If you’re thinking of celebrating Valentine’s Day — which for many, is a bah-humbug faux celebration — don’t buy red roses. (Unless it’s your sweetie’s absolutely favorite flower and color.) The only thing worse than not getting a present, if your heart is somehow set on it, is getting the same old tired trio: roses, chocolate, lingerie.
Roses will be marked up hugely on Feb. 14, because florists know they can. Chocolate is pleasant, but fattening and lacks imagination. Lingerie is tricky — most women are wearing the wrong bra size anyway, so buying her more of the wrong thing isn’t helpful. If you can sneak a peek and be sure you’re getting the right size, look at her tastes and treat her to more of the same.
Much as it’s a lovely fantasy that she really wants hot pink Victoria’s Secret because it looks soooooo good on all those models, it may not look so hot on her or be the least bit comfortable. Even if it only stays on a few minutes, a bra also needs to feel lovely, not just some lace/wire/cantilevered torture device that makes the girls look great.
This catalog, filled with an impressive array of almost every possible iteration of lingerie, from balconettes to sports bras, landed at my door this week and there are some gorgeous things on offer; check out this one, at $50.
I chose the flower above because it’s a less predictable choice, a gerbera. A bouquet of flowers in one color, mixing textures and sizes, is a lovely option; any good florist — get there long before V-Day — can help you steer clear of the usual picks toward more intriguing, and appealing, options like delphinium or parrot tulips or stock.
1) Think of a fun, shared experience: Tickets to an upcoming concert or show. Visit a museum together. Plan a weekend getaway. Season’s tickets to the ballet, opera or her favorite sports team.
2) If you’ve got kids and don’t have household help, how about a month’s maid service? Do it yourself or hire someone to give your partner a break.
3) Take stock of the kitchen and dining area. A gorgeous new stockpot? A pretty set of stemware? A set of new linen napkins? An espresso maker? One of my favorite gifts, dirt-cheap, is a narrow glass beaker with a metal device that froths milk and makes any coffee into cappucino, available at most kitchen stores. I also love my two little chicken-shaped kitchen timers. (Check out this site, Ballard Designs, and this one, Wisteria, for all sorts of pretty, useful homegoods. I’ve bought from both and find their items stylish and well-priced.)
4) Jewelry is a default choice and, when chosen well, a treat. But how many men really understand what their partner or wife truly loves? Take a good look at the sizes, colors, styles and scale of her usual choices: silver? costume? Deco? Does she prefer necklaces or earrings? Check out EBay or local antique shops for vintage, antique or estate jewelry, a nice change from the usual mall offerings. For a woman who likes bold, strong designs, look for items from the 1930s or 1940s; more delicate styles from the Edwardian or Victorian eras. Try etsy.com for fun and quirky handmade options.
5) If you live in a cold, wintry part of the world, a pair of cashmere gloves or extra-long luscious leather or suede gloves (silk or cashmere or wool-lined) makes a practical but luxurious gift mid-February. If you don’t know her exact size, go with wool or cashmere.
6) A spa day rarely goes unappreciated. Whether she prefers a manicure, pedicure, massage, facial — or all of the above — it’s a treat to disappear and get pampered.
7) Make something with your own hands — a meal, a card, a framed photo. A slow, attentive massage.
8) If your sweetie is athletic, a yoga fanatic or a dancer, there’s a whole range of cool possibilities: some pretty, fresh workout clothes, (try Title Nine or Athleta or Lululemon), new sneakers, a set of training sessions or dance classes, new cleats or a glove or skiwear.
9) If your sweetie has everything, make a donation on her behalf to a cause or charity she values, like donorschoose.org.
10) Perfume is probably the most personal, and difficult, to buy for someone else. If you know her scent(s), go for it. If not, a safer bet might be a scented candle, triple-milled soap, like these babies from Fresh, (that smell so good they’ll perfume the bathroom and last for a month of daily use), or sachets for her drawers or suitcase.
Knowing, (not just guessing wildly) what your loved one really craves — not just some withered supermarket bunch of carnations — is the ticket.