Valentine’s Gifts Made in Baltimore for the In-Love, Out of Love, and In Between

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My Valentine’s Day generally goes like this: My mother texts me in the morning and asks me if I remembered that it is Valentine’s Day (I have not). Then she asks if I have gotten my husband a gift (clearly not). Groaning ensues, last-minute research is conducted, and then a nice bottle of booze, a restaurant gift certificate, or handmade object is surreptitiously purchased and subsequently gifted. My husband doesn’t always love whatever the thing is, and neither of us is particularly into this holiday, but we agree it’s important to make some kind of effort.

My husband typically makes me a card for Valentine’s Day with his own horribly drawn yet charming cartoons, both inappropriate and funny, occasionally accompanied by flowers, handmade jewelry, sometimes chocolate, and most often, nothing else, which is fine with me. We have a child in elementary school, so we make sure he is equipped with a Valentine for every child in his class, complete with an individually wrapped sugary item. We’re not great at this, but we aren’t the worst either. We do not love this holiday, but we do what we have to and we get it done.

For anyone who is single or in a relationship that is less clearly defined, Valentine’s Day is a minefield and can be a tragedy. Even during a normal year, this holiday can reinforce a feeling of being alone and unappreciated. Even if your ex was a horrible mess and you’re thankful to be rid of them, on this one day you kinda miss them, or at least the bouquet of flowers or sex you imagine they’d supply.

Valentine’s Day is a conundrum. It is simultaneously an opportunity to cherish the people you love and a wretched exercise in guilt, suffering, and self-pity. This year, however, we have a chance to do this right. Rather than idealizing other people’s showy Valentine’s Day Instagram experiences and feeling skeptical and sad, we can be proactive and own this holiday. This year, Covid-19 has made sure that nobody is going anywhere anyway, so it’s an opportunity to engage in radical self-care, to show love to the people we appreciate, and to support small businesses in our city.

No matter what your relationship status, the perfect homegrown gift is waiting for you and for anyone else that you choose to shower with adoration. This year, it’s relatively easy to buy a Valentine’s present that is decadent and lovely, but not necessarily expensive, and that supports Baltimore’s creative economy.

Give the romantic gift of Baltimore this year and make everyone, yourself included, happy!



For the Plant Lover Who Kills Plants: Dried Floral Bouquet from The Greenhouse at Good Neighbor
IG: @thegreenhousebaltimore

A business partnered with Good Neighbor in Hampden, this tiny plant shop and dried flower bar has something for everyone. This V-Day, they have several beautiful dried floral bouquets that’ll brighten up a dreary winter, as well as chocolate-covered strawberries, bath salts full of dried flowers and essential oils, and customizable greeting cards with mini floral arrangements.



For the Bibliophile in Your Bed: A Curated Bag from Greedy Reads Bookstore
IG: @greedyreads

No matter your Valentine vibe this year, Greedy Reads has got you covered. Their curated bag includes a book (or two), a personalized greeting card, a candle from 22 Grant Street (@228grantstreet), and Valentine-hued macarons from the masters at Sacre Sucre (@sacre.sucre). This is the perfect gift for yourself, your significant others, and the friend you cannot wait to see after Covid-19 is over. Buy online and pick up at the store.




For Dirty Minds and Bodies: Mount Royal Soap Company
IG: @mtroyalsoaps

This pert, purple Booty Massage Bar might be a necessity. It’s cute! It’s purple! It smells like jasmine and frankincense and is “meant to be enjoyed alone, or with friends.” For anyone who really wants to take their Valentine’s Day to the next level with the Mount Royal Soap Co’s yummy and organic products, you can purchase a Rosy Gift Box, a set that includes a Bottle of Rosy Posy Lotion, a Rose Massage Bar, a Bag of Hearts (five bath melts), Sandalwood & Rose candle, and “Booble” Bar.

I have to admit, though, that the item I want to purchase for pretty much everyone I know is the Bag of Dicks, which is also a set of five bath melts. “Whether you have one, know one, or are one, these little melts are sure to bring you a giggle!” These tiny penises smell like jasmine and frankincense, as they should.




For the Wino Who Loves a Quality Sandwich: Anything from Le Comptoir du Vin
IG: @lecomptoirduvin

Le Comptoir du Vin is a restaurant and natural wine bar located in Station North that was included in Bon Appetit’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2019 list. Due to Covid-19, it has transformed into a specialty shop with prepared foods, pantry items, and lots of really good wine. They currently offer carryout and have expanded their retail offerings with gourmet imports from France and Italy, all available for purchase in their online shop.

The shop is open from noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. You can pre-order prepared foods online and browse the wine and pantry in person. Their heavenly sandwiches are available until 5 p.m.



For the Art Historian: Books, Jewelry, and Textiles at the BMA Museum Shop
IG: @thebmashop

Now available for online shopping, the BMA Museum Shop offers elegant handmade jewelry, Matisse puzzles, and so many gorgeous books. This is the one we have our eye on right now: Four Generations: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art. The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection of Abstract Art is widely recognized as one of the most significant collections of modern and contemporary work by African artists and artists of the African diaspora, and Four Generations draws upon the collection’s unparalleled holdings to explore the critical contributions made by Black artists to the evolution of visual art in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Also: Adorable museum nerd face masks (and other artistic looking ones) are available!




For Anyone with a Body: Yummy Creams, Lotions, and Tinctures from Priya Means Love
IG: @priyameanslovebodycare

Priya Means Love has just the thing for you, whether you’re looking for a cold/allergy solution (such as the Sinus Vapor Balm, a botanical chest rub made with a complex blend of nine essential oils), or a new cologne (like the Hand in Glove, an all-natural, organic fragrance with saffron, juniper, patchouli, and osmanthus). No matter what you buy, it’s going to bring olfactory joy to you and others. Made in Baltimore by Priya Narasimhan, in small batches and using all organic ingredients, these balms, creams, and tinctures will make your skin, nose, and hair happy.



For the Coffee, Tea, or Pottery Lover: Ceramic mugs, bowls, and plates at Good Neighbor
IG: @goodneighborshop

From the charming cafe with outdoor seating, a killer periodical section, and the cutest housewares ever, Good Neighbor‘s ceramics are temping and easily giftable. One highlight is these blue speckled latte mugs from ceramicist Amy Golden (@goldenobject). They also sell furniture, blankets, and a toaster that I would be really happy to receive on Valentine’s Day (hint hint).



Green Thumb? Flowers and Wine? All of the Above? Head to B.Willow
IG: @bwillowbmo

Leave it to B.Willow to offer an entire online shop of Valentine’s Day suggestions. Choose from potted succulents, cacti, tropicals, air plants, and more… They also have sweet Valentine’s bouquets or Bromeliad packages for pickup that include a bottle of natural rosé, a pressed flower card, and a box of Baking House 392 (@bakinghouse392_) baked goods.



For the Lover of Magical Beautiful Things: Tracey Beale Jewelry
IG: @traceybealejewelry

Tracey Beale is an artist and jewelry designer whose works are inspired by ancient artifacts and tribal adornment. Designed for everybody and anybody, Beale’s work is contemporary and handcrafted, sometimes experimental and organic.




For the Bougie Foodie: Tinned Fish from Angels Ate Lemons
IG: @angelsatelemons

Why is this tinned smoked fish from Spain so adorable? Available at the natural wine “workroom” attached to Fadensonnen, Angels Ate Lemons’ curated cases and pantry are stocked with a host of wonderful things, and these chargrilled canned fish tins from Güeyu Mar are dazzling. They are a product of Abel Álvarez, a Spanish restauranteur determined to “reinvent the canning world and change the perception of eating from tins.”

I’m just going to include this description, translated from Spanish, because it reads like yummy seafood porn: “The finest seafood are chargrilled, using products of the highest quality which are then canned. A complex and painstaking process, full of searches for marine treasures, patiently awaiting capture before joining the aromas of birch woods, beech, oak and eucalyptus and oils of heavenly textures.”

Buy some natural wine while you’re there, and you’ve won at Valentine’s Day!



For the Leather Daddy in Your Life: Anything from Fruit Leather
IG: @fruitleathershop

Fruit Leather offers a variety of handmade leather fetish items. Whether you’re looking for a utilitarian gift like a bite paddle, slapper, or flogger, or wearable items like hobble belts, suspenders, or collars, these objects are beautifully made and can be custom-fit tailored to exact measurements. Have a look at Fruit Leather’s Etsy shop to browse, and then contact them directly to discuss sizing. For Valentine’s Day, Fruit Leather has a special offer: leather floggers with hand-molded resin hearts by Griot Goods (@griotgoods). These items are available via IG stories starting February 10 at 2 p.m. and will ship the next morning if ordered by Thursday at 2 p.m.!




For the Minimalist Jewelry Aficionado: Betty Cooke at The Store Ltd.
IG: @thestoreltd

Betty Cooke’s Cross Keys trove of museum shop-quality items, The Store Ltd sells clothing, books, housewares, toys, and Cooke’s signature jewelry. Clothing includes brands and makers like Marimekko, Susan Tarlov, Judith Bird silk scarves, and snappy numbers in linen and wool. The pinnacle, though, is Cooke’s original modernist jewelry, which is about to be featured in a retrospective at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Her work includes necklaces, bracelets, and rings for everybody. Honestly, let’s all buy some Betty Cooke jewelry and wear it to her exhibit! It’s the gift of looking forward to something special.




For the Chocolate Snob: Jinji Chocolate Samplers
IG: @jinjichocolate

Who else has Mexican Pots de Creme, Tuskegee Pecan Turtles, Liquid Dark Chocolate, and alllllll the kinds of truffles you could dream up? Pure Chocolate by Jinji is organic and vegan, too. You can order online for in-store pickup (use code NOSHIP at checkout to remove shipping charges) or visit in person at Belvedere Square. Save me a caramel, please!



Header Image: Chocolate by Jinji, photo by Justin Tsucalas for BmoreArt

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