Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and instead of buying your latest loved one yet another copy of the star-studded film Valentine’s Day on Blu-ray, why not give something else a shot this year? As entertaining as it is to watch the budding—and sometimes tragic—romances between superstar celebrities including Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba, Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace, and one-time power couple Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift break up and get together, you don’t want to become the West Elm Caleb of giving the movie Valentine’s Day on Blu-ray to everyone you date. Eventually, the jig will be up and you’ll become known as Valentine’s Day Blu-ray Vince, or whatever your name is.
To spare you the embarrassment, we assembled an all-star cast of our own—the writers and editors here at The Inventory—to recommend alternative products is bound to enjoy more than a 12-year-old flick with an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike Valentine’s Day the movie, our gift guide may be “eager to please and stuffed with stars,” but it certainly doesn’t “[squander] its promise with a frantic, episodic plot and an abundance of rom-com cliches.”
We’ll leave that to you, as you navigate your own holiday of love celebrations on February 14.
I don’t talk about it with anyone who didn’t follow me on Instagram back when I had that, and would post pictures of food from above, but I actually really like cooking, and have spent the last 7 or 8 years actually getting pretty decent at it, to the point that people say things like “Where did you learn to cook?!” when they come over, and it’s not an insult any more! As such, I really like receiving gifts like The Flavor Bible, which is an actual gift I received from my wife years ago. Less an instructional book and more like an index for flavor combinations, this book is an A to Z collection of foods and food categories, with long lists of all the other foods, herbs, and spices that go well with them. It’s a perfect tool for when you haven’t bought groceries for a specific recipe, but you know you have certain ingredients. For instance, if you look up “salmon” in the book, you’ll know that if you have lemons, ginger, blini, and shallots, you can make something delicious. By the way, anyone here know what the hell blini is? Anyway, the listed other ingredients are bolded or listed in all-caps to indicate how well their flavor works with the main, making this a great way to get inspiration when your head meat just won’t brain. - Wes
Another type of gift I love to get and give is the kind that encourages a couple to do things together. In many ways, encouraging cooperation is probably the best kind of gift, as it gives you more than just a thing to look at, play with, or otherwise enjoy: it gives you time together that you might otherwise have spent together-but-separate, staring into the horrific open maw of our slow desolation, occasionally sharing funny TikToks with one another, but otherwise not interacting. That’s where things like this Delamu sushi making kit come in. Again going with the theme of Doing Kitchen Crap, this gift makes a fun cooperative food prep activity, one very different from what you may be used to, if your idea of cooking is slapping a bunch of stuff between slices of wheat bread and calling it a day. If you really want to get crazy, grab this rice paper tray and go to town with some veggies for some crisp, fresh homemade spring rolls, while you’re at it. - Wes
Personally, I think the best gift for your valentine is quality time spent together. What better way to block out the rest of the world and enjoy each other’s company than cuddling up in a pillow fort for the evening? The inflatable Air Fort can pop up in less than a minute on your living room floor (make sure you have a box fan, though). Grab a thick blanket or carpet for underneath the tent, get all your pillows and blankies in there, and queue up some movies on your laptop for a romantic and ultra-cozy Valentine’s. - Zoë
If Valentine’s Day isn’t you and your partner’s thing (like me), a magazine subscription is a great way to tell your best friend you’re thinking about them all year long without bombarding them with ugly teddy bears or heart-shaped jewelry. It’s a really sweet gesture if your partner has a favorite magazine, especially if they read a lot online but don’t typically buy print magazines. Plus, who doesn’t love getting mail? - Zoë
As you may have heard, I recently acquired my first-ever gaming console. You may not realize what a big deal this is, but it’s a really, really big one. I’ve been fortunate enough to have extremely supportive friends and coworkers who are patiently willing to guide me through this Brave New World, but apparently I can’t only go get fruit from the bats in the Stardew Valley cave I just realized you can go into. Let’s Go, Eevee! has been suggested to me as a great starting point for someone new to Pokemon overall and gaming in general. I don’t think they’re lying about this one (looking at you, everyone who suggested Dark Souls). This Eevee gal is adorable and my schedule is light this month, so I’m excited to check it out. - Sophy
While I game, I’m gonna want to be cozy. I mean, I want to be cozy anyway, but based on how immersive my one game is already, I can only imagine what the next few weeks of figuring out the Switch will hold for me. So when I need to snuggle up on the couch or in bed and just game my little heart out, this wearable blanket seems like the perfect thing for the task. With its kangaroo pocket and giant hood, it’s a super-soft blanket that won’t fall off when I get comfortable, or go up to get a new seltzer. If these being my Valentine’s Day recommendations didn’t tip you off already: Yes, I’m single. - Sophy
So maybe you don’t have a valentine this year. You’re not alone. Dating can be weird and awkward on its own, let alone dating during a pandemic. Plus it just hasn’t been a priority for you right now. You are focusing on your career and just don’t have time to date! Well, if you want to spend this February 14 pretending to put yourself out there, you’ll have a wonderful time dipping into any of these dating simulator games. With a great sense of humor and a unique art style, Monster Prom sees you enter the lives of a spooky-themed high school. Though, maybe that’s too juvenile for you. You’re ready to settle down already. If so, try out Dream Daddy. Play as a dad meeting and romancing other dads. If you want a nice happy time dating anime ladies that may or may not have psychological horror elements sneak up on you, then Doki Doki Literature Club is for you. - Joe
Nerd love is the best love. Date night on each other’s Animal Crossing islands after a real date is perfection. Sharing a hot coffee at Brewster’s is the stuff lasting love is made of. I’m a huge fan of cards tailored to the person and relationship you’re buying for, plus you are supporting an independent artist. This particular artist has a plethora of cute geeky cards to fit your fandom. Definitely some good picks if you and your sweetie game together. You won’t find this level of nerdiness in the drugstore card aisle. - Sheilah
Show your beloved you’ll protect them no matter how many space bounty hunters are on their tail with this adorable Valentine’s Luke and Grogu Funko Pop!. Because just like the universe, your adoration knows no limits. I’m a sucker for all things pink, so these special edition Valentine figures always catch my eye. These are ideal gifts for Pop! Collectors and/or fans of a galaxy far, far away. With Luke included, there are actually four figures total in this V-Day collection. Grogu and Ahsoka are still available for pre-order, though sadly Din Djarin has been delayed. Each has a specific thoughtful valentine-esque item that’ll make a fan’s heart shine like a lightsaber. - Sheilah
Valentine’s Day should be alllll about pampering yourself, and my recommendation of this beautiful Bamboo Bathtub Tray is really just a poorly disguised hint of what I want for Valentine’s Day this year. I love hot tubs and hot springs, but I don’t spend a lot of time in my actual bathtub at home because there is no one to talk to and nothing to do (yes, I’m indeed very bad at relaxing). This handy little tray carries everything one could possibly dream of for a relaxing bath at home with a dedicated place to hold your wine glass, book or tablet, and smartphone. It is also adjustable and expandable to fit all standard bathtubs! Self-love is always important no matter your relationship status, so you can find me soaking in calming essential oils and finishing that book I’ve been meaning to get to this February 14. - Frances
Hey kid, wanna get high? With only 8mg of THC and 30mg of CBD, JustCBD’s CBD + THC gummies won’t have quite the same psychoactive effects as the weed from your local dispensary, but taking the right amount will get you in a calm mindset to vibe with your boo. Assuming your partner is into this sort of thing, THC is the gift that keeps giving, especially when the dosage isn’t enough to make you have a bad (sick & paranoid) time. In my own testing, the CBD + THC gummies did have a powerful THC taste; however, the effects were mild after eating just one. It took me three gummies to start feeling anything, and four to get into the headspace I wanted to be at. Given the price, it’s not the best value, but mileage will vary. Plus you can purchase up to 56 gummies at a time if your tolerance is high enough to justify it. - Gabe
Especially when you’re single, Valentine’s Day can be a real buzzkill. But it doesn’t have to be. You can always buy something shitty for the person in your life who wronged you the most, presumably an ex. These Cinch Luxury Wine Socks are a crime against fashion, making them the perfect gift for that special someone who shattered your heart into pieces. While the material is soft and will no doubt keep their feet warm, the “Live Laugh Love” aesthetic will fit in nicely with their tacky home decor. Best of all, these “hilarious” socks are cheaper than naming a cockroach after your ex at the Bronx Zoo. And if they’re straight edge, rest assured they come in a coffee-themed variety as well. - Gabe