It’s pretty easy to slip into a bit of a fog after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the current geopolitical climate isn’t really helping matters much this year. But it’s time to snap out of it because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and not getting a memorable gift for your significant other is one of the few things you can’t blame on Trump. But that doesn’t mean your V-Day gift has to send you into debt. “Memorable” does not equal “expensive” or “ostentatious.” As cliché as the saying “It’s the thought that counts” is, it is also true. Walking into a store and buying the biggest ticket item available doesn’t require a lot of thought, and that will definitely come across to the recipient. On the flip side, a trinket that shows you were actually listening during that conversation about something she mentioned off hand is guaranteed to be a hit no matter what the price tag.

Few people understand that better than Rony Vardi, the founder of the Brooklyn jewelry line Catbird. Vardi sees guys come in all the time who think they are absolutely clueless about what to get for the women in their lives. But like The X Files, the truth is out there. The problem is that a lot of guys don’t know where to look. That is why Vardi always advises asking salespeople for help. “No one’s judging you,” she says, noting that the people who work in a store enjoy the challenge. “It’s fun to help guys solve that mystery.”

It’s also a good idea to do some social media lurking. Check out what stores your girlfriend is following on Instagram. If she’s on Pinterest, that can be a wellspring of gift ideas. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t be embarrassed to resort to the first step above and simply hand over your phone to the person working in the store.

You also don’t want to forget about the element of surprise. One of the most memorable gifts Vardi ever received from her husband was tickets to RadioLoveFest, a multi-day radio festival. There was no prior discussion, no clues dropped. But he knew that they both listened to NPR all the time, so he went for it and it was a hit. “It felt so special to think about him going out there and finding something that resonated.”

Hopefully these tips spur your thought process, but if you need more specific gift ideas for Valentine’s Day that have a high probability of being a hit, Vardi was kind enough to share some of her thoughtful ideas.


Clare V.

Clare V.

CLARE V. KENYA BAG
$199, clarev.com
“Clare Vivier has flawless taste and you really can’t go wrong,” says Vardi. “Her Kenya bag is awesome.” The cloth bag is made by hand by artisans in Africa and the proceeds help build sustainable businesses for women in Kenya. It’s a big enough bag that she can throw just about anything in it, and it also comes with a detachable leather wallet that makes it easy to find essentials. If you’ve got enough time, it can also be monogrammed to make it more personal for her.


Catbird

Catbird

CATBIRD GRECO LARIAT NECKLACE
$164, catbirdnyc.com
“You could give it your new girlfriend or your wife of 20 years and it would be perfect for either,” Vardi says of one of Catbird’s signature designs. The 14 karat gold necklace can be worn tighter or looser so a woman can style it for her personal taste. “When a guy comes in and says, ‘I don’t know what to get her, but she told me to come here,’ that’s my go-to.“
Saipua

Saipua

SAIPUA FLOWERS
Prices vary, saipua.com
As Vardi notes, “no one’s ever mad about getting flowers.” While that may be true, it’s important for guys to know there are a lot more options out there for Valentine’s Day than standard issue red roses. Saipua creates more unique flower arrangements with unique shapes and different color combinations. “You can call a florist and if you know her favorite flower or color, you can elaborate,” says Vardi. “Be brave and ask for what you want.”
Catbird

Catbird

JOHN DERIAN TRAY
$48, johnderian.com
If you do still have roses on the brain, John Derian has a clever alternative. The decoupage tray is ideal for placing small items like jewelry so they don’t get lost. “If you favor small home goods, there is no one like John Derian,” Vardi says.
Catbird

Catbird

CATBIRD DIAMOND KITTEN MITTEN
$390, catbirdnyc.com
Catbird’s bracelet that also wraps around the finger is a great way to give diamonds without going too crazy. Three white diamonds are incorporated into the yellow gold chain of the bracelet that also wraps around a finger. “Women are always surprised,” says Vardi. They’re like, ‘I can never wear that’ and then they put it on, and it screams special.”
Food 52

Food 52

MADEWELL X FOOD 52 SPOON REST
$26, food52.com
Yes, a spoon rest is exactly what it sounds like, a place to rest a spoon and other kitchen tools. And for someone who likes to cook, it will instantly become one of those “How did I live without it?” pieces. “I am weirdly obsessed with this pale pink spoon rest,“ says Vardi. "Also pretty much anything from Food 52 is a win for anyone who spends time in the kitchen.” Plus, anything from Madewell is going to be well received by your GF.
Bird

Bird

COMME DES GARCONS LEATHER WALLET
$115, shopbird.com
A wallet can be a boring gift, but not this one. “They’re the perfect wallet, especially in these awesome, crazy colors,” says Vardi. “You’ll have it for 30 years.” The leather wallet has a zipper that wraps around two of the edges that makes accessing its contents easy.

Justin Tejada is a writer and editor based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @just_tejada and Instagram at @justin_tejada.