What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


It seems strange to be thinking about the winter holiday season in the middle of summer, but if I’ve learned anything in this business it is that everything requires far more lead time than I’d like, or than I can even imagine. Right now the lovely red-and-green fuschias in the garden remind me that I should be thinking about what I’d like to do for this year’s December holiday gift box, if I do one. Last year’s was pretty much a spur-of-the-moment, simple collection of a spray perfume, soap, all-purpose body/hair/bath oil, and a music CD in a generic, colorful cardboard box packed with tissue paper. Anything more requires advance planning.

I have some ideas, but would also like to throw out some questions for you, the perfume-loving public. If you answer all of the questions, you will be entered in a drawing to win a 15 ml bottle of the Olympic Orchids fragrance of your choice, so it’s worth your while! Here goes:

1. Do you like holiday gift sets of any kind, to keep, give, or receive? Generic gift sets?  Frankly, I’m not big on any of them myself, but everyone is different.

2. Would you buy a gift set for yourself or someone else? (The perfume community is one place where we all know that it’s OK to buy gifts for ourselves!)

3. What items (and sizes) would you like to see in a gift set?

4. Would you like a fancy box with a custom-made insert to fit the items, or a simple cardboard box with tissue paper wrapping? Or do you prefer some other type of packaging?

5. Do you like a single theme with one fragrance in different products (e.g., perfume, oil, soap) multiple fragrances in the same type of product (e.g., several perfumes), or a random mix of all-different fragrances and products? 

6. Do you like for gift sets to include any non-fragrance items and/or a coupon for a $ amount or percentage off of an order?

7. What price range would you be willing to pay for the type of gift set that you describe?

8. Any other comments about gift sets?

I’ll be really interested to see your answers to these questions and any other observations that you care to contribute. The drawing will take place on Thursday, August 15. 

[food (or drink?) gift set photos taken from manufacturers' postings] 


  1. A gift set of 1- 3 5ml sprays, in a "choose your own" assortment (offer specific choices within each line), accompanied by a gift card in an amount covering the cost of a 15 or 30 ml bottle. A sturdy box that is reusable is much appreciated, fancy cutouts not so much. Non fragrance items in a gift set of this nature are not of much interest. If a gift card is not included, a coupon for a percentage off an order is a good option. Price range of $25-$50 is reasonable. A scent/soap duo is another idea; your soaps are so nicely made, long lasting, and a good gift. If you decide to do small batches of scents, a 6 or 12 month subscription to these would be a good gift as well!


    1. Nancy, thanks for your feedback! It seems there's a lot of interest in the small batch of the month subscription idea, so I'm going to seriously consider doing it. The scent/soap duo is another great idea. You're entered in the drawing.

  2. Here are my answers and a comment or two:

    1) I do like holiday gift sets. I would give, receive and keep them for myself. The more colorful and thematic the better (not a big fan of generic).

    2) I would probably buy a gift set for someone else and for myself.

    3) 3ml sprays in themed sample sets would be perfect holiday gifts. Gift sets of soaps that correspond to your current fragrance collections would be nice too. I would also be interested in a subscription to small batches for myself or as a gift.

    4) The cardboard box is great, wrapped and filled with colorful paper.

    5) I would like the single fragrance set, that is soap, oil and perfume in one scent. Larger sets could be made up of bath products and perfumes within one larger category, say orchids.

    6) A CD would be a nice non fragrance item or maybe some of those great silver fir chocolates! Perhaps an option for either of these or a gift cert?

    7) My ideal gift set for giving this December would include one 5ml spray Seattle Chocolate, one Seattle Chocolate soap (if available or
    Seattle Chocolate bath oil) and a small box (6 count) Seattle Chocolate candies. I really like the idea of this silver fir themed set for December. I think $40 would be a good price.

    8) I still like the idea of a subscription or a "small batch of the month club". If monthly is just too much work this subscription could be offered quarterly with a seasonal theme.

    Last comment: Drat! It looks like I waited too long to buy the T of C Hibiscus. It isn't coming up on the site and was cancelled out of my cart. I'm glad they sold out, though.

    1. Gail, Thanks for your very thorough feedback! The silver fir themed set is a great idea! Given the general enthusiasm for the small batch of the month idea, I'm going to try it! I need some lead time because I have to make batches ahead and have them ready, so it could debut in December.

      I was shocked at how fast the T of C Hibiscus sold out!

  3. it would be rather strange if I was to be lucky in one of your giveaways yet again, but I'll give you my answers anyway! :D

    1. I really like the idea of a gift set, but generally I have not been able to afford them... I would love to both give and recieve fragrance gift sets! I actually enjoy generic and "choose your own" gift sets more than themed gift sets. Especially holiday themed ones have a tendency towards cliché...

    2. I would love to force someone to buy a gift set for me and I would definitely buy a gift set for someone else. As long as I knew something about their taste, and the gift set was fairly affordable.

    3. I would love a gift set with mainly perfume. I would enjoy a gift set with a lot of samples more than one with a couple larger size perfumes. Discovering a lot of new scents is such a bliss! A coupon for future purchase would also be lovely, either a gift card for a smaller size perfume or a percentage off a larger one.

    4. A simple box is always best I think, perhaps with some small extra touch, just for the occasion...

    5. I would prefer an array of different perfumes in sample size with perhaps some other type of product on the side. One oil and/or one soap perhaps... That way the customer can discover a variety of scents but also see and experience what other options you offer.

    6. I loved the Seattle Chocolate chocolates so that type of non fragrance item would be awesome in a gift set and I have already mentioned that a coupon would be nice. other than that I'm not very partial to non-fragrance items.

    7. I would be willing to pay $30-50 depending on amount of samples etc.

    8. I always like a gift set more if I can, to some extent, design the contents of it myself.

    1. Nadja, Thank you for your very detailed feedback. I'm beginning to see an emerging theme of people liking to design their own gift sets. I'm glad you enjoyed the chocolates. That would be an interesting thing to include in a gift box.

      It would be an amazing coincidence if you were to win the drawing again, but random is random, and your chances are the same every time.

  4. 1.) I don't really like gift sets, and not much of a giver of gift sets either.

    2.) Probably for others, in this case. I like using items bit by bit.

    3.)I usually like skin care products, mostly in teeny sizes.

    4.) Honestly, I like Spartan-style packaging. But nice, little touches lighten me up a lot.

    5.) Never was much of a theme person, so mixes are my style.

    6.) As long as it's food, I'm all for it!

    7.) I guess $20-$40 is good for me.

    8.) Just like Nadja above, I love being able to totally decide what's going to be in the gift box myself.

    On a side note, a new reader here, just stumbled your blog today. I was really surprised when you said that orchids have a various array of scents. The ones that grow here don't really have scents, but they've got tons of beautiful colors. Looking forward to more of your adventures! (:

    1. Belle, I'm glad you stumbled onto my blog! It's good to have you here. Thank you for your feedback. I'm also beginning to see an emerging theme of Spartan-style packaging (I like that!).

      Most of the hybrid orchid clones that are sold in supermarkets, box stores, garden centers, and florists have been bred for fast growth and large showy, long-lasting flowers, not fragrance. In fact, many florist flowers are bred NOT to have fragrance. I grow orchid species, many of which are highly fragrant.

      You're entered in the drawing.