When it comes to cologne, it can often feel like spritzing a little on yourself is equivalent to entering a lifelong contract with a perfumer. There are countless articles that advise you on the right way to find a scent that’s specific to you. But the obsession with a “signature scent” might lead you to buy bottle after bottle of whatever the first fragrance you vaguely liked. The singular focus on finding a cologne and sticking to it can result in something of a fear of experimentation. Ironically, by sticking to a “signature scent,” you might never find the cologne that you truly love.
The truth is that the only real way to find your fragrance is to try a bunch of different ones for yourself. That’s why cologne gift sets are such a great investment. Gift sets often feature several different scents from one brand. It’s like a beer flight, but for your nose. Or they’ll come in a smaller bottle size and concentration, so if you don’t love it you won’t have to use it for too long. It can help you try a new scent without committing to a big, expensive bottle of something. And of course, gift sets make good, well, gifts. That’s because cologne is one of those things that people sometimes avoid buying for themselves. It’s expensive and can feel frivolous, which is why it’s a great thing to receive as a present. Choose wisely, and you can impress the recipient while still having enough scratch for everyone else on your gift list (including yourself).
Even though your nose is the best guide for choosing a perfume, there is still information that can inform your decision when buying something online. Every quality fragrance has 3 main scent components; the top notes, the heart notes, and the base notes. The top notes are the thing you smell first, but they dissipate the most quickly. That’s why smelling cologne on a piece of paper at the mall counter isn’t a great way to find out the kind of scent you’re getting. Rather, the heart and base notes are the things that will linger throughout the day. You should also familiarize yourself with terms like “eau de cologne” and “eau de toilette.” The former is more concentrated, but not as strong as Eau de Parfum. Eau de toilette is a weaker concentration. That makes it more affordable, but not as long-lasting.
With that in mind, these are some of the best cologne gift sets available right now. Get them for a loved one or just try them yourself.
1. Perry Ellis Fragrances 360 Gift Set
Perry Ellis might not get as much attention as competitors like Calvin Klein, but the brand has consistently been producing reliable and well-priced menswear for over 50 years. In addition to understated jackets and classic dress shirts, Perry Ellis also produces quality and affordable fragrances. 360 for men has a fruity and fresh aroma; heart notes include bergamot and tangerine. This gift set includes four bottles. There’s a full-size toilette spray, a travel-size toilette, a shower gel, and a deodorizing body spray.
Pros: This affordable set includes four bottles, making it a great gift. The bottles include a full-size eau de toilette, a travel-size version, a shower gel, and a deodorizing spray. That makes it perfect for those who like to coordinate their scents.
Cons: Since the fragrances are all the same, it’s not really a “sampler” like some of the other options on this list.
2. Ralph Lauren Polo Variety 4 Piece Mini Gift Set
Ralph Lauren is arguably America’s definitive fashion brand, but it’s also an almost unwieldy fashion empire. Sub-labels include Polo, Denim and Supply, RRL, and Purple Label. That can make it hard to know where to begin looking. Fortunately, this sampler from Ralph Lauren includes four different fragrances from the Polo brand. They color-coordinated collection includes Red, Blue, Black, and Green. Red is citrusy, Black is tropical, Green is woody, and Blue is fresh and aquatic.
Pros: This sampler includes four different fragrances from the Polo brand, making it a good option for those who like to switch up their scents or who want to try different things. The fragrances are color-coded, too, so they’re easier to keep track of.
Cons: Packaging can vary.
3. Kenneth Cole Black Gift Set
The FiFi awards are an annual event thrown by The Fragrance Foundation that honors the best in perfume. Kenneth Cole Black won the Men’s Fragrance of the Year, prestige category in 2004. Despite its dark name, the fragrance is described as fresh spicy and green, but it also has woody notes owed to cedar middle notes. This gift set includes an after-shave balm, deodorant, and a 3.4-oz bottle of eau de toilette.
Pros: Award-winning fragrance in a giftable package. Includes deodorant, after-shave balm, and a spray bottle of fragrance.
Cons: Fragrance of all the products are the same, which may be a problem for those looking for variety gift packs.
4. Prada Luna Rossa Sport for Men
Prada has earned consistent acclaim for its modern and inventive clothing under the direction of Miuccia Prada. Prada’s fragrances are likewise celebrated. Luna Rossa Sport is one of the newer entrants in Prada’s Luna Rossa men’s perfume line, and it has notes of tonka bean and vanilla. This kit includes a shower gel and an after-shave balm, plus a 3.4-oz bottle of eau de toilette. The bottle and tubes have distinct red packaging, making it an eye-catching and stylish gift option.
Pros: Good option for those looking for something from a luxury label, gift box includes aftershave balm, shower gel, and eau de toilette bottle. Also a good option for those looking for a sportier fragrance.
Cons: Since it’s a luxury label, it’s more expensive than some other options.
5. Versace Dylan Blue 2 Piece Gift Set For Men
Another luxury option is this pick from Versace. It’s a relatively new fragrance from the brand; it was launched in 2016. The two-piece collection includes a shower gel and a 3.4-oz eau de toilette spray. You can also choose a more expensive three-piece set which includes a compact, zippered toiletry kit. The sophisticated looking blue bottle has a gold Versace seal on the front and a gold cap. The Dylan Blue fragrance is described as a fougère: woody and aromatic, with sweeter and aquatic notes.
Pros: Stylish and sophisticated bottle, making it a good gift. The gift set also includes a matching bottle of bath and shower gel.
Cons: The basic gift set only includes two items, compared with some of the other options which include three or more items.
6. Issey Miyake L’eau De Issey 3 Piece Gift Set
Japanese designer Issey Miyake is known for experimental, unconventional, but nonetheless beautiful clothing. And despite being more of a niche name than Ralph Lauren or Prada, Miyake’s L’eau d’Issey fragrance remains one of the most beloved options out there. The fragrance blends citrusy and woody notes. Both the men and women’s versions of L’Eau d’Issey have won multiple FiFi awards from The Fragrance Foundation. This kit includes a 4.2-oz bottle of eau de toilette, a 2.5-oz tube of shower gel, and a toiletry kit.
Pros: Unlike many of the other options, this gift set includes a toiletry bag. The perfume comes in a 4.2-oz bottle, which is substantially larger than many of the other bottles listed.
Cons: Not the longest lasting scent of the options listed.
7. Nautica Eau De Toilette Gift Set
Despite the Nautica name and branding that evokes an expensive boating lifestyle, it’s a decidedly mid-tier brand. Mind you, that’s not at all a knock against the brand. Rather, Nautica produces easy-going but luxurious products at an attainable price. That extends to their affordable and well-liked fragrances. This kit comes with two fragrances: Voyage and Voyage Sport. Voyage has green and sea scent notes, meaning it’s fresh and crisp, rather than deep or woody. Voyage Sport is more aromatic by comparison. There are two one-oz bottles of eau de toilette.
Pros: This pack of two colognes comes in a transparent gift box, making it good to give as a gift. There are two one-oz fragrances. True to the brand’s name, the scents are light, crisp, and green and evoke the sea. Affordable price.
Cons: Sweeter floral/fruity notes might not be ideal for everyone.