How-to Give Perfume as a Gift


There is a common question I get throughout the year but I get it more frequently during the Holiday shopping season, “Can you recommend a perfume to give to my significant other or family member or BFF?” Early on when I got this question my stock answer was exceedingly simple, “I don’t think you should give perfume as a present. It is a very personal thing to give and you are likely to spend a lot of money on something the recipient won’t like.”

What bothered me about this answer was it seemed like there must be a way to do it well. When people asked me for wine recommendations I would give them suggestions on different varietals they might like. Then I would suggest they go to their local wine store for a tasting and see what they liked best. Then I realized maybe you could put together a bit of a perfume “tasting” to help find a perfume for the person.


A few years ago when I was asked the question I gave a different answer for the first time. It has worked so well that I want to share it. If you really want to give a fragrant gift this Holiday season here is a way you can do it in a special way.

  1. Go to where they sell perfume near you or use one of the online sellers like Twisted Lily or Luckyscent
  2. Choose four or five perfumes you think the intended recipient might like.
  3. Request samples of each of them. From the online merchants this is easy. At the department store they sometimes might not have a sample of everything you are interested in. At Sephora, or smaller niche stores, they will accommodatingly make samples of anything you ask them to.
  4. Note the price of the perfumes you’ve picked out and purchase a gift card that covers the cost of a bottle of the most expensive of the samples.
  5. Wrap up the samples and the gift card with a little note that has a variation on this, “Happy Holiday, I chose these perfumes because I thought they fit your personality. I hope we can both see how they all smell when you put them on. Once you’ve picked your favorite you can use the gift card to buy the one you like best.”
  6. Share the experience of letting the recipient choose which one they like best.

I have given this advice numerous times and so far all of the feedback has been positive. What I like best about doing this is two of my friends call the perfume they chose this way as “their” perfume. I think it allows you to take the joy of gift giving a little bit further in the collaboration on picking which one is best.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and I hope you find this useful if you are thinking of giving perfume as a gift.

Mark Behnke

3 thoughts on “How-to Give Perfume as a Gift

  1. Elegant and concise answer as usual.  I think this is a brilliant way to buy perfume for someone, in fact the only way.   If the shop doesn't want to give you samples along with your gift voucher then it's probably not a perfume shop that is worth visiting anyway. 

    Hope Santa brings you something fragrant and lovely!

  2. Great idea.

    I gave fragrance to two co-workers this year.  Ray has only complimented me once on my scent, and I was wearing Guerlain's LIDG that day.  So that's what he got.  And Jordan's girlfriend really liked a particular SOTD, so I brought in a small sample the next day just to be doubly sure before pulling the trigger.  She loved it….so Jordan got a 100ml of Annick Goutal's Nuit Etoilee.

  3. I really liked the suggestion to get sample sizes for someone so that they can decide which perfume they want to buy. I have the hardest time picking out perfume for my girlfriend, so I think this might be a good idea. I have seen small bottles of perfume in a sort of gift set that seem like it would be a great way for her to "test drive" a perfume before deciding which one she likes the best on her. 

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