Life

Our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide Will Help You Seem Considerate And Loving


As the best writer ever once said, “Ven wuv, twoo wuv, wiw fowwow you fowevah.” Indeed, love is the greatest thing in the world (it has to be, to compete with guilt-free sex with strangers). It deserves to be celebrated, and not with a coupon for a foot rub which will be lost in a drawer and never enjoyed. You need to step it up in 2017.

In order to help, we’re letting three writers share their favorite gifts with you and then bicker about whose gifts are better. It’s everything you need from a Valentine’s Day gift guide: scientific, rigorous, and featuring a recipe for awesome French fries.

-Steve Bramucci, Life Editor

Allison’s Picks

This Amazing Dog Bed For Your New Shelter Dog

If your significant other has always wanted a dog or cat, then what better gift than an awesome dog bed or cat tree? You’ll watch your partner’s expression morph from confusion to joy as you explain that you are taking them on a date to your local shelter to pick out the new love of your lives. I can’t imagine a more fun way to spend the holiday.

Later, you can snuggle up with your new buddy as you pick out a name. Of course, if you’re like me you might end up crying at the shelter for an hour because THEY’RE ALL SUCH GOOD BOYS. True Story: My husband refuses to go to animal shelters with me anymore because, “There’s just too much crying.”

Find a shelter in your area here!

Mark: This is actually a great idea, if it works! A few years ago, I really wanted a cat so I bought my husband all sorts of cat toys for Christmas hoping he’d get the hint. Then, I took him to PetSmart and showed him all the kittens up for adoption (they were from a local shelter) and suggested that one or two might like to come home with us and play with the aforementioned toys. Then, I bought him everything on his list because, dude, how is he going to say no to me when he literally asked for the Pusheen book and I got it for him?

You know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t get my cat. All I got was a lecture on “responsible spending” and how “washers and dryers don’t grow on trees.” Still no cat. And I keep asking. But you know what? It’s worth a try!

This Sweet Bouquet Bar Box — Perfect for Couples In A Long Distance Relationship

Allison: Bouquet Bar sent me examples of their amazing boxes, and I’m in love! Last year, my husband was working out of town during Valentine’s Day and I would have loved to get a gift like this. In fact, I’m going to mysteriously stop speaking to him a year later as punishment for not thinking of it at the time. (I’m a really good wife.)

There are three different options to choose from — the largest has a full bouquet of the prettiest flowers inside (with two small, customizable gifts), a medium is a six-gift box, and the smallest box has three gifts. They are beautifully packaged and feel luxurious. The gifts are things like chocolate candies, candles, gummy hearts, and gourmet chocolates. I have eaten absolutely everything and it is all delicious. Though I feel sort of sick now because that is too much sugar for one human to consume in a weekend.

Seriously, if you get this for your partner (and your partner is an irresponsible monster like me) maybe ration the candy out for them day-by-day so they don’t swallow it all and then vomit like a Labrador that got into the halloween candy and ate everything, wrappers and all. This is why I can’t have nice things.

Steve: Look, I’m often that stereotypical idiot dude who ends up buying flowers from the grocer, and candy from Trader Joe’s, and a shirt from some random place that I drove past at literally the last minute. In the end, I spent a fair bit of money, but my gifts look cheap.

So I definitely like this concept — it’s curated, it’s Instagrammable, and I come off as a considerate gentleman. I also like the art deco vibe, so yep, I’m in.

This Beer Brewing Kit Which Costs More Money Than My Car Is Worth

This is RIDICULOUSLY expensive but look at all the amazing reviews! If your significant other loves beer then you should totally invest in this craft beer brewer that’s as easy to use as a Keurig. How fun would it be to try different recipes?

If I could just get someone to buy my car with the window shield cracked and a radio that turns on and off by itself like its possessed, then I would totally use the money to buy this for my husband.

Update: I asked my husband if he would use this and he said, “Probably not.” BUT I STAND BY MY CHOICE.

Steve: Love the idea. Hyped on the concept. Would invest $300K for 20% of the business on Shark Tank. With that said, it’s hard to say how much I’d use this thing. It’s big, so it’s going in the garage, right? Am I ready to be “making some brew in the garage” guy? Not yet. Soon, but not just yet.

I do however love concoctions and mixing weird shit and infusing things, so I’m kinda on the fence. The idea of making a vanilla beer seems intriguing to me.

This Robe That You Present With An Elaborate Breakfast In Bed (Complete With Champagne For Endless Mimosas)


How romantic would it be to wake up to a full breakfast in bed? I’m imagining my love waking me up, handing me a mimosa, and giving me my present — a beautiful, comfy lounging robe. And then telling me to enjoy the drink and watch TV while he finishes preparing a gourmet meal.

Full disclosure, 90% percent of my fantasies involve eating in bed while watching TV. Throw in a mimosa, and I’m in heaven. Heaven.

Mark: Let me tell you how romantic it would be to wake up to a full breakfast being cooked for you: VERY ROMANTIC. Let me tell you what I would do as soon as my partner presented me with this robe: Break up. And never look back.

I’m not saying that robes are a bad idea in general — although I would much prefer an animal onesie (with tail) — but if you have to preface this gift with an elaborate cooking ritual that isn’t part of the actual product being sold, you know it’s not something that your loved one will ever use. I would prefer it if someone just made me breakfast and then gave me the cost of the robe in cash.

Unless, of course, you’re buying this robe “for me” when it’s really for you (which is what I suspect).

This New Tent For Romantic Camping Adventures

There are few things more romantic than camping out under the stars with your significant other! So get your partner this awesome tent and plan your next adventure together. Maybe you’ll camp on the beach! Or maybe you’ll plan a trip to go to all the national parks in the country before our new president mines them all for oil, lets his son hunt all the animals within their boundaries, and then uses the land to build hotels for a business WHICH DEFINITELY ISN’T A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Or maybe you’ll just use your gift to go to all the Chick-Fil-A openings and camp out for a year of free food. No matter what your tenting purpose, this is a promise of all the bonding you’ll do in the future. And I feel like the best gifts are ones you can use to create memories!

Steve: Is this a gift for me, or can I give this gift? If I can give a tent and have that count as a romantic gift, then I am completely and totally in. What other outdoor-supplies-for-mutual-benefit can I give and still seem sweet? A surfboard that we can both use? A camp stove?

For me this tent is just below lingerie and sex toys as gifts that feel like a mutual win.

Steve’s Picks

These Blades By Rick Moonen, Which Will Ensure That I Cook For You

I own these knives and I recommend them highly — they hold an edge, there’s a nice mix of blades, and they’re on the lower end of the scale, price wise. Rick Moonen is celebrity chef and this could easily be a money grab, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. It’s a smart collection and all the signs of quality are there.

Here’s a chef’s pro tip: if you’re getting knives, there should always be shears in there. All real cooks use shears a lot in the kitchen. The microplane is another nice touch.

Things I’ll do for a partner who buys me knives:

  • Cook
  • Bake
  • Prep

That means this is a win-win gift. Also, the knives cost $200, so it’s probably a win for Rick Moonen too. You can also add steak knives, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Allison: This is actually the perfect gift for my husband to give me because after I unwrapped it, I’d easily have the tools at hand to stab him repeatedly.

My husband does all the cooking because I am completely worthless domestically. So I cannot imagine the amount of moxy it would take for him to go to a store and decide to get me a gift that is SOLELY given to remind me to cook for him. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t know if I’d even be mad. I’d frankly be impressed at the level of shade he managed to convey with one single purchase.

That gift would involve so much shade that I think I’d end up with a vitamin D deficiency.

This Enormous Friggin’ Wheel Of Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon Goat Cheese

Did I just link to a 10lb, $200 wheel of cheese? Yes, yes I did. I am an ambitious man and want the most (cheese) out of life. That is my privilege and my right.

I’ve been getting more and more into goat cheeses lately and the Midnight Moon is my #1 favorite across the whole marketplace. It’s nutty and sharp (the best cheese combo) and has a sort of caramel-finish. I know that cheese is not exactly a “sexy” gift, but I promise: cheese is very much a “I’ll give you a back massage for three hours because I’m so excited about all the cheese I have” gift.

Some other favorites from the Cypress Grove crew:

  • Humbolt Fog — Because I like my cheese the same way I like to smell for my date… pungent.
  • Lamb Chopper — This is the perfect goat’s milk product for mac & cheese, quesadillas, etc.
  • Cypress Grove Chevre — There’s a lavender hint hiding here that pairs beautifully with the kind of tart chevre taste.

Look, I’m not a complex man. I want cheese. And in exchange, you can have my heart.

Allison: You had me at: This gift will cause your lover to give you a three hour back rub. Do I think $200 dollars worth of cheese is “reasonable” or “sane” or “definitely not a cry for help”?

No, I don’t think any of those things. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure that Steve isn’t having some kind of cheese related emotional breakdown. But then I think of that sweet, sweet massage and I stop caring. Carry on hiding that cheese under your mattress, Steve. Carry on.

A Subscription Box From Plaid Cow Society, So That Fine Meats Simply Arrive At My Doorstep

I like to shop for produce, so I rarely order it online — which is why I haven’t gotten much into meal boxes. But damn I tried this meat and it’s just a really good, smart product. I am definitely into getting meat in the mail.

Moreover, I love the message of sustainability on the site and I loved how the beef (in particular) cooked up. There’s a very elaborate freezing and defrosting process with all the meat we get from stores, so anything like this that can literally get me closer to the production, feels like something I’m excited about.

Darling, my sweet, my love, get me a beef box subscription and we will eat steak on my futon. Romance lives.

Mark: No. (That’s not just because I’m a vegetarian.) (No, it totally is.) (Have I mentioned I don’t eat meat?) (Because I don’t. I have to mention it once every five minutes or a dude in a torn up shirt and who smells faintly of patchouli comes to my house and has a gentle conversation with me about spreading the message that ‘meat is murder.’) (You know what a really great subscription box is, though? This box of 18 packages of M&Ms. No need to cook and you can still subscribe to get one every…week? Day?)

A Deep Fryer, Which Allows Me To… Wait Are All My Gifts Going To Be Food Related?


I own this deep fryer. It is amazing. I know that my basic strike against Allison’s beer machine was that there’s no place to keep it, but for a deep fryer, that’s a risk I’m willing to take. You know what a deep fryer is and I’m telling you that this is the perfect home unit, so there’s not much more to write. (Though I will mention that this unit uses magnets to make it very difficult for you to burn the house down.)

Now that we’re done with the description, let me use this space to tell you how to make the perfect French fries:

  • You need to boil them first, until they’re cooked but still firm.
  • Then cool and cut.
  • Then fry.
  • Toss with paper towels to blot grease.
  • Season with mustard powder, sea salt, cracked pepper.
  • Eat with organic ketchup mixed with garlic aioli.

Bouquet of French fries beats a bouquet of flowers every time.

Mark: You know what beats homemade french fries? Pizza rolls! One of my friends had a deep fryer at home and made them for me once and I still can’t get over how good they were, nearly 10 years later. Just imagine how far the technology has come since then!

I know that Boy Meets World tells us that we shouldn’t give our romantic partners appliances for Valentine’s Day, but if my husband brought one of these home, I’d probably be totally okay with it. I’d also probably accidentally plunge my hand into the hot oil at some point, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

This Mandoline To Slice Things Which Are Hopefully Not Attached To Your Body


I have long been on the quest for the perfect mandoline (the best kitchen gadget besides shears) that will 1) allow me to cut stuff quickly and paper thin but 2) not have that “stuff” be my fingers.

This is the winner. It slices in two directions, it’s got a variety of thickness and julienne settings, AND it’s as close to idiot proof as an exposed razor blade gets.

It’s obvious at this point: my love language is food stuff.

Mark: I actually have one of these and I can confirm that they’re a wonderful gift. At my house, where the love language is “let me take a nap while you do everything else because you forgot to sign a prenup and can’t ever divorce me,” my husband knows that I’m especially useless in the kitchen where I will burn, cut, and slice myself even when no knives or fire is present. So when he wants me to “spend quality time” with him in the kitchen, he sets me up with this mandoline and lets me go to town on anything I want.

I 100% endorse this purchase, especially if you’re okay with eating three pounds of zucchini for the next week because your significant other was “having too much fun to stop cutting.”

Mark’s Picks

This Giant Stuffed Bear That You Can Only Buy At Costco Right Before Valentine’s Day!

Nothing says “I Love You” quite like a “5 Foot Very Big Smiling Teddy Bear Five Feet Tall Cookie Dough Brown Color with Bigfoot Paws Giant Stuffed Animal Bear.” Nothing. You could, of course, try to say it in other ways. You could say it with a romantic dinner. Or a moonlit walk in the park somewhere (although that could also end in murder, so, accept that at your own risk). You could even try to say it by saying “I love you” and seeing how that plays. For my money, though, the only way I’m going to trust that our relationship is truly meant to last is if I’m gifted a giant teddy bear that weighs almost as much as I do and could crush me to death if it tipped over on me on a day I was feeling particularly weak.

In fact, the last time I saw these bears — last year — I tried to pick one up and hug it and accidentally caused an avalanche of other bears to fall on me and passersby took pictures while store employees (not my husband, who was also taking pictures) helped me escape.

“What did you learn from that experience?” My husband asked as I nursed my scraped elbow.

“Teddy bears are love,” I responded… and he didn’t speak to me for several hours. But you know what? It was worth it, because nothing feels as good as a hug from a giant bear (or an entire orgy of them just raining down upon you when you least expect it.)

Allison: There is nothing that terrifies me more than stuffed animals coming to the life in the middle of the night to murder me. And this bear IS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ABLE TO COME ALIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO DO BEAR STUFF. I would never be able to sleep again if this was in my bedroom. It would constantly be moving when I turned my head. Or, one night, when I rolled over to hug my husband I’d SUDDENLY REALIZE THAT HE WAS GONE AND I WAS SPOONING THE BEAR INSTEAD.

What happened to my husband? The same thing that happens to all men who get between the bear and his prize. Murder. No thank you.

This Delicious Coffee, Which Will Either Energize Or Kill You

If your significant other is always complaining about how hard it is to get out of bed — especially on these cold winter mornings — you can show them you care by trying to kill them with kindness (and caffeine). Death Wish coffee, purported to be “the world’s strongest coffee” is not only bursting with energizing beans that will MAKE YOU TYPE ALL IN CAPS LOCK BECAUSE WHY SHOULDN’T YOU BE SHOUTING THIS IS SUCH A GREAT DAY but it’s also apparently “deceptively smooth,” according to fans of the brew.

Great coffee taste and enough energy to keep a person alive through the entire working day? Suddenly you’re not just a loving partner, you’re THE BEST PARTNER IN THE WORLD I WISH I COULD STOP SHOUTING BUT I ACCIDENTALLY DRANK TWO CUPS OF THIS STUFF COULD SOMEONE COME GET ME OFF THE CEILING I DON’T KNOW HOW I GOT HERE AND I DON’T LIKE IT.

Also available in K Cups. Don’t forget: Coffee can help you live forever, so giving this gift is also like saying “I will love you until the day you die, which won’t be, like, ever, because your risk of age-related disorders decreases with each cup of this stuff.”

Steve: I assigned a writer to cover this stuff and he told me later that he felt like he was having heart palpitations for like 90% of the experience. Which is EXACTLY what I look for in my uppers. So, I’m in.

This Color-Changing Shower Head That Will Revolutionize Your Entire (Sex) Life


You know what sucks? Shower sex. I don’t know if it’s because it’s your shower is too small or because it’s just not really as comfortable and sensual as the movies make it seem, but there’s something about getting it on in water that’s just weird and, dare I say it, boring. Not anymore! Drop your hard-earned cash on this one, install it in secret, then surprise your sweet with a romantic shower on Valentine’s day.

“But I don’t want to take a show–,” they’ll start to say before their words are swallowed in a swell of emotion (and the sounds of hot rushing water).

“I’ve always wanted one of these,” they’ll whisper quietly, “I just never got around to getting one. I love you.” And just like that, you can avoid the talk about whether you’re ready for marriage/ready for kids/need to start looking for a better job for at least a little while as you enjoy the light show. (That light show is epic, by the way. Trust me.)

Allison: I hate showers. I hate how cold you are the rest of the day after. Plus it’s totally boring. Where’s the TV, why can’t I read a book? Why are you trapping me with my own quiet desperation? Soon, I begin to spiral into worthlessness as the hot water rushes past my ears. Who have I become? What is my life? Oh god, I have no purpose. AND THIS BODY WASH DOESN’T SMELL ANYTHING LIKE “SUMMER RAIN!” So I am completely on board with anything that distracts me from having to be alone with myself. A magical display of rainbow like colors cascading from my shower head? Done and Done.

This Fan, Which Will Cool Both Your Temper And Your Body As You Angrily Sleep Next To Each Other


Do you need to be cool and comfortable as you sleep? Even when you’re in the middle of a huge argument that’s not over by a long shot even though you read that one book about how you should “never go to sleep angry?” Calm the passion in your partner’s heart by switching on this bed fan and enjoying a wonderful night of cool and relaxing sleep before you have to wake up in the morning to hear a sentence start with the words “I just think it’s funny that…”

What a wonderful night, though, right? So calm, so relaxing, so cool without being chill and uncomfortable. What price would someone not pay for such a miracle of modern technology?

Steve: The official Amazon name for this product is “The NEW Bedfan Version 1.5-B for Beds 19″ to 29″ Tall Made in Texas – See Our Facility Under Pictures – The Original Texas Made Bedfan Not the Other Version That Is 100% Made in China” so is it fair to say… THIS FAN HAS NO CHILL?

I think that’s a brilliant stopping point, but I’d also like to have this. File it under “Stuff that I’d never buy and probably classify as ‘consumerist junk’ if I saw it at the house of a friend, but would absolutely use if someone gave to me.”

This Romantic Gift Basket That Precludes The Need For An Expensive Dinner Reservation (And Also Weighs 12 Pounds)


You know what’s the worst? Trying to go out to dinner on Valentine’s day, when the food is overpriced and you have to compete with other couples showing off how much they love each other, even though no one’s being gifted a giant teddy bear. You know what’s better? Staying in and devouring this basket of earthly delights, which includes truffles, and candies, and all sorts of other chocolate.

But that’s not all! If you get bored eating chocolate and talking about how great it is that you’re inside while everyone else is trying to get a table at The Olive Garden, you can light some aromatherapy candles, lather each other up with the included massage oils, and see where this night takes you! (Probably in bed and asleep by 9:30, but it’s the thought that counts!)

Allison: Can we really say that a basket filled with candy “precludes the need” for actual dinner? Like if I received this as a gift and it wasn’t accompanied by a gigantic heart-shaped pizza, I would be very upset. Man can’t live on edible underwear and erotic dice games alone, you know?

Though I am genuinely interested to know what “couple games” are included. I hope they have some sort of trivia game that ends with one partner being shamed for not knowing any basic facts about the other and leads to them having to sleep on the couch covered in massage oil and sadness.

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