At one point in your life you were all about the anti-Valentine’s Day Valentine’s Day. Commercially motivated romance was a fraud to be avoided at all costs—even red traffic lights made you avert your course during the month of February.
Then you met your sweetheart—your child, sig other or dear friend—and you couldn’t help gushing, just a little.
To help you show your emotions, we rounded up the coolest, heartiest (as in bearing hearts) Valentine’s Day gifts. But none of these are so sappy as to cause nausea. Even the teenagers on your list will approve.
One of the best pieces of gifting advice we’ve received is that if you’re unsure of what someone might like or want, give them something usable, edible, consumable, applicable. That way if they don’t really like it, well, it’s a finite resource. And if they do like it, they can replenish it later—and possibly even think of you. In a way, these exhaustible gifts are experiences. They are sensory but temporary. And beauty and self-care products make for particularly pampering and personal experiences.
SHOP: Cinq à Sept embellished bomber
This year Nordstrom is the happy host of the British beauty store SPACE.NK. Our shop-in-shops (located in Toronto’s Eaton Centre and Yorkdale Shopping Centre, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, and Domain Northside in Austin, Texas, as well as online) feature a curated selection of the store’s emerging and cult-favorite beauty brands.
“Our expert buyers have scoured the globe looking for the best of the best in beauty and grooming,” says SPACE.NK managing director Noah Rosenblatt, “and we are excited to share these finds with Nordstrom shoppers.”
Almost any of their amazing products would be an original and thoughtful present for someone on your list. And, helpful elves that we are, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites with suggestions for who might most enjoy them.
GIVE A PRETTY PACKAGE: READ MORE
By Rajni Jacques and Brittany Adams for Elle
Photographer: Andy Ryan; prop stylist: Vanessa Barrantes; hair and makeup: Jezz Hill
Fear not, procrastinators! If you haven’t begun holiday shopping yet, there’s still time to find the perfect present for everyone on your list. We enlisted our supercool Vice President of Creative Projects, Olivia Kim—and her adorable French bulldog, Spy–for a lesson in one-stop shopping. “Spy is my secret weapon,” says Kim. “He’s a distinguished older gentleman who knows what he’s looking for and goes straight for it!”
CLICK HERE FOR THE GIFT GUIDE
Just in time for the alcoholidays, that time of year when you can’t go anywhere without someone handing you a drink, Tastemade host Claire Thomas shared this spirited gift idea. Homemade bitters, some yummy bourbon, citrus garnish and gorgeous barware add up to a stylish gift that won’t go unused.
Follow Claire’s simple steps in the video below to make your own gorgeous Old Fashioned kit.
GIVE GOOD CHEERS! HERE’S HOW
Just in time for your Secret Santa and Hanukkah gifting needs, Dzung Duong of Tastemade shows us how to make three homemade spa scrubs, perfect for the relaxation addicts on your list. These simple blends include nourishing, natural ingredients to rest and rejuvenate. Pick a mixture that suits your recipients, gather your ingredients and carve out just an hour, no more, to make and package these intoxicating scrubs.
To spread good cheer in scrub form, follow along with Dzung’s instructive video and recipes on her Honeysuckle channel.
GIVE GLOWING SKIN: HERE’S HOW
Homemade sweaters as gifts tend to evoke the same disdain as a sticky brick of fruitcake. We envision handcrafted knitwear as ill-fitting and scratchy, in musty-colored yarn with multihued crocheted granny squares. But the ladies of Loopy Mango, a couture knitting company, have managed to shed this tired cliché with their trademark megachunky yarns and knitting kits. Dyed in candy pastels and brights, their woolly products yield creations that look like high-fashion cocoons.
A shawl from the Loopy Mango Merino No. 5 knit kit now at Nordstrom.
Waejong Kim and Anna Pulvermakher, the effervescent duo at the helm of Loopy Mango, merged their love for fashion and art with the DIY movement. Fashion devotees with a fondness for anything one of a kind, they’ve spent time on both coasts, curating eclectic goods for boutiques that combine vintage with new, practical with precious. Their love for needlework eventually led from establishing a small yarn section to a massive yarn line, which has appeared in Vogue and been used by knitting circles around the world. The whimsically large accessories even caught the eye of the late roving fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, a day the Loopy ladies call “a life highlight.”
We spoke with Anna about Loopy Mango’s macro-gauge designs, her favorite TV shows to knit to, their celebrity fans and tips for new knitters who may pick up one of their super-popular knitting kits–the Merino No. 5 is now available in our new Pop-In shop.
YOU GO, PURL: READ MORE
A pretty plate of homemade cookies is just about the nicest gift one can give or receive during the holidays. But if you’re the type of giver that isn’t satisfied with just nice, you might want to skip the traditional frosted Christmas cookies this year and step it up with a batch of traditional European macarons. As colorful and lovely as your sprinkle-topped snowmen cutouts, these meringue confections aren’t as difficult as their preceding reputation.
We met with expert macaron maker Megan Gordon, aka Lady Yum, for an encouraging tutorial on creating these comely cookies. Her guidance breaks the recipe down in simple steps that even novice bakers can accomplish.
THESE COOKIES MAKE GOOD(IE) GIFTS: GET THE RECIPE
We all know the holidays are a time for giving. But it’s pretty clear, from the countless commercials that start in October, this season is also about shopping and spending, sometimes a lot. Finding a personal and financial balance can be something of a struggle. Fortunately, this year, Treasure&Bond is making it a little easier to feel good about the gifts you give others–and yourself–with their latest giveback partnership.
Photos by Manuela Insixiengmay
Continuing the brand’s tradition of philanthropy, this season the Americana clothier is donating 2.5% of net sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. It’s nice to feel wholesome about the holidays–perhaps especially this year–and not only is Treasure&Bond’s impeccably crafted collection of casual clothes the perfect uniform for a household gathering of you and yours, but through January the label is also helping to foster bonds in communities. That’s pretty great.
Pam Iorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, told us: “These partnerships are very important; they help build awareness for our work. When customers see a Nordstrom and Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership, they have confidence in it because they respect both institutions.”
SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER: READ MORE
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 8, but don’t panic! We’ve got you covered with unique gifts perfect for any mom out there. We’ve rounded up 12 ideas ready to provide all the pampering she deserves. What mom wouldn’t love the gift of an at-home spa day?
THOUGHTFUL GIFTS MOM WILL NEVER KNOW YOU GOT LAST-MINUTE
Even if you know someone intimately, buying him or her a romantic gift can surface a host of anxieties. Will she read too much into it? Is he even going to get you something? What size is she? Does he have any idea what a pocket square is?
It’s a miracle we all don’t just break up the second week in February.
Don’t fret, however. Our editors’ gift picks for him and her will steer you clear of any unconscious uncoupling.
BE MY VALENTINE’S GIFT: OUR PICKS