Boston Valentine’s Day Gift Guide — For Her
Guys, do you like being in a relationship?
Ok, let’s say I believe you. Let’s say your girlfriend cooks for you, or knows how to deep throat like a champ, or enjoys playing video games as much as you do. You want to keep her around.
Valentine’s Day is a scam. Everyone knows this, especially if they’re single. But It’s also a test. Buying a unique, thoughtful V-Day gift for your girlfriend is a sure-fire way to let her know that you’re a sensitive, loving boyfriend who is always thinking for her. If the gift is good enough, it is also an optimum way to let her know that you deserve a marathon boning session. There’s even a possibility she’ll be so grateful that she’ll tell that one hot bisexual friend of hers (every girl has one), who will be so impressed that she’ll want kiss your girlfriend and touch her boobs–while you watch!
So this is for you, men. A hallmark card and a box of Godivas won’t cut it this year. I’m here to help.
First of all, if you can’t afford a gift, you can always bake something. Guaranteed panty-peeler. I suggest a batch of red-velvet cupcakes, which are relatively easy to make and have a cheery, apropos color scheme. You can find a good recipe at Pinch My Salt. If you want to make her squeal, try rummaging around for a mini-muffin baking pan. Girls love weensy little things, and making them small means you can eat more without feeling guilty.
Home-made not your style? Lack baking equipment and knowhow? Don’t worry, you lazy bum. Just check out the red-velvet cupcakes at Sweet, which has locations in Back Bay and Harvard Square. Their cupcakes are moist and satisfyingly messy, with toothily sweet frosting (my favorite). There’s a pleasant bit of nostalgia at play here, too, which counteracts any slight twinge you may feel at playing into the hype of the recent cupcake craze. But hurry up! If you don’t buy now chances are this fad too will pass, fading away alongside steampunk and that pale kid from Twilight.
Runners up for good food gift: Hot Chocolate Mix or a box of Chocolate Mice from L.A. Burdick (voted best hot chocolate by the Boston Globe Magazine and beloved by my personal hero, Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten).
Terra Firma, in Belmont Center, is a genuine find. A local gem, Terra Firma, which irritatingly doesn’t have a website, sells unique jewelry of spectacular quality. This isn’t your Zales or Jared wholesaler of blah. They carry artisanal work which ranges from tasteful and simple (but never boring) to wildly quirky.
Runners up for good jewelry gift: Alex and Chloe is an online store that sells modern, geometric pieces that are surprisingly affordable. Also Etsy.com has an overwhelming selection of handmade, high-quality jewelry (if you can find it), from romantic braille necklaces to crocheted nature-Inspired pieces made in wool. Everything that can be made, has been made. Plus they sell inexpensive vintage and antique jewelry.
Bath and Beauty Gifts
Giving your girlfriend a pile of makeup on V-Day probably doesn’t send the best message. Even if she doesn’t automatically assume a hidden subtext to everything you do (the odds of this are slim), you probably don’t know anything about cosmetics. My advice would be a little gift basket full of pampering goodies.
Sephora (which has multiple locations in Boston) sells Bare Escentuals Flawless Definition Mascara. This is basically the perfect makeup product. No other mascara holds a candle to it. Your girlfriend will worship you. Meanwhile Lush, which has locations on Newbury St and in Harvard Square, carries ultra-relaxing fizzy bath bombs. Why not get the Sex Bomb scent to get her in a frisky mood? Or help her get into a frisky mood with their Honey White-Chocolate Massage Bar which moisturizes while you use it. If this doesn’t get you laid, you’re better off single. Bonus points: Lush also has vegan products.
Runners up for good bath and beauty gifts: Anthropologie (which also has many Boston locations) sells delicate, hard-to-find perfumes and home fragrances in stunning packaging. I recommend RoyalApothic brand home scents in ‘Distillation of an Edwardian Fireplace.’ It will make her room of choice smell like a moonlit fête thrown by Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward. (Trust me, it’s a good smell, especially for winter)
Black Ink, in Harvard Square and Beacon Hill, has…well…everything. And everything they have is adorable, unique, and either startlingly useful or bizarrely, wonderfully purposeless. From art supplies like fluorescent pencils and colorful moleskines, to home decor (posters of Tintin and screenprinted wrapping paper are standouts), to droolworthy books.
Speaking of books, if you get it right they make great gifts that can be just as romantic as roses. Here’s a brief list of books that will make your girl brag about you the day after.
Poetry is a classic choice for your valentine. Luckily, 2009 saw the publication of Selected Poems: Wallace Stevens. Read them aloud to her–she’ll think you’re a genius for discovering him. (It’ll be our secret.) Or if you want to go a more thematic route, The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda is collection of the poet’s most romantic works. It doesn’t get much more Valentine’s Day appropriate–plus it will make you seem thoughtful, sensitive, and intellectual. That’s sexy. For bike aficionados: The Bicycle Manifesto is well-designed and chockablock with information about bike repair, mechanics, history, and general bike culture, complete with pictures. For girls who cook: Thomas Keller, owner of French Laundry, has a bistro cookbook Bouchon which is a little less intimidating than his other cookbooks, but is still Michelin-quality fare. (Mario Batali also has a tremendous cookbook Mario Italiano, available on Amazon.) For foodies: Heat by Bill Buford is an often-hilarious account of his giving up a writing career to slave away as a kitchen bitch in a famous manhattan restaurant. Toast by Nigel Slater is a bittersweet tale of childhood memories flavored by food–sometimes awful, always illuminating. For art and design geeks: Domino’s Book of Decorating and The Private World Of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge are two beautiful books of interior design at its best. For fashionistas, the venerable blog The Sartorialist is full of beautiful street fashion photography and style inspiration. In the art for art’s sake category, Painting Today is a definitive anthology of contemporary artists of note. Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life is a tremendously entertaining and colorful retrospective of the work of one of the best-known, most prolific illustrators. Lastly, Maira Kalman has updated Strunk and White’s ‘The Elements of Style,’ a timelessly relevant manual of the english language, by filling the generally dry style guide with her whimsical, richly colored gouaches. As a childhood fan of Kalman’s picture books, I can’t think of anyone better to bring some life and humor into this text.
So that’s my way of giving some advice to the men of Boston. Take it from someone who is going to be painfully gift-free on the holiday in question–it always pays to show someone you love them.