Valentine’s Day, whether we like it or not, is upon us. If you’d rather not end up going the box-of-Russell-Stover-from-Duane-Reade route, we polled a group of artists, designers, shop owners, and New Yorkers with all-around great taste to tell us best Valentine’s Day gift they’ve ever gotten. In other words, these delicate bracelets, multi-tools, and luxury massages have been vetted by people we trust. Which means you’re one step closer to getting your Valentine a gift they might actually like.
“Jewelry makes me fall hard. A boy with a good eye once gave me these elegant minimal pieces I rarely don’t wear: My Valentina bracelet and Isabella necklace by local designer Tarin Thomas are a perfectly dreamy delicate set.” —Pari Ehsan, founder and creative director of Pari Dust
“A brass paperweight by Carl Auböck. I’ve been a fan of the atelier’s work for some time, and had been eyeing a few pieces online. It sits on my desk at work, and is a small reminder of the person throughout my work day.” —Nick Nemechek, co-founder of TRNK
“So my lovely fiancée Dana got me these awesome Laguiole steak knives. We always like to stay in and cook a super decadent dinner every Valentine’s so these were spot-on. A great New York strip and a good bottle of wine (or two), it’s the perfect romantic night in.” —Belvy Klein, co-founder of Brooklyn Night Bazaar
“In 2008, my girlfriend at the time got me a Leatherman Surge. Doesn’t seem like the most romantic gift, but it was very thoughtful (which is romantic). I still use it to this day. Handiest thing I own besides my pocket tees. It’s like having a little tool box in your back pocket. It has common tools such as regular and serrated knives, a saw, bottle opener, screwdrivers, needle-nose pliers, and scissors. It also has more specialized tools like a metal file, an awl with thread loop, and an electrical crimper for those rare occasions when you can’t believe you actually have the very tool you need on you to get the job done. I sound like an infomercial.” —Tammer Hijazi, design director of Bower
“Best Valentine’s Day gift I’ve ever gotten would be a pair of panther earrings from Alexis Bittar, and a handwritten card on Rifle Paper Co. The earrings were just something fun and whimsical, something I wouldn’t have bought myself. Handwritten notes are just amazing, it’s such a special way to tell someone how you feel and I keep notes from my husband since we started dating in college, I really cherish them.” —Stephanie Choi, co-founder of Sawyer
“When I was little, my dad would make heart-shaped pretzels each Valentine’s Day — thick, soft, homemade pretzels, sprinkled with thick chunks of salt. Each year, I would look forward to waking up on Valentine’s Day to the smell of those pretzels. If you’re not up to making your own, you can always order some online” —Patrick Janelle, entrepreneur
“One of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had was when my now-husband got us tickets to the Westminster Dog Show. Valentine’s Day always falls during Fashion Week, so it was a great break from fashion-related events, and also: dogs. It was the best. He also gave me a box of cheap chocolates with dogs on them to snack on along with our beers during the show.” Laurel Pantin, Coveteur editorial director
“The best Valentine’s gift I got was a handmade pixel-heart pillow. The guy had it sewn for me! It was perfect. This is a pillow on Etsy that looks really close to it. As a curator of digitally minded painting this was the best gift ever.” —Kathy Grayson, owner and director of The Hole
“I collect old records, so one Valentine’s Day, my husband bought me this turntable. We use it all the time. Now my daughter turns it on and dances with us. Family dance parties are the best.” —Jodie Snyder Morel, co-founder of Dannijo
“The best Valentine’s Day gift I received was from Gabriel [Hendifar] the day after our first Valentine’s Day together in 2011. It was actually kind of an apology gift. We had agreed we weren’t going to make it a ‘thing’ and exchange gifts, but I still arranged to have flowers delivered to him that day. I got nothing, which is what we agreed, but nonetheless I was really deflated that he couldn’t read my mind and determine that I actually did want something. The next day I came home from work and learned that he had called in sick to work. He said he had something for me and I opened it. He had spent the day making me a book. Covered in a handmade leather case, the title page read ‘40 Things I Love About You.’ Each page had a simple declaration and a line drawing — things like ‘Your cowlicks’ with a drawing of some swirls of hair on my head and ‘The fact that you like politics’ with logos of some of my favorite news outlets. It was the most thoughtful and cherished gift I have ever received. I keep it in my nightstand and I still flip through it from time to time.” —Jeremy Anderson, co-founder of the design studio Apparatus
For a case that’s similar to the one Gabriel made…
“My favorite Valentine’s Day gift was a book of homemade gift cards from my children listing favors they would do for me and my husband throughout the year, such as making us breakfast in bed, giving back rubs and foot massages and even taking out the trash! But when those promises became short-lived, my husband and I ended up at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, which was much more relaxing. Relaxation took over from the moment we walked in. They made it easy for us to escape our busy lives, even though we are just steps away from 57th street. And the steam room was the perfect way to complete the day.” —Mimi So, jewelry designer
The Strategist is a new site designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best notebook, black T-shirts, fashion-editor-approved jeans, toothbrush, and apartment décor. Note that all prices are subject to change.
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