Calgary Valentine’s Day Gift Guide
Well, well, well. Here we are: the last little stretch before Valentine’s Day, a.k.a. Singles Awareness Day, a.k.a. The-Day-Before-Chocolates-All-Go-On-Clearance. If you haven’t already reserved a spot for you and your sweetie, be sure to check out Opentable’s handy Valentine’s Day Specials page for your last chance at getting into a decently romantic eatery—though a reservation at a reasonable hour might be a bit of a stretch.
Tip: If you didn’t manage to reserve a table in time, might I suggest a Grab & Go dinner from Our Daily Brett? You can pretend that was either the plan all along (“There’s no restaurant that’s good enough for you honey!”), or that you made it from scratch (just be sure to ditch the packaging somewhere they won’t find it).
As for gifts, here are some of my top picks around town—because you’re definitely out of luck if you were planning on getting something shipped with 1 business day left to go. Luckily, Calgary has a plethora of great gift shops and goodies to show your loved one that you, well, love them. See below for great gifts for her and for him, as well as DIY and Singles ideas.
(And, even if you and your sweetie are anti-Valentine’s Day, at least surprise ’em with tickets to Deadpool. And trust me, those are going fast too. So get on it.)
Blanket scarf, blanket scarf, blanket scarf. (Aritzia, more colours available, currently on sale from $42.50-85.00)
This is essentially a fail-safe gift for any girl. I never even knew I wanted or needed a scarf, and now I wear this almost every day. They come in a variety of neutral patterns and colours as well, so they’re easy to match and suit nearly every sense of style or taste.
Statement studs. (CoutuKitsch, $24.99)
If you know your girl’s style, and she’s classic yet trendy, pieces like these are the way to her heart. Even better if you know she loves supporting local, because CoutuKitsch hails from Calgary. You can find a full list of their local stockists to pick up these gems here.
Macarons. (Ollia, $2.25 each or a box of 7 for $14)
I love the unique flavour combinations at this little shop, located just behind Tomkins Park on 17th Ave. They’ve even taken blue cheese, and made it delicious in a macaron! Unfathomable.
For Valentine’s Day, they’ve created heart-shaped, chocolate-dipped macarons just for the occasion (limited quantities available each day until Sunday, for $5.50 each). They’re also available by pre-order in their Valentine’s Box ($25), which includes 10 of their classic macarons and 1 heart-shaped version.
You’ll get great street cred after she shows off these gorgeous, colourful, made-for-Instagramming goodies. Pop these on a “Breakfast in Bed” tray to start the day off on a sweet note, or surprise her with a little sugar after dinner. And, if you’re making up for one of those “I clearly forgot to make reservations in advance for Valentine’s Day” dinners at 10:30pm, you may want to go for the box of 60 instead ($120).
For her pup. (The Uncommons, $65)
Is babe a dog mom? If the answer is a resounding yes, these adorable rope leashes will make her very happy—and her four-legged pal very fashionable. Found My Animal is made specially for pets who were rescued or adopted, while Wild Rope is a local, custom-made version of these beautiful ombré rope leashes. Last time I checked, The Uncommons had a variety of Found My Animal‘s colours in store, but you may want to call ahead to inquire about their current selection.
The classic go-to is still a good bet. However, as DJ Khaled would say, the key is to get a nice bouquet from a florist and not from the slim pickings left at Safeway on the day of Valentine’s Day. They don’t want you to have nice flowers. Definitely do not go the route of 1-800-Flowers or Teleflora, lest you end up as the unlucky schmuck whose order doesn’t show up (just Google their reviews).
Rhosyn Floral even has gift boxes that come with local handmade goodies (e.g. Fiasco Gelato marshmallows, Made By Marcus macarons, etc.) in addition to flowers. How’s that for the total package?
Yeezy Boost 350 Pirate Black Re-Stock. (LESS 17, $265)
The only problem with getting your hands on these—other than the hefty price tag—is the fact that they will be raffled off due to high demand. You’ll have to submit your raffle entry in-store at LESS17, complete with the correct sizing info. The raffle isn’t until after Valentine’s Day, but if you manage to secure these? He definitely won’t care. Good luck.
Liquor tasting. (National on 10th, prices vary)
Not just because it’s liquor—and almost everyone loves liquor—but because it’s also a new bonding experience. I’m a big believer in spending money on experiences rather than material goods, simply because I feel quality time and trying something new, especially with a loved one, has more value.
National on 10th has a few interesting options, including whiskey tasting (a great double date option because the minimum group size is 4) with different price levels varying from $50-100 per person, and optional food pairings. There’s also an absinthe fountain ($60 for 2, or $120 for 4). They’re only open Thursdays-Saturdays however, so you’ll want to book ahead.
Socks. (Friday Sock Co., $12+)
I know what you’re thinking. Socks? Really? Really. I mean, don’t just get socks (at least supplement them with a movie or something), but they’re something he’ll actually appreciate—and use. Friday Sock Co. is a local company that specializes in making stylishly-patterned mismatched pairs. They also offer a “Sock of the Month” club, available in a 3, 6, 9 or 12 month subscription.
You may also be able to find a selection of L.A.-based Richer Poorer Inc.‘s fashionable socks at The Livery in Inglewood or LESS 17 on 17th Ave. My significant other is personally obsessed with the Swede-made Happy Socks, but if you order now, they likely won’t arrive in time for Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps a bit cheesy or utilitarian, but they come in pretty useful down the road. If you’ve got some creative skills, it doubles as a heartfelt gift you put effort into as well. If you’re more copy-paste-and-print, I’m sure your partner will still find themselves appreciating the sentiment when they’re cashing in on a “Relaxing Back Massage” or “24 Hours Without Chores” after a long week.
You can get some ideas from the above photo of Meri Meri’s Love Tokens, which were previously available at Urban Outfitters—but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them anywhere now, especially this close to Valentine’s Day. However, Chapters has a few “love coupon” books if you’re running out of time.
A custom care package.
There’s nothing like a personally-curated care package to show him/her that you really get them—after all, isn’t that what love is all about? Put your thinking cap on and try to brainstorm a few of their favourite interests or hobbies. Here’s a few to get the ideas rolling.
Does he/she like:
- Books and reading?
- Beer, scotch, or wine?
- Being pampered (i.e. manicures, pedicures, or massages)?
- Health and fitness?
- The outdoors?
- Food and eating?
- Movies or video games?
Draw from these interests for inspiration. For example, if she likes reading, wine, and being pampered, put together a little gift basket with: a new read and pretty bookmark from Chapters, a bottle of a nice red or white from any liquor store, and a gift certificate for a manicure (I highly recommend Esnail Calgary).
If he likes food, sports, and video games, put together a gift box with: a new video game he’s mentioned he wants (if applicable, otherwise a gift card for Steam perhaps), his favourite gaming snacks or a redeemable gift certificate for a home-cooked steak dinner, and a jersey for his favourite team (if he doesn’t already have one. If he does, try a toque or pint glasses. Or, cheap tickets to an upcoming game if he’s a Flames fan—plus the first round of dome beers on you).
Some other ideas: a bartending set, copper mugs, bitters, or small-batch syrups for the cocktail connoisseur; imported chocolates, cheese-making kit, tickets to Avenue’s 13th Annual Best Restaurant Awards, or a molecular gastronomy kit for the epicurean; or a Carry-On Cocktail Kit, passport cover, or even a weekend trip for the travel-loving wanderer.
Recommendations: For one-stop shopping for a mishmash of items to pack in a gift box, I’m partial to my work neighbourhood of Inglewood (where you can get many of the items I mentioned above. If you need specifics, simply shoot me a message on Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org). The Livery Shop and The Uncommons have goods for both men and women, while Bite Groceteria is stocked with fit-for-a-foodie items. North American Quality Purveyors Ltd. is a surefire stop for well-made men’s items and Kent of Inglewood is chock full of shaving and toiletry products that will make you wish you were a man, while both Adorn Boutique and Bamboo Ballroom have unique items for the so-called fairer sex.
Shortcut: As mentioned above, Rhosyn Floral has pre-packed gift boxes filled to the brim with local goods. If you don’t have time to run around and to gather items for a personalized box, theirs are available for $100. The price may seem steep, but if you think about it, it would probably cost just as much to put together your own.
I didn’t forget about you. In the spirit of good fun and celebrating non-romantic love, grab a few buddies and hit up The Garter Girls’ Valentine’s Day show! I got really into burlesque a little while ago, and it’s rip-roaring good fun—so much that you’ll probably forget (or even be thankful) that you’re single. Really.
One of my best Valentine’s Days ever was going to their show a few years ago at Voodoo Lounge with 3 fellow singletons (2 males, 1 female), and eating a hearty (regularly-priced and non-Valentine’s-Day-inflated, thank you very much!) burger. Axis D’Evil completely blew us away with her hula hoop routine to the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic.” The show was sexy, funny, and clever (unlike most Tinder dates—so save yourself the trouble and go to this instead). We hooted and hollered, drank wine, and even devoured a giant cupcake from Buttercream Bake Shoppe. I also picked up a few of those little chocolate packages from Shoppers’ Drug Mart and printed out cheesy personalized Valentines for each of my friends.
Anti-Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean bitterly eating a pint of Village Ice Cream‘s new Snickerdoodle flavour while binge-watching Nicholas Sparks movies. Get out there—it’s an excuse to have some fun or grab a few drinks, if anything.[/vc_column_text][thb_gap height=”25″][thb_dividers style=”style11″]
I hope you enjoyed my Calgary Valentine’s Day 2016 gift guide, and that it’s helped some ideas materialize if you were stuck. Be sure to chat with me on Twitter if you have any questions or other suggestions!
Whether you’re coupled up or flying solo this February 14th:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Calgary!