Valentine’s Day Gift Guide: At-Home Activities

11 products that spark play and creativity

Whether having Valentine’s Day solo, with pals, family, housemates, pets, neighbors, romantic partners or surrounded by kids, an at-home celebration of love should be pleasurable. For some, that’s cooking, taking a bath, giving (or receiving) a massage, practicing ikebana, watching a film, crafting or creating something beautiful. Here we have selected some of our favorite products that prompt a joyful activity to spend time on—and time is truly the most valuable gift to share with loved ones and also to take for yourself.

The Aphrodisiac Kitchen: Volume 01, Departure of Youth

Andreas Carver’s The Aphrodisiac Kitchen ($40) is more than a cookbook—it is a journey about self-growth, queer acceptance and, above all, a love story told through and about food. Between sensuous shots of latex-gloved hands smashing fruit and essays on Carver’s upbringing as a queer, mixed-race kid in the American South, the first volume of this cookbook captures food romantically, politically and in all its other multiplicities. Whether it’s the book’s vegan shepherd’s pie recipe or noir-themed food photography, The Aphrodisiac Kitchen enchants.

Ceramic Chime Kit

While they come with loose instructions, there’s no right or wrong way to assemble Four Eyes Ceramics’ chime kits ($65). Available in six color combinations, each kit comes with 18 ceramic pieces and 36 inches of string with a loop and bead at the top for easy hanging. If you want your chime to make noise, make sure some pieces are tied closely enough together to touch, but if not, space them out more. Other than that, there are no rules, but they do suggest bringing chimes indoors during wild weather.

Smokey Oud + Tobacco Rose Incense Cones

Handmade in Richmond, Virginia, these incense cones ($30) are formulated with a smokey aroma, achieved using toasted pipe tobacco and rare oud wood, both lightened through the addition of Moroccan rose. Together, the sensuous combination crafts a romantic and evocative fragrance that’s rich without being cloying.

The Freestyle Projector

The Freestyle ($900) is a super-compact, light (830 grams) and portable projector that can create a 100-inch screen on just about any surface. With the ability to rotate 180 degrees, the cylindrical head houses a light source that can also create ambient lighting and star shows. Powered by a USB-C, it supports HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG standards and features WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.2 as well as a 5W loudspeaker that creates immersive sound. Between the large projection and the 360-degree sound, it delivers a cinematic experience at home.

Filament Lamp Kit

Sculpd’s lamp kit ($95) provides rookies and experts alike with the opportunity to create the lamp design of their dreams. Using the comprehensive bundle—two kilos (4.4 pounds) of air-dry clay, bulb with fittings, white paint, varnish, pottery tools, sponge and brushes—the possibilities are endless. The dimmable amber spiral filament bulb emits a vintage-inspired glow. The kit also comes with illustrated instructions and there are online tutorials for extra help. Plus, there should be enough clay leftover for a few more creations.

Tai Body Oil

Founded by mother and daughter duo, Sade Baron and Rachel Lambo, skincare brand Sade Baron relies on 100% natural ingredients to encourage the skin to heal and correct itself. Their Tai Body Oil ($65)—powered by cold-pressed prickly pear oil, broccoli seed oil, olive squalane, calendula oil and sea buckthorn oil—does so by forming an occlusive film that covers the epidermis, preventing water loss, dehydration and skin flakiness, sun damage and more. Suitable for all skin types and all ages, this oil provides vitamin-rich treatment to the face, body and hair.

Handpoke Tattoo Kit

The eponymous tattooing kit from Handpoke Tattoo Co (HTC) comes with all of the essentials ($49) for one hand-poke session (aka one to three tattoos on one person): a 3D-printed needle grip, step-by-step instructions illustrated by HTC’s founding team, sterilization tools, three needles (bold, medium and fine), a sheet of custom flash tattoos and a tray to store these items on. Tested and tweaked by a team of tattoo artists and designers, this kit aims to cover all the bases—making it manageable for beginners and a welcome toy for tattoo experts.

Large Kenzan Set

For dazzling, gravity-defying bouquets, Plantgem’s kenzan set ($39) is a sturdy yet delicate holder for the Japanese art of flower arranging, ikebana. A kenzan (“sword mountain” in Japanese) fixes flowers to a specific spot as spikes within the item keep stems in place. This large rust-proof set uses brass pins to provide solid support while being small enough for fragile blooms. Made in Japan, this kenzan ensures endless, mesmerizing floral displays.

Fortune Cookie Kit

This fortune cookie kit ($29) yields a total of 48 of the beloved Chinese takeout treats in an easy but creative way. It includes all ingredients (flour, superfine sugar and cocoa powder) as well as a silicone baking mat, 60 pre-written fortunes and customizable blank ones, an edible ink pen and step-by-step instructions to make the process stress-free. Thanks to Global Grub’s giveback program, proceeds from each kit sold are donated to local food banks, particularly the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, who provide food to 178,000 people every month.

Burn Massage Candle No. 1

Made with jojoba and soybean oils, this hand-poured candle ($25) is unlike most—it’s intended to be used as massage oil once melted down, thanks to a low burning temperature. Including amber, cedar leaf, lemongrass and more, it’s a delicately fragrant blend that’s also hydrating for the skin. Made in New York, it’s also vegan and cruelty-free.

Indigo Garment Dye Kit

A powdered indigo dye developed at Aikuma Senryo (originally a Chinese herbal apothecary founded in Tokyo circa 1818), Yamato Indigo makes it easy to dye apparel, accessories and other fabrics at home. This kit ($65) includes enough of each individual component to concoct a large vat of dye in order to lend a vibrant hue to shirts, pants and even sneakers. Specifically, that means 50 grams of Yamato Indigo dye, 100ml of vinegar, 100ml of a fixative, as well as a portion of soda ash and Sodium Hydrosulfite (and possibly a pair of rubber gloves, current shortage pending). The instructions are easy and the entire process is fun as a group activity, too.

Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image courtesy of Plantgem