Is a candle the world’s worst vacation present?

I’ve a confession to make. In relation to vacation gifting, I’ve all the time been a little bit of a candle curmudgeon. One thing about it all the time struck me as phoning it in, virtually such as you had been handing somebody a present card with a wick.

I’m positive my anti-bougie bias has one thing to do with the inordinate variety of candles stacked floor-to-ceiling in our corridor closet, due to my higher half’s gentle spot for high-end pillars, tapers, votives and the occasional tea mild. (The upside is all our coats odor just like the clearance desk at a Yankee Candle Co. The draw back is that if our home ever caught fireplace, it’d burn for the higher a part of a yr.) I’m additionally positive I’m removed from alone in feeling this manner.

“Nothing is extra primary than gifting somebody a candle,” says Ladies’s Well being journal (a sick burn on the best way to “13 Presents That Are Higher Than a Candle”). On the web site of house enchancment guru Bob Vila, the candle is named out as one of many “10 Presents You Ought to By no means Give.” (Additionally on the listing? Underwear, pets and health club memberships.)

It was with this mind-set that I made a decision to raid the house chandlery to seek out one thing for a current white elephant present trade with my colleagues. As a result of my aversion to candle gifting was well-known to them, I reasoned this to be a win-win-win of kinds: my private candle depend would lower by one (win one), I’d be imparting a helpful lesson in gift-giving etiquette to my clearly clueless co-workers (win two), and, as an avowed anti-waxxer, not a one in every of them would suspect I’d accomplished the soiled deed.

That’s not precisely the best way issues panned out, although. First, it turned out that I wasn’t the one one with the intense thought. (The opposite candle wrongdoer turned out to be my editor. Make of that what you’ll.) Second, as a substitute of recoiling in disgust on the sight of the soy wax cylinder because it was sprung from its wrapping as I’d hoped, my colleagues began to ooh and ahh over it prefer it was a new child child. And at last, after the official horsetrading of the white elephant present swap was over, a facet deal was struck during which, look ahead to it — the 2 candles modified arms.

I used to be baffled. Not solely had my point-making plan gone up in flames, it had full-on backfired on me. Whereas, to me, there had barely been a discernible distinction (however for the scale of the field) between the 2 candles, one (OK, it was mine) clearly held some particular magic that made it extra interesting. Was it the unique French origins? The minimalist packaging? The best way it had a heft within the hand like a favourite espresso mug? Or perhaps it was this specific candle’s library-inspired scent (partial description: “[t]he velvety high quality of the paper embodied in a contact of peach, plum and vanilla …”).

Finally it dawned on me. Because of the cornucopia of candlery gifted into our house over time (considerate gestures all, I’ve little question), I’d primarily come down with a case of candle camouflage (a.okay.a. “candleflage”), an affliction during which the whole lot earlier than me melts into an indistinguishable swirl of sunshine and sample. This left me unable to find out how or why one specific wick-tipped lump of wax would possibly ring a bell with somebody.

Possibly I’d spent the previous few a long time wandering within the darkness of my very own ignorance, railing in opposition to the thought just because I couldn’t distinguish one fancy candle from one other. And perhaps, simply perhaps, the one approach to keep away from making the candle really feel like probably the most impersonal of all vacation items is to double down and make it really feel ultra-personal.

A candle in an amber screw-top jar with a label that reads "Don't do meth in our bathroom."

Wax & Wit’s “Don’t Do Meth in Our Rest room” candle sends a transparent message.

(Wax & Wit)

If you happen to actually begin drilling down (as I’ve been for the final couple of days), it seems yow will discover a candle tailor-made to suit nearly any individual or scenario. Is there an antagonist within the screenplay of your life? Think about the Academy Museum X Flores Lane POV: You’re the Villain candle (shade: blood crimson; perfume: tobacco, filth and rose).

Received a giftee whose thought of a great time is watching the house crew shag balls? Then a Dodger Stadium candle from Homesick may be a house run (prime notes: “popcorn, Tajin spice, crisp beer”). My mother, who spent a couple of summers as a young person working at Glacier Nationwide Park, would most likely benefit from the sentiment (if not the cedarwood, mountain ash and fir perfume) of Parks Mission’s Glacier Nationwide Park candle. (There are additionally candles that pay homage to Zion and Joshua Tree nationwide parks.)

A round black candle with a white label that reads "Hands Off My Vagina."

The perfume of the Goop X Heretic Palms Off My Vagina candle is a mix of coconut milk, Damascena roses “balanced with uncooked vanilla, clear notes of hinoki cypress and hints of toasted cacao”; $25 from the sale of every $75 candle is being donated to the ACLU Basis’s Reproductive Freedom Mission.


There’s a bushel of burnable choices for the natural fanatic in your good listing together with a Hashish candle from Malin+Goetz and a Cannabis one from Jonathan Adler. To not be outdone, L.A.-based chandler Boy Smells has a deep bench of Kush candles together with Cashmere Kush, Italian Kush and Cowboy Kush.

Trying to ship a message? You’re in luck, due to cheeky candles emblazoned with simply the appropriate phrases from “Not my circus not my monkeys” to “Don’t do meth in our rest room.”

For these whose focus skews decidedly beneath the belt, the continuing Goop X Heretic Parfum collaboration has no scarcity of blush-inducing selections together with This Smells Like My Vagina (geranium, citrus, bergamot and cedar are within the combine in case you’re curious), This Smells Like My Orgasm (grapefruit, black tea and rose) and, most lately, Palms Off My Vagina (“Coconut milk and Damascena roses are balanced with uncooked vanilla, clear notes of hinoki cypress, and hints of toasted cacao,” reads the scent description, which fits on to notice that $25 from the sale of every $75 candle will probably be donated to the ACLU Basis’s Reproductive Freedom Mission).

A candle in a glass jar next to a green and white patterned box. The label on both reads "White Elephant."

Homesick’s White Elephant candle has prime notes of candied orange, cardamom and yuzu fizz, center notes of Champagne, clove and gingerbread cookie and base notes of glowing cassis, balsam fir and teakwood.


Lengthy story quick, I’m sufficiently big to confess I’ve lastly seen the sunshine on the entire candles-as-holiday-gifts factor. So, when subsequent yr’s workplace white elephant present trade rolls round, I do know precisely what I’m going to do.

As a substitute of turning to the closet stash, I’m going to place within the effort and choose one particularly for the event. With prime notes of candied orange, cardamom and yuzu fizz, a White Elephant candle will carry the day.

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