Why Fancy Candles Are The Catch-All For Gifting Season

Breaking down their enduring appeal.

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Think about it: The last time you didn’t know what to give someone for the holidays, what did you eventually settle on? If you said a fancy candle, you’re not alone. It’s well known as one of the most common gifts during this time of year, which is why nearly every candle brand known to man launches holiday collections, gift sets, and more for its customers. The fact is, the demand is there. Yet the question remains: Why exactly are nice candles the catch-all for gift-giving season?

For starters, Matthew Herman, co-founder and creator of Boy Smells, says the category of home fragrance itself has seen a huge renaissance in the past two years. “People are spending more time at home and see their homes as an extension of themselves and a sanctuary from the hectic world outside,” he tells TZR. “Candles go hand in hand with self-care and if we have learned anything [these past two years] it’s that taking care of yourself needs to be a priority!” At the end of the day, they’re also “a very approachable luxury item and elevate your space at a price point that’s affordable,” he continues.

Dawn Marie West, owner and creative director of La Boticá, also thinks fancy candles have the ability to transport the user — something we’ve all needed more of in the past couple of years. “I believe a niche candle has the unique ability, with fragrance, to transform a space into a luxurious, far-away destination that is synonymous with vacation or leisure.”

These reasons, in part, account for why you can be pretty sure a candle as a gift will be well-received — especially now. That said, home fragrances didn’t start being a popular gift just recently. And of course, there are other factors that explain its enduring appeal.

As Herman mentioned, they sort of embody the idea of attainable luxury. Otherland CEO and co-founder, Abigail Cook Stone, expands on this. “Fancy scented candles like Otherland are the best gifts because they feel indulgent, like a little luxurious splurge that someone might not otherwise spend on themselves.”

At the end of the day, candles are also just convenient. “Being small and easily portable, they can be immediately enjoyed as soon as the recipient opens them,” says Herman. And, as Stone explains, “you don’t have to deal with clothing sizes, drinking preferences, dietary restrictions, beauty considerations, and more.”

Even still, candles manage to feel personal — a characteristic that can be attributed to the power of fragrance. “You can convey a mood with a candle gift: cozy, sexy, or refined. You are giving more than a present, you are gifting a vibe,” Herman notes. Stone shares similar feelings. “Especially around the holiday season, where there are so many scents that are nostalgic for people of Christmas past, the gesture of scent is both a personal and an emotion-stirring gift to receive.”

There’s also the simple fact that, well, “Everyone likes candles!” says Herman. Stone agrees. “Candles are universally beloved gifts and feel like that special, ‘Me-Time,’ ‘treat yourself’ luxury indulgence,” she says.

They would know, too; as they tell TZR, both Herman and Stone are avid candle givers around the holidays. “Candles are my go-to gifts for everyone from family members (and including their caretakers/aides and for elderly family), my hairdresser, friends (especially whenever I’m invited over!), and more,” says Stone. “Did I mention mother-in-laws? Candles are the PERFECT gift for mother-in-laws!”

Fortunately, with all that practice, they’ve picked up more than a few candle-giving tips over the years. “I like to think about what the person I am gifting likes to do, their personal style, where they are from, what their interests are, etc.,” says Herman. “That typically helps to inform what scent they might like and can be a nice way of creating a personal connection to the scent.”

For Stone, it’s all about the memories. “Think of something (anything!) specific to explain why you selected the scent for the recipient,” she says. “Perhaps it’s a woody scent that makes you think of the mountains your recipient travels to every year, or the color of the candle jar is the recipient’s favorite color, or reminds you of the cookies the recipient bakes, etc.” And don’t forget to share this in a short, hand-written note, she continues. “It’s a thoughtful gesture!”

And, of course, take into account how the candle looks as well. “I think finding a candle that visually compliments their space and design aesthetic for their space is significant,” says West. “Often this is so important because the vessel can be repurposed and become part of the decor long after the candle is finished.”

Clearly, it’s hard to go wrong with giving a candle as a gift. But is there ever a time when it’s not appropriate to give? According to Herman, the answer is a resounding never. “They are perfect for everyone from a Gen-Z niece or nephew to a more traditional Grandma, and all your friends in between,” he says. “A nice candle is always the answer.”

Shop TZR’s favorite candles to give as gifts, ahead.

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