There is a myth that scented candles make boring presents. Well, if you bear with me and read this post until the end, I’m hoping to convince you otherwise.
If like me you’ve been blessed with an acutely powerful nose and can tell when the boyfriend has sneaked into the kitchen for a peanut butter sandwich before dinner, then you’re in for a treat.
So without further delay, here’s the shortlist:
St Eval Inspiritus scented tin
On a cold and wet Saturday in January, I took refuge at the Peanut Vendor in Newington Green for some soul-warming shopping therapy. A simple tinned candle was burnning in the corner of the shop and it caught my nose at once. The plain label didn’t give much away but my good old friend Google directed me to the right place to stock up for winter. At £8.65 for 45 hours of cinnamon/cardamon/other-mon bliss, it would have been a shame not to.
Winter present to myself: TICK.
Bougie La Française Baume des Selliers
I know this will sound a bit patriotic, but I’ve always been a sucker for Bougies La Française candles, particularly their retro range. Each fragrance has been carefully concocted to evoke childhood memories of your nan’s linen cupboard, glue sticks from your long-forgotten schooldays or wood polish from your favourite antiques’ parlour. I’ve chosen Baume des Selliers for this shortlist, even though you’re probably thinking a saddler’s scent may not be what first comes to mind when it comes to home fragrance. But I promise you its subtle leathery notes with the added je ne sais quoi (because I actually do not know what the hell it is they put in there) are just delightful. £14.99 for 35 hours, we’re still in the bargain zone.
Autumn present to myself: TICK.
Orla Kiely Fig Tree
Of course it comes in a glass that carries the iconic stem design that made Orla Kieley famous. So that’s a third of the £28 justified. It also comes with a pretty coaster so I don’t mess up my flat-packed furniture, so there’s another third of the price justified. And then it comes with the scent: yes it smells of fig, but also of the actual tree and even the leaves. A hint of lavender lifts the whole thing up, and there’s your whole £28 justified. Well, I could not justify it as a present to myself actually. But coming from the boyfriend, then that worked perfectly.
Spring present (from boyfriend): TICK
Les Néréides Patchouli Antique
On the lookout for yet another birthday present last weekend, I happened to pop into N2, the cutest jewellery shop I know, well-known for its colourful creative and eccentric designs. N2 is the little sister to French costume jewellery company Les Néréides and despite putting all my efforts into picking the right pair of earrings for the birthday gift in question, I got completely distracted by the lovely smell around the place. It quickly transpired Les Néréides also produce a wonderful range of perfumes, body lotions and wait for it… scented candles! Patchouli doesn’t normally cut the mustard for me; but this one is earthier than you’d expect, with deeper hints of vanilla and musk, yet not sweet. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t qualify for the bargain bin: it may burn for 50 hours, but £38 puts it in the unattainable luxury zone, with Diptyque Feu de Bois and Jo Malone Amber & Sweet Orange. So I settled for the mini £15 version.
Summer present to myself: TICK.
Papier d’Arménie is one of my favourite smells as it reminds me of my childhood in France. The little strips of scented paper have to be torn out of the booklet, folded like an accordion and set alight to burn slowly like incense. The smell of tree resin is very strong at first and slightly medicinal, but dissipates into mellow vanilla and smoky wood. Several hours after the piece of paper has burnt, you’ll still notice a fresh soapy scent floating around. Papier d’Arménie was invented in the late 1800’s to get rid of bad smells around the home and used as a disinfectant. I like to hide a couple of strips in musty drawers or old jewellery boxes; their enduring scent always makes me smile.
Candles with the same scent are available in France, but mine is nearly on its way out so I’ve stocked up on the traditional booklets when I discovered Labour and Wait stocked them on this side of the Channel. And at £2.50 for 36 strips, I’ve said enough.
All-year-round present to myself: BIG FAT TICK!