Photo: weheartit via Le Love
I dislike Valentine’s Day, but not for the reasons you may think. I don’t mind the throngs of men shuffling around the grocery store at 7pm on February 13th, on the hunt for flowers and Mylar balloons. I can deal with the influx of young couples treating themselves to romantic dinners at all my favorite restaurants. All of the red and pink hurts my eyes, but there are worse things in this world.
No, I don’t like Valentine’s Day for two main reasons. One, I am ambivalent about Romance. Two, I work in an industry driven by social occasions and holidays. I was working with Val product in DECEMBER. In fact, I’m nearly done with Easter. I’ve moved on!
In the end, though, I really just hate forced romantic gestures and disingenuous (not to mention, largely useless) gift-giving.
David and I are a great fit because we both shrug our shoulders with a “meh” when it comes to Valentine’s Day, Christmas, anniversaries and even birthdays. Before you start to think we’re a couple of sad sacks, consider this: since I have known David, he’s bought me an iPod video, Uggs (which I am wearing right now, thank you very much) and an awesome armoire for all of my clothes. He’s come home with flowers on a Tuesday, a nice bottle of wine on a Thursday and he makes me lunches in the morning (with notes!). On our fifth date, he gave me a single dried red rose, which he had plucked from a vase on our second date. He took me to Mexico on a whim and he runs me bubble baths when I am cold. And none of these gifts and gestures have occurred for any particular reason, aside from the iPod, which I believe may have been a birthday gift. The man is not lacking in the romance department. I am the un-romantic one in our relationship, in fact.
Therefore, my very first gift recommendation for Valentine’s Day is this; be romantic all year long. Do kind things for your partner. Try to make him/her happy. Surprise with simple and thoughtful gifts, listen intently, be flexible and open. Gifts are fabulous. I love giving them and receiving them. But, they don’t need to happen for a reason.
I do not, however, begrudge those who give gifts on Valentine’s Day. Who am I to say it’s wrong? I simply take issue with those people who only feel motivated to do something nice because of a holiday. So, without further ado, my Val gift recommendations!
Upgrade Your Flowers
Flowers are lovely. Roses are…..okay. Lots of people love roses. Many people don’t, so keep this in mind. Ask for a bouquet featuring your partner’s favorite color, such as green/white, yellows/oranges, even red. Look for seasonal flowers, buy local from your farmer’s market and make the arrangement yourself.
And don’t discount plants. Depending on your audience (if your wife or girlfriend has been hinting at her desire for 2 dozen roses, I don’t recommend this idea) a plant is a lovely gift. If my boyfriend came home with a lime tree AND planted it for me, I’d be one happy girl. In a few years time I’d have ample limes for cocktails. For home cooks, herbs are a great option.
Chocolate: Less Is More
Trust me on this, a single truffle that tastes beautiful will be far more appreciated than a heart shaped box of chocolate-flavored wax. I recommend Scharffen Berger!
Polyester Is Not Sexy
Step away from the Fredricks catalog. Do not think about buying those silk boxer shorts with hearts. If you really want to make your man happy, buy him some slippers – it’s cold out. Crank up the heat and get naked, he likes you best that way anyhow. Don’t get me wrong, I really like lingerie. I’ve done my fair share of prancing around in a garter belt and thigh-highs. But for as much time as it takes to get into that shit, when it’s just going to come off within minutes anyhow, it’s not worth it.
Do me this favor, if you’re giving (or wearing) lingerie, opt for a chemise. They’re sexy, comfortable, and it will be worn again. I recommend Cosabella. It’s not cheap, but it lasts (I’ve had some of their underwear for longer than I care to admit). And if you’re going for classic lingerie, go for broke. If David and I were not on a strict budget, I would definitely ask for something from Agent Provocateur’s Love collection.
Photo: Agent Provocateur
Sex Toys, Porn & Booze
All go fabulously well together; the Three Lovemaking Amigos! This might be the time to tell you that I have major issues with my libido (thanks, Prozac), but I do appreciate a good sex toy as a gift. Early 2 Bed is a really fantastic and approachable resource for those new to buying sex toys and porn. They have a lot of great information and recommendations. I honestly don’t know anyone who wouldn’t appreciate a nice basket filled with vibrators, lube, porn and wine. And if not on Valentine’s Day, then when?
If I were pulling together a basket, I would choose the following:
Ferrari-Carano 2006 Chardonnay, $22-$26
This is a chard that is well worth the splurge. It’s one of my absolute favorites.
Mudlark Luminaire d’Amande Candles, $12-$20
I am addicted to Mudlark almond-scented candles. Luckily, I can get them for free through work, but I highly recommend them if you enjoy almond. They are subtle and absolutely wonderful. The soaps are also glorious, triple-milled and delicious. You can purchase single/double-wick or travel candles, soap or gift sets. The product art is also totally beautiful.
Obviously porn is totally personal for each person or relationship; I chose this video because it’s great for those who are new to porn (or new to sharing with a partner). It’s fairly tame and there’s a lot of quiet storyline so there’s time to focus on one another without being too distracted. It’s great as a nice background turn on. And, this volume is themed around switching and adding partners, something I think a lot of couples fantasize about.
Hitachi Magic Wand, $50
Alright, full disclosure, I don’t actually own this vibrator. But, I plan on buying in the near future. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, mostly thanks to Tracie (and countless commenters) at Jezebel.
Cruiser Vibrator, $18
This I do own. And I recommend it. That is all.
I don’t own this book, but I do own another by Mark Pritchard, and he’s great. Based in SF, he explores a range of sexualities and really helps the reader to open up and experiment with his or her fantasies.
Climax H2O Lube, $16
For obvious reasons.
A Mix CD, Free
Any music that turns you on. For me this might include Emiliana Torrini, Air, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Bebel Gilberto, Thievery Corporation, Feist, The Doors, EBTG, Portishead, etc etc etc…..
I prefer to stay away from restaurants on Valentine’s Day. I’d rather order a pizza and stay in, personally. If you do want to take your partner out, take the opportunity to try a new cuisine. Or, you could always cook! If you’re after recipes I recommend Lottie + Doof for everyone and 101 Cookbooks for vegetarians/vegans.
Classic Gift Giving
In the end February 14th is just like any other day, and if you want to give your partner a gift, make it personal. If your boyfriend has been talking about new running shoes or guitar strings, why not? It’s an ideal time to give your wife a cooking lesson if you think she might enjoy it. A kiss, a cupcake, a foot rub…..it’s all appreciated. And it’s love.