Smell Training Game

Challenge the smell skills of friends and family

Are you recovering from smell loss or do you have the highly trained nose of a master perfumer?? This Smell Training Game will get everyone talking.

This game was inspired by the work of Jonas Olafsson and AS Barwich. Their research and insight into the benefits of smell training, not just for people with smell disorders, got us thinking how we could have some fun with fragrance.

Challenge friends and family to test their sense of smell. Can you correctly pair up the cups?

You will need:

Six (or more) different essential oils, any fragrance is fine.

12 identical paper cups

12 cotton pads (the type for cosmetic use)

Double-sided tape

12 elastic bands

3-4 plain address/printer labels


A pen

Set up the game:

Take 12 cotton wool pads and put a bit of double sided tape in the centre of each. Stick a pad to the bottom of a paper cup, and repeat for all 12.

Cut a sticky label into four long pieces, and fold a piece in half around an elastic band so it sticks to itself like a flag, creating a little tab.

Take two of your prepared cups with the cotton pad in the bottom and add 8-10 drops of essential oil into each cup. Write the name of the fragrance on the tab of an elastic band, and put the band around the cup so the name of on the label is hidden.

Repeat with the other five fragrances so you now have six pairs of cups.

Aim of the game:

To find pairs of cups with the same fragrance. The person with the most correctly paired cups is the winner.

How to play:

Turn all the cups upside down, make sure the names on the labels are hidden, then mix them around randomly so they are all jumbled up.

Like the childrens card game, take turns to pick two seperate cups. Sniff each cup and if you have two cups with the same fragrance, put the pair to one side. Otherwise, replace the cups in the same position you picked them from.

The next player chooses two cups, keeping them if they make a pair, or replacing for the next person to have a go.

Continue around all the players in turn until all the pairs have been found. 

If you are playing solo, just continue sniffing each cup and when you find a pair, put them to one side.

Check the labels on the pairs are the same, and score a point for each correct pair.

The winner is the person with the most points.



It's really difficult to describe smells when you don't have other cues like names or pictures. Encourage your friends to name or describe what they smell.

We don't often compare our sense of smell with others - the game may uncover some unexpected differences!

If you're living with an altered or reduced sense of smell, use the game to get people thinking about what their sense of smell means to them and all the ways they use smell. It should really get them thinking about some of the challenges this can throw up.