The festive season is well and truly upon us and as the month of December starts to unfold, so does a riot of parties, Christmas shopping and time-honoured traditions. But, of course, with traditions often comes some push-and-pull—presents before or after Christmas dinner, cosy pyjamas or a more dressed-up ensemble for the day itself, and how early is too early to pop the first bottle of fizz? For me, as a beauty editor, there is one conundrum that feels more pressing than it might to most—which fragrance will provide the scent soundtrack to my festive season?
I have always been obsessive about perfume and love the way that certain scents instantly transport my back to some of the most important moments in my life. I was fanatical about selecting the perfect wedding perfume to mark the big day (it was Byredo’s Bibliotheque FYI) and love nothing more than selecting a new fragrance to commemorate special occasions like big holidays, new babies, and major life milestones.
When it comes to Christmas, however, I’ve never given my perfume a huge amount of thought. We’re a family that dresses up for Christmas day so I usually wear one of my more luxurious fragrances that takes my mood that day, but I’ve never thought to choose a perfume specially chosen for that occasion. This year, however, that’s all about to change. I’ve made it my mission to seek out a scented companion for the festive season—something warm, wintery, and cosy that will capture the joy of Christmas and remind me of these special years spent celebrating while my children are young. While my tastes may grow and change in the future, a perfume that embodies my Christmasses now will hopefully evoke feelings of warmth and merriment when I smell it in the future—even if the scent itself is no longer for me.
Ahead, my shortlist of the very best Christmas perfumes to add an extra spritz of happiness to your seasonal celebrations.
1. Jo Loves Ebony & Cassis
Key notes: blackcurrant, strawberry, blackberry, myrrh, nutmeg, dates, patchouli and cedarwood.
For me, this unique combination of fruity and spicy notes make this a natural choice for a Christmas perfume—without veering into sickly-sweet gourmand territory. This perfume is actually inspired by adventures to the beautiful Middle East—hence the aromatic notes of myrrh, patchouli and sticky dates—but there's also sweetness from wintery blackberries and warmth from cedarwood and nutmeg. It's vibrant and uplifting, and the beautiful bottle means it would be a great option for gifting too.
2. Ellis Brooklyn Apres Eau De Parfum
Key notes: saffron, juniper berries, cardamom, soft suede, bourbon, violet, praline, guaiacwood, labdanum, musk, vanilla, patchouli, cedarwood and sandalwood.
I've never stepped foot on a ski slope in my life, but this is exactly what I'd imagine a festive weekend spent in the Alps would smell like. At first, there's a biting, crisp-snow freshness to this scent, but it soon dries down into something sweeter and, dare I say it, boozier. To me, this smells like drinking a vanilla-spiked Old Fashioned in a cosy wooden lodge. It's truly joyful and might just be the very scent that I personally wear this Christmas.
3. Aesop Ouranon Eau de Parfum
Key notes: petitgrain, elemi, lavender flower, hay, chamomile, frankincense, myrrh, tonka and patchouli.
If you love bold, warm, aromatic perfumes then this one from Aesop will really appeal. The heart notes of frankincense and hay mean it really evokes a feeling of Christmas for me, yet it isn't heavy—sparkling citrus notes and sweet tonka lend it an almost nostalgic brightness that feels really comforting. It's earthy, warm and intense, and a really unique winter fragrance.
4. Maison Margiela Whispers In The Library Eau de Toilette
Key notes: pink pepper, orange flower, patchouli, cypriol, tonka, benzoin, vanilla, cedarwood and vetiver.
For many of us, the festive season provides an opportunity to rest, recharge, and catch up on that long overdue reading list. This captures the spirit of that in a bottle—a cosy scent that evokes afternoons spent browsing tiny bookshops or curled up in a leather armchair with a dusty paperback. It definitely has that papery sweetness, but there's also woodiness from cedar and touches of spice. Honestly, I wear it all year-round whenever I'm in need of a fragrance comfort blanket but it comes into its own at Christmas.
5. To The Fairest Ordre Cosmique Eau de Parfum
Key notes: cardamom, shellflower, musk and cacao pod.
Christmas is all about indulgence and this is the perfume equivalent of a luxurious post-dinner chocolate. The star of the show here is cacao pod which, I have to admit, I was wary of. However, you won't end up smelling like a bar of Dairy Milk when you wear this. This perfume actually has a powdery softness with a subtle dried-down hint of cocoa—like walking past a Parisian cafe wearing a cashmere scarf. The result is a moreish, warming scent with just a subtle hint of sweetness
6. Phlur Not Your Baby Eau de Parfum
Key notes: cardamom, bergamot, mimosa, violet, vanilla milk, sandalwood and tonka beans.
If this perfume was a person it would be the life and soul of the Christmas party—it's loud, playful, and charmingly alluring. It's something of a spicy floral, blending the powdery softness of mimosa and violet with a punch hit of sandalwood. However, once it's dried down there's a creaminess from vanilla milk and tonka beans which provides an almost honey sweetness. Trust me, this is one to wear if you really want your fragrance to make an impact this festive season.
7. Fenty Beauty Fenty Eau de Parfum
Key notes: magnolia, musk, tangerine, Bulgarian rose, vanilla, blueberry, coconut, geranium and patchouli.
I am having something of a love affair with this perfume right now, and think that it would make the most perfect Christmas Day fragrance. It's actually quite a sexy scent (would we expect anything less from Rihanna?) but I think the balance of sensual florals like magnolia and rose paired with gourmand notes of coconut, blueberry and vanilla, means that it never feels cloying or too heavy. There's a spiciness, too, which lends it that festive feel for me. Either way, go and smell it as it's a real crowd-pleaser.
8. 27 87 Barcelona Elixir De Bombe Eau De Parfum
Key notes: tangerine, red pepper, ginger, ylang-ylang, rock rose, raspberry, caramel, leather and amber.
I am slightly obsessed with everything that 27 87 Barcelona make—their scents are so innovative and unusual, and this one really lends itself to the fun and frivolity of the festive season. Tangy tangerine bursts through immediately at first spritz, but is immediately tempered with spicy red pepper and sharp ginger. As it settles into your skin, there's sweet caramel, rose, and amber. It's warm, sweet and heady—a wonderfully exuberant perfume.