Monday, 18 November 2013

The Lure Of The Christmas Perfume Gift Set, Some Tips For The Festive Season

It’s that time of year, when we fumies are bombarded with emails advising us of ALL THE DAZZLING FRAGRANT STUFF WE CAN BUY when we really should be shopping for our loved ones i.e. Christmas gift set season.

If only Harrods sold penguins at Christmas..

When we signed up to the ‘yes, send me news of offers and promotions’ box at the online stores of our favourite perfume houses through the year, we forget about the chronic agony of repeatedly denying ourselves the joy that is buying a perfume + body lotion + shower gel + fantastically designed box etc.. that would render us unable to pay for other people’s presents.

Gift sets are an extremely good deal. Most of the mainstream houses offer at least one free subsidiary product for the price of just the perfume. This is especially useful if you are a lover of the ‘projection beast’. One Christmas I received a YSL Opium body lotion that when used alongside the perfume, could burn off the olfactory organ of a person half a mile away. It was a very pleasing present.

Niche houses are less generous at Christmas, probably due to the fact that not all of them actually create body or home fragrance products. Those who do however, should really join in the festivities and stop being scrooges.

Here is a round up of some of the best sets from the larger niche houses and mainstreams on sale this year. But before you take a look, consider your approach to the gift set season. I think there are 4 ways you can benefit from it:

  1. Buy a set before Christmas but wait until you are offered a discount. For instance, last week Debenhams announced 10% off all beauty and fragrance effectively making an already bargainous set more bargainous. No doubt the other department stores will make similar bids for our custom. 
  2. Buy a set in store after Christmas. In last year’s January sales, sets from YSL, Clinique, Lauder and Guerlain were all reduced by about 30%. You had to be quick to grab one though.
  3. Buy a set from Ebay. This is a graveyard of unwanted gifts in January. You can pick up a set that might have been sprayed once or twice to test and then discarded in disgust by someone who was gifted something brilliant that was not to their taste. Used scent = cheap scent.
  4. Lastly, you could sod it and just buy everything you want and worry about later when the obscenely greedy energy companies send you your extortionate January heating bill. At least you can scent your chunky knit jumpers with something beautiful as you shiver at home.

So here we go, more ways to spend your money this month:


Ormonde Jayne: The Sloane Square shop are offering a 20% discount on everything by phone and in store this Wednesday (20th November). UK postage costs £8 so this would effectively make an £80 50 ml scent cost £72 by post or £64 in store. Plus if you go to shop between 6pm and 8pm there's a party with champers. Phone to enquire about International postage which they are attempting to make reasonably priced. Tolu, Ta'if, Ormonde Woman and Orris Noir are stunningly well crafted scents that I imagine would appeal to anybody. They are not challenging, just beautiful. To read my review of the marvelous pagan fantasy - Ormonde Woman, click here.

Belle of The Ball Gift Set in Orris Noir - £115
(reduced to £92 with the 20% discount)

Penhaligon’s: have a truly covetable range of gifts sets this year in beautifully illustrated tins, my favourite is the Gentlemen’s Miniature Collection at £35 including Sartorial and Blenheim Bouquet. To read my review of these two masculine lovelies, click here.

Gentlemen’s Miniature Collection

L’ Artisan Parfumeur: The ‘pop up’ style gift boxes of the season are a fine example of contemporary design in the perfume industry and a treat for those who collect the brand, however they don’t offer the grandest saving. This is a good option for those on a budget who are fond of purse size fumes:

Christmas Discovery Gift Set £35 with 4 x 7 ml vapo tubes of:
•Mûre et Musc 
•La Chasse aux Papillons 
•Premier Figuier 
•Nuit de Tubéreuse 

I’d rather smell of festival toilets than the death by Jasmine that is Le Chasse aux Papillons (Luca Turin gave it 3 stars so my opinion may not be definitive!), but the others are wonderful and it’s a collectible box.

Discovery Gift Set

A quick search brings up very little in the form of niche gift sets but an alternative is a large sample set which is huge treat for a fumie. The most diverse and exciting ones come from: Ormonde Jayne, Parfum D’ Empire, Le Labo, Olfactive Studio, Amouage, Les Parfums De Rosine, Scent On Canvas, Jovoy and Histoires De Parfums. To read my post on the Olfactive Studio sample set, click here.
A browse on their online boutiques will reveal the goodies. It’s useful to know that the French word for sample is Echantillons. Though I imagine that if you’re geeky and obsessive enough to read Odiferess you’ll probably know this already..


This is where the real bargains are to be had.

Givenchy: I maintain that the original Givenchy Gentleman is the greatest masculine Patchouli ever made (not to be confused with Givenchy Gentleman Only which is scent nonsense). A set containing 100 ml EDT and 75 ml All Over Shampoo is available for about£56.50 at all of the main department stores.

Miller Harris: Yes, I don’t consider them mainstream either, but the range is being sold in Debenhams. For £60 you can buy a miniatures collection in either ‘Woody’ or ‘Citrus’. Woody contains 3 x 15 ml EDPs of: La Fumée , Feuilles de Tabac and Fleurs de Sel. All delightfull.
Estee Lauder: Queen of the gift set. They’ve released several desirable sets this year. Though be warned, I tested Youth Dew with my Mum this weekend (both of us wore it in the past) and we agreed that it is a reformulated shadow of it’s former self. That said, Knowing and Cinnabar are still projection beasts of the highest caliber. Knowing is an epic mossy/woody/aldehydic chypre, well worth a try if you love Mitsouko/Aromatics/Paloma Picasso etc.  At £39 for 30 ml of EDP and 100 ml of body lotion this is the one that I shall be hunting come January.

Acqua Di Parma: As always, are gifting us their full range of fumes in a quirky hat box style presentation with 75 ml tubes of shower gel and body lotion for the price of the just the perfume. £78 from all the big stores and online at Escentual. Grazie!

Other sets of note this year come from Cartier, Bottega Venetta, Carven (who have re-released the superb Ma Griffe in a pretty new bottle), YSL, BVLGARI, Guerlain and Hermes.

Now, get yourself on ebay, flog anything you can live without and start re-spending!


  1. Whoo! Fantastic round up of the Christmas best buys. I have done 1-3 but even 4 has its fragrant compensations! And you would need to have bought 'cosy cashmere sweater' scents ideally in view of the impending cold snap...

    I have received similar emails, but it is great to see the complete picture. Very tempted by the MH and OJ deals. Had no idea MH did smaller bottles at any time of year.

    I treated myself to a pre-Christmas bargainous boxed set of Shalimar Le Parfum Initial and body lotion for £25. In an actual shop in Stafford, no less!

    1. PS Am surprised you find La Chasse aux Papillons so potent on the jasminometer. I find it demure and girlish myself. You'd best give Serge Lutens A La Nuit and Montale's Jasmine Full a wide berth, then...;-)

    2. Tempting isn't it? It is officially OJ discount day and I've yet to buy anything, only 2 1/2 more hours of resisting to do. Oh but Tolu, can you imagine a big bottle and the matching body cream, delish...!
      I've never tried the Montale but the Lutens is similarly gag inducing to me. I've become more Jasmine tolerant over the years and I love it in small doses but as a primary note, yuk. I must be one of the few folk who find ELDO's Jasmine et Cigarette equally upsetting as Secretions Magnifique!