14 Experience-Worthy Valentine’s Day Gifts

14 Experience-Worthy Valentine’s Day Gifts

It’s probably one of the corniest holidays in existence, because without fail, February becomes a month filled with heart-shaped balloons and candy, endless amounts of chocolate boxes and bouquets, and stereotypical nods to cheesy eroticism through red silk boxers paired with bow-ties. Seriously, give it a rest. Now, I’m not trying to be completely cynical, but when I think about Valentine’s Day and how commercially warped it is, I quickly lose interest. I want to celebrate Love everyday of the year, but if I’m going to dedicate a specific day to demonstrate it, then I’m going to do it in a very special way.

Typically, Valentine’s Day gifts are more novelty in nature: We’re talking teddy bears, rose bouquets, themed underwear, and dinner at either a too fancy or too crowded restaurant. I think it’s time we step it up and not only think smarter about these gifts but also add the element of an experience that you and your special someone can share together. (Sidebar*, Love doesn’t have to only be celebrated romantically. Your friends and family can share this day with you too.) Here’s a list of 20 experiential Valentine’s Day gifts that will help create memorable moments rather than forgettable, novelty riff-raff.

In no particular order:

1. Atlas Coffee Club

      

Atlas Coffee Club, is a travel-themed coffee club that explores the world of coffee and culture!  From Papua New Guinea to Peru, Burundi to Brazil, each month they highlight a new country! (Retail: Gift Subscriptions starting at $60)


2. Nostalgia Electronics Waterfall

       

The Nostalgia Electrics Chocolate Waterfall creates a steady fountain of edible chocolate. Perfect to dip cakes, fruit and marshmallows. A great addition to your dessert spread for your and your valentine to enjoy together. (Retail: $49.99)


3. LATHER Sweet As Honey Kit & Road Warrior Men’s Survival Kit

      

Indulge in a collection of face, bath, body and gourmet treats, made with nature’s candy – honey – an excellent source of nourishing antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. And for the guys, Lather created a survival kit for men on the go, with travel sizes of their favorite face, body, and hair care essentials. (Retail $48-$58)


4. Feast Laguna

            

Flowers and jewelry are always romantic gestures but what’s more fun, entertaining, and memorable than spending a delightful afternoon or evening with your significant other, enjoying delicious food and being immersed in stunning works of art and beach culture? Feast Laguna is a culinary/food tour operator based in the beautiful beach community of Laguna Beach, CA. They offer tasty and entertaining food tours that are expertly led by knowledgeable and friendly Laguna local guides. (Retail: $75-$79)


5. LOVE Gem Water Bottle by Vitajuwel

For the crystal lover in your life, Vitajuwel has updated their original Love Gem Water Bottle to include garnet and clear quartz. If you’re a deeply romantic soul looking to inspire love, and deepen devotion, this latest incarnation of the Love gem-water blend awaits… (Retail: $98)


6. Basic Outfitters’ Create-a-Drawer

      

As seen on season 8 of Shark Tank – Basic Outfitters‘ Create-a-Drawer allows guys to ditch their worn out attire and replenish their wardrobe with up to 17 pieces of high-quality basics in under two minutes with a collection of high quality and fashionable socks, underwear, tees, and joggers delivered right to their door for only $60 (a $120 value).


7. ISlide

           

ISlides are the only fully customizable, sought-after slide sandal sweeping the world on the feet of athletes and celebrities like Madonna, Dwyane Wade, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, and many more. Maker of DJ Khaled‘s famous “Bless Up” and “Another One” slide sandals, ISlide fuses fashion with athletics and has partnered with Neiman Marcus, the NBA, and a number of other teams, brands, and organizations for custom designs. ISlides can be designed to match anyone’s personality with pictures, phrases, emojis and more – or choose from hundreds of pre-designed collections from French Montana, Nickelodeon, NCAA colleges and more. (Retail: $49.99)


8. PediPocket

      

As seen on Good Morning America, PediPocket is 6 feet of super soft microfiber fleece that has a clever foot pocket to keep your toes toasty. Use it at home, at the office or take it while traveling. Plus, it’s machine washable and dryer friendly. Perfect for cold winter days spent snuggling up on the couch with your Valentine. (Retail: $39.99)


9.  Tell It Well Cards

      

Among all the texts and tweets, send your Valentine a meaningful handwritten message with the original line of modern photo greeting cards from Tell It Well Cards! Each card is 4 x 4 square (Polaroid size) and is printed on sustainably sourced and recycled paper that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 10% of sales go to provide small business microloans to women in poverty in the US and around the world for the Whole Planet Foundation. (Retail: $4 – $20)


10. Gratitude Glass “Love” Jar

Show your friends and family how much you care with the Gratitude Glass Love Jar. Fill the jar up with love notes that can be enjoyed all year long! Named “the gift that keeps on giving” by Oprah and featured among the 102 gifts of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2017 List, the Gratitude Jar from Gratitude Glass Jars has driven a movement – inspiring others to love themselves and the people around them. (Retail: $45)


11. HelloFresh Sweetheart’s New York Strip Steak

      

During Valentine’s Day week (Feb. 10-16) we’ll be offering a special Sweetheart’s New York Strip Steak with Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Blood Orange Sauce. The recipe takes only 35 minutes to make and fool-proof for even the most novice home cooks. As one of HelloFresh‘s Premium recipes, this dinner is undeniably special. With strip steak, brown sugar mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts, this dish has tenderness, sweetness, and warmth—just like any solid relationship. It’s topped off with cranberries and a sauce based on blood orange—two fruits that have a romantic red hue. (Retail: $59+ for a 3 meal box for 2 people)


12. BOXFOX

      

Do Valentine’s Day differently this year with BOXFOX and their limited edition 2018 collection of pre-curated themed boxes. Available online until Feb. 18, each box is a thoughtful assortment of gifts that allows you to show you care on the most romantic holiday of the year. If you want to really show your creativity, you can curate your own custom BOXFOX with their BUILD A BOXFOX platform and and select whichever items your heart desires. (Retail: $30 – $200)


13. SouFeel

      

Customized gifts are always a great idea. Soufeel Jewelry’s personalized pieces are your easy solution. For once, you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list without having to sacrifice meaning or thought! (Retail: $19.95 – $49.95)


14. The Mondrian Staycation

Being in love never felt so good. Celebrate your romance with this package that includes an in-room couple’s massage and dinner at the Doheny Room ($150 sbe gift card provided). Followed by a nightcap for two at Skybar. Then end it all with a turndown service including champagne and rose petals. Price point for the hotel stay plus the package is ($800)


BONUS:  Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato & Brut Rose

           

Think Pink this year for Valentine’s Day with Barefoot Wine’s Bubbly Pink Moscato & Brut Rose selections. Everything is better with wine, and Barefoot is trusted and true for this occasion. This is one of SoCal Mag’s favorites!

Hayden @ PLATFORM Introduces Golden Hour and its Specialty Wine Program

Hayden @ PLATFORM Introduces Golden Hour and its Specialty Wine Program

Platform LA seems to have it all going on, and for good reason, with one of its highlight restaurants — Hayden. Hayden, a modern Los Angeles restaurant and wine bar, is helmed by chef and partner, Ari Kolender. Aptly named for the creative community of the Hayden Tract, the restaurant will highlight local California ingredients with European influences set in a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. Hayden will offer a new wine program and Golden Hour, from 5 pm to 7pm, which will offer $1.50 oysters and $8 glasses of wines with special tastings with Beverage Director Anthony Cailan on Saturdays.

In addition, the exquisite restaurant continues to offer its can’t-miss light morning menu, including Chef Kolender’s signature waffles, Vittoria coffee, plus a menu of tartines, salads, and sandwiches throughout the day. During afternoons and evenings, diners can expect oysters, European canned seafood, and an extensive selection of new California wines, which will also be available throughout the day in Hayden’s wine shop.

About Anthony Cailan

Anthony Cailan, Hayden’s Beverage Director, focuses especially on natural California wines in the shop, and is one of the few sommeliers who chill red wine by the glass. With an extensive culinary background in some of the most popular and successful businesses and events across California and the country, Cailan lends his expertise to Hayden to create a rare and unforgettable experience for diners.

About Ari Kolender

Chef Kolender has cooked in some of the best kitchens in Los Angeles, including Providence and Red Medicine. Before opening Hayden, he worked at The Ordinary and Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop in Charleston, where he was nominated for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award.

The design of the restaurant reflects the spirit of Kolender’s cooking.  This focus on simple high-quality materials can be seen in the custom woodwork, handmade ceramic flatware, and an Italian marble bar.  The Hayden team also collaborated with their neighbor, British designer Tom Dixon, on the lighting and furniture in the space.

Kolender summarized the spirit of the project: “Hayden was inspired by the neighborhood.  From gallery owners to music producers to fashion designers, the Hayden Tract is full of entrepreneurs as well as up and coming artists. I want to create a gathering space for all of these people to come together and enjoy a great meal and an incredible bottle of wine any time of day.  The food we cook at Hayden will be inspired by and reflect the diverse and elegant city in which we live.”

Location:
8820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
Hours: 12 pm – 9 pm daily
Phone: (310) 593-4777

Camp No Counselors:  Redefining the Rules of Camping

Camp No Counselors: Redefining the Rules of Camping

This is not your average campfire!  Welcome to Camp No Counselors, a unique camp experience specifically created for adults who want to have a positive, booze-filled fun fest with a nod to their childhood.  Sound crazy?  That’s because it is… Crazy fun.  I was able to experience Camp No Counselors this past May when they hosted the Los Angeles edition of the camp.  If I could describe the experience in three words, they would have to be adventurous, daring, and exceptional!

The experience overall was unlike any camping trip I’ve been on, noted, most of my camp experiences were limited to childhood, church-based field trips.  This was the complete opposite. The CNC team really put in the effort to create an atmosphere that gives campers the opportunity to tap into a fun childhood memory, but as adults.  Imagine, rope courses, themed-parties, relay races, sports, and camp activities, all mixed with a completely open bar included in your reservation.  The result is nothing short of a grand old party in the woods that lasts for three days.

I attended with a completely open mind, willing to experience something new and meet all kinds of new people.  The beginning of camp starts with a happy hour mixer and fire-side party as a means to break the ice and to get everyone excited to have a stress-free, good time.  My highlight moment was the “Color Wars”, which divided the entire camp into four teams, each representing a different color.  Throughout the various activities, your team participates in a number of challenges leading up to an ultimate relay race that crowns your team the camp champions upon completion.  I was on the green team, and we were seen as the underdogs in the beginning, but in the end were victorious when we beat out everyone in the collective drinking game, flip-cup, where each member of our team had to slide down a water slide and successfully drink a cup of beer and flip the cup right-side up from the edge of a table.

Additionally, the camp-grounds offered three deliciously prepared meals everyday paired with a mimosa bar for breakfast, endless beer at lunch, and full bar complete with an added selections of wines at dinner.  To note, the camp grounds are typically secluded away from metropolitan areas of the designated city, in turn offering limited to almost no cell-phone service while camping.  At first, I was concerned about not being able to have service to check emails and messages, but in turn, I ended up loving the notion of completely disconnecting from my everyday world and truly submerging myself into the camping experience.  Camp No Counselors proved to be something not only completely positive but an event that was almost therapeutic in its own right.

  

The camp is continuing its tour throughout the summer, but is returning to Los Angeles for three dates in the Fall, including the introduction to their first LGBTQ geared camp in October.  To signup, click on the dates below.  Also, make sure to follow Camp No Counselors on all social media channels.

IG:  @campnocounselors

Twitter: @CampNoCounselor

Facebook:  Camp No Counselors

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