Our Portland-Centric Valentine's Gift Guide Stabs Romantic Cliché with Cupid's Arrow

Well, anyway—here are some ideas for V-Day that hopefully won't nauseate you or your Special One.

By Caitlin Collins February 1, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

Valentine's Day tastes a little saccharine even if you're in a happy relationship. Avoid the obvious by picking a gift loaded with both genuine sentiment and Portland-style cred.

New relationship fqg70d

For a new relationship

Things look promising, but you’re still in new territory. Say you appreciate someone when you definitely “like-like” them.

  1. Give the gift of pampering: they’ll think of you while they have me-time. Finger Bang, Portland’s wildest nail salon, offers intricate nail art, a much-needed massage, and optional (but, you know, highly recommended) mimosas.
  2. Rook’s Barbershop on Northeast Broadway offers a relaxing hot towel beard trim with a complimentary beer, shot, coffee, or soda. Your man will look sharp and feel relaxed.
  3. What better day to present a key to your apartment than the holiday of love? Select a bold patterned key to be cut, then go all-out with a personalized monogrammed key ring lanyard from Portland’s own Tanner Goods.
  4. All right, this may go a little '90s middle school, but make a mixtape. Handily enough, Portland Monthly just rounded up five of the city's definitive bands of now, including the dead-sexy Radiation City. (The band's new album, Synesthesia, also drops February 12, for your convenience.)
  5. Make your present a trip to the Oregon Zoo to laugh at twirling otters and gawk at the awkwardly majestic giraffes. Smooch in the polar bear cave. Pose in a photobooth with images of jungle cats. Extra credit for purchasing matching corny zoo t-shirts from the gift shop to wear the day-of.
S.o  bdpt4o

Image: Caitlin Collins 

Significant Other
Long-term partner, spouse, honey-darling-dear, bae.

  1. Settlemier’s has churned out nostalgic patches and stitching embroidery for more than 25 years. Though they tend to specialize in letterman jackets and sportswear in general, they’ll embroider whatever you want onto just about anything made of fabric. This is a great chance to stitch an inside joke or pet name onto a hat, glove, pillowcase, whatever.
  2. Batched cocktails make a surprisingly easy gift. Take some empty wine bottles with the labels removed, choose a classic cocktail like the Old Pal or Martinez that doesn’t require juice or any other perishable ingredients, and multiply the recipe to fit in the bottle. Seal, and for an extra fancy touch, dip in wax that you’ve heated on a double boiler. 
  3. If you want to go classic with jewelry, opt for local: Portland is a hub for talented designers. For someone who favors streamlined, simpler jewelry with an elegant edge, check out Jessica Huber’s all sterling silver and brass collection.
  4. For something a bit bolder, the raw and vibrant creations of Nicolette Peterson’s Beach Bones line should deliver. Wildwood & Company carries tie clips and other locally made accessories.
  5. If the apple of your eye is also a pet owner, hit up ceramicist Lucy Nilan. Located just outside Seattle, Nilan not only hand-crafts lovely mugs, but paints charming portraits of pets on them. Send her a pic of your parakeet or a likeness of your labradoodle and you’ve got V-day covered.
  6. Perhaps the idea of more “stuff” in your life is unappealing. Take a drive up to Bagby Hot Springs and let your fingers turn to raisins while you catch up in a giant tub of steamy spring water.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy V-day. If you find that the one dearest to your soul is actually your friend—a galentine, if you will, or perhaps you’re involved in a bromance—stay tuned for next week’s gift guide.

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