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A fine perfume can have a hundred ingredients — but sometimes simple is just as sweet. While you can make perfumes with combinations of essential oils, or with complex top notes, middle notes, and base notes, a delicate water-based perfume with a floral scent is deliciously direct — and an ideal gift for a romantic at heart.

Not to mention that making your own perfume is a way to eliminate the harmful chemicals or preservatives often found in synthetic fragrances, such as phthalates, some of which have been shown to cause health problems. A homemade, all-natural, water-based perfume is the best Earth-friendly option.

When making perfume as a gift, it’s important to keep in mind the recipient’s tastes and preferences. You’ll want to use a highly fragrant flower to achieve a good scent, so think about which flowers your beloved enjoys. (You might even get a bouquet to make the perfume and save the remaining flowers to give alongside your handmade gift.) Get even greener with this gift and pick the flowers from your own garden. Some options to consider are rose, honeysuckle and lavender.

Basic supplies for making perfume:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped flowers
  • Cheesecloth
  • Medium-size bowl with lid
  • 2 cups distilled water
  • Small saucepan
  • Washed and sterilized vanilla extract bottle, or another small colored bottle with a lid or an airtight stopper
Instructions for making perfume:

1. Wash the flower petals. Gently clean off any dirt and sediment with water.

2. Soak the flowers. Put cheesecloth inside a bowl with edges overlapping the bowl. Put the flowers into the cheesecloth-lined bowl and pour the water over them, covering the flowers. Cover the bowl with the lid and let the flowers soak overnight.

3. Heat the flower-scented water. The next day, remove the lid from the bowl and gently bring the four corners of the cheesecloth together, lifting the flower pouch out of the water. Squeeze the pouch over a small saucepan, extracting the flower-scented water. Simmer over low heat until you have about a teaspoon of liquid.

4. Bottle the perfume. Pour the cooled water into the bottle and cap it. The perfume will last for up to a month if stored in a cool, dark place.

You can decorate your bottle, or create a small label for it, or simply leave it as is. This is a simple version of perfume, but there is a wide array of perfume recipes available. You might want to try mixing a perfume with essential oils next, or perhaps even creating your own aftershave — who knows where making this DIY gift will lead?

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