While merely hearing the words “Valentine’s Day” can cause reflexive groans, we happily accepted the shopping challenge the holiday provides. Below is our selection of creative items to show that special someone your heartfelt affection (or absolute loathing), be it a dedicated partner, disgruntled friend, adoring pet, or most importantly—yourself. Find even more year-round gift ideas in our Buy section, which is updated daily.
Enough with the glittery mass-produced cards from CVS; let artwork speak what’s on your mind. This original 24 x 24 inch “You/Me (Sunset)” print ($250) by NYC-based graffiti icon and artist Steve “ESPO” Powers comes in an edition of 100 and blares the message of love loud and clear. His webshop has a few other great, V-Day contenders, including the “Youniverse” and “Everything is Shit (Except You Love)” prints.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
A cluttered house distracts the mind from the issues that are truly important. In her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” ($11), Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo coaches readers to discard everything that doesn’t “spark joy”—leaving you surrounded only by the things you really love. From the moment you start tidying, she writes, you will be compelled to reset your life. It makes a thoughtful gift for those who need a little support and encouragement.
Levitating Lavender Candle
Brooklyn-based shop Species By the Thousands offers everything from originally illustrated greeting cards to alchemy-inspired jewelry—not to mention a collection of scented soy wax candles. The unique labels for each of their different candles make it hard to choose just one but Levitating Lavender($32), with hints of rosemary, is a particularly excellent pick for illuminating the bedroom after hours.
Putting a modern-day touch to the ancient tradition of incense burning, Seattle’s Blackbird perfumers have created sophisticated scents based on perfume concepts for their Incense Pyres. The most sensual scents would have to be Blood Countess (warm, resinous, and spicy) or Nahk (tantalizing, strong, spicy hot leather); there’s plenty more to browse through. Each tin ($28) holds 20 cones and the tin’s lid doubles as the burner—an instantaneous way to transform your home’s ambience from Martha Stewart to mystical promise.
Insult Candy T-Shirt
This deceptively sweet T-shirt ($45) is perfect for anybody who’s a little anti-Valentine—or indeed just anti-social. With messages including “U R Gross,” “Keep Moving” and “Fat Chance,” this pastel-colored, 100% cotton top will keep the cranky looking kawaii.
Crack Me Open Baby / Sparkles Await You
Chaparral Studios’ rocks ($15) look pretty plain and straightforward at first glance, but they have a hidden surprise. With the help of a hammer and some elbow grease, one-of-a-kind magical sparkles await the beholder. (Beautiful heartfelt metaphor not included.)
Sehti Na Cone Earring
New York-based designer Sehti Na makes jewelry that blends tradition with something very contemporary and unique. This stunning, versatile Cone Earring ($530) boasts a 2.5mm natural white pearl and a 2mm white diamond, yet is coyly demure. The conical shape means it can be worn in a variety of ways: as a slight drop or ear cuff, depending on the angle.
Eat More Bacon, Have More Sex Cushions
Whether you recognize this as a quote from Grey’s Anatomy (their version of “carpe diem,” so to speak) or not, this pair of cushions ($166) are a surefire attention-grabber as they are a daily reminder to live life to the fullest. The letters are individually cut and appliqued by this Etsy shop owner, and available in different colors—so your mantra doesn’t have to clash with the decor.
Secco Italian Bubbles
Not just a stunningly bright bottle of booze, Secco Italian Bubbles Rose (made from 80% Raboso Piave and 20% Pinot Noir) is as tasty as they come. The pleasantly affordable drop ($13) is super smooth, making it very drinkable and the vivid color and cheerful packaging are sure to brighten any event—we suggest keeping it extra chilled and packing it for a picnic.
Queer Scout Patch
Originally made for a queer scout-themed dance party held in Pittsburgh, this excellent patch ($5) can now be bought and worn with pride by anybody with a few dollars and an internet connection. It’s pink, purple, sparkly and full of positive vibes.
Candle image by Cool Hunting, all others courtesy of respective brands