Chocolates that you picked up from the grocery store on the way home from work a few minutes before the big V-Day date are not sexy. In the world of fine taste, they rate somewhere around squirt cheese, Spam, and tuna casserole — which is to say they're great for kids who don't really care what candy tastes like just as long as it's candy or for people you don't like that much. But for loved ones? Your best bet this year is to go cute, kitschy, connected, or totally cutting edge.
Here are several ideas that say "I love you" in their own own special way.
Cutting-Edge Splurge: The sexiest new gadget around
ASUS Zenbook UX21 Ultrabook
Price: Starts at $999
Nothing says "I love you" like a gadget that "turns on instantly, is incredibly responsive and stays charged for up to eight hours." Now that's just plain PC porn. Ultrabooks are the hottest new tech gadget on the block, and this sleek little Asus Zenbook with Intel Core i7 processing technology simply oozes 007-style sex appeal. It comes in rose gold for her, polished metallic for him.
Cutting-Edge Save: Get romantic with your reader
Sony "Red" Reader
Price: $99 (on sale now until February 18)
One of the lesser-known of the e-readers on the market today is getting the most love (via online reviews) from people who've bought it. This ultra-light, 6" glare-free touchscreen e-reader can run for more than a month on a single battery charge. It's also the world's first e-reader to offer wireless public library downloads right from the device. It's small, sexy, and saves money.
Cute and Kitschy: Unique way to personalize it
QR code cuff links
Hide a savvy secret message that he or she can take with them anywhere. Blend Creations is a real hot spot for geek chic jewelry of all kinds, but my top pick this year is this solid stainless steel set of cuff links that are laser-etched with a personalized QR (quick read) barcode. You can encode anything you want up to 31 characters, then download a barcode reader app on his phone so that he can decode the message any time, anywhere. Blend Creations does this with necklaces, too; someone recently used one to embed a marriage proposal.
Connected and Cutting-Edge: His own personal hotspot
Wifi cuff links
If he's a hipster, metro male, a professional, or he's always secretly wanted to be James Bond, then these polished silver wifi cuff links will make him happy on many levels. These designer cuff links store up to 2GB of data and let him connect to the internet (and to you) wherever he might be. (Sorry, Mac lovers, these are Windows-only at the moment.)
Kitschy: Personalize it with a customized, stuffed "you"
I am a stuffed animal
This is one of the strangest gifts to come across my desk in a while, but there's a certain outlandish appeal to it. It could be an oddly endearing way to allow your honey to cuddle with you every night, no matter where in world you might be. (Great for kids when a parent travels for work?) Now you can leave a bit of yourself behind with a stuffed animal ("stuffed people" just doesn't sound right) version of you. Or him. Or her. Or them. All you do is send a picture and add a description, and the company will create these little buddies in about six weeks.
Cutting-Edge: Drive him (or her) wild
Check out this fully loaded, super sweet, cherry red Enzo Ferrari that he can drive with his equally sleek and sexy iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This is not a child's toy but is perfect for someone young at heart. You download a free app that turns the screen on your iPhone into a realistic-looking dashboard. You control the car by tipping, tilting, and turning your phone. Seriously, this is as close as you can get to the real thing — for about $380,000 less.
Kitschy: Really, really, really personalize it
Love is Art
One of the places I find the best, most unique, and most affordable gifts is a flash sale website called Fab.com. That's where I did a lot of searching for the more unique items that made this list. One of the most unique and most... ah... expressive is a prepackaged Love is Art kit. It comes with a giant canvas, nontoxic body paint, a protective tarp, and a body sponge. You and your partner supply the creativity. When you're done making your masterpiece, have it stretched and framed at any local art shop.
Cute and Cutting-Edge: The case for couture
Crystal-encrusted iPhone case
For the gal who loves her bling, this Swarovski crystal-encrusted iPhone case is a perfect way to add sparkle to her life. Each one is handcrafted and comes in a variety of different styles and colors.
Cute and Cutting-Edge: The case for couture, part II
Designer clutch case
Another hot couture case is this red Michael Kors designer wallet clutch for the iPhone 4 and 4S. It looks like the latest stylish clutch purse, which is kind of is. Not only does it hold her credit cards, ID, and a tiny tube of lipstick, it holds her most important accessory as well: her iPhone.
Cute and Kitschy: G-rated love glove
Now here's the perfect gift for those PDA-loving hand-holders among us. It's a mitten made for people to wear while they are holding hands. And it's in the shape of a heart. Aww... This is so sweet it'll either make you wistfully romantic or throw up a little in your own mouth. I'm afraid I'm in the latter camp, but I know plenty of friends who will think this is the best thing since I'm with Him/She's with Me matching T-shirts.
Cute, Kitschy and Cutting-Edge: The Netflix for knickers
Price: $16 per month
If your man is in serious need of a tighty-whitey overhaul (as in Please, honey, I can't take you seriously while you're wearing granny panties), MeUndies will be the saving grace for both of you. And men, if you want to introduce sexy lingerie into her life without that embarrassing trip to the mall, then you've just met your perfect match. MeUndies is an online clothing club for underwear. Cheap and easy. (Hopefully not how your mate describes you.)
So what are you going to get?
Did you find that perfect gift here? If not, I'm going to leave you with one more juicy tidbit of big V-Day advice: Use technology to find great deals and ideas this Valentine's Day and beyond. Online malls like eBates.com not only have great deals on gifts, but you actually get cash back just for shopping there. I was just looking at bouquets of roses (for research of course, since I'm going with these gadgets) that are $30 less expensive than anywhere else online, and you get 20% cash back. Same goes with diamond jewelry, clothes... everything. I don't know about you, but I love saving money.
Now go out and spread some love.
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