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Give the (Last-Minute) Gift of Fragrance

Ideas for the many personalities on your shopping list for the holidays

Give the (Last-Minute) Gift of Fragrance

Anthony Lee/Getty Images

There's pretty much a fragrance for everyone. We break down who likes what.

For gift-buying procrastinators, presents of scents make total sense. Almost everyone likes some kind of fragrance — even those who don’t actually wear perfume or cologne appreciate a scented candle or room diffuser. The options are aplenty, with skinny rollerballs for travel or handbags, hair mists (for sensitive skin but a delicious personal smell) and even body mist. It’s easy: Either click and ship online, or hit the drugstore or mall and pick up some colorful tissue and a gift bag — and you're good to go to the festivities. Let these five lifestyle and personality clues guide your choices.

Contemporary but Classic

They still wear watches but listen to Tony Bennett with earbuds, drink coffee and tea (but it's espresso and green now), read print newspapers in the morning but binge-watch Netflix on their laptops. He sports button-downs, chinos and loafers, but the shirts now are untucked, and the shoes have sneaker soles. She prefers dresses to pants, but rocks Spanx, nude kitten heels and bare legs, or sneaks leggings under her tunic tops. They'll love light scents as crisp as freshly ironed hotel sheets. Choose: Ladylike florals for her, such as Nina Ricci L' Air du Temps Eau de Parfum Spray($32, target.com) or Philosophy Amazing Grace Eau de Toilette ($48, sephora.com); and spicy citrus scents for him, such as English Leather by Dana Cologne Splash ($19, target.com) and C.O. Bigelow Elixir White Cologne ($20, bathandbodyworks.com). 

Edgy and Cool

They always have the newest iPhones and statement glasses, and they disrupt age stereotypes with black leather biker jackets. But the hair says it all: long, cropped or asymmetrical on her; shaved, buzzed, undercut to a fade or ponytailed on him. Match that hipster attitude with dark, mysterious smoky scents. Choose: Spicy woodsy florals for her, such as Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black Rollerball ($28, sephora.com) or Jo Malone London Amber & Lavender Cologne ($65, nordstrom.com); and intriguing lavender, woodsy scents for him, such as Skulls & Roses by Ed Hardy Eau de Toilette Men's Cologne ($29, target.com) or Calvin Klein Eternity for Men Body Spray ($22, macys.com). 

Hippies at Heart

They've ramped up the yoga and meditation, and proudly flaunt vintage-wash flares and slogan tees. But their new mantra is "Peace, Love & Social Security." She craves maxi dresses and stacks of bangles, and can't say no to flea markets. He knows the words to every song from Hair, is a vegetarian wannabe and rescues shelter dogs. Scents-able gifts have a sensual incense-like vibe. Choose: Heady patchouli or musk-based fragrances for her, such as Nest Black Tulip Eau de Parfum ($72, sephora.com) or Passion by Elizabeth Taylor ($19, target.com); and herbal or vetiver-based ones for him, such as Kistna Eau de Toilette by the Body Shop ($28, thebodyshop.com) or CKIN2U by Calvin Klein Eau de Toilette Spray ($25, target.com).

Foodie Freaks Forever

Their lives revolve around restaurant hopping, cooking together, wine tastings, cuisine cruises and the Food Network. She never met a cupcake she didn't like, can't say no to dark chocolate (for the beauty antioxidants, of course!) and reads cookbooks in bed for sweet dreams. He carries hot sauce in his jacket and shares their meal photos daily on Facebook. Fragrance items with "foodie” notes of vanilla, apple, chocolate, caramel, pumpkin or coffee hit the spot. Choose: Dessert-like or fruity scents for her, such as Candy by Prada Eau de Parfum Spray ($70, sephora.com), Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium Dry Oil for Body and Hair ($60, sephora.com), Angel by Thierry Mugler Perfuming Hair Mist ($40, ulta.com) or Victoria's Secret Bombshell Eau de Parfum ($55, victoriassecret.com); and scents spiked with coffee, peppermint or vanilla for him, such as Angel Men by Thierry Mugler Eau de Toilette Rubber Flask Spray ($40, target.com) or Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Concentrated Sleep Room Spray($8, bathandbodyworks.com).

Happy Homebodies

They work remotely from home, are handy with a tool kit and paintbrush, and have a garden that Martha Stewart would envy. She likes walking the dog, growing veggies and watching HGTV. He runs with a neighbor at dawn, makes staycations fun (like cleaning out the closets, having friends over for charades) and is always working on a book or screenplay or product innovation. Fragrances with a garden-like feel and hints of tobacco, woods or sage smell comforting. Choose: Earthy or beachy florals for her, such as Vera Wang Embrace Green Tea and Pear Blossom Eau de Toilette ($30, target.com) or Turquoise by Drew Barrymore Flower Beauty ($20, flowerbeauty.com); and woodsy ones for him, such as Versace The Dreamer Eau de Toilette Natural Spray for Men($30, target.com) or Nest Liquidless Diffuser in Birchwood Pine ($60, sephora.com).

For more beauty and fashion tips, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love After 50, as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine (available on iPad).

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