I AM ALL in favor of romance and have nothing against receiving boxes of chocolate truffles or macarons or gorgeous bouquets of flowers or Veuve Clicquot, or perfume, while I’m thinking about it. And if my husband happens to be reading this, hope he takes note. But when I got to thinking of the best things to give this Valentine’s Day, my thoughts turned to much less indulgent, read practical-minded gifts, to keep friends, spouses or partners protected from the pandemic and now, its scary, emerging variants. So, if you love them, keep them safe—and healthy. Below, some ways:
LEFT: It may be that the best mask is two masks. This UA Sports Mask ($30, Under Armour), with a water-resistant outer layer and an inner anti-microbial layer, also has UPF sun protection. It comes in five sizes so you can really get a close fit but you might want to buy a slightly larger size if you intend to put it on over, say, a surgical mask.
RIGHT: Vistaprint’s Basquiat “Untitled” Face Mask ($22) with adjustable ear loops, a bendable wire nose strip, stretchy fabric and a lower section that hugs the chin ensures this mask will fit several different face shapes. The moisture-wicking fabric keeps sweat at bay. For more protection, Vistaprint sells replaceable filters in packs of 10.
LEFT: Mostly hidden behind masks, lips cry out for attention. Patchology’s Lip Service Gloss-to-Balm Treatment ($15) to the rescue. A mix of hyaluronic acid, aloe and honey, it not only moisturizes lips, it happens to taste good. You slick it on and it melts into a treatment that protects thar delicate skin area. Love at first swipe?
FAR AND NEAR RIGHT: We’ve mentioned this hydrating (a blend of aloe and glycerin) sanitizer in a cute little bird misting dispenser before, but on the theory of twice is nice, here it is again. The one-ounce size of essential-oil fragrances from Olika is $17.99 each; it comes in three-, six- and 12-packs. In addition, there’s a .6-ounce birdie ($14.99) that has a clip to attach to belt or backpack, which is also available at Anthropologie ($7). They’re all refillable.
BELOW: Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Better than a “Do Not Disturb” sign, Fleur du Mal’s luxe Silk Eye Mask ($48) keeps light out while it coddles the eyes. Cue the soft music or the recording of falling rain.
LEFT: Republic of Tea’s Be Active Get Burning Tea ($14, Amazon) could convert a non-tea drinker into an enthusiast. It has got a slew of ingredients that I’ve heard of like ginger, cinnamon, basil and cloves and some that I haven’t like cordyceps extract and natural sea buckthorn. They all add up to a spicy herbal blend that whether or not it increases your metabolism, energy and stress resistance tastes like it could.
RIGHT: This Harry & David Red Grapefruit ($34.99) box is packed with seven juicy ones, filled with the immune-boosting properties of Vitamin C (38.4 mg for a half grapefruit). It also has a high water content, which is key to keeping the body hydrated.
LEFT: Raise your hand if you think you should learn how to meditate or know someone who should. There’s never been a better time to find out how to lower the volume in your head. HeadSpace allows an introductory period to learn some basics before signing up for a yearly $69.99 subscription.
RIGHT: Context Conversations advertises itself as “scholar-led virtual learning for the intellectually curious.” Appropriately enough for Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14, 5-6:30pm), food historian Francine Segan will talk about the beliefs behind frog saliva, rhinoceros horns and oysters, truffles and caviar in “Aphrodisiacs: Myth or Reality?” ($36.50, Context Travel) spanning a time period from ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages to today.
LEFT: Keep washing your hands. Anthropologie Ayurvedic Valentine Bar ($16.50) makes the routine more of a pleasure with its subtly scented, handcrafted soap, all wrapped up in sheep’s wool and gift-ready. For anyone needing a little Valentine’s cheer.
RIGHT: Nestle a heart-shaped soap (above) or set some sinful sweets onto Vietri’s adorable, Italian stoneware Mini Amore Plate ($18). You could also place it on a night table to neatly collect your favorite jewels.
LEFT: Some like it hot—or cold. For depuffing eyes or soothing head or muscle aches, heat this Mini Heating Pad (6-by-7.5 inches, $17, Etsy) in the microwave or cool it in the freezer. An inner bag contains corn kernels; the outer cover is a pretty print fabric, which is washable. A few years ago I got one as a gift that I use regularly—both hot and cold—on my wonky shoulder.
RIGHT: When there’s no gym class, you don’t have a Peleton, and you can’t take another Zoom session of anything, Gaiam’s Restore Strength and Flexibility Kit ($14.98, Amazon) can help out with three color-coded bands in light, medium and heavy levels of resistance. For anyone with an accursed frozen shoulder—like mine—they’ve worked magic on my range of motion.
LEFT: When minds are spinning, jigsaw puzzles can help with focus, problem-solving skills and even improve short-term memory. No wonder their popularity has soared during the pandemic. Fans of L.A.-based, Parisian-influenced fashion label Clare V. will appreciate the distraction of this 1,000-piece puzzle CV Collage ($39), inspired by the brand’s signature graphics.
RIGHT: Okay, so there’s nothing innately healthy or protective about this Amore Sterling Silver Pearl Necklace ($155, Moda Operandi), except it’s charming and could put a happy smile on the face of its recipient. And there’s a lot to be said for a gift that improves one’s outlook on life. Strung with freshwater pearls and crystal-embellished letters that spell “love” in Italian. Isn’t that romantic?
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