Every Valentine’s Day, people in the US exchange 141 million Valentine’s Day cards, give 189 million roses, and shell out over $1 billion on chocolate. That’s a whole lot of tokens of affection, and unfortunately, a whole lot of unoriginality. Is your sweetheart one of millions, or one in a million? Doesn’t he or she deserve something special this year? Not to worry: we’ve compiled some gift ideas for you from stores and artists that are local to Houston. Your gift will be as unique as your relationship, and your sweetie will find your support of local business extremely attractive. It’s a win-win situation. So, without further ado, here’s our handy Valentine’s Day shopping guide:
Two words: breakfast cupcakes. They exist. Right here in Houston, at locally-owned and operated Crave Cupcakes. Why not visit one of Crave’s two locations (one in Uptown Park, and one in the Rice Village area) and pick some up for a surprise breakfast in bed? Or for the more traditional cupcake experience, try their Sweetheart Box. For truly decadent, made-from-scratch cupcakes, check out Sugarbaby’s Cupcake Boutique in the Montrose area. They offer twelve flavors every day, as well as cupcake “miniatures” and Dean and Deluca Coffee (drool). Go hardcore local with your shopping at Celebrity Cupcakes on University Boulevard. Not only is Celebrity locally owned and operated, they offer ingredients that are “[s]ourced locally and organic whenever possible, including dairy from Texas farms, organic milk, fresh fruit and cage free eggs”. They even offer some gluten-free options for significant others who can’t handle their wheat.
Diamonds not in the budget this Recession? High Gloss can help you out. They’ve been providing Houstonians with jewelry and gifts at prices to fit any budget for over seventeen years. Tucked away in Uptown Park near the Galleria, High Gloss has a clean, modern storefront housing just two rows of glass cases. At first glance, it looks like a minimalist art gallery. But once you start exploring, you’ll find that the cases contain drawer after drawer of jewelry, accessories, and design objects for men and women. The store carries vintage pieces and collectibles, as well as eco-conscious jewelry.
Shown in the image above: Bangles made by artist Thomas Mann, who calls his work “techno-romantic.” “The Couple” Necklace by Kristen Lora. Kristin’s work incorporates humor with clean, uncluttered, contemporary lines. And for a clever twist, see the “Have a Heart” necklace by Margaux Lange. In her Plastic Body series, Margaux re-purposes mass-produced materials, such as Barbie doll parts, to create handmade wearable art.
1131 Uptown Park Blvd # 6. 713 961 7868 http://www.highglosshouston.com
Do you like the idea of sweets, but don’t want to indulge? Then check out Feto Soap at Hello Lucky (http://www.hello-lucky.com/) in the Heights. Based in Austin, but sold locally, Feto Soap makes delicious-looking vegan goodies for your bath and shower. So you can have the decadence of a lemon bar or chocolate bon bon without the calories. Feto Soap is individually owned and operated by Lisa Chouinard and you can find more information here: http://fetosoap.com/shop/ And while you browse Hello Lucky, check out their other locally made gifts for everyone from kids to adults.
Hello Lucky 1025 Studewood Street; 713 864 3556
Buffalo Bayou Tour
If you are a nature lover and would rather spend your Valentine’s Day enjoying the temperate Houston weather in February, then you might enjoy a Buffalo Bayou tour hosted by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, a non-profit organization. As part of the revitalizing of the bayous here in the city, you can participate in the Cupid Cruise on February 14th. You and your date will be taken around on the Spirit of the Bayou pontoon boat for a cozy cruise with chocolate bites and bubbly drinks. You will get to see one-of-a-kind views of downtown Houston while you enjoy the feeling of a river tour. Seating is limited so call soon if you’re interested. If the cruise isn’t your taste, there is a general Boat Ride on February 12th. These 30-minutes rides let you glide along the bayou, spot the occasional alligator, and have a picnic lunch on the new Sabine Promenade. So treat your sweetheart to a new way of seeing Houston!
http://www.buffalobayou.org 713 752 0314
Chocolat du Monde
This is how you say “yum” in French. Owner David Heiland brings the chocolatier’s skills he gleaned from his years abroad to Houston’s Rice Village. This one-of-a-kind store is the only place in Texas that sells Leonidas, a Belgian chocolate that Heiland has flown in every week. Chocolate du Monde carries everything from cordials and chocolate-covered berries, to artfully decorated, delicate truffles. They even offer sugar-free options and gift wrapping. The owners are inviting and eager to answer any questions you might have. Visit them on Morningside Drive or on their website.
5302 Morningside, http://www.chocolat-du-monde.com
713 520 5600
The name “Installation Antiques” is spot on for this Heights curiosity shop. Since 1995, owners Becki and Jur van der Oord have been collecting antiques big and small, and repurposing them as unconventional, sculptural installations. The designs are elegantly simple and modern, and the inventory is in perpetual flux. Cases of jewelry and small found objects fill the front of the store, while larger furniture and wall art populates the rest of the raw, industrial space. If you want to find something truly one-of-a-kind for your special someone, Installation is the place to check out. And if you’re too overwhelmed by the vast selection, don’t worry – they offer gift certificates.
611 West 22nd Street. 713 864 6125. http://www.installationsantiques.com
For a more dramatic jewelry gift this Valentine’s Day, look to Houstonian Tara Levitin’s Leviticus Jewelry. Her signature line uses mixed metals and stones to create artistic and unique gifts that are beloved by locals and celebrities alike. You may have seen her collection in Elle or Bust, or perhaps on the ears of Big Love’s Ginnifer Goodwin. Pieces range from one-of-a-kind charm necklaces and repurposed antiques to necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets all with a modern feel. Levitin’s work is sure to impress anyone with an eye for fashion and pieces are affordable without compromising quality.
Shown in the image above: Vintage lovers locket, an antique brass floral detailed locket with original lovers photos adorned with a flower or the wishing well necklace charm. For those looking for something with an edge, try the squid tentacle ring or the brothel token bracelet.
Winter Street Studios
For the art lovers out there, Winter Street Studios will have their Second Saturday Open Studios on February 12th so you and yours can peruse some of Houston’s finest artists. With the building open to the public and studios open to browsers, you may find a new artist or piece that catches your eye. With over 75 studios and 87 artists in Houston’s largest space dedicated to original visual fine art, your fancy is sure to be tickled by emerging and established artists alike.
2101 Winter Street, 713 862 0082 http://www.winterstreetstudios.net
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Every year the Houston Museum of Natural Science hosts a fun, alternative Valentine’s Day celebration and this year doesn’t disappoint. The evening of February 14th will be Cultural Feast–How Sweet It Is! Taste Bud Tripping with Miracle Fruit. Held in the Cockrell Butterfly Center, you will get the pleasure of sampling the Miracle Fruit berry, which tricks your taste buds and makes food, even lemons, taste like sweet morsels. As you walk through the Butterfly Center, lit especially for the evening, you will sample appetizers including chocolate, tropical fruit, and honey. There are only four times allotted so buy your tickets in advance and support your local museum while you impress your date with sweet science. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.hmns.org or call 713 639 4629.
If you’re looking for something more relaxed to do this Valentine’s Day, head to a local farmers market. Get the ingredients for a romantic picnic from neighborhood farmers, feed each other homemade vegetarian tamales, drink fresh-squeezed natural juices, buy your sweetheart a bag or a necklace made by a local artisan, or pet a baby goat. Urban Harvest, a non-profit group, holds two markets; Monica Pope’s restaurant T’afia hosts one; and there’s another on the Rice University campus.
If none of these great gift ideas met your needs, read our blockbuster post from 2009, Will You Design My Valentine? Great Gift Ideas for Your Love Bun.