Sure it’s commercial but if you've got a significant other, you’re going to have to do something to acknowledge this most romantic (and, often, expensive) of holidays. However, while everyone wants to show their loved one how much they care, 2009 may not be the year to blow a lot of dough on jewelery, flowers and a fancy night out on the town.
That's not to say that you can't find plenty of gifts that say “I love you” without requiring you to take out a second mortgage. Here are some online finds for less than $50 that won’t cramp your style.
QUEEN OF HEARTS. Etsy is the go-to online resource for cute-as-a-button handmade goods. On Etsy, you deal directly with the artists and craftmakers who set their own, surprisingly reasonable prices. This means you not only save money, but you may also even be able to come up with one-of-a-kind or custom options that just aren’t available down at the mall. Seriously, all you have to do is type “heart” in the search field, and you’ll come up with countless romantic gifts, such as this sterling silver heart pendant necklace from nicolesarvaydesigns that will have her—literally—wearing her heart on her sleeve. $26 at www.etsy.com.
PRET A PORTER. If she's always on her MacBook, let her ditch the humdrum laptop totes you’ll find at most computer stores (yes, Apple Store, we’re talking to you). This ultra-chic floral laptop case from Shanghai Trio is both gorgeous and strong, made with plasticized cotton for durability. $48 at www.candystorecollective.com.
NEW SCENTSATION. Stressful times call for de-stressing in its purest form: a long, warm bath. With this beautiful collection of six bath salts from renowned French parfumerie Fragonard, she can treat herself to the most luxurious of soaks scented with the likes of Verbena, Orange Flower and Cherry Blossom. $26.50 at www.delight.com.
TO A TEE. If your guy is a Rock Band or Guitar Hero fanatic (and let’s face it, these days, what guy isn’t?), take his obsession one step further with this cheeky electronic drum kit t-shirt. The best part? All of drums on the shirt are actually playable, with seven different sounds, so he can act out his Tommy Lee fantasies on his own chest. $29.99 at www.thinkgeek.com.
BOTTOMS UP. Nalgeen bottles are so last year. For the athlete or all-around gent-on-the-go, a Klean Kanteen stainless steel reusable water bottle is a healthier, more environmentally conscious alternative to plastics. Plus, it’s durable, sanitary and toxin-free. $18.20 at www.reusablebags.com.
TOUCHDOWN PASS. For those with a passion for the pigskin, these vintage college football calendars aren’t just cool to look at, they’re a collectors item. Each team calendar, ranging from the classic Cal vs. Stanford rivalry to Boston College to Penn State, contains 12 frame-ready, 11″x14″ reproductions of classic game day program covers. $18.95 at www.asgardpress.com.
RAISE THE BAR. Sure, the old heart-shaped box of Russell Stover candies has some cache. If your guy or gal is an adventurous eater, may we recommend this “library” of mini exotic bars from Vosges instead? This chocolate house has become synonymous with unexpected flavors, such as the Naga: deep milk chocolate with sweet Indian curry and coconut. $25 at www.vosgeschocolates.com.
ROLL PLAY. Hey, everyone’s love life can use a little spicing up not and then. Why not introduce a little adventure into your next, ahem, get-together with these “get lucky dice” from Red Envelope? The idea is that you act out whatever words you happen to roll, making it much more to the point than a game of strip poker. $34.95 at www.redenvelope.com.
SNAP SHOT. Let your favorite aspiring photojournalist punch up their Flickr account with this Kermit-green Lomography Fisheye camera. Its 170-degree view transforms any subject into a distorted circular image, making for instantly artsy pics. Oh, and did we mention that it uses regular old 35mm film that can be processed anywhere? $48 at www.urbanoutfitters.com.