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Putting It All Together

Luxurious beauty products seem like a pretty safe holiday bet—who wouldn’t like a basket of beautiful soaps? I don’t want to send just anything, though. What’s luxe and prepacked?

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We’ve all suffered holiday packages filled with sausages, fruitcakes, and other weighty foodstuffs not exactly tailored to our tastes. Far better to stick with the less perishable and more personal option: beautifully boxed gift sets, stuffed with all manner of sweet-smelling things.

Agraria’s seasonal offering ($165 at Bergdorf Goodman) is particularly festive: a wooden box filled with gold confetti and tied with a green bow is loaded up with a bitter-orange perfume candle, potpourri , soap, and shower gel.

Slatkin & Co.’s holiday scent is legendary for its spirited mix of pine, cinnamon, mandarin orange, clove, and eucalyptus; if Miracle on 34th Street had a smell, this would be it. This year, the gift box is packaged in a red bucket ($192 at Bergdorf Goodman) and contains potpourri, a large candle, two sets of votives, scented rocks, and a room spray.

Savon (212-473-1009), the soap and skin-care emporium with a new location at 2052 Broadway, near 71st Street, has prepared baskets for body or bath, ranging from $65 to $125. But Savon’s soaps are so pretty, you may prefer to make your own selection. The transparent loaf soaps, sliced at the time of purchase and often confused with pastry, contain ingredients like vanilla, coconut, wheat, lavender, and rosemary.

The Be Sensual set from high-end spa designer Espa packs a Moroccan spiced bath essence, soap, a candle, and a body mitt into a brown box lined with ruby paper ($80 at the Mandarin Oriental spa). L’Occitane’s most bountiful basket, the Shea Butter Ultimate collection ($352), contains eighteen products, which means this gift could last well into 2006. There’s chestnut shower cream, sweet almond liquid soap, massage balm, foot cream, and, of course, pure shea butter, all wrapped in a leather-handled basket you would be proud to take to St. Barts.

Both Clyde’s (for $100 to $600) and Zitomer’s ($75 to $1,500) pharmacies will custom-make packages from their well-stocked shelves—Zitomer’s even has personal shoppers who’ll handle the whole thing over the phone.

Box sets are an excellent option for men, as well; they get a whole new range of products without ever having to buy something with the word aromatherapy on the label. The Art of Shaving’s Blue Box ($100) has a luxe badger shaving brush, pre-shave oil, shaving cream, and aftershave balm, while the Ultimate Man Trio from Kiehl’s contains shaving cream, moisturizer, and an amino-acid shampoo packed in a brushed-tin box with a red ribbon ($34.50).


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