August 05, 2021   1:39pm

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Candles: The New Fruitcake

At a loss for what to give a client, your hairdresser, a girlfriend, an old college professor, a not-yet in-law? There’s a candle for that (you just have to be in-the-know) …

It happens every year:  Sweater for mom, books for dad, inside-joke inspired gift for sister, new tech gadget for brother, and, then, there are the impossibles. The close friends you’ve now lost touch with … the co-workers (whom you know at work only)… the in-laws you know (but don’t like).  Is there a different fallback from: the cards (too effortless), the gift certificates (impersonal) , and the dreaded last-resort… fruitcake (well, fruitcake)?

Why not give a gift that fits somewhere between friendly acquaintance (and obligation); one that sits around and provides joy rather than rots on the countertop. Why not give (tah dah!) Candles?

No, not the candles they sell in packs of four at Crate and Barrel, we’re talking cream of the crop, changes-your-mood-just-smelling-them kind of candles.  And lucky for you, we’ve already weeded through the lot to offer some of the best to solve your gift-giving turmoil.

The criteria? Well, there’s price, but most importantly smell, next, burn time, and, lastly, chic packaging. See below for some of our suggestions, and don’t hesitate to use the snoety comment box (below) to let us know favorites of your own!


Price: $60
Best choice for: Your not-yet in-laws
Favorite scent (for her): Feuille de Lavande
Favorite scent (for him): Feu de Bois
Burn time: 50+ hours
Type: Soy wax blend
Packaging: Glass vessel with Diptyque typography

Looking to impress? Candle connoisseurs always include these in their top 5 of the best scented offerings around. According to Candle Delirium, voted Best Candle Shop in LA by LA Mag, Paris-based Diptyque has been the unequivocal “leader in the world of high-end candles” for hundreds of years. They offer a range of classic and seasonal fragrances hand-poured and created using all natural scents, and they don’t fail to please. Once lit, Diptyque candles quickly fill the room with a layered scent sure to invigorate the senses of even the most stubborn individual. Nothing like giving the best of the best to inflate someone’s ego (in your favor, of course) …

votivo.jpgVotivo (Aromatic Candles)

Price: $25-30
Best choice for: Your social butterfly girlfriends
Favorite scent (for her): Red Currant
Favorite scent (for him): Cedar and Sage
Burn time: 50 + hours
Type: Soy wax blend
Packaging: Hand-pressed pewter seal tied around a glass jar

A good rule of thumb when gift-giving: if it’s good enough for Oprah’s “O” list, it’s probably good enough for your “I-don’t-know” list. Votivo handmade candles have been praised by celebrities and trendsetters for their complex scents that come in a variety of simple, fun fragrances, ranging from Sweet Almond & Blood Orange to Oprah-favorite, Rain. And if you really want to prove you’re in the know, get their most famous scent, Red Currant– “the most well known and famous candle in the world,” according to Candle Delirium.

archipelago.jpgArchipelageo (Signature Soy Candles)

Price: $24.50
Best choice for: Your new age niece
Favorite scent (for her): Blackberry Sage
Favorite scent (for him): Black Forest (Holiday Collection)
Burn time: 50 hours
Type: 50-70% Soy wax
Packaging: Archipelago metal seal tied around a glass jar

You’re officially the coolest relative your young gift-receivers have. Hip yet sophisticated, Archipelago candles have been popping up all over women’s magazines like Allure, InStyle and WWD for some time now. We favor their soy selections, mainly because any self-respecting coolest-Aunt-ever would know soy is the new IT thing in candles, and the Wasabi Mint and Gingered Grapefruit are a far-cry from the tired vanillas and lavenders your mother always favored (though, they have variations of these scents as well for those that like to “kick it old school”).

illume.jpgIllume (Jar Candles)

Price: $20
Best choice for: Your retired friend in the islands

Favorite scent (for her): Pineapple Cilantro
Favorite scent (for him): Coriander & Pomelo
Burn time: 60 hours
Type: Soy, palm and beeswax (or food-grade paraffin)
Packaging: Frosted jar with Illume silver logo

Our favorite pick of the lot, Illume candles may not come with the grandeur of Diptyque or the high profile of Votivo, but they provide an incredibly clean burn (from their use of cotton wicks), have the longest burn time and are available at the most affordable price. Most importantly, nothing beats their offering of fragrances that would easily transport any dreary soul to the exotic locales where only Coconut Milk Mango, Sahara Sage and Valencia Orange could take you. The smell is filling without being incense-in-a-college dorm overwhelming… though, they may leave you feeling just as delightfully hazy.

Now if only you could find someone to give all those fruitcakes you’re not using to…

Modesta at snoety

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