When I first watched Saturday Night Live's now-viral "Christmas Candle" sketch—a hilariously cheesy '90s-style music video about a peach candle stuck in re-gift purgatory—I had two thoughts: 1) The skit is destined to be an SNL holiday classic, like "Santa's My Boyfriend" and "Schweddy Balls," and 2) this would be a non-issue if only they had found the right candle. I'll concede that no one wants a generic scented votive as a gift because nothing says "I didn't put much thought into this" like a mound of candy-colored wax with all the subtlety of an air freshener.
But let's not ignore the impressive market of beautifully crafted home fragrances, which are essentially the candle equivalents of a luxury perfume: subtle, complex, and not at all cloying. And contrary to popular belief, not all quality candles have a steep price tag. (Seriously, check out slide 11 below if you're not sure.)
So without further ado, behold 14 beautiful candles that won't be mistaken for anything other than a thoughtful gift—even if you're only gifting yourself, which is definitely valid. See if you can scroll through all of these without clicking "add to cart."
For the modern-day beatnik in your life, this earthy-green, fig-laced scent makes for the perfect desk accessory.
Found: THE most realistic Christmas tree scent, hands down. Better yet, it lingers even when it isn't lighted—which means that you get a warm, cozy whiff every time you walk through your front door.
Inspired by traditional altar votives, any one of Byredo's newest trio of candles would be a great pick for your favorite Stevie Nicks enthusiast. (Incense in particular is a patchouli-fueled, musky-goodness dream.)
We love every one of Le Feu de L'Eau's incredibly Instagrammable candles, but this creamy fig scent might be the best of the bunch.
Slip on your coziest flannel, because this pine, tobacco, and vanilla scent transforms even the starkest studio apartment into a cozy mountain cabin.
For those who love gourmet scents, this one's a winner. A blend of Madagascar vanilla, ginger, cardamom, and sandalwood is the next best thing to stovetop potpourri.
With its groovy exterior and rustic, grassy scent, this votive is pure '70s.
For us city folk who yearn to get back to nature every now and then, this remarkably accurate woodsy scent might just mollify the craving.
Fragranced with heady jasmine and neroli, this statuesque votive is perfect for the hostess who has everything.
With notes of pine, balsam fir, vanilla, orange, cardamom, pepper, and musk, this is everything you love about the holidays in a very sleek package.
In our humble opinion, this is simply one of the best candles around. The intoxicatingly creamy sandalwood fragrance is at once minimalistic and luxurious—and more than worthy of its very reasonable price tag.
Is it really winter without the lingering aroma of charred firewood?
This isn't only a candle—it's also a statement décor piece. The blend of black currant, rose, patchouli, and cedar makes this scent feel as rich and luxurious as its marble casing.
So you can bring the beach vibes even when it's snowing sideways out there.
Did we miss your favorite? Call out your go-to votive in the comments below.