For Valentine’s Day, I have some bad and good news for you, some sad and yay! Papyrus and Paper Source have gone bankrupt 😔. I have really loved these stores and have gotten many wonderful things over the years. Especially during Covid-19, it has been hard to be a retailer specializing in supplies for the lost arts of journaling and letter writing. There still is a store near my home and I intend to support them as best as I can for now and hope they will stay open for business. During Covid-19, it has been a great source of comfort for many people around the world to turn to journaling and to send and receive letters in the mail. I hope that more people will continue to practice handwriting as gifts to themselves and others. I have been a journal and letter writer for over a decade and everyone who receives a handwritten note always loves it. This V-Day and beyond, let’s bring back the art of handwriting 💌!
Without further ado, in this blog post, the good news! I am sharing thoughtful and nontraditional gift ideas to inspire creative gift giving that will expand the recipient’s sense of adventure, wonder, and enjoyment of life. Along with some suggestions that can be found on Amazon and delivered to your doorstep via Prime, I am also suggesting some products from local and small businesses. Gift giving is an art and a skill that requires being perceptive and thoughtful. I hope you love gift giving as much as I do! The best gifts are heartfelt and generous.
This isn’t your typical Valentine’s day card but what I love about it is that the graphic art in the lettering for the “YOU” reminds me of what you can see through the airplane window. It is an uplifting and cheerful card that tells the recipient what a difference they make with the words inside: “Thank you for brightening so many of my days.” If you have been fortunate to have someone who has brightened your days during the Covid-19 lockdown, this is a thoughtful way of expressing your appreciation. This is the card for someone who brings on the sunshine.
If you haven’t heard of Robert Sabuda, you are in for a treat. He is a seasoned, talented artist who creates magnificent pop-up books that are intricate works of art that inspire you to keep the wonder and whimsy alive and well in your life no matter how far the years may take you. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a timeless classic that is made even more delightful with Robert Sabuda’s magic touch. Be a big romantic and write this quote in the card you give: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.“
Do you have someone in your life who has taken to making their own homemade mayonnaise and mastering the art of sole meunière during the lockdowns? Julia Child is the woman who can give them plenty to do and keep them busy for a long time to come. If you would like to put the amateur turned pro home chef to work, pick up her memoir, My Life in France, which is also an epic endearing and enduring love story, and her Mastering the Art of French Cooking two-volume set. If you have a special friend who sticks with you through thick and thin that you can say anything to and share anything with, try gifting the letters between Julia Child and her pen pal Avis DeVoto.
Julia Child’s My Life in France
The Five-Minute Journal is an excellent journal from independent publishing company Intelligent Change to build the habit of positive morning and evening rituals that ripple out into your life with lasting results of upliftment. Sean and I both have one, it is total #CoupleGoals and a gift that you should give away like Oprah Winfrey for any occasion, Valentine’s Day or otherwise. Tim Ferriss has been using Five-Minute Journal for many years.
There is a Five-Minute Journal for kids too!
If you would like to gift yourself or someone who is aiming to amass the biggest indoor jungle possible, this six-pack of baby plants is a great gift. If you select two or more, they will give you more variety. They will get bigger. I checked the company and product reviews, they do send good quality plants. I cannot predict demand, so I cannot say whether they will continue keeping this offering in stock. I recommend potting with Fox Farms soil.
If you would like to say it with flowers and send it to many people, the New York Botanical Gardens postcard set has 100 gorgeous high quality, heavy card stock illustration prints to send a pop of natural splendor and color to everyone you know. You may want to buy a set to keep for yourself and one to send. It is also fun to get photo frames and frame them as art. I really love them.
If you have a tea lover to please and you would like to treat them to the best, I highly recommend The Art of Tea. I first tried Art of Tea at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge and really loved it. This is the tea brand they serve for the Beverly Hills Hotel high tea. You can order online. They are currently donating 5% of all matcha sales to the Gift of Life marrow registry. BONUS: KCRW (Los Angeles public radio) members get a discount! 10% off premier, organic & specialty tea; use code KCRW. Fringe Benefits (for Greater Los Angeles) are AWESOME!
Ladies and Gentlemen, let the leather goody fun begin! Portland Leather Goods has a mystery package of EIGHT HANDCRAFTED LEATHER GOODS available for $158, a retail value of $400 😲. You can get a tote, leather dopp bag for the gents, leather travel tags, and all kinds of high quality leather surprises. I absolutely love this company and can’t recommend them enough. Whatever you get is gonna be good. I almost can’t believe this is available. I bought myself a tote for Christmas already but if I would’ve known… maybe I can get myself another tote.
Lather is a company I discovered from a hotel stay at the Avila La Fonda in San Luis Obispo. They are based in Pasadena, CA, and make a FULL LINE of skin and haircare products that incorporate natural, high quality ingredients. Their yuzu bergamot shampoo and rinse are out of this world. I love everything. My favorite aloe vera and macadamia nut oil shampoo that I used for yeeeaars is no longer available because the company bankrupted 😭. I have a lot of sensitive skin issues and can’t even use Aveda, Aveeno, or Burt’s Bees. Often, there is greasy, heavy residue and I get painful rashes and sores on my scalp and hairline. I get scared to try new things. This company was the answer to my concerns about finding a new shampoo and rinse product. Sean and I have sampled many of their products for face, body, hair, and even for muscle aches, and we’ve loved them all. Plus, everything smells amazing. Here’s an introductory sample kit of Lather products for you to try for yourself or gift:
Have you heard of the $75 cashmere sweater? Put down the knitting needles and get $20 off on your first order of $200+, which covers matching ultra-soft, sustainably produced, 100% Mongolian cashmere sweaters or jumpers, if that’s your lingo. Plus, there’s pajamas, hoodies, sweaters / jumpers for the pooch, and more! Here’s to you adorable matchy-matchy couples and dog parents!
If you would like to spoil your sweaters silly, tuck them into a reusable mesh laundry bag (I get mine from Daiso, the Japanese dollar store) and wash them with The Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo on handwash cycle, then air dry.
Interested in a splurge for your feet that will give you years of pleasure to come? Oregon-based company Nootkas elevates the humble house slipper by crafting New Zealand wool fleece to hug your feet. Wool is naturally moisture-wicking and antimicrobial. You can throw them in the wash in a mesh laundry bag on hand wash cycle and hang to dry. This is one of my favorite partnerships! PNW + NZ = WIN!
How about a trip to Milan? Eataly’s A Trip to Milano is a box of indulgent bounty for the foodies. Don’t forget the foodies!
If London is calling and the traveler yearns to take off as soon as flight restrictions are lifted, give a copy of Eat Like a Local: London Edition. Sadly, they don’t have a guide to Manchester, but you can’t miss out nonetheless! If you do have plans to fly out to the UK as soon as possible, you must include Manchester in your plans. If anyone is still hanging on to the old nonsense about British food being bad, they aren’t in the know. The last time I was there, the great British food revival was on full steam. I enjoyed food trucks in the park and had a great time.
Here are some other gift ideas:
- Give a membership subscription to a local botanical garden
- Gift cards are great!
- Check out library and museum gift stores online. Examples: Los Angeles Public Library, New York Public Library, and MoMA.
- Give a magazine or newspaper subscription. I got Wired, Traveler, and Travel+Leisure for Sean. It’s the gift that keeps on giving all year-round.
- Give a $50 Amazon e-gift card that will cover Prime and Audible subscriptions and a Whole Foods gift card for safe grocery delivery from your local store
- Have Amazon print out photos and send them to you to tuck into a frame or scrapbook to give as a gift
- Is someone running ragged working from home? Give a CSA (community supported agriculture) box of organic, seasonal, and local products. Try Imperfect Foods, Sunbasket, or send a box of Buy Ranch Direct (Southern California) grass-fed, high quality meats.
- Donate to your local independent station as a gift! KCRW (get those Fringe Benefits discounts for 413 restaurants, shops, museums, specialty products, and more, plus a free gift!) and PBS (free Passport streaming for donors!) are great examples.
I hope I have sparked a lot of good ideas for thoughtful gifting. Thanks for reading!
Some links in this post are affiliate.