Monday Question – Do You Like to Give Or Receive Perfume As A Gift?

By Tara

Do you like to receive a bottle of perfume as a present?

Do you discreetly mention that you’d like a particular perfume for your birthday, anniversary etc?

Which perfumes have you received as a present and were you pleased with them?

Do you regularly buy fragrance as a gift for other people?

Which perfumes have you bought for others and were they appreciated?

Or do you think perfume is too personal to choose for someone else?


My Answer:

I like to give perfume as a present but only to my nearest and dearest. I flatter myself that I know their tastes and enjoy picking out something I think they’ll like. On the other hand I really wouldn’t like them to choose a perfume for me without consulting me first. I know it’s the thought that counts, but when perfume is your passion you are particular about what you’re spraying.

I have bought YSL’s Cinema for my mother and Bulgari Black for my sister, with great success. Last Christmas I was gifted a bottle of Ormonde Jayne’s Champaca, though only after purchasing it myself with a discount and passing it on for wrapping up 🙂

What are your thoughts on fragrant gift-giving?


About Olfactoria

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91 Responses to Monday Question – Do You Like to Give Or Receive Perfume As A Gift?

  1. Sandra says:

    Good question Tara. I only gift perfumes to my family members (but only after consulting them) and they do not give me any perfume as they know that I am far too fickle. My family members also love receiving my unloved bottles. I am far too lazy to sell them on eBay and would rather pass them along to someone who will appreciate them.

    • Tara says:

      Sounds like we are pretty similar in this respect, Sandra. Although I do try and sell unwanted bottles on ebay from time to time, I’d rather give bottles to loved ones if they show some interest.

  2. Dear Birgit, fragrance is the best gift I can receive and probably the best I can give.
    I have bought Mugler Cologne for a friend last year and Poivre Samarcande for my husband. Both were well received. Sometimes I give away bottles of fragrances I rarely wear (some of them have only been worn twice) to friends, family or people who help me at work. I think I succeed at choosing something that matches their tastes and personalities.
    When the husband travels, I always hint what fragrance I would like him to bring. I also…ummm…hint the precise directions to very specific fragrance stores.

    Have a lovely week!


    • Tara says:

      Ha ha, Caro! The thing about us perfume fiends is that we often lust after perfumes that aren’t easily accessible, therefore a casual hint is unlikely to be sufficient.

      The people who know you are very lucky with all that perfume you are gifting. Mugler Cologne is a good present because it’s great value, easy to get hold of and pretty hard to dislike (I would say anyway).

      • Hi Tara!
        I thought it was Birgit that had posted. Apologies! It was the wee hours of the morning and I didn’t pay enough attention.
        More than giving fragrance I enjoy suggesting fragrances to my friends and acquaintances, especially when they travel. I feel happy when they tell me they fell in love with the perfume I had suggested 🙂

  3. Sigrun says:

    I do give away perfume. Depending on the occasion and relation I have to the receiver I give both full bottles or decants/samples. The biggest success I’ve had with a present was probably when I got my grandmother a Tauer sample set. She LOVED them and whenever she wore them out, meeting her friends, they swooned, saying “Oh, Inga, you always smell like such a queen” 🙂 I also gave my mom a bunch of samples last Christmas with the intention of getting her a full bottle later if she found anything she liked. When I asked her what she through about them she said, “Oh, I don’t know. My sister-in-law borrowed them and never gave them back. I don’t want to bring up the subject either because she probably has used them all up and that will be so embarrassing. Maybe I can get some new samples next year.” 🙂

    • Tara says:

      I love that you got your grandmother the Tauer sample set and more so that she and her friends loved them. They are indeed fit for a queen. I’ve never thought of gifting sample sets but it’s a very nice idea. Too bad your mother’s were “borrowed”, they must have been good!

      I signed my sister up to the By Kilian sample set and she really enjoyed them, especially Love.

  4. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Since I know how difficult would be for others to buy a parfum for me I don’t even dare to give parfum to friends/family. Or only very very rarely (a cologne from Jo Malone – an easy-to-please-with…). My dear mother-in-law buys me parfum here and there, but we talk in advance and she knows exactly what’s on the top of my wish list. She’s a darling anyway.

    • Tara says:

      Sounds like you have a gem of a mother-in-law there!

      Jo Malone is a pretty safe bet for gift-giving. I’ve given one of their colognes to a friend in the past.

  5. I’ve been given a bottle of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver before. I think my friends know me to be enough of a perfume junkie that they tend to look for stuff that’s not too mainstream. I do love giving perfumes as gifts, although I usually give my friends many decants; sort of like a buffet where they can eventually pick the one(s) they love most.

    • Tara says:

      What thoughtful friends you have, to go to the trouble of finding something out of the ordinary for you.

      The gift of a fragrant buffet is a lovely idea.

  6. Jordan River says:

    Vouchers for friends and family: people can then have their own scent journey and you can accompany them to your favourite shop, or not. I am always happy when Tom Ford or Christopher Chong send me Birthday and Christmas perfumes. Of course you may say I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one here.

    • Dubaiscents says:

      Ha! We can all dream…..

    • Tara says:

      You are definitely not the only dreamer here! Perfume dreams are the best.

      A very kind friend recently got me a very generous Les Senteurs voucher and I’m having as much fun deciding what to spend it on as I will probably have actually wearing the eventual perfume!

  7. Ellia says:

    I like giving perfumes as gifts – but usually I do that for my family members or friends, just because I know their tastes and what can suit them best 🙂 As for them presenting me some bottles – not anymore.. only if they know for sure there is a particular fragrance I’d like to have and still do not own – in the majority of cases they prefer not to risk))) it’s difficult to guess in my case.. I have noticed that the only aromatic gifts I’ve got during last year were from people who are not too close to me – and to be honest a great number of them already were passed to other members of my family or friends… I do not like to sell gifts – it doesn’t feel ok for me, but I do share them with people I love, especially if those perfumes make them happy and smiling 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Perfume is generally too expensive to risk it when it comes to someone who is particular about their scent. I don’t blame your friends!

      I also only buy perfume for those closest to me because I know their tastes so well.

  8. Hey Tara,
    Sometimes people give me Shalimar because they know I’ll go through it eventually. There’s about 1.5 litres of it around the house I reckon, in all different vintages and strengths. I keep meaning to drag them all out and take a photo.
    I often give mates fragrance, from perfume to body lotions and home frag. I hope they love it, and they seem to. My BFF has loads of stuff from me and regularly finishes bottles and Jin has quite a collection now too.
    Did you see Katie Puckrik’s video yesterday about her father wearing the perfume she gave him in his last year. Totally cool.
    Portia xx

  9. Dubaiscents says:

    I often pass along unloved bottles to family members, especially if they are almost full and I still have the original box. And I love giving decants to unsuspecting people in hopes that it opens their minds to something a little nicer than just boring mainstream stuff. I try to put them in pretty atomizers or bottles to make it a little more special.

    As for giving full bottles or receiving perfume, I am happy to have my mom buy me stuff since she knows the things at the top of my wish list and I her. But everyone else better consult with me first or a nice gift certificate is always appreciated!

    • Tara says:

      Well you are particularly lucky because your mother is also a perfumista, right? That makes fragrant gift-giving so much easier. I’m sure you’ve bought each other some gorgeous stuff.

      It’s so nice that you take the trouble to put decants into pretty atomisers and bottles to entice your friends away from the dull perfumes. I bet it works too.

  10. Ines says:

    I buy perfumes for my mother and father as I know what they like – I mean, they don’t stray from their choices so I don’t need to think much about it.
    I’ve bought perfumes for my boyfriend, and most of the time, it’s been good, but not always. 🙂 Sometimes I miss the mark completely (rarely though). 😉

    I wouldn’t mind getting a perfume but I’m with you on this, it would be better to consult me on the matter. Unless it was a perfumista friend, they can usually guess rather well what one might like… 🙂

    • Tara says:

      It’s very true Ines, I bet we know each other’s preferences better than our dearest and nearest!

      You know you’ve reminded me that I bought Terre d’Hermes for my father’s last birthday. He loves it but it’s a bit frustrating because he insists on keeping it “for best”!

  11. Figuier says:

    I’ve bought perfume for my sisters, but only after they’ve fallen for specific things I’ve been wearing or sampling – I’d be nervous about picking anything out for family and friends, because it’s such a personal thing. I did choose a new scent for DH about 5 years ago, the original Dior Homme; the bottle’s almost empty, and he doesn’t like the reformulation, so I may have to go hunting again.

    Since the perfume hobby got ‘serious’ (more than 1 FB) I’ve been given hardly any perfume gifts – the general consensus is that I have far too much of the stuff already 😉

  12. I send links to my husband saying “This is what I want for Mother’s Day” or whatever.

    I’m also on a quest to get the people in my office who think Angel is the be-all and end-all to become aware of options. 😉 The decant gifts are a wonderful idea!

    • Tara says:

      Being able to send a link featuring what you’re after and where to get it makes life so much easier for all those concerned!

      I hope you manage to convert a co-worker or two 🙂

  13. CC says:

    What great questions. Many many (many) years ago when I had a signature scent (Climat by Lancôme) I always appreciated getting a bottle of that as it was getting harder and harder to find. But now after years of this obsession, er, passion, they know better than to gift me any perfume. As for gifting, I usually give FBs to friends whose tastes I know. I’ve also given sets of decants to try and find out which ones they like for future reference. The assortments are always a hit, they love to receive them. And candles from Diptyque are always well received. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      CC, I’m definitely learning from today that a selection of decants can make a great gift in itself.

      You can’t go wrong with a high quality scented candle.

  14. Farouche says:

    I also like to gift Decants to friends and family. As for gifts for myself, I have a healthy wish list on LuckyScent with items of varying prices that I send to folks who ask “what can I get you for …?”
    I don’t like to leave such matters to chance, and it’s a gift to the giver to see the recipient truly thrilled. A win-win situation!

    • Tara says:

      Ooh that’s a good tip regarding LuckyScent. That makes everything a lot more straightforward and you can add to it as you go along.

      I know a lot of people like surprises but I’d much rather people spend their hard earned money on something I’d love. At least with a wish list you don’t know which one they’ll choose to get you.

  15. Tora says:

    I would only buy a full bottle as a gift for my Husband, and only after he had tried a decant or sample. I have made a selection of 5-6 5ml decants for very close girlfriends as Birthday gifts. Those gifts are always well received. In my sample drawer, I have little baggies marked with 3-4 girlfriends names, and when I find a sample that is nice, but not for me, I find the right girl to give it to, knowing what she leans towards. When the baggies are full with at least 20 samples I mail them off. When my Birthday is coming up, I write down my perfume wish on a piece of paper and where he can get it, and give it to my husband. It is not very romantic, I know, but he appreciates knowing what would be my most favorite thing!

    • Tora says:

      Oh, I almost forgot. From 1977 to about 1995 I wore Crabtree and Evelyn’s Sandalwood Cologne almost exclusively. My Husband bought me hundreds of bottles of that, I am sure. Every Christmas, Birthday, Valentines, anytime he wanted to make me happy. I would probably still wear it a lot if they hadn’t gone and ruined the formula.

    • Tara says:

      That’s such a great system you have for your girlfriends. They must be so excited when a package of 20 new samples tailored to their tastes drops through the letterbox.

      I think the approach you take with your husband is the way to go. Give the guys a hand, so it’s easier for them and the recipient doesn’t end up disappointed but pretending otherwise – nothing romantic about that!

  16. Melinda says:

    I only enjoy receiving fragrances by people that’s close to me, because they know my taste in fragrances. If not, I end up getting ones I don’t like (or use) and sometimes people tend to feel offended if you don’t use them.

    Giving fragrances – I do that, but only to people whose tastes I’m familiar with. Like my mother and sister and sis in laws (and I listen to hints!) 🙂

    • Tara says:

      I’m the same, I know the taste of my mother and sister the best so they are the ones I buy for most. I’m pretty good with my best friend too though. I’m thinking of getting her Wonderwood as she loves very woody perfumes and took my Tam Dao when I didn’t get on with it.

  17. shellyw says:

    I buy for my twin sister, but we are so close it is easy. I leave some wants on my amazon wish list but no one has taken advantage of that yet. My family thinks perfume is too indulgent. I did get a lovely cordless drill from my father 🙂

    • Tara says:

      I can’t think of a present much further away from perfume than a cordless drill! It’s hard when your family view your passion as an indulgence. It can be difficult to make them understand. I’m sure my dad doesn’t get it either.

      How lovely to have a twin sister though. You are guaranteed to know each other’s tastes!

  18. Suzanne says:

    Hi Tara! I’ve come to realize that I love getting perfume as a gift when it’s given to someone close to me, even when the perfume isn’t a perfect fit with my tastes. I once wrote about my father gifting me with Estee Lauder Cinnabar when I was young, and then a boyfriend later buying me a very similar perfume, YSL Opium, and I found both too strong for me back then (in my teens and early 20s). In hindsight, I’ve come to realize what a privilege that was, because there was some real thought put into those gifts, and it was like two people showing me how they perceived my personality via perfume.

    As far as buying gifts of perfume, I love to do it, and do it often. With my sisters, though, they don’t want a surprise: they both want Chergui each and every time. With my mother, my husband and a couple close friends, I’m able to choose something for them (my mom, especially, prefers the element of surprise) and these usually work out well, as I have a good idea of their tastes.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Suzanne,
      You are so lovely that you even find a way to appreciate the perfumes that aren’t/weren’t to your taste! Your father and boyfriend could obviously see the kind of woman you were growing into.

      How interesting that your sisters both love Chergui. It can easily over-power. I can think of a couple of us who have bought and sold and re-purchased it again. They sound like they’re sticking with it though and I bet it’s great on them. How nice that they don’t mind sharing a signature scent either.

  19. Amy Bella says:

    I love to find out someone’s taste and then gift them with a bunch of samples. For good friends and family, this is occasionally followed up with a full bottle of their favorite sample on the next gift giving occasion. No one buys me perfume except for my dear co-worker who happened to fall down the rabbit hole into fragrance wonderland with me!

    • Tara says:

      Amy Bella, what a wonderful fragrant fairy godmother you are! And how lovely that you have a co-worker that is a fellow ‘fume fan. Most of us have to travel far and wide to meet up with someone of a like mind but you have one sitting in your office!

  20. Farouche says:

    Exactly! And delete items as they are given to you (or you purchase for yourself!)

  21. I’ve never gotten perfume as a gift, partly because I think most people don’t really know about my perfume habit and of the ones who do know, they don’t know how much the average bottle that I want costs!

    I would love to get gift certificates to the stores that I love most. That would be ideal.

    As for fragrant gifts, I gift my best friend with multiple bottles of Madame Rochas each and every time I find a stash. It’s her fragrance and she never seems to be able to find it so I am happy to help.

    • Tara says:

      I totally get where you’re coming from. I’d (fairly) happily spend a considerable amount on a bottle of perfume for myself but wouldn’t expect my friends to spend that much on me. I think the price of high-end mainstream and niche would shock a lot of people!

      How nice that you are keeping your friend stocked up with Madame Rochas.

  22. Olfactoria says:

    I mostly stick to candles and room fragrances when I gift people, because it is not as personal.
    Nobody has ever bought me perfume in my life, apart from my husband (and that was not a voluntary act 😉 ). It is better that way, I hate to make the pretend-happy face. 😉

    • Tara says:

      Oh no, we want to avoid the pretend-happy face at all costs! Much better that we closely “supervise” the fragrant gift-giving when it comes to ourselves.

      Candles and room fragrances make perfect presents.

  23. Gerda says:

    My unloved bottles are passed on to my best friend. I really do not bother with ebay, and it is great to make someone else happy. She is not too picky so all are used with pleasure. Perfume gifts for myself…. rather in the form of money or a gift certificate so I can buy a bottle I like. 🙂 That way everyone is happy! 🙂 Although a cordless drill is always fun too. That made me laugh.

    • Tara says:

      How handy that you have a friend who can appreciate all your unloved bottles. Much nicer than ebay.

      I know a lot of people don’t like giving gift certificates as presents but they really are ideal for people like us. It’s guilt free perfume shopping!

      • Gerda says:

        My friend does not have a lot of money and happens to love the opposite of what I love. Perfect match! 🙂 yeah I know about the morney or gift certificate objection but I have some people who have given up asking what to give: they just do the giftcertificates now! It is a matter of training them! 🙂

  24. Lila says:

    I’ve never been given a gift of perfume in my adult life, but that’s fine. Most of my friends and family know I’m rather particular about fragrance. I don’t give perfume as a gift unless I’m 100% sure it’s something they want. I do give my mom all of my cast offs and samples that I don’t want. She loves any and all perfume!!

    • Tara says:

      It’s funny isn’t it? The more we love perfume the less likely we are to be happy with a gift of it. I guess that happens when you become more of a “connoisseur” let’s say.

      Lucky that your mother provides a loving home for all your albatrosses!

  25. Vanessa says:

    I was happy to be given my recent windfall of vintage perfume(!), but in terms of receiving perfume that somebody has bought with ready money, I do tend to shy away from it, and my friends also know me better. In the past Mr Bonkers would ‘buy’ me bottles, or more accurately reimburse me for ones I had bought myself. And my brother has bought me bottles I have specifically asked him to get.

    Going the other way, I have given my friend Clare all sorts of perfume, but again, only after she had sampled things extensively and reported back on her FBW favourites. Interestingly, my friend Sharon, whom I ‘inducted’ into niche fragrance and who claims Fracas now as her HGS instead of Gwen Stefani L.A.M.B, only asks for money now to put towards her serious Fracas habit!

    • Tara says:

      Ha, V I don’t think there’s a single one of us who wouldn’t be pleased with a surprise gift of a haul of vintage perfume!

      I tend to do as you did with Mr Bonkers – buy the perfume myself and then get reimbursed for it. I guess I’m pretty unsentimental about gifts but it can be so difficult for people and I hate them to waste their money.

      Good work getting Sharon hooked on Fracas!

  26. happyface313 says:

    This is an easy one: I only like to receive a perfume if I get exactly what I like. Most of the times people give what THEY like (and that is very often not my taste)
    And I will only give perfume, if I know the recipient likes it 🙂
    Have a very HAPPY week 🙂

    • Tara says:

      What a joyful screen name!

      I agree that many people think of what they’d like to receive when it comes to gift giving rather than contemplating the person’s tastes, with all things, not just perfume. I can never understand that myself. I think half the fun is thinking about that person’s individual taste and what would make them happy.

      Have a HAPPY week yourself!

  27. Dear Tara
    The Dandy adores the giving and receiving of gifts, especially those of a scented sort!
    My family (so they inform me) rely on my two perfume gifts a year (more in the case of mother dearest) to keep their perfume collections up to date (though often back in time).
    Recently I have given… Diptyque Do Son, Caron Montaigne, Van Cleef and Arpels Feerie, Kenzo Jungle L’elephant, vinatge Cabochard by Gres and Nassamoto Black Afgano.
    The buying of gifts is a gradual process with purchases made when they occur to me and then rifled away for future giving.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Tara says:

      Dear Dandy
      It does sound like you are responsible for all your family’s fragrance needs, which is really nice. They obviously trust you to know what’s good and to pick out something they will like.

      I enjoyed reading the list of perfumes you have given recently and just how diverse they are. You clearly personalise each gift for the individual recipient, which is so important.

  28. brie says:

    I have not been gifted a bottle of perfume in about 25 years (prior to that my beau at the time gifted me at least 5-7 bottles per year for any and every occasion imaginable). Hubby has neither the interest or knowledge to pick out perfume for me. I do, however, always buy fragrance for the three budding perfumistas in my house!

    • Tara says:

      Brie, how lovely that you have three budding perfumistas to buy for. That must make it so much fun. I will start training my niece in a few years’ time 🙂

    • Dearest Brie
      It sounds as though you have a positive finishing school for scents going on at home!
      It must be such fun to tutor young ones in the ways of perfume and I can think of no better tutor!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • brie says:

        Thank you, Mr. Dandy!
        I am working on them developing an appreciation for vintage…no easy feat as they often turn their noses away (especially with chypres)…however, I was recently gifted several vintage perfumes in pristine condition two of which reside on a shelf in my bathroom. Last week I came home from work to find each one moved on separate days with their scent wafting in the room. By third day I figured out it was my younger daughter as she was smelling of vintage Chloe. I said nothing.

  29. 90% of the time somebody gave me a perfume bottle, I disliked it. It’s like they did not know me at all. Per example, I love powdery, spicy, floral perfume and they gave me all the time fruity, sweety of gourmand fragrances very very very girly and pinky…. But even though I don’t like those perfume, I was please to receive something new that I never smelled before or used in a daily basis.
    I simply give those to my mom because she like those scent and it makes me happy to give her. Of course, I don’t tell it to the person who gave that to me… If somebody would ask me what to give me as a present, I would probably either tell him one specific perfume or I would ask for a pack of mini bottles.
    And, I must say you have to be careful when you give perfume as a gift : one of my friend tends to think it’s because I think she does not smell good, which is false! So be careful!

    • Tara says:

      Oh dear, it never occurred to me that someone might take offence at the gift of perfume! How awful for you when you were just trying to make her happy. I should think that is pretty rare though.

      It can be frustrating when you are bought something that is so clearly not “you” but I find a lot of people (like my brother-in-law) think all perfume smells good so what does it matter?

      A pack of mini bottles would be a great present.

  30. Undina says:

    In my adult life I got just several perfume gifts but most of them were carefully coordinated (and those that weren’t later were perfectly coordinatedly swapped for something more fitting 😉 ).

    I bought several perfumes as gifts but all of them were second/third/etc. bottles of the ones that I knew the recepient liked but was (almost) out of and wished for more.

    I’m the one who buys all the perfumes for my vSO but never without testing them on him first.

    • Tara says:

      Nothing wrong with a carefully co-ordinated gift (or swap)! I think people can feel pleased, if not relieved, that you end up with something you really love.

      A bottle of perfume a recipient already loves is a good idea. I have to say I love picking out something new for loved ones but luckily (for me) none them have a signature scent.

      Your vSO must smell great 🙂

  31. Natalie says:

    My answer is exactly the same as yours, Tara. I like to give perfume, because I too flatter myself that I know what my loved ones will like. But unless I pick something out myself, I do not think I would like to get perfume as a gift. Although, it would be interesting to see what the Mr. would pick out if he had no tips from me. 🙂

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