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Untangling the Anxiety: Holiday Gift Shopping for the Overwhelmed and/or Indecisive

A bustling train station in Chicago vibrates with a crowd of people, a chaos of Christmas shopping parcels and pine wreaths, and the joy of sweethearts and families greeting returning WWII servicemen

As the holiday season rolls in, so does the familiar mix of excitement and stress, especially when it comes to gift-giving. The human instinct to be generous is deep and ancient. Research shows that when we give gifts, we become happier, healthier, and more connected to others. At the same time, holiday gift-giving is often overwhelming, anxiety-producing, and stressful. We hope that naming some of these challenges and sharing some solutions/gift ideas can help make a space where the act of selecting your gifts can be more relaxed and joyful.


What gift do I get when I don't know someone well?

A black gentleman in finely tailored 19th century clothing flirts hopefully with a black woman in a pretty summer dress and red shawl perched on top of a sculpted marble wall.

When gifting someone you don't know well, it's safest to aim for universally appreciated items like a social pheromone (C24 is perfect for almost anyone), a perfume fixative, or a perfume scent locket that can also be hung in a closet, car, or next to a bed if someone doesn't wear jewelry. These gifts are practical yet feel special.

When gifting someone you want to know better, a carefully selected perfume or sample set can convey a special level of caring attention and thoughtfulnessVisit our guide to choosing the perfect perfume for (almost) anyone for tips and tricks to help.

Whatever route you choose, including a heartfelt note will make your present feel more kind and personal, emphasizing the gesture of giving itself.



What do I buy for a group of people in a social circle, family, or workplace?

Buying gifts for a circle of people is a delicate balance between wanting to keep things equitable, giving something unique, and keeping an eye on the holiday budget. Premade sample sets are an economical and fun way to make sure that everyone gets something that suits the seasonal occasion or that fits their personality.

Gifting sample sets at a small group gathering makes a great excuse for a 'perfume party' where people can check out each other's samples and compare favorite notes. 


I'm feeling budget-conscious, how can I still gift something memorable and meaningful?

A Japanese 1920s flapper in a spangled midnight blue silk robe sits on the edge of a silken coverlet draped daybed looking up and admiring the feathery arc of large pink fronds from a fantastical plant in a royal blue ceramic pot

Consider making a personalized sample set ($20 USD) that speaks to something special about or meaningful to your recipient.

Do they have a favorite tv series, novel, or movie? Maybe they'd like a selection of themed scents or scents for their favorite characters.

Are they wishing for or planning a vacation? Maybe they'd like a selection of scents for the climate of their dream destination (tropical, wintery, foresty, etc.). 

If you need help choosing, why not tell us about your person and let us custom curate a set.




I want to splurge! What are some extra special ideas?

A pale skinned woman with dark hair wearing a diaphanous orange silken gown delicately loosens a tie to reveal the smooth expanse of her shoulder and the curved top of her breast.

Consider splurging on special reserves like dark-fruited Cherries of Night, glowing Ambre de Amour, uniquely compelling Spiritus Fumosus, honey-sexy Love Song of Shui Sin, or incense-laden Gifts of the Magi

If someone already has some favorite Alkemia perfumes, they might enjoy a perfume spray upgrade of their favorite extrait(s) ($45 USD) or give them a paired set of a spray and a rollerball of the same scent so they can surround themselves with fragrance ($65 USD). 




My person already has a big perfume collection. What can I gift them?

A black gentleman in formal evening attire delightedly greets a well-to-do young black woman in an opulent, shoulder bearing pink evening gown who is returning his smile while an older woman, possibly a mom or aunt in an green evening gown and golden shawl watchfully chaperones the whole situation from the sidelines

A set of single layering note perfumes either as a sample set ($20 USD) or in bottles ($20-$45 USD) will let your favorite perfume lover customize the perfumes in their fragrance wardrobe to match their moods or the seasons, experiment with making their own fragrance creations, rekindle romances with perfumes that have become boring, or add their favorite scent element. Single layering notes are also beloved by people who prefer simple, unfussy perfumes. Our newest single layering notes are Vanille and Tabac

Our exclusive perfume fixative ($18 USD) will enhance the longevity of any perfumes that are too ephemeral. Our fixative is now available in an alcohol-free spray format ($30 USD) that can work as a base layer for any EDP or cologne.



I have a lot of people to buy gifts for and I'm overloaded with choices, overwhelmed with decisionmaking, and I don't have enough time/mental bandwidth/spoons/patience/focus. Help!


Three Multiracial Magi kings kneel side by side. The dark brown Ethiopian king wears luminous white robes decorated with a large pearl and holds an incense burner of precious frankincense. Next to the king in white is an older, white bearded light skinned Persian King wearing red robes and a golden circlet on his head. He is holding a gift of gold in his cupped hands. Next to the red robed king is a medium brown skinned Indian king wearing ornate gold and black clothing with Egyptian motifs and a beautifully jeweled bracelet. He is holding a decorated box containing precious myrrh.
If the whole holiday gift-buying process is just too overwhelming, you're pressed for time, and/or still uncertain about what to choose, it's time to consider the fail-safe gift option:
Purchasing a premade sample set (or two) along with a gift card
This way, the recipient can enjoy sampling and then select the perfume of their choice. The sample set/gift card combo works especially well if you have multiple people on your gift list as the gifting often evolves into a fun impromptu perfume-sampling party with everyone wanting to check out each other's samples.

1900s new year's greeting card featuring an image of a large and festive Christmas cracker and the text "Happy New Year" and "May you enjoy 365 days of good health"

 Wishing you calm serenity, blessings of the season, and happy holidays (whichever and however you celebrate them)!











  • Man Tangled Up in Christmas Decorations by Al Brule, 1953
  • Christmas at Chicago Union Station by Norman Rockwell, 1944
  • Escena galante (A Gallant Scene) by Víctor Patrício de Landaluze, c. 1880 
  • La llegada al baile (Arriving at the Ball) by Víctor Patrício de Landaluze, c. 1880
  • Depiction of Romans celebrating Saturnalia from a wall painting found at Pompeii
  • Woman Sitting on a Bed by a Pink Plant by M. Kato, 1919
  • Gifts of the Magi by J.C. Leyendecker, 1900
  • Vintage New Year Holiday Card, c. 1900