It’s not just that women and men can be clueless when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, the problem with shopping for this occasion is that any well-funded advertisement can sway a reasonable man or woman into buying a terrible mistake of a gift.
Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a friend’s rant over this commercial that is hawking a giant teddy bear as the ideal gift. I quickly realized that when trying to avoid the obvious flower-and-chocolate combo, some shoppers might need specific guidance on what to buy whom.
With Americans spending billions of dollars on Valentine’s Day gifts every year, maybe these ideas will help you spend a little more wisely whether you’re browsing online or driving around town.
From Paleo and macrobiotic diet devotees to those who avidly follow Twinkies' latest updates, anyone who enjoys any sort of grubbing will appreciate something for their kitchen. But instead of reaching for another Le Creuset pot, make an impression with Anthro’s Imperial cheese knives or this oil and vinegar atomizer, a little tool that makes art out of your dish. On the cheaper end of the spectrum is a book that will tell your guy or girl where their idols eat.
If you must buy chocolate, go with the Leonidas assortment from Chocolat du Monde in the Rice Village.
Freebie alternative: Plan a quirky menu around whatever is currently in your pantry and cook up some weird dishes together.
Hipsters gifting anything on a Hallmark holiday is so like, ironic. But whatever, if you’re not on a budget and want to impress the guy or girl who is so over everything, splurge on this stunning Townsend bicycle. Or if your over-it valentine would prefer to be at a show at The Mink rather than hitting the pavement, Meze headphones are a no-fail gift for the best listening experience.
Freebie alternative: Hit up a Cactus live in-store performance for some great under-the-radar music acts.
If you’re dating the guy who knows the difference between an Eames lounger and an Ikea office chair (first of all, where did you meet this catch?), you have to check out this little Etsy shop. For the local brick and mortar must-visit spot, head to Kuhl-Linscomb in Upper Kirby for modernly classic finds to impress the guy or girl with discerning taste. They have everything from housewares and apparel accessories to furniture in the houses surrounding the main building.
Freebie alternative: Browse the lower Montrose mid-century modern shops to admire vintage cars and retro furnishings.
J. Crew is way too easy, but there’s still time to order from Kate Spade’s former creative director Julia Leach’s clothing shop for your lady. This site features apparel essentials with a nautical theme. Ladies, Smathers & Branson is a no-brainer for the preppy guy in your life. Check out the belts that showcase your guy's alma mater or weekend hobby. Stop by Tiny Boxwoods for brunch and savor bottomless mimosas on an early Sunday afternoon before hitting the spa together.
Freebie alternative: Have a picnic at the Houston Polo Club and snap portraits with the horses.
The Any-Type You’ve Been With Forever
If you’re at the point where you share bank accounts, pets and a restroom, get ready to splurge a little. Because I have no idea how to shop for the long-termer, I consulted my dad who has been shopping for my mom at Hal Martin’s on Westheimer for decades. It’s a lesser-known spot that sells well-priced fine jewelry and Rolex watches and offers on-staff consultants to aid the clueless shopper.
You can also browse on e-Bay or Etsy for vintage jewelry and watches to suit your loved one’s taste.
Freebie alternative: Frame a meaningful note, poem or photograph to remind why you've stayed together through rough patches.