Design your own perfume experience and giveaway with The Perfume Studio and Buyagift

Picture of a gift boxes from The Perfume Studio with a pink rose in front, from the Design a Perfume session I went on with Buyagift and Red Letter Days

What? An experience for me, not the kids?

Giving experiences rather than things

My favourite presents aren’t things at all.

The presents I really remember were experiences, not stuff. The cup cake decorating class, the trampoline course and the workshop learning sewing machine embroidery, for example.

No clutter, loads of inspiration, and – rarest of all as a parent – time to myself, doing something I wanted to do! Much as I love my family, it’s also fun pursuing my own interests, every so often.

That’s why I was delighted when Buyagift gave me the chance to take part in a ‘Design Your Own Perfume’ session led by The Perfume Studio, followed by afternoon tea. Even better, I got to go along to the Kensington Hilton with a friend, Lynn James aka Mrs Mummypenny.

I rocked up knowing next to nothing about scent, but really excited to make my own. Perfume is so personal, isn’t it? I’ve got pretty strong views on what I do and don’t like, and rarely find scents I want to wear.  The ‘Design Your Own Perfume’ experience was the chance to come up with something I really loved. Not too floral, not too heavy – unlike the clouds of Calvin Klein Obsession I used to trail as a teenager. (I can only apologise to everyone forced to share the same sixth form centre). I also liked the idea of wearing my own unique scent, rather than a recognisable high street brand.


Picture of the 21 fragrance blends at the Design Your Own Perfume experience by The Perfume Studio, Buyagift and Red Letter Days

More scents than you can shake a stick at

Introduction to a Design Your Own Perfume experience

Our session got off to a great start when the hostess, Helen, handed out prosecco. The group was a good size – around 14 people split across two tables, which allowed everyone the chance to chat and ask questions.

Helen talked us through the creation of scent, the difference between eau de toilette and more concentrated, long lasting eau de parfum, and how widely prices vary between hard-won natural ingredients and artificial alternatives.

She explained how we would smell 21 different blends exclusive to The Perfume Studio, made by master perfumer, Francois Robert. Francois comes from a family with a long history of creating amazing scents. His grandfather created Chanel No 19, and Francois himself worked with make up artist Charlotte Tilbury on her ‘Scent of a Dream’. Each blend consists of multiple different ingredients, and could itself be used as a standalone perfume.

The blends are dividend into three types: base notes, which linger for longer, middle notes, and top notes which evaporate more quickly. Scents are usually made from a combination of all three.


Picture of a guaze bag of coffee beans, flower shadow on the table cloth and heaps of blotters

Love, maybe, chuck piles – and coffee beans!

Creating our own perfumes

It was fascinating to discover how the different blends varied. We smelt each in turn, handed out on paper spills called ‘blotters’, to waft in front of our noses. Helen described the ingredients, similar branded scents and personality types for each, while her colleague Nicole handed round the blotters.

We were encouraged to pile them up in ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’ heaps, then hold different blotters together to check the combination. Helen also demonstrated how to bend the blotters, so particular blends were closer or further away. This showed how using half or double measures would smell in the finished scent. There were even gauze bags of coffee beans on the tables, to smell in between samples in an attempt to clear our noses!

As expected, some I loved, some I couldn’t stand – but people across the table might adore. Some blends I liked individually but really didn’t mix together, while others I was unsure about actually combined really well. The blends smelled of everything from candy floss to sea breezes, bergamot to spices. One smelled just like green bananas!


Picture of the three blotters with blends I liked best

My favourite blends

Coming up with my own combination

What I hadn’t expected was the nostalgia rollercoaster. Different scents tap into different memories, sending you straight back into the past. The sandalwood box my Dad brought back from India. Lavender like my Newcastle grandma. The uni friend that always wore Body Shop White Musk. Aldehydes reminiscent of the powdery smell of Chanel number 5, from the duty free trolley on a work flight.

In the end, I chose a combination of half a base note, one middle note and one top note. We were told to come up with a name, and I went for ‘Simplify’ (ever hopeful). I surprised myself by including a gentle floral option rather than one of the citrus alternatives. I went for three blends – but lots of people chose loads more, and it was fun smelling their creations too. Helen was on hand  with great advice on final combinations, for anyone wavering about their choice.

The session I went to included a 20ml perfume atomiser in a choice of colours. I chose the sleek navy version.


Picture of a triple decker cak stand with cakes, scones and sandwichs from my Design Your Own Perfume session with The Perfume Studio, Buyagift and Red Letter Days

Tea for two – what’s not to love?

Tucking into afternoon tea

In total, we spent a couple of hours designing our scents, then headed off for an hour of afternoon tea. Great opportunity for a chat and a catch up.

I took the pic above of the triple decker glory I shared with Sanna, over at Wave to Mummy. I do love afternoon tea – especially when someone else has prepared all the sandwiches, cakes and scones! The delicious multilayered chocolate and coffee extravaganza could have come straight from a fiendish Great British Bake Off technical.

Helen and Nicole made up the perfumes while we were eating, so we could leave with atomisers containing our own individual fragrances at the end of the afternoon.

The Perfume Studio then keeps a record of your formula online, so if you love it, you can even re-order new supplies.


Picture of the blue spray bottle and box from my Design Your Own Perfume Experience with Buyagift and The Perfume Studio

My very own eau de parfum

How much does the Design Your Own Perfume Experience cost?

Prices start from a ‘Gold’ experience at £39, where you leave with a little 5ml atomiser, then increase as you take away larger quantities of scent. They max out with the ‘Platinum’ experience for two at £129, which includes a 20ml spray bottle each and afternoon tea. But during sessions you can also pay to ‘upgrade’ to a bigger bottle. If you buy the experience as a gift voucher, it lasts for several months.  If you buy via Buyagift, do check out the huge range of other experiences too.

***PLUS: if you’re reading this on Black Friday, you can save 25% on Buyagift by using the code BLACK 25***

Sure, I loved the Design Your Own Perfume Experience and afternoon tea when I was given it for free.

Would I pay for it myself? Actually, yes.

It was really unusual and I learnt a lot. Considering many fancy designer perfumes cost much more than £40, I’d far rather get the chance to make my own unique scent, than be presented with a bottle grabbed from a shelf.

I genuinely think this would make a fun present for a mother, daughter or really good friend, perhaps together, or even blowing the cash on yourself. You don’t have to trek to London, as there are Perfume Studio sessions in 20 locations up and down the country. Check the website to find out where.

Alternatively, you can also buy “Design Your Own Fragrance” sets, with everything you need to create your own scent at home.

You can choose between sets of six blends grouped along similar lines, whether fresh, exotic, floral, natural or a collection for men. There’s even an all encompassing ‘Ultimate Collection’, with vials of 18 blends to combine. The Perfume Studio also sells a range of different atomisers, scent bottles and even a hip flask. My favourite was the James Bond esque secret atomiser pen – a ball point pen with a tiny vial of scent hidden in the top.

Giveaway to win a Design Your Own Perfume Experience for free!

If you’d like the chance to create your own scent for free, without resorting to mud and rose petals, do enter my giveaway from Buyagift and The Perfume Studio.

It’s your chance to win your own Design a Perfume Gold Experience for One.

Just click on the Gleam link to find all the ways to enter, and make sure you leave a comment on this post about which experience (could be anything!) you’d like best as a gift.

The closing date for the competition is on December 8, so if you win, you could even give it to someone else for Christmas – if you’re feeling sufficiently generous!


Buyagift Design Your Own Perfume Gold Experience for One Giveaway

Now – over to you. Ever been given an experience as a present? What experience would you like best as a gift? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

This is a collaborative post

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Pinterest sized image of a rose and scent sets for my Design Your Own Perfume Experience post and giveaway

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  1. Natalie Crossan
    November 24, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    I’m very fussy with fragrances so this would be perfect to help me figure out just what I want out of a fragrance!

  2. Janet Humphrey
    November 25, 2018 / 3:06 pm

    Loved the Harry Potter tour of Oxford which my brother gave me as a gift from buy a gift last year this also looks interesting

  3. Peter Watson
    November 25, 2018 / 3:10 pm

    I would like a gift that took me to Wembley to watch a big football match.

  4. Alice Strang
    November 25, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    I would like a fancy tea at a hotel!

  5. Susan B
    November 25, 2018 / 3:24 pm

    An experience with Robert Redford would be nice! Seriously, though, I would like a conservation experience with anyone trying to save endangered British birds.

  6. Lucy
    November 25, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    I would love a nice spa weekend 🙂

  7. Anne
    November 25, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    A relaxing spa followed by gin tasting

  8. Angie Mdonald
    November 25, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    I’ve always wanted to rive a monster truck – so that experience would be amazing!

  9. cat
    November 25, 2018 / 4:56 pm

    I would love a spa day experience, with some pampering treatments

  10. Robert
    November 25, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    A holiday to Majorca (just saying lol)

  11. aj
    November 25, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    A couples night away would be lovely, we don’t get any alone time.

  12. November 25, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    I’d love this!
    I’m going to look at it as a birthday gift for my daughter )I’d want to go along too, of course)!

  13. Kim Neville
    November 25, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    A spa day would be lovely

  14. Keith Hunt
    November 25, 2018 / 10:35 pm

    A Cabin Break

  15. Lisa Day
    November 26, 2018 / 4:10 am

    An afternoon tea for two where they do really unique cute cakes and food.

  16. Louise
    November 26, 2018 / 7:21 am

    I would love a long weekend cabin break with my family and dog, where we can fish, cycle, go on long walks and then in the evenings cozy up by the fire to drink hot chocolate and play games

  17. Ruth Harwood
    November 26, 2018 / 8:55 am

    A nice spa break at ragdale hall would be amazing – I won a day spa there, but would love an overnight!

  18. frances hopkins
    November 26, 2018 / 9:02 am

    A spa day, just to relax for the day would be bliss

  19. November 26, 2018 / 10:02 am

    I could do with a lovely spa day!

  20. Matthew Warman
    November 26, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Any experience that involves theatre and food!

  21. clair downham
    November 26, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    a night in a hotel with a lovely meal

  22. Cath Graydon
    November 26, 2018 / 5:23 pm

    Design my own perfume-what a fantastic idea.

    November 26, 2018 / 6:12 pm

    I would enjoy a spa day with my best friend

  24. Solange
    November 26, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    I’d love a spa day experience.

  25. November 26, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    I always fancied a nice, decent spa break… one day. Sounds like you had a fab time with your friend. This sounds like such a unique experience. I would love to go with my fab twinny, Leisa

  26. Laura Reynolds
    November 26, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    Cabin, long walk, massage, great food, wine with special friends and someone else to do the cooking and cleaning.

  27. Margaret Gallagher
    November 26, 2018 / 11:13 pm

    A spa day – total indulgence

  28. Elizabeth
    November 27, 2018 / 12:36 am

    I like to do a different adrenaline-fuelled experience every year on my birthday. One of the ones on my list that I haven’t got round to yet – maybe next year? – is sand yachting. Oh, and by the time I reach 37, I’d like to go round Paris (as a passenger because I can’t drive) in a sports car, to avoid ending up like Lucy Jordan in the Marianne Faithfull song.

  29. November 27, 2018 / 10:55 am

    Afternoon tea is always my fave, such an indulgent treat, I love all the little cakes and nibbles x

  30. hannah igoe
    November 27, 2018 / 1:08 pm

    I would love a spa experience life can be hectic and the chance to relax would be lovely

  31. Jo
    November 27, 2018 / 2:06 pm

    I would love to go deep sea diving, always wanted to do it I was a child

  32. stacey turner
    November 27, 2018 / 8:21 pm

    Off roading in a 4×4 would be a fantastic experience

  33. Ailsa
    November 28, 2018 / 6:06 am

    I’d just like 24 hours of peace and quiet. Is that availability?!

  34. georgie pope
    November 28, 2018 / 9:59 am

    anything that involves the london theatre!

  35. Sarah-Jane Carter
    November 28, 2018 / 9:59 am

    I would love the murder mystery break xx

  36. Gill
    November 29, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    Make your own perfume and afternoon tea sounds fab.
    I love buy a gift, love an experience as a gift, I would probably like a weekend away with a hot tub. Love the idea of being somewhere remote, going for a long walk, coming back and getting into a hot tub under the stars.

  37. Lorna M Peppiatt
    November 30, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    I’d love an afternoon tea followed by relaxing spa x

  38. jo liddement
    November 30, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    I would love a craft workshop with lunch included would be lovely. A workshop where you can learn to crochet would be wonderful!

  39. Christine
    November 30, 2018 / 8:47 pm

    I’d like an experience of dinner at a fancy restaurant followed by a trip to the theatre!

  40. Sheena Batey
    December 1, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    I would like to design my own perfume

  41. greig spencer
    December 5, 2018 / 9:15 am

    afternoon tea is always a good treat

  42. Debra Shanahan
    December 5, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    Designing my own perfume would be great…

  43. Tina H
    December 5, 2018 / 6:24 pm

    I’d love to go for afternoon tea. I’ve lived on the UK for 16 years and I’ve never done it!

  44. Mark Mccaffery
    December 6, 2018 / 4:55 am

    Nothing beats a good afternoon tea.

  45. Elizabeth Smith
    December 6, 2018 / 11:44 am

    The Indoor Skydiving looks amazing

  46. Margaret Mccaffery
    December 6, 2018 / 5:53 pm

    I highly recommend an afternoon tea.

  47. Sarah Mccaffery
    December 6, 2018 / 6:52 pm

    An overnight hotel stay with dinner.

  48. sheri Darby
    December 6, 2018 / 9:27 pm

    It has to be the afternoon tea. I have never had a posh afternoon tea and they look amazing

  49. Helen P
    December 6, 2018 / 11:24 pm

    Wow, the perfume experience looks fabulous, what a great way to smell good!

  50. Laura Turner
    December 7, 2018 / 6:54 am

    A cabin break sounds delightful

  51. Sharon Williams
    December 7, 2018 / 8:25 am

    Something relaxing like spa and afternoon tea

  52. Lauren Main
    December 7, 2018 / 8:45 am

    A wine tasting weekend maybe?

  53. Carolynn Woodland
    December 7, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    The perfume experience combined with afternoon tea sounds like an extremely good choice.

  54. Joanne Billington
    December 7, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    A day with a baker, learning new skills

  55. Charmaine Dance
    December 7, 2018 / 7:46 pm

    A spa day would be heavenly

  56. Stef Acaster
    December 7, 2018 / 11:38 pm

    a spa weekemd

  57. Natalie Gillham
    December 8, 2018 / 3:27 am

    I would love a meal and trip to the theatre in the west end x

  58. Adrian Bold
    December 8, 2018 / 3:59 am

    I’d love the spa weekend to treat my partner.

  59. jacqui rusht0n
    December 8, 2018 / 4:21 am

    Night in a hotel with a lovely meal

  60. Sophie Williams
    December 8, 2018 / 7:11 am

    I love the idea of the create your own fragrance experience. The perfume m mum wore when I was little was discontinued and shes never found anything she liked quite as much so to make something with the same notes would be a lovely sentimental gift for us both!

  61. sandra port
    December 8, 2018 / 8:33 am

    I always wanted to do a hot air balloon trip for two with my hubby.

  62. Jodie Houghton
    December 8, 2018 / 8:39 am

    If I could choose anything I’d do he Harry Potter studio tour. I know my sister would love to make her own perfume though!

  63. Catherine Bullas
    December 8, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Harry Potter experience or a spa day.

    December 8, 2018 / 10:35 am

    I would LOVE to get this for my daughters’ birthdays. They are both February and are 27 (mum of 3) and 25… about to graduate as an OT. How wonderful for them to be able to do the experience – especially the platinum one!!

  65. Miss Tracy Hanson
    December 8, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    I would love a tour of Wembley as I went the other week to see England play. Looks amazing when you are sat in the stands so can’t imagine what the actual tour would be like.

  66. Anneka
    December 8, 2018 / 1:14 pm

    A supercar driving experience or a spa day would be top of my list x

  67. Diane Smith
    December 8, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    I would love a vegetarian cookery course

  68. Rachel King
    December 8, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    Meeting a koala – it’s my dream!

  69. Carol Boffey
    December 8, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    a supercar driving experience

  70. Leeanne
    December 8, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    A spa weekend. I need to look after myself a bit better and I’d love to spend a weekend just relaxing

  71. Anthony Parker
    December 8, 2018 / 11:09 pm

    Wow. This would be fab for my bestie. She’s been my rock xx

  72. Monica Gilbert
    December 8, 2018 / 11:54 pm

    I’d love a clothing sewing experience.