Get ready for the most dangerous holiday of the year — Valentine’s Day. This isn’t Christmas or birthdays; this is the big leagues, when the pressure’s on for giving the appropriate token of affection.
Giving the perfect gift for a boyfriend, girlfriend or “just” friend can be difficult, especially when the pink aisle in Walmart looks like an easy, albeit cheesy, escape route. Gift-giving is a combination of good timing and thoughtfulness — thoughtfulness for another person’s interests, and for your wallet.
If it’s the thought and timing that counts, then think ahead and look online. Think Etsy.com. There are no lines and virtually endless aisles of lovable choices, all paired with the greatest asset of the Internet: front-door delivery. Etsy is an online marketplace for quality products handmade by artists and sold at reasonable prices.
The best gifts are one (or all) of three things: pretty, practical, personal.
Diamonds aren’t the only things that catch someone’s eye. There are plenty of other “pretty” things, like leather, artwork, music or designs.
For the ladies, this usually means jewelry or fabrics. Jewelry can be tricky territory, so it’s safe to go with a simple, everyday piece. Simplicity with jewelry is always key, because there’s less not to like. A leaf ring from Applelatte, or an anchor necklace from Twin Pearls Jewelry, are both adjustable sizing and only $12 each on Etsy.
For fabrics, only go as far as accessories like scarves, gloves or hats. Save yourself a slap in the face and don’t even venture into the clothing department.
For the gents, pretty means leather — it’s classy and durable. A basic leather journal from Daniel Heywood for $25 on Etsy could do the trick. Get him something practical and refined, or replace something worn and weathered (belt, hat, guitar strap, gloves, tie, watch, backpack) with a nicer or sturdier version in corduroy, denim, khaki or canvas. SandMwatch of Etsy offers leather strap, map, minimalistic or personalized watches for only $35.
The phrase “I really need to get a new one” is music to the gift giver’s ears. Practical gifts mean the giver is observant. The practical and personal are easy to blend — just get a name or quote engraved into the item. Etsy is not only a virtual warehouse of quirky gifts, but also showcases numerous stores that do personalized engravings on items.
Etsy definitely has a corner on the personalized market. Hopefully, a personalized key chain, stamp, watch, notebook or phone case will reduce the amount of lost items on campus, or at least provide in-depth descriptions to give to the cashier on what your keys look like.
Any rugged Arkansas man would appreciate a sensible jar of HonestAmish beard wax ($13), a classy set of vintage binoculars (18$ from The Lost Rooms), or a set of two wooden slingshots ($18 from GiftGoGreen).
Any girl could use a quaint new watch, especially if she’s always “fashionably late.” SandM offers a line of vintage map watches, each $35. A pair of warm, fingerless gloves ($20 at gloveshop) can sure come in handy on winter mornings.
If your special someone’s phone case has seen better days, then invest $20 in a handmade wooden iPhone case with a whimsical paper airplane etching from grandmaswoodentooth on Etsy.
Have Snow White, Darth Vader or a punny apple juice box accent their Apple pride — Macbook decals are less than $10.
Give your friend a mug as hip as hipsters in a coffee shop. Nerd coffee-lovers would exterminate for a “Dalek in love” mug ($14 from Betwixxt) based off of the British TV series “Dr. Who.” Artsy friends will love a hand-painted octopus travel mug for $30 from sewZinksi or a $15 ceramic, hand-painted “Home is whenever I’m with you” travel mug from Winsome Gallery.
Start or add to a friend’s collection, and you’ll never have to think of another gift idea. Etsy is a great place to find hand-sculpted mugs, a deck of 1970s Richard Nixon playing cards for $22 from GreatOldStuff or vintage hardcover books (ladyfranslibrary $10-$30).
Stocking up on humorous coffee table books couldn’t hurt either. If you find yourself without someone to give candy hearts to this Valentine’s Day, look to 9-year-old Alec Grevin’s book “How to Talk to Girls” for some advice ($10 on Amazon). Love makes a lot more sense when broken down into short, straightforward sentences and stick-figure drawings.