10 Candles for the Friend That Prefers to Stay In

SNL skits about regifting be damned — we actually like receiving candles as gifts, and we know we're not the only ones. Between the rise of the "status candle," the cementing of the candle's place in all the best coffee table styling arrangements, and the new class of trendy scent studios reinventing everything we thought we knew about fragrance, receiving "the Christmas candle" isn't the fruitcake-like death sentence it once was.

Here are our favorite candles to give (and receive) at this time of year — with their handmade vessels, all-natural ingredients, and complex, elevated scents, there's no mistaking them for the overpowering gingerbread versions of yesteryear. So, go ahead — gift a candle without shame or fear of judgment. Take a wild guess at your intended recipient's scent predilections or just pick one that you yourself like. Worst case, the giftee will at least get a nice place to store their pens or makeup brushes out of it.

Goest Perfumes' candles are just as unusual and thought-provoking as their personal fragrances. This whimsical, mysterious scent features notes of on-trend maple sap, which feels seasonally appropriate — but really, any of their candles, which are clad in adorable ceramic jars with hand-dyed, handmade pompom toppers, would make a charming gift.

tom dixon terrazzo large candle
credit: Net-a-Porter

The best gifts are the ones we'd never splurge on for ourselves, right? With the terrazzo trend showing no signs of slowing down, this oversized candle (it has a 60-hour burn time!) is a substantial statement piece that will upgrade any shelfie or side table.

boy smells candle trio
credit: Boy Smells

Boy Smells candles have been among the sleeper-hit status candles of Instagram for some time now, so they're a surefire crowd-pleaser. This limited-edition holiday set pairs woodsy favorites Ash and Cedar Stack with new breakout hit Hinoki Fantôme, a cardamom-spiced Japanese cypress variation.

Maude Burn Massage Candle
credit: Maude

Millennial-focused brand Maude has been quietly reinventing the sexual well-being corner of the market, what with their boutique-y lube dispensers and clever, easy-open condoms, so it's perhaps no surprise that it would give massage candles an upgrade, too. Maude's flagship-scented candle has a skin-loving jojoba base and a cozy cedar and tonka scent that makes it a safe bet for the most intimate member(s) of your gifting list. (Honestly, it smells good enough to burn solo as a regular candle, too.)

Carlen Parfums has made its name through its cerebral, androgynous approach to scent, and the intoxicating appeal of its Sacred Mysteries candle is no exception. Notes of citrus and spice bring a new twist to the holiday standbys via a quick time-traveling trip into the rituals of antiquity. Oh, and the unique orb-shaped concrete vessel — which, yes, does look a bit like the Death Star when closed — makes for a striking presentation.

With a clean rhubarb and jasmine scent that's irresistible any time of year, this Seda France candle might be the easiest gifting decision you make all season. It comes in a tiny pagoda. You don't even need to wrap it. Thank us later.

French brand Astier De Villatte is perhaps best known for its traditional 18th century-inspired ceramics, but we think its candles and incense deserve their due, too. Each candle is tied to a specific location, making for an exceptionally thoughtful gift for someone who has ties to a particular place — whether you once joined them on a jaunt to the Swiss Alps or just know that they went to the Opera Garnier on their honeymoon, there are plenty of nostalgia-inspiring options.

portable fireplace candle
credit: Barney's

Apartment-dwellers, rejoice. Wildcard perfumer D.S. & Durga has done it again, imbuing this candle with all the cozy comfort of a roaring fire (minus the whole hauling firewood bit). As the days shorten, this candle will bring pure hygge vibes to anyone you bestow it upon.

Dada Daily Hand Candle
credit: Dada Daily

Why is a snack food company making candles? It's all part of the Dada way, dahling. Your most eccentric friend will appreciate this conversation-starter of a candle — and get a kick out of it when only 4 of the 5 fingers burn down (we'll let you guess which one stays up).

yoox bitossi home shaped candle
credit: Yoox

Gifting this quirky, vintage-inspired candle gives your recipient permission to re-enact Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in their house after everyone else has gone to sleep. And who doesn't want that? This may be the most thoughtful gift of all.


Emily Bihl

Emily Bihl

Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.