fragrance from Boy Smells, Hinoki Fantome is inspired by the sacred Japanese hinoki woods. A fragrance of duality — smoky and sweet, dark and warm, spicy and sexy — this is a great scent for the person who is never just one note.
With key notes of plum, rose and vanilla, Liaisons Dangereuses, Typical Me captures the sensual and romantic tone of Valentine’s Day with an alluring fruity, floral scent.
A genderless citrus and herbal scent, Tacit by Aesop creates a calming, just-got-back-from-the-spa type aura that’s perfect for those who need a dose of relaxation in their day-to-day lives.