No matter how close you are to the recipient, buying a gift for someone else comes with a list of unspoken rules: always get a gift receipt, ask for their clothing size instead of guessing, and never buy certain gifts.
Take candles, for example. For years, they got a bad rap for being clichéd and impersonal. But, as far as I’m concerned, candles can actually be a fabulous present.
Before you write off candles, think about how practical they are. Since most people are cozying up at home this time of year, changes in scenery are few and far between. However, a really delicious scent has the power to transport a person somewhere else entirely. Sure, your special someone might be cooped up in their apartment, but the right blend of eucalyptus and sandalwood can have them mentally basking on a tropical beach.
If your recipient wants to spend a cozy week inside—or change the mood after a particularly tough workday—what better way to do so than with a candle? Some studies will go as far as suggesting certain scents can improve your mood or keep stress at bay, turning candles into a gift that keeps on giving.
I know what you’re thinking: candles might be practical, but they’re still wildly unoriginal. Well, not so fast. As someone with an entire cabinet full of ‘em, I firmly believe candles can be very personal. In fact, choosing the right candle can be a subtle way to show off just how well you know that person.
One way to wow with a candle gift is by picking out a delicious scent. To start your search, think about your loved one’s hobbies. Do they spend their summer at their family’s beach house? Look for candles with tropical, beachy notes like coconut, lemon, or seabreeze. If they have a penchant for baking, they’ll likely love a candle with hints of vanilla and caramel. Or, you can think back to a vacation you went on together. I think back to my vacation to New Zealand and Australia whenever I smell Passport Seven’s Sydney Opera House candle, which has a soothing mix of peppermint, patchouli, cedarwood, and eucalyptus.
But, what if a signature scent doesn’t come to mind? Don’t worry: some candle brands have niche collections that might be aligned with your recipient's interests. For example, Cancelled Plans’ 90’s Baby candle will give your special someone a whiff of nostalgia. Shopping for a pop-culture enthusiast? Bijou Candles has named its scents after Old Hollywood starlets, fictional witches, and iconic '80s artists. Or, if you want to make spending the holidays away from family a little more bearable, Homesick’s line of city candles is designed to deliver.
If you ask me, one of the biggest reasons candles have the reputation of a lame clichéd gift is because most shoppers resort to the same few brands. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Receiving five of the same lemon verbena candle won’t make anyone feel special. If you want to shake up their candle collection, pick up a scent from an emerging brand. From the Koop to Otherland to Sunday Club, there’s a handful of cool brands determined to make candles a sought-after gift again.