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A Scentsible Valentine's Day

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Note: This blogger personally purchased the product she writes about below.

Perfume is one of the most popular gifts for Valentine's Day. I've tried picking out what I thought was a nice men's scent. That didn't go over so well. Just because I like a scent in the bottle doesn't mean it will smell good on you.

Now there's a way to give the gift of fragrance that your recipient will like -- because he or she creates it. Instead of shopping for a fragrance at the mall, you can blend a perfume with your valentine and have a sweet smelling reminder of the day.

Sue Phillips says people are looking for an experience as a gift, especially when it comes to fragrance. A perfume industry veteran, Sue launched a business called Scenterprises, creating fragrant adventures for events, parties and now for individuals at home. "I see that there's more interest now than ever before in creating custom fragrance."

"The notion of going to a department store to buy a special perfume has changed," she says. "There are too many celebrity and designer perfumes that they've become a commodity." Her inspiration comes from helping people discover their own best scent. "Fragrance is so uplifting, people love how it makes them feel. To create your own perfume is an experience that's quite wonderful."

As part of the perfume events she conducts, Sue developed a portfolio of 18 blended scents, which are collections of fragrance families such as citrus, fresh (think laundry), floral, spice and musk. At these events she saw a growing interest in people wanting to blend their own personal perfume. So she created the Design Your Own Fragrance kits, which are grouped into three categories of fragrances -- Fresh, Floral and Oriental. Each kit contains six vials of blends that on their own can be nice perfumes, but mixed together can be even better. Sue says "they've been crafted to work together so you can actually take any of the six fragrances, a few drops of this one, one drop or two of that one and you've got your own perfume."

What's great about these mini perfumes is that you don't have to know what makes a top, middle or base note. There's a chart that spells it all out for you. You can choose one of each, but it's ok to to make a fragrance out of just middle notes. Another way to blend, Sue says, is by emotion. Want to feel sexy and passionate? A mix of the heady floral and floral floral blends may evoke those sensations for you. "There are no rules," says Sue. "It's whatever makes you feel and smell fabulous!"

Once you find a mix of the blends that you like, you can send the formula to Scenterprises where it will be registered into a data base. That's so that when you run out of your scent, you can order a refill. In a way it's a gift that keeps on giving.

I bought the Floral kit since I love anything with white flowers -- tuberose, gardenia and jasmine. As soon as it arrived I got together with friends to try it out. They thought it was the coolest idea and had tons of fun playing around with the fragrances and creating their own blends. In this kit, the six vials contain these floral elements: aldehydic (notes that are also in Chanel No. 5), rose floral, floral floral, heady floral, balsamic and gentle floral. You dip paper sticks, called blotters, into each vial. Once you've smelled all of them you can decide what you like best. Hold the blotters of your favorites together and smell to see if you like that combination. Then the blending fun begins. Using the pipettes from the kit you can extract a few drops of heady floral (jasmine and ylang ylang), mix it with balsamic (bergamot, jasmine and vanilla) and floral floral (jasmine, mandarin and violet). Ok, that's my fragrance.

You blend your formula in the larger glass vial that's inside the atomizer -- and then you can spray away. There's a feather in the kit too, a much more glamorous perfume blotter which you can spray and wave in the air to experience the perfume. I can't tell you how much fun my friends and I had sniffing each other's concoctions, each one so different yet so wonderful. One gal made a very interesting blend out of the gentle floral, with bergamot and sage notes, and floral floral scent. It's also fun to see how the perfumes that we created change over time. My husband even likes my blend -- so it's a keeper. This is my idea of a good time.

Apparantly Oprah agrees. She put the Design Your Own Fragrance kit on "The O List", calling it a "Singular Scent-sation." Sue says editors of the magazine were at a lifestyle and wellness event where she was creating custom fragrances for attendees. "They loved the idea of the kits. Plus they loved the red atomizer that comes with the Oriental kit for a Valentine's Day gift."

I love the kits too. They remind me of the wine tasting kits you can get from TastingRoom, which brings the winery tasting bar to you. You can sample each wine from a mini bottle on its own, or blend it with the other wines and play winemaker for a day. I think it's super fun to play perfumer for a day.

What's even better -- if you get two or all three of the kits, they can be blended together in many combinations. I've yet to try that but it's a good excuse for another scented night with friends.

The other thing I like about giving a one of these kist for Valentine's Day is that its got staying power. Roses last a couple of days at best. A bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne lasts one night, or, in the rare case that you have any wine left over, it's still ok the next night. But that's it. Perfume lingers. It evokes memories of special times you've shared with your valentine, whether you've still in that love affair, or even long after the romance is gone.