Christmas gift ideas: Buying perfume for her

If you're struggling for gift ideas for your wife or girlfriend, perfume often seems like a safe bet - but if you don't know her favourite scent, where do you start? We've got a few handy hints...

Woman spraying perfume
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First, try to ascertain what type of fragrance your loved one usually wears. Does she prefer a soft floral scent, a fresh, citrus fragrance, a deeper woody aroma or the sweet and spicy flavour of an oriental perfume?

Also, be aware of when she wears her perfume - for instance, if she has a daytime fragrance, consider a more sumptuous evening scent or vice versa. Consider too that an eau de parfum will likely be a stronger and more concentrated perfume while eau de toilette may be a cheaper but lighter alternative.

Once you know which kind of fragrance she prefers staff at the perfume counter should be able to advise on which perfumes belong to which group. Alternatively, find out the name of her usual scent and ask which fragrances fall into a similar category.

Every girl deserves a little Chanel in her life, especially at Christmas, and Chanel Coco Mademoiselle with its fresh, feminine could be a good choice. Chanel is, of course, a name synonymous with classic fragrances and No. 5 will almost always go down well. But their new fragrance, Chance, offers a more youthful aroma if the likes of Coco and Allure are on the heavy side.

Estee Lauder's Beyond Paradise is a mix of hyacinth, jasmin and honeysuckle (inspired by the Eden project, no less) and a luscious choice for floral fragrance lovers, while for the younger generation, Cacharel's Amor Amor is a sweet, slightly fruity scent ideally suited to a girly teenager.

Meanwhile, L'Eau d'Issey by Issey Miyake is a complex but fresh perfume that's perfect for daytime wear and if the lady in your life is already a fan, it's worth considering alternatives such as Cool Water or Emporio Armani's Acqua di Gio. If money is tight, consider Herve Leger Femme by Avon - perfect for a day at work, it's a subtle mix of floral and citrus notes and has all the delicacy of a designer perfume without the price tag.

Popular among woody fragrances are Prada's Infusion d'Iris and DKNY Delicious Night. And for a bolder more sophisticated perfume, try Estee Lauder's Sensuous with its floral, oriental and woody undertones. Classic fragrances are always popular, so consider J'Adore by Dior, Poison (also by Dior) and Angel by Thierry Mugler.