Related Articles: Specialty Store, All

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Love is in the air

Everywhere you look, there are flowers and chocolates for sale, and while we can all agree that they are good -- and safe -- bets for Valentine's Day, more personal gifts aren't difficult to find. A little imagination and the gift ideas below are all shoppers need to make sure their Valentines are satisfied.

Friends and Family
Choosing Valentine's Day gifts for friends and relatives can be tricky but some things never fail. Moms and your female friends will love the sweet Valentine's collection from Bombay Duck at Aldea, a cozy Mission-district store full of modern furniture, colorful dishes and accessories from around the world. Slip a picture of you and Mom in a pink leather heart frame ($16) by Bombay Duck so she can be reminded how much you care every time she looks at it, and help your globetrotting friends recognize their suitcase on the carousel with a pink leather heart-shaped luggage tag ($12) by the same brand.

Cheer up a heart-broken girlfriend with perfumes and soaps reputed to have special powers from Botanica Yoruba, a Santeria supply store in the Mission. Oshun perfume ($5), a homemade scent that will bring love and prosperity, has a sweet and citrus smell; Miel de Amor, or Love Honey ($10.50), is a fragrance made of herb extracts and aphrodisiacs that can also help bring love back in your friend's life; and Jabon de la Chuparrosa ($4.50), a Mexican soap easily recognizable by the old-fashioned drawing of a hummingbird on the package, will bring luck in love.

If said girlfriend has her heart set on someone who hasn't yet noticed her, help her out with the Ven a Mi, or Come to Me Aromatic Plant Bath by Indio Products ($8). Boil contents in a bath tub half full of water, mix well, and soak in the tub for seven minutes – and if that doesn't work, take her to the store and ask the owner, Yolanda, to perform a love spell -- Mr. Right won't resist for long.

Add sweet scents and a little greenery in your relatives' or friends' lives with a Darmos Toys Flowers in a Can ($6.50) from Doe, a friendly Lower Haight store. Pastel-colored tin cans are adorned with drawings of flowers and a sweet message. Dahlia cans read "Best wishes for an eternally sweet liveliness," and geranium cans, "Simple, natural, pure and understanding."

First Dates
Getting the wrong gift can give your Valentine the wrong idea. Luckily, Eleanor Carpenter and Leslie Drapkin, owners of Jest Jewels, a store with three locations in San Francisco and Berkeley, travel the world looking for unique gifts and they've got great jewelry for your sweetheart. Win your girl's heart with the Heart Wish Necklace by Dogeared ($28), which features a sterling silver heart charm on a pink silk cord. Let your sweetie put on the necklace and ask her to make a wish. When the thin cord breaks, her wish will come true -- and hopefully yours will too.

To help your Valentine unwind, get her the Lilac Calming Lux Bath Salts by Jane Inc. ($6 per pack, four-bath size) from Aldea. This Richmond-based company makes bath soaks from pure salt harvested from the sea. The oils in these bath salts are relaxing, restoring, and rejuvenating. For restful nights and relaxing baths, Aldea also sells flowery and soft Dream Pillow sleep masks ($17.50) by the same brand.

Are you ready to take your relationship to the next level but too shy to say the three big words? Doe comes to your rescue with their I Love You Magic Bean by Darmos Toys ($9.95). Wait for the plant to grow -- it usually only takes a few days -- and the "I Love You" message will appear on the leaf.

For committed Valentines, feelings have already been revealed but that doesn't mean they shouldn't receive a gift. If your budget allows, opt for the sterling silver Big Tiny Heart Necklace by Los Angeles designer Adina ($125) available at Jest Jewels. The heart can be worn straight or off center for a more unusual look.

If you're feeling a little more in the mood, check out the fun Romance Decision Dice ($10), also at Jest Jewels. Roll the dice when you need help with romance and get one of six possibilities: dirty video, weekend away, shopping, romantic dinner, dancing, or stay in bed.

To stay in the mood, head to Good Vibrations, a very friendly worker-owned store that sells sex toys and other adult items. Opened by sex therapist and educator Joani Blank, Good Vibrations isn't like most adult stores -- that's because Blank wanted a "clean, well-lighted" alternative to conventional adult bookstores. To make things easier on novice shoppers, the staff has created a Valentine's Day gift list. Gourmets will enjoy the beautiful color photos and sidebars on the history of aphrodisiacs in Seduction and Spice: 130 Recipes for Romance, by Rudolf Sodamin ($39.95).

Add a little spice to your evening with the Mad Passion Multimoro perfume ($10.50) from Botanica Yoruba, described on the bottle as a "hot scent to inflame sensuality" and Good Vibrations' Strip Tease Kit in a Box ($22). It includes pasties, body glitter, a sheer black scarf, booklet, and scenario cards. Jennifer Axen and Leigh Phillips, the authors of The Stripper's Guide to Looking Great Naked, give advice on grooming, choreography, and lighting. Love is definitely staying in the air tonight.