Love notes, long-stems and lube: A thoughtful guide to Valentine’s Day

Half a lifetime ago, my future husband gave me his first Valentine’s Day gift. It was an actual Valentine, made of construction paper and glue. He drew a cartoon cupid on it with marker, and fashioned a method for sticking a white carnation through it. Mind you, we were at university.

Since then, nearly all his presents have followed a similar pattern. A simple communiqué containing something rather special: a Playbill rendered in crayons serving as an invitation to the theatre; a fallen leaf scrawled with an invitation to a weekend away in the woods. For 18 years, I’ve collected them all in a plain envelope, among my most treasured possessions.

Try it this Valentine’s Day… a piece of paper, something to write or draw with, a hint of creativity, and a good dose of thoughtfulness. For those who can’t muster the time, energy or skills to craft a Valentine card, don’t feel bad—here are a few other heartfelt gift ideas:

For her

Sign up to Urban Stems for a monthly delivery of fresh cut flowers. Their seasonal arrangements are sourced directly from Rainforest Alliance and Veriflora certified farms. (Available only in New York City and Washington DC for now.)

For him

Sir Plus cotton boxers and silk pocket squares are made in England from surplus shirting and Liberty fabric offcuts. In fact, they now use ‘cabbage’—the industry term for waste material—to make boxers for ladies too.

For both

Having set out to “change the world from the inside”, Yes makes certified organic, plant-based and all-natural intimacy products. Lube, basically. And their products aren’t tested on animals. (Minds out of the gutter please.)

For you

Of course, before loving others, we’ve got to love ourselves. Department Store for the Mind offers stationery, gifts and household items that serve as little reminders to find purpose and pleasure in our lives every day.


We all have things we love and never want to part with. Maybe they deserve a bit of attention on Valentine’s Day too. Broken your favourite tea cup? Try your hand at kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken ceramics with gold, to put the pieces back together. Wooly sweater tearing at the seams? Mend your relationship with a bit of Woolfiller, the clever jumper-patching kit.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dears.