Though often underrated, self-love is the greatest love of all. And what's more, as Whitney Houston explains in her classic and aptly titled ballad "The Greatest Love," it's easy to achieve. Plus, since it's all about Me, Myself, and I, it's good for those bitter single folks who can't get down with the mushy stuff. But how exactly do you show your love for the one person who's always had your back, never forgets your birthday and couldn't stand you up if they wanted to?
Make a day of it: In our hectic, fast-paced lives, we rarely make time for ourselves. That said, introduce some structure—even if your to-do list includes items such as sleeping until noon, playing video games, eating Doritos and kickin' it at the local skate park. In the event you're looking to really treat yourself, consider these recommendations.
For the indulgent: Kick back and relax—you deserve it! Enjoy a GoodLife brew, inside and out, with Anjou's Spa Hoppiness Package ($149). If that's too structured for your tastes, take a dip in the soaking pool at McMenamins Old St. Francis and follow it up with your favorite brew in the pub ($10 or so). Just don't pour your beer in the pool. Prefer to fly solo? The Pretty Pussycat offers a wide array of bath toys for grownups (prices vary).
For the active: Take on a new challenge and discover just how awesome you are. Always wanted to try backcountry skiing? Oregon Ski Guides offer a guided class for that (Feb. 15, $85). Fancy yourself a budding wordsmith? The Workhouse offers an introduction to flash non-fiction (Feb. 19, $35). Or learn a skill for future solo dates with a workshop from fly fishing expert Craig Mathews (Feb. 21-22, $85).
A box of chocolate is not enough, and not personalized enough. Not even close. And no teddy bears. Your partner isn't a child. Give a gift as mature and sincere as your love for him or her. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2013, the average adult in America spends $113 on their partner or date for Valentine's Day—and that number is steadily climbing. Point being: Don't be below average.
For her: Clutch (933 NW Wall St.) has designer handbags. Faveur (714 Franklin Ave.) is a boutique for nice items like gloves and scarves. Nashelle's (661 SW Powerhouse Dr. #1301) has simply wonderful and classic jewelry, or Little Charm (224 Oregon Ave.) specializes in copper items, made from metal salvaged from the old Bulletin building; a piece of Bend's history.
For him: Records. Seriously. Prove that you've been listening when he talks about his favorite band. Recycle Music (3 NW Bond).
Dates are the hardest people to shop for on Valentine's Day. On the one hand, you're pretty sure they like you. However, you haven't exactly put a ring on it. Figuring out how to show affection without implicitly under or overvaluing the relationship can feel a bit like playing "The Price is Right." That said, even if you started dating last week, some degree of creativity (if not a lot of cash) is warranted. Despite what the Valentine's Day Industrial Complex would have you believe, a box of chocolates is not a heart-felt gift, even if it is in a heart-shaped box.
If you're still "hanging out:" It depends where you'd like the relationship to go. If keeping it casual is the motis operandi, bringing a small token (perhaps a quirky gift from Wabi Sabi) to dinner at your favorite burrito joint (Parrilla) and following it up with a flick at an intimate theater (Tin Pan), is a safe bet. This lets them know you still like them, but you aren't looking to make babies or adopt a puppy.
When you're "going steady:" This calls for bumping up both the price point and the imagination quotient. Pick up that album with the song they can't stop humming (Recycle Music), a signed copy of the book they're obsessed with (Pegasus Books), a gift certificate to try that sport they've been wanting to try (Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe). In short, show that you put some thought, your heart, and more than a little pocket change into your selection.
As the saying goes, love makes a family. So whether you're single or soul-mated, chances are there's a blood relative who deserves a token of your love and affection. Whether it's a family member with their own holiday (we're looking at you, mom and dad) or a treasured aunt/cousin/niece, you can't go wrong with a gift for your clan. After all, even if they don't like it, they'll probably pretend to.
To give is to receive: One of the greatest acts of love is selfless service. And when you've long been the recipient of said service, it's the compassionate adult thing to return the favor. So, help dad get his garden ready for spring, both with physical labor and a tool or two from a local retailer (Big R, Stark Street Lawn and Garden). Lend your sister a hand by offering to watch the kids while she goes out on a date night, and toss in a new top to help her feel like a new woman (Vanilla).
Take a trip down memory lane: When you combine fondness with history, you get a truck load of nostalgia just waiting to be mined for heart-melting gifts. Make a scrapbook for your grandmother highlighting all the special moments you shared (Paper Jazz). Take a stroll through Glenroe Antiques and treat your favorite cousin to an item that reminds you of the time you spent together as children.
Who has stuck with you through thick and thin? Listened to your bellyaches about Mr. Wrong? Complaints about Ms. Crazy-Pants? Don't take this person for granted. The "F" in BFF stands both for "friend" and "forever."
Yes, hanging out with them on Valentine's Day is sort of sad, but do recognize the season with some modest and considerate gifts, like movie passes to Tin Pan so you can share more nights out together and keep current with cultural happenings.
Buy her: Ravioli "stamps" and pasta-makers (Kitchen Complements, 137 NW Minnesota) for dinner-making parties together, and William Sullivan's 100 Hikes Travel Guide to point the way for some springtime adventures together.
Buy him: A growler filled with his favorite beer, and a hand-made leather carrier from Nomad Leather.
Your Support Circle
The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that 800 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged by school-age children every February—and that the most common recipient is not the schoolyard crush, but the teacher! Keep the love flowing, and consider the people in your daily life who provide support and service—your barista; your busdriver; your postman; um, your milkman?
Meaning, stay away from intimate gifts—like underwear or belt buckles. But a nice expendable gift certificate to Bad Wolf Bakery (1133 NW Wall) is a simple platonic gift, good for cookies or cocktails.