Poor well-intentioned, misunderstood, Valentine's Day! For a holiday meant to joyously celebrate the plentiful doses of compassion and generosity love can bring, V Day has a notoriously bad reputation probably because choosing the right gift on this, the third-largest retail day of the year, always elicits at least a little anxiety, occasionally a good deal of panic, and, in dire cases, even immense fear. Who knew that buying chocolates and flowers could bring on anxiety attacks and performance crises? In an attempt to give the little day that could a chance to redeem itself, we bring you this year's shopping guide.
GRAB 'N' GO
The perfect floral accent to your V Day celebration is a must, and you're sure to score an electric grin the size of Canada when you show up with a selection from Church Street Flowers (212 Church, SF; 415-553-7762, www.churchstreetflowers.com). With the beautiful arrangements and personalized advice, it's tough to make a wrong choice. Can't make it there to pick up les fleurs yourself? The shop offers same-day deliveries within city limits. No wonder it's won Best of the Bay six years in a row.
Chocolate Covered (4069 24th St., SF; 415-645-8123) in Noe Valley packs a pleasurable punch with delectable sweets and knowledgeable staff. Keep an eye out for the owner, Jack, who will help you select exactly what you need even if you aren't quite sure yourself in sugary cocoa form. Plus, the blue and white custom print boxes can feature almost any picture you want.
In your intrepid search for arm candy for your arm candy, make a stop at Manika Jewelry (11 Maiden Lane, SF; 415-399-1990, www.manikajewelry.com) in Union Square for unique, distinctive designs. A warm staff will help direct you through the wide selection, some of which is locally designed, to find a one-of-a-kind piece. And feel free to try pieces on, as this establishment isn't shy about giving you a chance to find exactly what you want.
Sexy, snazzy, and a little taste of naughty come together at Agent Provocateur (54 Geary, SF; 415-421-0229, www.agentprovocateur.com). But its Swarovski crystalencrusted riding crops might break the bank. For more monetarily accessible lingerie, mosey on over to Belle Cose (2036 Polk, SF; 415-474-3494) in Nob Hill. From comfy-cozy to rawr-tastic, a purchase from this store is sure to be worn many times if not for long.
ADDIN' A LITTLE FLAIR
Give a jewelry piece (or a pocketknife) extra pizzazz and a touch of thoughtfulness by including a tiny message somewhere on its shiny surface. You'll be able to cue the oohs and aahs in surround sound if you enlist the help of Alden Engraving (208B Lily, SF; 415-252-9072, www.aldenengraving.com) in Hayes Valley to bring happiness in the form of script.
If you've got no time to scour the streets but are big on impressions, check out Apple's new pink iPod nano (www.apple.com). This ridiculously adorable iPod comes not only in a V Day color favorite but with free laser engraving and free Apple gift wrap if you order online. It's not quite the MacBook Air, but there will probably be very little complaining if you give something that pretty in pink.
Willing to drop a little more bank? Book a spa date for two at the Nob Hill Spa at the Huntington Hotel (1075 California, SF; 415-345-2888, www.huntingtonhotel.com). The space is picturesque and features an infinity pool overlooking the city, food service, and knockout massages.