In the early 1980s, I loved mail order shopping from the catalogues that arrived in the mail. I could always find unique gift items for loved ones that revolved around their interests.
Today, I love online shopping for the same reason – and so do many other people.
No crowds, no traffic, no waiting in line for checkout. And if you look online for items based on your loved one's interest, gifts are sure to please.
So when looking for the right Valentine's Day gift this year, think "keyword" and "subscription services."
Here's some suggestions.
Etsy: A couple years ago, my daughter Rebekah and I held a small, surprise “Christmas in July” celebration at our house. We bought most of the gifts through Etsy (e-commerce site that offers unique and vintage items by independent sellers), shopping by keywords based on interests.
For instance, we bought Daniel (who loves “Lord of the Rings” and coffee) and “Lord of the Rings” coffee mug. The mug is a solid color until he fills it with hot coffee. That’s when the artwork appears.
For Timothy, who dreams of living in Maine, we bought and framed a vintage mag of Maine.
For Rebekah, who dreams of visiting Japan when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, we framed a piece of art depicting cherry blossoms.
Just type a few words that describes a loved one's interest (such as "blue earrings") and pages of suggestions will appear. Visit etsy.com.
LoveBook: Create a custom book for your significant other that proclaims all the things you love about him or her in just three easy steps: choose a cover and then edit the title; personalize the characters in the book to “look” like you and then choose and personalize the pages you want in the book.
Soft and hard cover is available. The cost is around $50 per book, depending on promotional codes and shipping. Visit lovebookonline.com.
This Valentine's Day, give your loved one a monthly suprirse based on their interests, Here are a few suggestions.
Datebox: For plans starting at $7.99 a month, make date night simple with a Datebox subscription service. Check out thehappily.co.
Gifts for readers
As a child, some of my favorite books came from the Book of the Month Club, which is still in business at bookofthemonth.com.
Digital reading subscriptions include:
Kindle Unlimited: $9.99 a month and you can read as much as you like and cancel anytime. Visit amzn.to/2Uk4ANe.
Scribd: Access an unlimited number of books, audiobooks and magazines for $9.99 a month. Visit scribd.com.
Book Riot: Subscribe to its Tailored Books Recommendations and let Book Riot's "book nerds" make suggestions.Visit bookriot.com. It's that simple.
Movies and TV
I can live without a lot of items in my life but not without music. In high school and college, most of my spending money went the former Crow’s Nest in Joliet and Musicland. Now all I need is my phone and Google Play Music (play.google.com/music).
Clothing and personal style
For $60 a month subscription with Menlo, send your man two new clothing items from Five Four, Grand AC or New Republic. Visit themenlohouse.com/club.
The Stitch Fix, on the other hand, has clothing subscriptions for men, women and children. Visit stitchfix.com.
Or for people – like two of my sons – who love funky socks, Say It With a Sock subscriptions start at $13 a month. Visit sayitwithasock.com.
Or how about a new watch every month from Watch Gang? Prices vary, depending on subscription plan. Member deals and giveaways are also available. Visit watchgang.com.
Don’t forget cell phones. Protect it with a new, designer case every month. Visit getcasely.com.
Food and more
How about the Candy Club for those with a sweet tooth? Choose a size and flavor profile (sweet or sour) and your loved one will get an assortment – and a replacement if he or she doesn’t like it. Visit candyclub.com.
Winc is a wine subscription service that sends wines based on flavor profiles. Visit winc.com.
With nakedwines.com, become an “angel” to support indie winemakers and receive discounts on wine and a free monthly bottle of wine.
Or check out the Craft Beer Club ($42 a month) at craftbeerclub.com.
Bar and Cocoa features bars from chocolatiers who practice “ethical and direct trade, and support eco-conservation and sustainable farming.” For gifts and subscriptions, visit barandcocoa.com.
Tea lovers will love exploring a variety of teas from Teabox, perhaps Kesar rose chai, chamomile green and hibiscus lemongrass tisane. Subscriptions available in one and three-month increments. Visit teabox.com.
By contrast, coffee drinkers might like a subscription from Driftaway Coffee and receive various coffees from all over the world every couple of weeks. Visit driftawaycoffee.com.
Tokyo Treat will send about 15 different snacks a month (that’s what my daughter Rebekah said, who once subscripted to the service) from Japanese snacks, snacks based on Japanese themes (such as anime) or Japanese varieties on popular snacks.
For example, Rebekah said she received 15 different snacks per package, which included some sake and cherry blossoms Kit Kats. Expect the first box to take a few weeks to clear customs, she said. Visit tokyotreat.com.
Enjoy a monthly box of beauty samples tailored to you or your loved one’s skin, hair, and style (men and women) from Birchbox. Visit birchbox.com.
For $14.95 a month, try out various fragrance samples from Scentbird. Visit scentbird.com.
FabFitFun will send a beauty box four times a year filled with assorted products (valued at more than $200) for only $49.99. Visit fabfitfun.com.
Ipsy is just $12 a month and Rebekah has used it for years. She receives five new items a month based on her personal profile and a beautiful little bag for storing them.. Visit ipsy.com.
Why save flowers for just special occasions? How about a floral subscription to fresh flowers coming to your house or someone else’s.