Many countries and cultures have designated days to celebrate love - here in the United States, that day happens to be Valentine’s Day. It’s a day not just for lovers, but also a day to recognize love for your parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Anyone else remember exchanging Valentine’s Day cards with classmates in grade school? Snoopy cards definitely seemed to be popular. All that said though, at the end of the day, it’s romantic love that is at the heart (ha!) of the holiday.
For many couples, their Valentine’s Day tradition is a night out at a fancy restaurant - others prefer a quiet night in with their special someone. Some celebrate by exchanging funny cards or going on an excursion to a local ice cream parlor, or perhaps back to where they first met - or had their first date. If, however, you do not fall into any of those categories but wish to make a romantic gesture to your sweetheart this February 14 and are at a loss for ideas, we have a few whizbangers for you, as well as several tips and tricks on presentation and a few finishing touches that we hope will help cupid’s arrow hit the mark!
FLOWERS - A VALENTINE’S DAY CLASSIC: Red roses are arguably the most traditional of all Valentine’s Day gifts. We happen to love them - but does your lady love? If you’re not sure, check out her Little Birdie Me gift profile to see, first, if she likes receiving flowers. If she does, what are her favorite flowers? It might not be roses. Once you are confident in your flower selection, where are you going to place your order? Has your gal indicated her favorite florist in the Favorite Shops section of her gift profile? If not and you’re US-based, a word to the wise: you may wish to check out BloomNation which is a network of local florists. We heard about them from florist extraordinaire, Hallie Krechevsky of Hallie’s Flower Garden - our fave local flower shop (and inadvertent source of the epiphany that led us to build this site!). We’ve used BloomNation to suss out great local florists when visiting other parts of the United States and have been very happy with the results. Another idea if you are looking to go the flower route: if you’re married, consider replicating the flowers from your bride’s bouquet - or, perhaps check out some of the great paper flower artists out there for something more permanent and a little different from the ordinary? We like the following Etsy vendors: lillesyster, iwantthatmountain, Mazziflowers, or folium. Full disclosure: we used to work with Jess, the creative talent behind folium - we link to her shop though because of her skillz, not because we know her. Last but not least, if you want to go truly old school, wander on over to our Gifting Resources and check out the Language of Flowers to craft a bouquet with a very specific message.
A MIXTAPE: Ok, so maybe not quite as old school as flowers, the mixtape has been a solid (and affordable!) way to express one’s love for several decades now. Although cassette tapes are no longer commonly used, there are alternative options available - from custom playlists on the likes of Spotify, to digitally gifting a selection of songs via the likes of Amazon.com. Or, if you’d just like to capture the mixtape mood, get cuddly with your bae and give them a bit of a chuckle, a custom mixtape pillow could be the way to go.
HAM IT UP FOR YOUR SWEETHEART: Sweetheart ham is a thing. A gorgeously, delicious, amazingly yummy thing. Olympia Provisions takes pork sirloin tips and brines them for 10 days in a blend of juniper berries, fresh herbs, fresh garlic, and fresh onions. Then, they smoke the hams over applewood for 10 hours. The upshot? Pig heaven. Whether your significant other is a bit of a ham, or simply your sweetest sweetheart, we think this makes a mighty fine gift for Valentine’s Day. Bonus points: make a fresh batch of biscuits, get in some cold brewskies and have yourself some ham and biscuits while you raise your cans, bottles or steins and toast cupid’s handiwork together.
RAINY DAY LOVE: We’ve never seen anything other than round umbrellas and, well, maybe a square umbrella or two. But, heart-shaped? No, never. Turns out though that they do in fact exist - in brilliant red, no less! If your Valentine happens to live in a rain-prone location, a heart-shaped umbrella could be just the kind of silly, romantic gesture that could win the day.
VALENTINE’S DAY CHOCOLATE - VERSION 2.0: Along with flowers, chocolate is perhaps the most iconic of Valentine’s Day gifts, typically in a heart shaped box, or wrapped in gold. Now, we’re not ones to sniff at chocolate, but we do have a hot tip for you this February 14 - both literally and figuratively - about a relatively new chocolate goodie that we think is a pretty awesome treat for any Valentine that loves chocolate: EHChocolatier’s Red Hot Crunch Bars. We’re not even super passionate about Red Hots, but we can’t get enough of this stuff! The white chocolate has been our go-to choice for the way its sweet creaminess offsets the heat of the Red Hots, but we suspect it would be hard to go wrong with the dark chocolate variety too. If you’re looking to give the gift of chocolate but want to give something that’s a bit different and marvelously scrumptious, we suggest you look no further than EHChocolatier this Valentine’s Day.
IT WAS WRITTEN IN THE STARS: Looking to commemorate an important relationship milestone this Valentine’s Day? Maybe the day you met, your first date, the day you got engaged, or your wedding day? If so, a star map, showing the exact position of the stars on that day and time, could be the perfect romantic gesture. There are multiple sources for such maps so you may wish to check out several and see which method of presentation suits your aesthetic. We haven’t personally ordered from these vendors yet ourselves, but think they look like promising places to start researching: StrellasCreations, Under Lucky Stars, and Finch & Cotter.
PICK-HER, PICK-HIM, AND PICNIC: For those who prefer to stay in on cupid’s day, may we suggest changing things up by planning a floor picnic? If you’re in northern climes, staying in is often non-optional, given blizzard patterns and such - if you are so situated, you may wish to set up something fireside if that’s an option. You can either plan the picnic solo as a surprise - securing a spread of your favorite food and drink - or, split up responsibilities with one person taking charge of the savory part of the meal and the other supplying the sweets and libations. Either way, may we suggest pairing your picnic with some light frivolity - be it a saucy board game, cards (we hear there’s something called strip poker?), a romantic movie, a trip in the hot tub time machine with a Nintendo Super NES Classic - or, go truly old school with a round or two of Twister!
LOVE IN BLOOM: This one’s for all you lovers fortunate enough to live in climes with a year-round growing season - or for couples based in colder climates that like to plan ahead. Consider starting a tradition of selecting a plant to mark Valentine’s Day - be it an apple tree that will bear fruit for years to come, a pine tree that is destined to become a family Christmas tree, or a dahlia that will only grow hardier and more profuse with blooms over time.
DREAM LOVE: Is there something that you and your significant other dream about doing some day? Even if it is not attainable yet, perhaps there is some small step you can take today as a kind of promise, reminder, or ode to that dream. Dream of getting a dog? Learning to cross country ski? Or maybe the two of you have day dreamed about taking a round-the-world trip journey together? Make Valentine’s Day the day you commit to making your shared dream a reality. Take a small step towards that goal every February 14th, be it signing the pair of you up for language classes, starting to map out your itinerary, buying a pair of snowshoes, volunteering at a local animal shelter, and/or setting up a savings account specifically to fund your dream. Word to the wise: if you go the savings account route, take the extra step of setting up a direct deposit every month to slowly siphon off monies to achieve your goal, even if it’s only $5 or $10 per month to start. Before you know it, you and your partner-in-love will be be paying for visits to the vet, or standing atop the Eiffel Tower.
LONG DISTANCE LOVE: Whether you will be one mile or one thousand miles away from your paramour this Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to go wrong with a tried-and-true love letter. What do you miss about your significant other when they are not there? Why do you love them? What are you wishing for your future together? Take a moment to put pen to paper and, for an added flourish, mail your missive using an assortment of vintage love stamps. Need some literary inspiration? Check out our Quotations page for romantic and love-related quotes, ranging from the sentimental, to the amusing. Or, if you wish to keep things straightforward and to the point, but want to do it with a bit of flare, consider sending an old-fashioned telegram - we haven’t used telegramStop yet ourselves but think the service sounds awfully fun!
RACY AND LACY: Another stereotypical Valentine’s Day gift is lingerie. Word of advice on this one: don’t do it unless you know this is what the woman in your life would truly enjoy receiving. Also, don’t do it if you’re thinking of it more as a gift to yourself than a gift for her - never a good way to approach gift-giving, regardless of the gift in question. Check her Little Birdie Me gift profile - what kind of undergarments does she like? Does she prefer cotton? Silk? What are her favorite brands? Her size information? Does she have a favorite place to shop for knickers? If so, they may well have her purchase history on file which will help a knowledgeable shop assistant guide you to something in her taste and size. Failing that, have a quick peep in her underwear drawer to check sizes and brand names. And, although sexy underwear is the cliché, don’t underestimate the lure of loungewear, be it the perfect pair of sweatpants and a cozy sweatshirt, or flannel pjs. You know your gal best though, so we’ll leave that call up to you. Final tip - if you’re looking for something a little bit special or unique, you may wish to check out Etsy vendor, OnTheInside, making elegant (yet comfortable!) sets of custom lingerie.
MY PUNNY VALENTINE: This is more of a concept than specific gift - an invitation, one might say, to get creative with a funny card or message. Taking a page (scene?) out of the movie Stranger than Fiction: if your loved one is a keen home baker, consider giving them a bouquet of flours instead of flowers this Valentine’s Day. Dating a coffee fiend? Go with something like: “I love you a latte” and surprise them with a mug of their favorite joe or have a romantic rendezvous at their favorite café. Married to a taco lover? A guacamole aficionado? Send them a message that says something like, “let’s taco about you and me,” and order in from their favorite taqueria for a cozy night à deux.
PRACTICALLY PERFECT: If five hundred roses delivered to your office, or a plane writing your name in the sky sounds like unnecessary extravagance, it’s likely that you and your loved one prefer romantic gestures prioritizing practicality over grandiosity and, if that’s the case, consider what would make your significant other’s life that bit easier or that much more enjoyable - not just on February 14 but year round. We’re talking things like a reserved parking space near your loved one’s place of work, membership to a rock climbing gym, a local museum, a club or park that he or she would avail of regularly. Or, maybe it’s something like a Lynda.com, Craftsy or Great Courses subscription to make their commute that much more interesting or enjoyable. The subtext to these kinds of gifts is something along the lines of, “I want to take care of you and make your life easier/more enjoyable even when I am not with you,” or “I listen to you, I hear what you’re interested in trying/learning/changing, and I want to help you achieve your goal.”
LOVE UNDER THE STARS: May we suggest going camping on February 14? Opt for a nearby national park, or your backyard. If you’re currently lacking the necessary outdoor equipment, we were pleasantly surprised that there are actually some pretty accessibly priced tent/sleeping bag packages on the market, such as this High Peak tent and sleeping bag combo set. That said, camping gear and outdoor skills aren’t even necessary as long as you and your loved one have a bit of imagination; you can go the homegrown route, making a blanket fort in your living room. Put all smartphones in airplane mode, don’t Instagram anything, don’t check the news, don’t obsessively check your inboxes, in fact, don’t take your phones out at all - unless it’s to use the Star Walk app to gaze at the stars together (conveniently, the app works in airplane mode so you can look at the stars undisturbed). And, whether you are camping by your fireplace, or fireside on the beach, we suggest bringing along the makings of, if not a full on dinner, some stargazing snacks such as s’mores, banana boats or baked apples. Detach from your day-to-day, reconnect with your sweetheart and focus solely on each other for a spell.
SHALL WE DANCE: Brazilian dance troupe extraordinaire, Grupo Corpo, happened to be here in Boston this past weekend and we were fortunate to attend their Sunday afternoon performance. The program consisted of two pieces - the first, Suíte Branca, was choreographed by Cassi Abranches to mark the company’s 40th anniversary. It was so stunningly beautiful that we thought that it could only be downhill from there. But, we were in for a surprise - the second piece, Rodrigo Pederneiras’ Dança Sinfônica, was just as mind-blowing. Like Ms. Abranches’ piece, Mr. Pederneiras’ was created to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. But, why are we mentioning it here, you ask? Well, the costumes, set design, music and movement of Dança Sinfônica all spoke of love. The lady dancers were in deep red leotards (the red of red roses), as were the curtains that draped the sides of the stage. The principal female dancer was the exception, in a pale pinky-gold costume, while all the men were dressed in black. Between the costumes and the lighting, the effect was wonderfully dramatic. Best of all though, was the music and the dancing itself - seamlessly alternating between group dancing and duets with an ending that drew gasps from the audience. It was one of the most captivating and most beautiful performances we have seen in a good while. So, if your hometown happens to be on Grupo Corpo’s tour schedule and your Valentine loves dance, we can think of no better gift than a couple of tickets to see love exquisitely captured and expressed on stage. We just wish we could go again!
FIRST LOVE: Whether it’s your first Valentine’s Day together as a couple or your fiftieth, if you’re looking to change things up, may we suggest using the holiday to do something that’s out of the ordinary for you both, an experience that would be a first for the both of you? Never been to the opera before? Dress up to the nines and give it a whirl! Never considered going to a psychic before but always been curious? Make a date of it and see what the future has in store for you! Never been to a jazz club? Reserve a table. Never tried bibimbap? Suss out a well regarded Korean restaurant. Think of it as a mini adventure you are taking together, something to take you out of your day-to-day routine. Whether or not you decide opera is your new passion, or believe what the psychic has to say, it will be an experience you and your loved one will have shared together and, when approached with humor and curiosity, will make for a marvelous - or, at the very least, an amusing - shared memory.
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