Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day
When I was in 8th grade I came home to a single Valentine’s Day card sitting at the end of the kitchen table. It was from my dad asking me to be his Valentine. I was sold on the day from that point on. I know there are loads of people who say they don’t like V-Day. They claim it is manufactured by Hallmark and chocolate suppliers and anyway they don’t care about flowers. They don’t need chocolates. They don’t want to go out to dinner anyway. Well I say that’s all a case of sour grapes. What’s wrong with having a day to celebrate love? You don’t have to have a boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife / partner to celebrate. How about your Mom? Dad? Grandmother? Neighbor? You can celebrate anyone you love on Valentine’s Day. That is what is so awesome about it and I’m not backing away from that. I say Love Valentine’s Day and shout it from the rooftops. YES! I DO LOVE VALENTINES AND YES I DO WANT A CARD SO DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT SKIMPING ON THAT ONE BUSTER! Don’t be shy. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t make someone guess whether you want to be made to feel special. Give ’em a break. Tell ’em what you want.
Remember that you need to give as well as you get, though, so here is a collection super sweet Valentine’s Day ideas for your sweetheart. Or your dad. Whoever it is making your heart swell this year.
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The Tuesday afternoon following the Friday night Nick and I met he came to my flat for a quick visit before I had to go to work. (It was the 2006 World Cup and I was guest bartending at a gastropub owned by the company I was working for at the time.) He showed up with a half bottle of Billecart-Salmon Rose stuffed into a beat up black rucksack wrapped in layers of plastic bags with ice to keep it cold. I grabbed two wine glasses (I didn’t own Champagne glasses) and we sat in the communal gardens behind my flat, drank the Champagne and enjoyed a budding romance and the crisp and sunny London day. It was, to this day, the best wine experience I have ever had. Since then Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose has had a special part in both of our lives. I think that you should create your very own special memory with this very tasty bubbly. $90 a bottle sold (and shipped) by Sherry Lehman in NYC.
Not quite ready to splash out on a trip to Paris to announce your love this Valentine’s Day? How about Dean & Deluca’s Paris & Pearls Valentine’s Day Cupcakes? Eight cupcakes – four vanilla, four chocolate and each topped with a rich vanilla buttercream frosting. $85 for 8 shipped from Dean & Deluca online. (I said these were super ideas, not cheap ideas)
Of course flowers are always welcome, but you can do better than 1800Flowers. Have you met Provisions? Food52’s really cool online shop? They have partnered up with Brooklyn floral designers Franki Elizabeth for two different options: 12 or 24 stems. Shipping one-day-only: February 12th. Get off your duff and go online! $48-$100.
Everyone loves chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t have to be month-old, overpriced truffles. How about hot chocolate to warm up your honey? Marie Belle makes the absolute best hot chocolate on the planet. Lucky for us, Dean & Deluca delivers it to your (or his) door. $70 from deananddeluca.com
Keep your heart pure and get your hands dirty. Make something special for your valentine! Check out the crazy cool cookie recipes, like the one above,at Bake at 350.
Thinking about a romantic tea drinker? This beautiful set from Tea Posy includes 3 blooming tea flowers, two loose tea sachets and a glass tea-pot so you can see your beautiful tea as it blooms. $30 from Tea Posy online.
Maybe you have a craft cocktail maker keeping you warm at heart. Splash out on the W&P Cocktail Kit. This is from the people who make The Mason Shaker in Brooklyn. It has everything you might need to create a special cocktail named for the person you love – sort of like when I created The Martine 🙂 $279 at The Mason Shaker online.
Or if that’s a bit spenny for you maybe some cocktail mixtures from the OUTSTANDING Employees Only lounge in the West Village in NYC. Pair it up with bottles of your favorite vodka and your favorite tequila (trust me on the tequila, this mix makes a killer Bloody Maria). Look for it at Whole Foods.
Let’s not be prudish. After all, Valentine’s is the holiday of love! How about a gift (now this could be for him or her) of gorgeous red lingerie? Nothing is as high-end as La Perla. Splash out! $295 for the bra alone. From La Perla.
Or go with something a little more modest and a lot less expensive. Victoria’s Secret Pleated Babydoll for $40
Got a red-hot red-meat eater on your hands? Go with classic Laguiole Steak Knives…in red, naturally. Pair them up with some classic dry aged meat from Allen Brothers. $99 for the knives from Williams Sonoma. Two grass-fed bone-in strip steaks from Allen Brothers $99.95.
Grown up Conversation Hearts will send just the right message to the person you love. Where you’ll probably want to save the La Perla for the sex kitten who stole your heart, this is a good one for Granny. She’ll be tickled. Eleni’s $25
For a moment in time UK Luxury Goods provider, Fortnum & Mason, shipped to the US. Sadly, no more. For anyone in the UK, however, a Valentine’s Hamper from F&M is always an extremely welcome way to tell someone they are not the worst thing to ever happen to you. There are many options but this is a great one. The Be My Valentine Hamper for 100GBP.
Do you LOVE America? Not in a beat your chest, scream out ‘MERICA! way but in a “It’s super cool to support Detroit” way? Shinola ia a really, really, really cool company building outstanding products in a the heart of Detroit. They specialize in bicycles, watches and leather goods. A Shinola Watch is a great way to tell the one you love, “Hey! I love you. You should turn up on time more. And I still have my Eminem CD hidden in my sock drawer” The Runwell $750.
Very lastly, in case you are more of a homemade gift kind of person but don’t want to tackle the sugar cookies above, here is a great recipe for homemade cupcakes. It was inspired by a cupcake recipe found in Molly Weitzenberg’s book, A Homemade Life. She mentions preferring a chocolate glaze over cupcakes to buttercream. I am a buttercream believer BUT am also open to suggestions so I combined the two. Vanilla cupcakes, a vanilla buttercream icing and, for this special day, white chocolate tinted red drizzled on top. Nothing says “Will You Be My Valentine?” like TWO kinds of frosting!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (about a half of a lemon)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a cupcake pan with liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon zest.
- Add the flour mixture and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
- Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full each. Bake about 15 minutes and check (preferably with out opening the oven) to see that they are baking evenly. Either rotate (if they are not) or leave them as they are (if they are baking evenly) and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until the tops are golden and tops spring back to touch.
- Unlike cookies, vanilla cupcakes will not taste as good if they are undercooked so do your best to leave them in until the tops are golden and tops spring back to the touch as indicated in the recipe above.
- Makes 12 cupcakes.
- 1/2 cup white or caster sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a double boiler over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and you can’t feel any granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
- Pour the egg white & sugar mixture into the a standing mixer fitted with a whisking attachment and beat on medium-high until it turns white and doubles in size. (Here’s a tip from Smitten Kitchen: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)
- Add the vanilla.
- Finally, add the butter a tablespoon at a time and whip until it comes together into a fairly stiff consistency.
- 8 ounces of white chocolate buttons
- (the best quality possible)
- Red or pink food coloring
- Melt the white chocolate buttons in the microwave in 15-second increments, stirring every time the timer goes off, until they are fully melted.
- Add food coloring to the tint you desire.
- Let it cool just slightly and then drizzle over the cupcakes. Let it sit for 15 minutes or overnight before eating.