for a person who tends to be a little cynical around the edges, it may come as a surprise that valentine’s day is actually my favorite holiday. i’m certainly not a fan of romance in the traditional sense. red roses make me puke, and if i have to watch one more “he went to jared” commercial- i swear to god i’m going to steal a car, drive to the mall, and burn that motherfucker down.
what i do love about valentine’s day however, is that it’s a holiday that celebrates love. just love. and who can’t get behind that? i have always used valentine’s day as an occasion to tell not just whoever i happen to be bedding at the time, but all my friends and family how much i love them. it’s beautiful. if you take out the pressure to be “with” someone in the sexy way, it becomes a lot more fun and a lot less disappointing. but still, there is a necessity for presents- and that’s where things get tricky. valentine’s gifts are meant to be cheesy! a little cliche veneer is what makes them so sweet, but it doesn’t have to be full on scented candles and rose petals. it is totally possible to be sweet without being trite (or just giving people useless heart splattered garbage). so without further ado, step away from the hallmark kissing bears, and read this list:
1. candy. russell stover is for suckers. i’m sure i’ve said this before, but cheap candy just yells “i don’t give a shit”, or “i grabbed this at the gas station on my way over”. not really the sentiment you should be going for. if you have the capability, making your own heart shaped box of candy from scratch is stunningly adorable (might i recommend cakeballs, or making your own conversation hearts?). or if you’re crap in the kitchen, just sherlock holmes your loved one’s favorite candy, and buy a boatload of it. then hide it all over the house with little notes telling them how awesome they are. who said easter egg hunts are just for easter?
2. flowers. roses are lame. lilies smell terrible and remind everyone of funerals. if the one you love loves flowers, why not try going to the flower shop and assembling your own arrangement? or better yet (if you have the time, skill, and foresight), why not grow something yourself? the key here is that even if it comes out terrible/dead, the “i made it myself” card always kills on v-day.
3. lingerie. this one is tricky but worth navigating. it’s sexy. it says “i want you”. it say’s “i think you’re beautiful”. if you’re in a relationship where someone always gives you lingerie- try turning it around and giving them the gift of you- wearing something that you want them to see you in. i’m also a huge fan of the pinup photo (red lipstick, good bra, stockings)- given with the understanding that you have said lingerie on underneath your clothes for immediate viewing. whatever route you choose, maybe the hardcore porno lingerie is better saved for another occasion (arbor day?), unless of course “you’re my favorite hooker” is the message you are looking to convey. low on funds? there’s actually an amazing stash of cute retro bras at target in south portland right now for $3.25 each. (i got red satin with white hearts).
4. jewelry. this is going to sound terrible, but i’m a firm believer that if you can’t give nice jewelry, then don’t bother. otherwise, the poor girl will be saddled with a heart shaped diamond chip pendant for the rest of her life. she’ll wear it because she loves you, not because she likes it. and that’s cruel! if you don’t trust your taste but really want to give something special- GET HELP! ask friends, parents, a girl on the street with similar taste- anyone! oh, and definitely don’t go to jared. go local, go vintage, or find something amazing on etsy or a cool online shop that really screams “i know you and you’re awesome!”.
5. favorites. be it your all time favorite record, book, movie, food, tv show or whatever, the act of sharing what you love with who you love is a beautiful thing. as for the cost, if you are willing/able to part with it, your own personal beat-up over-loved copy of your favorite thing i the absolute best way to do it.
6. words. i strongly believe that the best (and coincidentally cheapest) valentine’s gift is a confession. send an anonymous note to someone telling them that they’re beautiful. post a craigslist missed connection. tell someone you love them for the first time. tell someone that you’re sorry or that you miss them. tell someone that they’re your best friend, or that you’re a better person because of them. use this day to say something sweet and true- that you might not have found the “right time” to say before. valentine’s day is the right time. no more excuses.
you may have noticed that i left stuffed animals of any kind off my list. unless they are a collector *gag*, or it has a special sentimental meaning that goes beyond the crap-ness… DON’T YOU EVEN.
in summation, the key to a good valentine’s gift isn’t money or some worn out concept of romance that involves red wine and massage oils. it’s about:
-paying attention to who your loved ones are and what they’re about.
- a willingness to expose your soft underbelly.
-finding a way to tell the people that you love that you love them- in a way that makes them believe it.