Perfumed Holidays

A Merry Christmas

(For those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, my apologies for this holiday-centric post. See you Thursday for more secular reading.)

Today is Christmas Eve, and a looser, more rambling post feels appropriate. Maybe you’re taking a break from wrassling dough for that mince pie, or cuing up some movies to relax by, or wrapping presents. Or maybe, like me, you’re contemplating what to wear that will accommodate a full tummy for the evening’s Feast of the Seven Fishes. The scents of Christmas — fir trees, wood smoke, Satsuma oranges, mulled cider — surround you. Sit down and relax a minute. Dial back your memory to holidays past. 

Through the years, lots of readers have commented that they received their first special bottle of perfume at Christmas. The only perfume Santa has left under my tree was a Dana Chantilly gift pack, thanks to my Uncle Brian. One day not long after that Christmas, my mother took me and my sister to visit an elderly woman with long, gray hair. For this special excursion to town, I bathed in Chantilly bubble bath and followed it up with a slathering of Chantilly lotion and a splash of Chantilly Eau de Toilette. I swear I don’t know how we arrived at the woman’s house without being asphyxiated.

Her house was long and narrow and full of ragged houseplants. We only saw her once, so I don’t remember her well. (In my mind, her appearance melds with that of a woman I cleaned house for in high school. That woman, named Iris, kept heads of garlic by her door to ward off evil spirits, and she hallucinated lovers who made and then broke appointments to marry her. She had spider leg handwriting, a shelf of 1940s erotica, and a bathtub that was the devil to clean. She paid well, though, so I kept coming back.)

The woman we visited fed us sandwiches on crustless white bread and was fascinated by numerology. She added up the letters of my full name and announced that my gift was communication. Big deal. I was jealous of how my sister’s letters rang up, although I don't recall now what that was. I can't smell Chantilly today without remembering that visit. 

My other beauty product Christmas gifts over the years were a Tinkerbell powder mitt from Auntie Bea and a Marie Osmond face care kit from my parents. I remember the powder mitt fondly for its clouds of talc. Auntie Bea wasn’t an aunt by birth, but was my grandma’s best friend. (That grandmother adored Revlon Moondrops, by the way.) As for the Marie Osmond kit, I’d begged for it as soon as I saw it at Kmart. It had a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer in pallid yellow plastic bottles. Its instructions, written as if by Marie herself, suggested carrying out the face care routine before you “retire.” Since I was 10 at the time and a long way from retirement, I was puzzled.

No one else in my life has risked to give me perfume at Christmas, and I don't see it happening soon without firm instruction.

What about you? What scented gifts has Santa brought you over the years?

Note: top image is snapshotsofthepast.com Santa 1 (99).JPG [cropped] by facebook.com/snapshotsofthepast at flickr; some rights reserved.

Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

139 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This.

  1. relleric says:

    Patou Pour Homme, early 80′s, from my grandmother. She let me pick out any fragrance I wanted at S5A and that was the one I fell in love with.
    I went through two bottles of it over the years, and I now have a small decant of it that I obsess over because I am afraid to wear it for fear of running out.
    I always think of her when I pickup the atomizer, whether I decide to splurge and actually apply it or not.
    Thanks Grandma! :)

    • Angela says:

      What a great gift! Grandma had taste. I hope you’re wearing it today in her memory.

      • relleric says:

        I’ll wear it tomorrow (on Xmas day). Today is Le Vetiver (Lubin).

        • Angela says:

          One of my favorite vetivers! Merry Christmas.

          • relleric says:

            And to you too! I have Guerlain Vetiver as well, I recently got a sample of the Lubin. I really like the Guerlain but I have to say this Lubin is very very nice.

  2. jirish says:

    My first bottle of ‘real’ perfume was a Christmas gift, a bottle of the old classic Chloe, given to me when I was 12 or 13. Set up a life-long habit of loving big scents. The first Christmas gift I ever received from my husband (after only a few months of dating) was a bottle of Coco parfum.

    Today will be a bittersweet celebration. I’m going to visit my immune-compromised mother in the hospital, but at least I can go there, as the cold I had all week has finally gone. My mother has given me many wonderful scents over the years, starting with that Chloe. She’s bought me two of my favorite Tauers – Incense Rose and Un Rose Chypree. And I first discovered NTS because of her – I started reading perfume blogs because when she first developed cancer 6 years ago, I started searching desperately for her old discontinued scent, Shiseido’s Murasaki, to gift her. When I finally found some on ebay, it was like being able to give her back time.

    • Angela says:

      I loved the old Chloe, too, for a while. And Coco parfum! What a keeper that man is.

      I hope your mother is feeling well enough today for a visit with some real joy and good feelings. The best gifts can’t be bought.

  3. blauriche says:

    I feel like I didn’t receive a fragrance for Christmas until I was in my early 20′s. The year I turned 21, my mother gave me Acqua di Gio and my best friend’s mother gave me A*Men. I don’t think people knew what to make of the fact that I liked women’s fragrances when I was a teenager. I think someone gave me a bottle of Polo Sport once when I was a teenager, but I just layered it with Poison so I could feel like a rockstar. Or something.

    • Angela says:

      I love the thought of you layering Polo with Poison! There’s some powerful glamour in that image.

      I’m constantly irritated by people who insist fragrances have to be gender-specific, regardless of what they smell like. Bel Ami is one of my favorites to wear.

  4. mutzi says:

    I’ve loved fragrance since I was a child and use to sniff Mom’s Arpege when I was a toddler. So, I’ve received many Christmas gifts of perfume over the years. My fondest memories are of three different years. When I was five, my parents gave me a Tinker Bell gift set with lotion, soap, and cologne. I cherished it long after it was empty. In junior high (and this will show how old I am), my parents gave me Oh! de London. Finally, my first year with my current SO (and we’ve been toghether 30 years now), he put Joy parfum and Chloe parfum in a needlepoint stocking he bought for that purpose. The stocking was adorned with needlepoint perfume bottles.

    • Angela says:

      I can’t for the life of me remember what the Tinkerbell scent smelled like. I just remember those glorious puffs of powder as I slapped the mitt all over after a bath.

      I adore the idea of the stocking with needlepoint perfume bottles (that was a lucky find!), but stocking it with Joy and Chloe parfum is perfection.

      Merry Christmas!

  5. springpansy says:

    When I was a freshman in high school (long, long ago), I found out somehow that one of the most beautiful girls in school wore Je Reviens. I asked for a bottle for Christmas and received a beautiful giftbox with EdT and a small bottle of parfum. It remained my signature scent for many years – until I could no longer find it and stopped wearing perfume. Later, in my search to find it again, I came across the MakeupAlley website. I tried JR Couture, but it didn’t smell the same to me. I finally swapped with someone via MUA who had bought an old JR giftset at an antique store. I knew it was taking a chance, but this smelled like the JR I remember. And from there, I was down the rabbit hole of perfume – niche, vintage, mainstream, samples, decants, etc.

    Another favorite holiday memory was a beautiful bay candle that my Mom always burned during the holidays. I haven’t found a replacement for that one yet – it was such a beautiful candle and a lovely scent. Happy holidays to all!

    • Angela says:

      Vintage Je Reviens is gorgeous! But dang that rabbit hole of vintage perfume. I’ve spent way too much time down it myself.

      Bay is a great fragrance for the holidays. It seems like most “Christmas” scents these days are fir, orange, or some kind of generic baking spice mix.

  6. kelly 4 says:

    I think the first fragrance I received as a Christmas gift was Loves Baby Soft. That was thirty something years ago. I think my mom bought at Zodys, Kmart, or maybe Gemco. My girlfriend got it to. We still laugh at how it rocked our world. Wow have our taste changed since then. Also where we shop for perfume.( LOL) Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates!

    • Angela says:

      Loves Baby Soft was one I bought for myself (after I bagged that bottle of Babe first, of course). And yes, I only wish $4.99 could buy a bottle of perfume on my wishlist these days!

    • JolieFleurs says:

      My gosh, I haven’t thought about Zody’s or Gemco in YEARS! Are you in SoCal? (Rhetorical, no need to answer!)

      • kelly 4 says:

        Yes I live in So Ca. I use to buy my Dittos (pants) at those stores. Another fun thing to remember if your close to my age.

        • Angela says:

          I remember Dittos! I had a pale yellow pair. Very popular in ninth grade.

        • JolieFleurs says:

          Oh heck yea I remember Dittos. I had a peach pair. Saddleback, baby! ;)

          • Angela says:

            I know. All that emphasis on the hind end? You wouldn’t catch me dead doing it now.

          • kelly 4 says:

            Funny. I had a pair of light blue saddleback and a pair of the red sailor style. I thought those were IT. Lol. Do you live in So Cal too?

          • Angela says:

            Dittos were a nationwide hit, don’t you think?

  7. JolieFleurs says:

    An ex-boyfriend once gave me Opium, which he encased in an egg he made himself of paper maiche, then hand guilded and decorated to look like a Faberge egg. I didn’t want to break the egg, it was so incredibly beautiful! And I was very touched, because he came from an extremely poor background and I knew that perfume set him back quite a pretty penny.

    My husband lets me buy my own perfume at Xmas these days, since he is way too intimidated to pick one out even from a list. It’s typically when I buy my more extravagant bottles. This year I bought two; Back to Black and Regina Harris’ Frankincense, Myrrh and Rose Maroc.

    And I still buy a little Loves now and then! I love the Baby Soft and also the Jasmine.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all my fellow perfumistas!

    • Angela says:

      I love the idea of the egg! Sure, the Opium cost money, but all the thought and effort that went into the faux Faberge egg is pretty tremendous.

      I like the jasmine Love’s Baby Soft, too–it’s surprisingly nice.

      • Angela says:

        Oh, and Merry Christmas to you, too!

      • kelly 4 says:

        I still like Loves Baby Soft too. Just saw a bottle at my local Rite Aid. Oh such fun memories.

    • nozknoz says:

      That’s amazing, JF! Hope you have great holidays!

  8. 50_Roses says:

    I have loved perfume for as long as I can remember. I used to love to sniff my mother’s bottles of no 5, Arpege, My Sin, Blue Grass, and others I can no longer remember the names of. My mother had quite a collection for the time; most mothers seemed to have perhaps 3 or 4 bottles at most, whereas my mother had at least 15 or 20. As much perfume as she had, though, she seldom wore it and never bought it for me. She never gave me jewelry, either, which she also had a lot of and seldom wore. I was something of a tomboy, and had no use for dolls or other “girl” toys, but I loved perfume and jewelry, and yearned for them. My grandmother (my father’s mother) gave me jewelry for Christmas gifts, and sometimes scented bath products (soap, bubble bath, powder, and so on), but my first bottle of actual perfume came from my great-aunt when I was about 9 or 10. It was a bottle of Coty Muguet des Bois. I used it sparingly, and only on special occasions, as I had no way of knowing when another bottle would come my way. In high school I got a bottle of Emeraude. I think it was actually a Christmas gift from my parents, after much begging and pleading, trying to convince my mother that it was really what I wanted. If so, it was the only time she ever got me perfume. In college, I was into heavy oriental scents, and had about run through a small bottle of Tabu. My boyfriend (now husband of 22 years) gave me a gift set of Tabu for Christmas. I think those are the only three times I have received perfume as a gift. Everything else in my rather large collection I have purchased myself.

    • Angela says:

      Muguet des Bois is so perfect for a little girl. But it sounds like you quickly got into big oriental territory! Like you, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for anyone to buy me perfume now, unless they were very sure it was on my wishlist.

      • 50_Roses says:

        I did get into the big oriental territory pretty young! In 1986, when I was in grad school, I splurged on a bottle of Poison, which I fell head-over-heels for after smelling it on a tester strip in a magazine. I think that is the only time I ever bought a perfume based on a scent strip. Orientals are usually considered “mature” scents, and I suppose I was rather young to be wearing such heavy-hitters, but I loved them. The funny thing is, now that I am, shall I say, mature, my tastes have lightened up quite a bit. I find many of the orientals I used to love to be too heavy and smothering most of the time. I can’t stand Poison any more, Tabu is just too much, and I only wear the tiniest bit of Emeraude once in a while for nostalgia. It isn’t a question of reformulation, either, as I still have my original bottles from the 80s. I suppose it is possible that they have turned, but I think it is mostly just my tastes changing.

        • Angela says:

          It does sound like your taste has become more refined over the years–or maybe your personality is more refined, and it’s only natural that a more elegant perfume would go with it?

          I still love a good, thick oriental, but I’m a little more judicious in application these days….

  9. Veronika says:

    Only a big big big bottle of Eau des Merveilles from my boyfriend was a success:) Since than – it’s my Christmas-New Year scent! But he knew that I loved it.
    Once a friend’s girlfriend presented me with Puma fragrance Flowing – although I wasn’t repulsed by it since it smells rather flowery-almondy and rather comforting – it’s not exactly something I’d usually wear.
    I prefer not to get perfume from people as a present unless they know what I want. Otherwise I’ll be stuck with a bottle of rather mediocre staff. That’s where I think those gift certificates might come in handy)

    • Angela says:

      Eau des Merveilles would be a big hit! The Puma? I’m not so sure–although the gesture is nice.

  10. lucasai says:

    I’ve never received a fragrance-related gift in my life. In my family we like to give presents that are more useful, versatile. This year (two hours ago) I’ve found under a Christmas tree a lovely polo shirt and jumper – both in the same colour of burgundy I dreamt of. That’s the colour I exactly wanted but couldn’t find anything that would suit me. Parents did an amazing job, both polo and jumper suit me perfectly.
    And every year I get some frosty chocolates.

    • Angela says:

      Burgundy is such a great color–and for some reason so hard to find. Sounds like you lucked out!

      My brother is a fan of the useful Christmas gift. One year he gave me a compact fluorescent lightbulb and a chopping board.

      • 50_Roses says:

        I take it that was back when CFLs were expensive? The first one I ever bought was about $15 or $20 for one bulb. I am actually giving a cutting board as a gift this year, to my niece and her husband. It is not an ordinary one, though. I found it at a craft fair, made by a local woodwoorker. It has different types of wood, with different grain patterns, and it is almost too pretty to use. I am a big fan of things that are both practical and beautiful.

        • Angela says:

          Yes, it was back when the lightbulbs were more expensive. My brother actually called me and said, “What do you want for Christmas? I have to be able to get it at Fred Meyer.” At least I didn’t say “cat litter.”

    • Merlin says:

      Of course you did, Lucasi – Cuir Ottoman was a gift to yourself; and no less special for that! There are a few of us who need to be our own santas when it comes to frag.

      • Angela says:

        Yes, I am definitely my own Santa more often than not…but it all works out best that way!

  11. ringthing says:

    We no longer celebrate Christmas but I have childhood memories of Christmases past that I enjoy thumbing through. Lots of fragrance too, now that I think of it: my parents brought my sister and I perfume from their first European trip, back in the 60s. I was eight and my gift was Arpege, my first real perfume. The following Christmas, I received Arpege bath oil and powder; other years would bring Charlie, Jontue and Cachet from various relatives. But in high school, I begged for Chanel 19, which I had smelled at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, the height of sophistication to my small town eyes. My mother understood and made sure I got a bottle. It remains my favorite perfume, the one I wear just for me. I keep a bottle of vintage Arpege, too. Thanks for giving me a place to share this, and enjoy your holiday, everyone.

    • Angela says:

      What nice memories! Chanel No. 19 is so sophisticated, I think. I love it that your mother made the effort to get you a bottle, knowing how much you wanted it.

    • annemarie says:

      Chanel No 19 is still the height of sophistication, perhaps even more so now that we live in the era of Lollipop Bling.

      Chanel No 19 in high school is very advanced taste. I bought my first bottle at about the age of 20, and thought that was advanced. But you were ahead!

  12. annemarie says:

    Lovely post Angela. With these stories I always wonder what the lives of these strange, eccentric women had been.

    Perfume was not a feature of my early Christmases but your post reminded me how popular talcum powder used to be a gift for women of all ages but especially young girls (thanks Auntie Bea!) and elderly women. It was one of those ‘safe’ gifts of course, because not heavily scented. Liquid perfume perhaps has a more direct sexual edge to it (‘ …. where you want to be kissed … ‘), but powder, not so much.

    And yet I don’t see talc nearly so much these days. I wonder why? Gift sets typically consist of perfume, lotion and shower gel, not talc. My skin is to dry for me to wear it myself.

    But there are some exceptions. My 10 yo daughter and I were at the Chanel counter yesterday buying No 5 soap (for me!) and as we waited to be served we tentatively peeked under the lid of a tester of the powder. We both admired it but closed the lid fairly fast. The same thought occurred to both of us: all it would take would be one little sneeze, and …

    Merry Christmas.

    • Angela says:

      I’ve long wanted to do a post on powder. I love the idea of swans down puffs and silky clouds of scented powder, but, like you, I fear it would be too drying. I wonder if powder was more popular before the days of antiperspirants? An absorbent film of powder might have been the perfect thing on a humid day.

      Merry Christmas to you, too!

      • annemarie says:

        Yes, I was wondering too about sweat-absorbing thing about talc. Might account for its popularity. I hope you do a post on powder. Some of those old powder containers – Coty and Yardley especially – were beautiful, and are quite collectable now.

      • annemarie says:

        Yes, I was wondering too about sweat-absorbing thing about talc. Might account for its popularity. I hope you do a post on powder. Some of those old powder containers – Coty and Yardley especially – were beautiful, and are quite collectable now.

        • Angela says:

          I’ll have to start wearing it from time to time to see how it feels. I have some My Sin talc and some Tweed. Maybe I’ll need to interview some elderly Southern women for material!

          • JolieFleurs says:

            I am not quite elderly yet, (I am 49) but I’m Southern and I love powder! I’d love to see a post about it some day. I take a quick second shower every everning before bed and I always dust on some powder of some sort. I have tons…even some old Nuit de Noel!

            I’d say it was wide-spread air-conditioning that did it in more than anti-perspirants, because I don’t know anyone that puts deodorant in all the places one generally puts talcum powder.

          • Angela says:

            Yes, air conditioning! That makes perfect sense. I hope you have a little Nuit de Noel powder dusted on today.

          • mough says:

            JUST today I received, via eBay, my first extrait of Nuit de Noel and I love it! I don’t think, as Luca does, that it’s boring. It’s perfect for the season. Can’t wait to wear it while opening presents. And POWDER!? I did not know such powder in this existed. Will have to look into it..

            My first real adult perfume was in 1974 and it was Infini. I can still remember how in love I was, with its sophistication and beauty. The glass triangular bottle and the glass stopper. It was from my Aunt Muff, whom I am named after. I wore it for about 2o years. But now, even when I try to find the vintage stuff, it just doesn’t ring the bells it used to. I can sit, without its scent, and conjure in my mind a more accurate memory of its smell. I think to receive perfume as a gift is one of the sweetest and most cherished. More than jewelry. Because of the power of memory and scent. So this year, I tried to give to some of my best girlfriends a bottle of what they love, but couldn’t afford. It’s been great fun.

          • Angela says:

            I’m wearing Nuit de Noel extrait right now! I love it.

            I’d never thought of the power of perfume versus jewelry, but you’re right. Scent is so much more evocative than a necklace (for instance). Plus you have the benefit of having friends who smell good!

      • hajusuuri says:

        Powder! My mom used to have a small bound book of paper-pressed face powder. The cover was yellow and the front cover had a cameo. I used to sneak / tear a page here and there as that was not considered dangerous and left on her dressing table — the rest were locked up but of course we all knew where she kept the key ;-)

        • Angela says:

          Those little papers would be great for blotting your nose and T-zone!

          • hajusuuri says:

            Hmmm, these actually put a whitish powder on her face although I imagine it could have been used as blotting papers too.

          • Angela says:

            Oh–a different kind of powder, then.

    • nozknoz says:

      Annemarie, I wear a lot of black, so it wouldn’t be easy to use powder. I don’t know if that’s really a reason, but I do think people wear more black than the used to. Nonetheless, I still have my Chloe bath powder from the 1980s. I love the container and take a sniff every now and then.

      • annemarie says:

        Interesting point – I agree that people do wear more black than in the past. Somewhere along the lone the association with mourning has loosened. Does the Chloe powder retain its scent? I had some Joy powder once that after about five years became scentless.

        • nozknoz says:

          Yes, it still has some scent – not nearly as much as it originally had, of course, but Chloe was such a powerhouse and likely built on indestructible synthetics. :-)

  13. hajusuuri says:

    Merry Christmas, Angela and other perfume friends! I come from a scent-phone family so I don’t recall any perfume gifts … And for what it’s worth, the family tradition from years past and through now is to give gifts of money / gift certificates / gift cards (no complaints here!). When we used to gather at grandma’s — 25+ grandkids plus 8 pairs of parents, it got to be so chaotic that grandma decreed that gifts amongst the grandchildren will be via a luck of the draw gift exchange and if we wished we could trade with each other. My older sister (she likes perfumes but is more restrained and has not fallen into the rabbit hole) actually scored a small bottle of Charlie but the sad part was she was not allowed to use it for 2 reasons — scent-phone family AND we attended a very strict conservative Roman Catholic school that did not allow any make-up, perfume or large prominent jewelry.

    • Angela says:

      So the Charlie was the forbidden object! That makes it an even more exciting gift.

    • hajusuuri says:

      Oh gosh…that should have read “scent-phobe” and not “scent-phone” — I will blame it on the iPad “spell-checker”.

      • Angela says:

        Don’t worry–I got it! It’s almost impossible for me to type on an ipad.

  14. nancyg says:

    An uncle gave me Styx when I was a teenager and I never opened it.
    The first scented Xmas gift I liked was Yardley lavender after bath splash – also 40 years ago. One year my husband gave me some solid Calyx in a darling silver and Calyx green box that was shaped kind of like a sycamore seed ball – I still have it. Another year he gave me 200 ml of Hermes Orange Verte. That’s long gone but I still have the bottle…

    • Angela says:

      I love the sound of the Calyx solid. Estee Lauder used to do solids regularly, I remember. Maybe they still do. And Hermes Orange Verte! That’s a good one.

  15. robini71 says:

    Angela thank you for this post as it made me smile. christmas for me is always deeply intertwined with fragrance as when I was younger it was always heavily advertised and purchased for all kinds of gift giving. Aunts, mom’s, dad’s, teachers, friend’s moms they always got fragrance whether high end or more moderately priced. Everything from Chanel and shalimar to enjoli. L’air du Temps, British Sterling and Pierre Cardin Monsieur will forever remind me of Christmas gift giving. “It’s in the air something’s in the air the L’Air Du Temps Jingle was as much a part of Christmas melodies as actual carols. Ah and those old romantic chanel #5 commercials always ran at holiday time. As another poster mentioned it’s true and very curious how little emphasis is put on soaps and powder in fragrant offerings these days. It would be curious to study why they’ve seemed to have gone out of favor.
    thanks again for the memories as they say. I wish everyone joy filled holidays and hope that the fragrance of such emotions follows you throughout the coming year too.

    • Angela says:

      Your comment about the television commercials reminds me that I love the November issues of old magazines–they always seemed to have more perfume ads, probably because of the holidays.

      Merry Christmas!

  16. Marjorie Rose says:

    I don’t recall any gifts from others, but my first perfume gifts to myself were this time of year. Two short years ago, before I’d been swept into the rabbit-hole of perfumistahood, I bought myself two bottles of perfume.

    It was my first Christmas single in over 10 years, and I wanted to treat myself. I went through Macy’s and Nordie’s and sniffed everything. I found two I liked, and I forced myself to go home and think about it, since it seemed so extravagant to buy a bottle of perfume for myself!

    Well, I couldn’t decide between the two, so the next day, I went to Macy’s and bought a bottle of Givenchy Ange ou Demon Le Secret and went to Nordstrom’s and bought a bottle of MJ Bang!

    Two years later, my tastes have definitely become more sophisticated, but I can wear either of those scents and feel the sense of liberation and joy that they represented at the time! The Givenchy especially feels like a festive and seasonal scent to me, and I’ve worn it quite a bit these past few Decembers, even though I know I own “better” scents. In fact, maybe I’ll decide to wear it to Christmas Eve dinner tonight? :)

    • Angela says:

      What a great story! Who cares (that much, anyway) about how the perfume you bought smells when it symbolizes so much.

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I really do still enjoy the Givenchy (a bit of guilty pleasure, I guess). The Bang feels a bit too man-on-the-prowl for me now. I liked how daring I felt wearing it when I first bought it, but now I feel like I should go out clubbing whenever I put it on, and I just don’t own that many metallic or leathery garments! :D

        • Angela says:

          Really, unless we were Cher (and I don’t see either or us in exactly that category) certain types of clubbing need to be put to rest.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Ha! And here I was hoping for a carefully constructed garment made from black ribbon and netting! (How *did* she keep that “V” in place?)

          • Angela says:

            She and Bob Mackie must have some kind of pact with the devil, honestly.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            That *would* explain why she never seems to age–I think she got a better deal than either Dick Clark or Bob Barker, which is saying something! Although now I need to clear my mind of the disturbing image of Bob Barker in a Cher getup! *shudders*

          • Angela says:

            Yes! (Not to Bob Barker, but to your theory about Cher.)

    • Merlin says:

      Thats a wonderful story! I tend to feel guilty about my niche fragrances because of the price; my less expensive, mainstream ones I wear with a clear conscience! In fact (blush) I have expensive bottles that I love but can’t bring myself to open. With a less pricey frag – I’v torn off the wrapper before I’m out the car:o
      I know guilty pleasure, in perfumista parlance, means something different though…

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        It’s funny, isn’t it? Of course, pre-perfumistahood, I had to overcome the sense of extravagance for that $70 Givenchy gift set. Just think what my 2-years-ago-self would have thought of my purchase of Memoir this year (or my “frugal” perfume budget of 1 bottle a month–HA!)!

        • Angela says:

          I hear you loud and clear.

      • Angela says:

        That’s such a good point! And yet I rip the wrappers right off the expensive ones and spray them on…then wonder if I’m being too profligate.

        • Merlin says:

          Well if you already have it that makes more sense!

  17. ladymurasaki says:

    What a wonderful story about the woman with long grey hair, Angela.

    I received my first ever perfume when I was still in primary school. I don’t think it was for Christmas though. My father had spent a summer in France doing research on marine life and had come back with a few special gifts from Paris for all of us and mine was Bal a Versailles. I still have the little bottle :) I have been in love with perfume ever since then and my husband has given me perfume for Christmas ever since we met (I’ve trained him well ;-) )

    • Angela says:

      Wow–Bal a Versailles for a girl is some heady perfume training! What a fabulous gift, though.

  18. poodle says:

    My godmother was the one who gave me perfumes when I was younger. I remember getting a big Ultima II makeup collection with a bottle of Sheer Scent. She also gave me a Calandre gift set which I really loved and used up pretty quickly. Mom always got me Avon stuff. I remember getting Sweet Honesty in all those great bottles. Now my hubby buys me perfumes but usually he gets a very detailed wish list to pick from.

    • Angela says:

      Was the makeup kit one of those big ones with a lot of different eyeshadow colors and things like that? I remember longing for one.

      • poodle says:

        Yes, it was huge and it provided me with hours of amusement in the mirror trying out all the colors.

        • Angela says:

          That’s so perfect!

  19. flannery says:

    What a coincidence! My first real perfume was also Chantilly though back then Houbigant made it, and it was my dearest Uncle Heinie who gave it to me when I was 16. It was a sad time in that my vagabond parents were yet again moving to who knew where to who knew what and at 16 I’d be starting my 15th new school in my life. We made an unexpected stop at my parent’s hometown on our way to the new place and got there on Christmas Eve.

    I was definitely depressed but so happy to be with the bit of stability in my life, my dear Gram, Aunt and Uncle and wasn’t expecting much in the way of gifts since we plopped down out of nowhere the day before Christmas. But on Christmas morning under the tree in addition to the few things Gram and Aunt had hurriedly wrapped for me was a beautifully wrapped package from Uncle Heinie. My Aunt had told him not to worry that she’d find something to give me, but he went out on a cold snowy night and must have found some nice SA who told him that Houbigant Chantilly was ‘special’ enough to be his gift. I can’t express what it meant to me. I loved everything about it but nothing more than the thoughtful kindness that it represented and as much as I love to see a new bottle of one of the latest and best fragrances arrive at my door, I’ll never appreciate one as much as I did that blessed bottle of Chantilly.

    • nozknoz says:

      What a wonderful uncle, Flannery!

    • Angela says:

      I love that story! It’s so sweet. It would make Chantilly all the more special.

  20. maw808 says:

    Wow! Fragrance is so perfectly evocative, and this topic carries me back to my introductions to fragrance. From my earliest memories, fragrance has been a cornerstone, starting with Arrid deodorant cream (yes, indeed!), Dana’s Ambush (or Canoe, same juice), Jovan Musk. While gifts of fragrance were nonexistent in my family, Midnight and other High Masses introduced me to plumes of incense that truly elevated my consciousness. Messe de Minuit, anyone?! I, however, delighted in giving fragrance: Woodhue, White Musk, then Polo, Loewe Esencia. Interestingly enough, it was my landlord who clearly understood fragrance. During my graduate school years, he’d make Christmas and my birthday special, giving me wonderful fragrance: Paloma Picasso, Miss Dior, Halston, Montana, Coriandre, Sinan! While his wife was stylish, she didn’t share his passion for fragrance. Chypre remains my favorite family. Nice to reminisce… Happy holidays, everyone!

    • Angela says:

      I’ve never had a landlord with your level of generosity or taste! Nice work. Merry Christmas!

  21. AnnieA says:

    My mum had a soft spot for Avon (or possibly the hard-working Avon ladies), so I remember some carnation perfume cream and some Persian Wood in a little bottle. @flannery, that was a true Christmas story…

    • Angela says:

      I love that name, Persian Wood. So evocative.

  22. crowllb says:

    What a wonderful topic!

    My first perfume gift was a bottle of Avon’s Daisies Won’t Tell, which I received when I was 5. I felt SO grown up. The next gift was a bottle of Oh! de London from my middle school boyfriend. My parents gave me the matching powder mitt.

    • Angela says:

      Another great nam–Daisies Won’t Tell! And more powder mitt. I wonder if they make those anymore?

  23. nozknoz says:

    My mother would buy me perfume, but this was associated with the local old-fashioned drug store (which had a soda fountain and Coty and Guerlain EdC on the shelves) and shopping trips to the big city department stores where I could try perfumes and decide for myself, rather than Christmas. Later, there were some Christmases when I’d go home and a sister in law would give me a department store Christmas set – I remember Elizabeth Taylor Passion, for example. They were too sweet for me, but luckily I did not live nearby and was able to regift them without fear of discovery. I’m definitely in the self-Santa camp as far as perfume goes!

    • nozknoz says:

      Forgot to say, Angela, love the story of the numerologist – and she was on the mark, too!

      • Angela says:

        I wonder what ever happened to her. I’m not sure how my mother met her, or why she felt compelled to visit her. But I never forgot her (or the cloud of Chantilly that hung over me.)

    • Angela says:

      I love the concept of “self-Santa”! I’m with it 100%/

    • juicejones says:

      Copyright “Self Santa” before it goes global. Perfect!

  24. perthgirl says:

    The first perfumes I ever owned were Christmas gifts. Dad always bought mum perfume for Christmas, Opium, KL by Karl lagerfeld (and he had one that was light green and milky with a ring cap that I was totally entranced by!), Shalimar parfum in a lovely purple velvet box that I have now, but I put it somewhere ‘safe’ and am still trying to remember where that is :-/. The only one she didn’t like was Paris by ysl and I still wonder why he chose that as it’s so not her.
    I remember begging for my own perfume and the first I believe was a talc and perfume gift set of Yardley Lilac. My sister got Roses Roses though she wasn’t perfume and makeup obsessed like me. It may have been the next year I remember going Christmas shopping at Myer dept store and watching my parents choose 4711 ‘tosca’ for us, as the thought cologne was more suitable for young girls. My first ‘real’ perfume was when I was 12, and I wanted the Estee Lauder makeup sets that you buy cheaper with a bottle of fragrance. Dad took me to buy it and I chose White Linen, which everyone hated and I wasn’t that fussed on either (still dont like it!) But the makeup was great! I still have the 3 palettes and one of the blushers is almost identical to nars orgasm.

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it amazing how those memories stick with you? I bet your story is so similar to many of ours!

  25. Jennifer1977 says:

    I’m getting such a kick out of everyone’s Christmas stories. My only regret now is not buying a tiny bottle of Alien by Thierry Mugler for my seven-year-old boy, who genuinely loves it. He said, “Yummy, it smells like grapes!”

    • Angela says:

      I wonder if you can find a mini of it somewhere? It would be such a wonderful gift for him!

  26. PaDutchGal says:

    What a lovely way to spend a quiet Christmas morning reading all your special memories. My first memory of a perfumed Christmas gift was a long box filled with deep blue velvet ensconced tiny perfume bottles of every flower. This year, my tiny bottles are filled with many Aftelier samples that I received this week. I do love powder and wish it would come back into popularity.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying everyone’s stories! I can perfectly imagine your long, velvet box and how exciting it was to smell the different flowers.

  27. ami says:

    thank you so much for the post Angela, and thanks everyone for sharing all those wonderful memories. I feel so moved now. my first perfume gift was from my first boyfriend, I was 18. it was a LouLou deodorant, and loved it so dearly. I soon had to learn the guy cheated on me, but the love of perfumes stayed :) so he gave me so much :)

    • Angela says:

      I like LouLou, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about getting a deodorant as a gift! I’d be fearing some hidden message in there….

      • annemarie says:

        That was my thought too, except that fine fragrance often used to come in deodorant form. So it was once probably not so strange to get deodorant as a gift if it was in one of the prestigious fragrance lines. Dior, especially, seemed to go in for it a lot. You still see Diorella deodorants on eBay quite often. (Lord knows how old they are!) As with talcum powder, the fragrance houses seem to have abandoned deodorant.

        • ami says:

          LOL, no, it was a very pretty flacon and the scent was totally perfumy not deodoranty :)) I only checked the real perfume recently and found that it was way too strong for me anyway :)

          • Angela says:

            Well, armpits that smell of LouLou are a good thing!

        • Angela says:

          I have seen Diorella deodorant for sale online and been curious about it. It still strikes me as an interesting choice for a gift for a girlfriend, though!

  28. Celestia says:

    Thank you, Angela, for your wonderful, entertaining writing all year long. You are greatly appreciated.
    From the thread about powders, it appears there’s a lot more to say about them than any of us would imagine, so please consider doing an article one day.
    I got that Ultima II set with the Sheer sample but have no idea what it smells like now. I used to be “The Eyeshadow Queen”, as my coworkers called me, because I always had on three colours and looked like a parrot. I still like a lot of eyeshadow because it disappears due to oily lids and wet eyes. Back in the day, I used to try and get those Xmas special sets by Ultima and Arden. I have an Ultima one from the 70′s that has 40 colours and was $12.50. Arden used to put out some good ones like a passport with interchangeable pans of shadows like countries’ flags and a blush. It came with nailpolishes, lipsitcks, and probably a small mascara and lipglosses. Those were the days! Now those blockbusters are scaled way back because it doesn’t make good marketing sense to overload customers with all that stuff so that they don’t need to buy again for a decade.

    • poodle says:

      Those Ultima sets were the best! I swear they were my favorite gift each year. I was devastated when they stopped making them.

      • Angela says:

        I wonder how many makeup artists were born because they received an Ultima set for Christmas?

    • Angela says:

      There’s something so alluring about those sets–all the colors, matte, satiny, frosty–I’m sure I’d wear at least three colors, too!

  29. thenoseknows says:

    Next Year Angela… I Hope to be able to send you a Bottle of Vintage Lanvin Pretexte or Crescendo! :-) I think you would love them! ;-)

    • Angela says:

      I know I have a sample of Pretexte around somewhere. I’m going to go find it now. Happy Holidays!

  30. Orange Freesia says:

    Thanks to everyone for these stories. In the small town I grew up in, shopping options were limited, and the fragrance gift sets from City Pharmacy were popular. My grandmother received several each year from her friends and re-gifting was rampant. I imagined the same gift sets moving from house to house every year! But I think they were given with real affection.
    Talc is now known to be harmful to the lungs when inhaled. I am sure that is a reason scented powder is less popular.

    • Angela says:

      I can see the gift sets and fruitcakes logging the miles back and forth!

  31. Jaisalmer says:

    I received a bottle of Jaisalmr from a friend of mine..it was 2003 and by the end of the year i bought all the incence series by comme des Garçons…

    • Angela says:

      It’s amazing how one thing leads to another….

  32. Rappleyea says:

    Wonderful post, Angela. I’m late reading for the very best of reasons – my closest friend drove in from N. Va. to surprise me! We had a super time.

    Perfume… I can’t remember ever getting perfume from Santa when I was young, but I think I’m old enough that back in the day young girls weren’t given perfume. I do remember getting Ambush in the pink plastic covered bottle for my birthday though.

    This year however, my mother gifted me with a set of La Via del Profumo samples, which I’ve wanted for a while.

    All the best in 2013 everyone!

    • Angela says:

      What a terrific gift–a surprise visit from a good friend! And the Via del Profumo samples aren’t bad, either.

  33. Merlin says:

    I think I must be totally an odd one out here! I had no appreciation for scent as a child. I remember receiving Anais Anais and having no idea what I was meant to do with it. My mother would wear perfume only on special occasions; and special occasions, when I was growing up, were highly stressful – lots of shouting, arguing, etc.
    When I was twelve some cousins gave me a set of miniature perfumes; but when, ten years later, I still didn’t know what to do with them I gave them away (now of course I regret it!)
    I do remember liking Dune when smelling some frags at duty free, and my mother got me a bottle of it which I did enjoy…
    But it was only by the time I was 30 that I became seriously interested in the nature of smell – and then after reading the guide falling right down the rabbit-hole.
    And, I must say, I am glad to be in Wonderland today!

    • Angela says:

      Hey, better late than never! Really, though, it took me until I was a full grown adult before I could even approach the more “sophisticated” scents, so we’re probably on the same timetable.

  34. crowflower says:

    Manon Freres Puppy Love perfume in a little puppy-shaped bottle with a yellow lid. My great-gramma sent it in a Christmas box when we lived in Alaska. She also made scrapbooks with pictures cut out of old Christmas cards for us.
    I still have the bottle, though the perfume is long gone.

    • juicejones says:

      I loved those puppies! Mine smelled of carnations. In fact, I called him Puppy Dog Carnation. That might have been his name, or probably just my name for him. I was pretty young then.
      I got a set of Little Lady cologne and powder when I was four. I still can recall that scent too.
      I remember the late 60′s being all about Yardley’s Oh! De London and those great ads they ran on The Monkees, and Heaven Sent. I can still sing that jingle. And aren’t you all glad you don’t have to endure my rendition of that?

      • Angela says:

        Little Lady cologne? That’s hilarious!

    • Angela says:

      I love it! Puppies and perfume. What better combination than that?

  35. irisfreak says:

    For some reason Rosine’s Rose Praline reminds me of Christmas scents. I’m craving it now. A perfect fireside fragrance.

    • Angela says:

      I can see that. The fire part sounds really good right now, too.

  36. Lollipop says:

    It’s been a bumper perfumed Christmas for me; Après l’Ondee from the husband, Donna Karan Gold EDP from a sister, White Musk Libertine (BS) from my niece, scented sparkle powder (BS) another sister, and I self Santa’d three vintage mini’s; Organza Indecence, Y and Silences…. I love ALL of them! I did do some heavy hinting… Ooh La La I’m a very spoilt girl :-)

    • Angela says:

      You must have been VERY good this year!

      • Lollipop says:

        This is true. Also my family are like angels

  37. odonata9 says:

    I know I’m late, but I just had to say that I had one of those Tinkerbell mitts too! And it’s only coming back now since you brought it up! It did make such lovely puffs! Not sure if I got that at Christmas, but it was a gift for sure. And I also recall a little sheep figurine bottle (probably Avon) that I think my grandmother gave me. I was told that it was special and that if you put water in it, the bottle would scent it and make it in to perfume! It was probably just an empty perfume bottle, but it did make the water smell just a little bit!
    No scented gifts for me this year – my husband is not really a fan due to migraines so I have to get my own!

    My grandmother wore Chantilly since I can remember, and my mom always gave her a gift set at Christmas. She passed away this year at the grand old age of 101, and I will always associate Chantilly with her.

    • Angela says:

      The Tinkerbell mitt! We’re Tinkerbell mitt twins.

      I love the story about your grandmother, too. Chantilly seems fitting.

      • odonata9 says:

        After writing this, iI was motivated to see if I could find that sheep and lo and behold, I still have it! There’s even a label – Avon Topaze cologne! Still smelly too!

Leave a reply