Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

The best advice in dealing with Valentine’s Day is to start shopping soon. Toward that end, here are some hot tips that should appeal to your significant other.


My wife trained me years ago not to buy her any gift that plugs in. But when she tried this excellent item, she admitted I could bend the rules. Everyone has ~90% of an electric bike in their garage. The GeoOrbital Wheel converts any bike into an electric bike in about a minute. The crazily creative engineers in Boston have figured out a way to put all the necessary science into the front wheel. You switch out the existing wheel, charge it up, attach the thumb throttle and soon you are cruising with ease up hills and around town. I had trepidation that it would work, but I am impressed. The unit is understandably heavy (batteries are a notoriously difficult technology, lighter means less power), but the weight is invisible when you are riding. It is now easy to load your backpack with a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese and cruise easily to a romantic spot for a picnic. And the next day you can start commuting by bike, arriving without a sweat.


Everyone loves a candle. As we settle in to the short days and long winter nights, a good candle is a welcome addition. With centuries of craftsmanship behind them, chandlers have developed a variety of techniques that manifest themselves in the great candles today. Here is a roundup of candle purveyors worth checking out.


Speaking of history, Creed has centuries worth. Passed from father to son spanning seven generations since its London founding in 1760 by James Henry Creed, The House of Creed has been handcrafting uncommon fragrances for royal houses and discerning patrons for over 250 years. Now you can join the ranks of folks like Queen Victoria (burn this candle when watching the Netflix series), Empress Eugenie of France, Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria-Hungary and his wife, the Empress “Sissi” Elisabeth, Spain’s Queen Maria Cristina, Sir Winston Churchill and President John F. Kennedy. Based outside of Paris today, the company weighs, mixes, macerates and filters all candles by hand in the highest tradition of the House’s founder, James Creed. The Spring Flower Candle ($120) will preview the end of winter doldrums with about sixty hours of burn time.


With an equally intriguing history, the diptyque story began in Paris with three friends. Christiane Gautrot was an interior designer, Desmond Knox-Leet a painter, and Yves Coueslant a theater director and set designer. The first two collaborated designing fabrics and wallpaper. They were joined by the third in 1961 and opened a shop to display their designs. They expanded their expertise to include candles. The Feu de Bois / Wood Fire ($64) recreates a crackling open fire. Great for apartment dwellers.

KNA Boutique

Founder April Antuna has created an impressive array of choices. A current favorite is her Green Tea Body Oil Candle ($35) which is made from her cosmetic grade soy wax and body oil blended massage candles.


Have you a feline lover for your Valentine? Then consider a Kisa ($34) from Pryopet. Kisa means kitty in Icelandic and is the first in the collection from 54 Celsius. The unique selling proposition? Light the candle and the feline’s skeleton emerges as the wax melts away. Some may think this is better as a Halloween gift, but the way our household likes our cats, it is just about perfect. The company calls these candles creepy cute, which is just about right. The company’s cheekiness is likely due to their British roots. They also offer secret message candles, which might be better for shy Valentines instead.




What better than the gift of easier sight? ThinOPTICS offers a wide variety of fashionable, shatter-proof polycarbonate frames weighing less
than a nickel, and are about as thick. Cleverly, the carrying case can attach to the back of your smartphone, which of course means they will never be far from reach. Created in Silicon Valley, ThinOPTICS ($20) are designed with the same optical-grade polycarbonate lenses used in high-end prescription glasses. I like the way the flexible frames fit into the carrying case. The designers state the “independent-suspension nose pads ensure a universally comfortable and stable fit,” which I find to be accurate. With patents pending, the company is delivering “a revolutionary new vision platform,” which sounds exactly like Silicon Valley.

Utter Nonsense

Card games are in a bit of a renaissance. Whether on the edgier end (Cards Against Humanity) or more benign, a clever card game can evoke lots of chuckles. One of the newest entries is Utter Nonsense ($25), which combines the use of accents and silly phrases in a surprisingly fun way. You don’t have to be good at accents and the combinations don’t need to make sense. Players combine silly accents with even sillier phrases to create sayings and actions that are basically ridiculous. For Valentine’s Day, you should eschew the family edition and go for the Naughty edition.

Norma Winstone – Descansado

How about a good old fashioned gift of an album of music? That is an old school gift idea that will certainly be welcomed. Winstone has rearranged some brilliant compositions by Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, and Ennio Morricone originally presented in the movies of Scorsese, Godard, Wenders, Jewison, Zeffirelli, Olivier and more. Winstone is a British jazz vocalist who has garnered awards over the decades, and the ECM label is a consistently trustworthy source of refined music.


How about a weekend getaway with your Valentine? How about making sure your bag doesn’t get ripped off? International reports have stated that every year there have been increased reported cases of in-flight theft. These mile-high thieves are in a far less delightful club. CabinR’s unique security device deters a would-be thief who tries to open bags stored in overhead compartments and under seats while their owners sleep or are otherwise distracted (like snogging). Whether you are looking to renew your membership in the mile high club, this luggage gives you peace of mind during any mode of transportation. The bags available in both backpack and messenger bag designs ($75-$150) include a detachable security blanket designed with multiple circuit boards that connect to highly sensitive motion sensors. The patented design is certified for air travel; the lithium-ion polymer battery is fifty times smaller than the permitted size for airlines. Once you arm the system with a unique RFID card, the bag will emit a loud alarm if unwanted theft activity occurs. Thoughtful design accompanies the technology, both bag styles are water repellent and include a laptop compartment, phone pocket, magnetic headphone dock and sunglasses band.

Woodstock-Themed Journals

Stop and do the math – we are coming up on the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. One of the more stylish items in the works is a series of journals, just the thing for saving poems, prayers and promises. (Full disclosure: several years ago I worked with the producers of Woodstock, but I have nothing to do with this product). Produced by Fox Chapel Publishing, the ten journals feature photographs and illustrations from the granddaddy of music festivals. Ranging from the obligatory tie-dye motif to a sharp minimalist style, these hardcover books come in several sizes ($8-$13). Although not available until March, pre-order at the link above for your festival sweetheart.


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.