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What Guys Really Want For Valentine’s Day – We Asked 9 Men In Relationships


photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: prioritizing your partner – in design and life

In the name of journalistic research, we asked the men in our lives what they really want for Valentine’s Day (beyond the obvious – see yesterday’s post). I will be referencing this blog post for years to come. Brian, my brother Ken, my friend Derik (Dbone! He happens to have an album literally called “Man” that is awesome by the way – listen at happy hour to get PUMPED) weighed in. As well as Sara’s Mac, Mallory’s Chase, and even Jess’ Dad. Basically we have a wide age range. So ladies, here you go.

Graphic Valentines Day 1

1. Concert Tickets: “Tickets to a concert of a band we both like.” – Brian

2. Something that tells them you really know them: “I feel like once you’re in a relationship for a couple of years, at least for me, what I love in a Valentine’s Day gift is a nod that you realllllyyyy know that person. You know what interests them in a book, their favorite color of wrapping paper, the types of clothes they like to wear, what they casually mention is sweet. I love getting a little surprise that reminds me, ‘ya this person gets me’.” – Chase (This is a book he LOVED and is perfect for anyone who loved the show Breaking Bad.)

3. An Engraved Zippo: “After my dad passed away I kept his and I cherish it.” – Derik

4. Picnic Backpack: My brother Ken wanted to make sure that we put this on here. And it’s not a basket, it’s a BACKpack, thus for “MEN”. *insert eye roll, but also very into the idea of Ken planning a picnic*

5. Record Player + records: It can really be personalized and it’s cute to give them their fav record. Then you can be romantic and listen to your record over a candlelit dinner. I a record player for Brian for Christmas and we love it. Mac is also a big, big fan of the record player (an anniversary gift from Sara).

6. Surprise Dinner: “It would be nice to be taken out to a surprise dinner (or cooked a special dinner) and not have to plan one. I feel like I do most of the research/booking.” – Brian (Ok Brian, I’ve been publicly shamed now, but I got you).

7. A note in their lunch, or in a pocket on the way out of the door: Technically no man said this, we added it because it’s likely something we’d like. Ha. We had to get one in there and these are so cute 🙂 Sara did say though, that Mac is big on cards, and even gave her one on the anniversary of their apartment fire letting her know how lucky he felt getting through that together (cue the water works).

8. “Any sweet love from the kids. Cards, flowers, candy.” – Ken (These are super cute if you want a themed shaped note.)

9. Shudder: Sara is going to get Mac this for V-Day. It’s a horror movie subscription that’s pretty cheap. Mac is a big movie nerd and loves horror movies, which just happen to be perfect for cuddling up and watching in their soon to be moody tv room. Basically it’s Netflix for horror films only. She only hopes he’s not reading the blog today…

10. Disneyland Tickets: “Specifically for the new Star Wars area (FYI, you need to book reservations to the Cantina before you go and the ride is super hard to get on.)” – Brian

Graphic Valentines Day 2

1. White V-Necks from Target: These are all Brian Henderson wears. Literally.

2. “A robe with some color or cashmere or both” – Derik, whose gettin’ fancy.

3. Levi’s Jacket: “The one with the sherpa.” – Brian “But in black denim…” – Mac (Who wears his all the time.)

4. “A Vintage Leather Jacket (members only, bomber, motorcycle)” – Derik (This one is an awesome nonvintage option.)

5. A Henley shirt: “It’s fitted, flattering and will never go out of style.” – Chase

6. Bombas Ankle Socks: This was a recommendation from Derik. They actually stay up all day and have an amazing “give back” element.

7. Quality slippers: “Mine are Tom Ford. Every man should have a special pair of slippers that he takes care of.” – Derik

8. A crisp white buttoned shirt: “Every man needs one of these too.” – Derik. This is Jess’ dad’s favorite (and the man knows his dress shirts). Get a cuff embroidered with his initials for an extra thoughtful touch.

Graphic Valentines Day 3

1. Non-Spray Fragrance: “This one smells like tobacco, leather, vanilla. How manly is that?” – Brian

2. Spa Day: “Oh, and guys need a spa day too! A gift card for a massage or a facial or whatever.” – Brian

3. Replace all their socks and underwear with new pairs: I think this is GENIUS and when I proposed it to Brian he was like, “damn, that’s a good one.” Just surprise them with all fresh socks and underwear (assuming they need to be changed out – don’t be wasteful).

4. “Fun Socks from Happy Socks.” – Brian (Apparently guys are really into socks…)

5. “Aesop anything” – Brian (This kit is a great gift/starter pack)

6. Exfoliating Soap – Brian

7. “Vintage tie clips are rad.” – Brian

8. Nice Lotion: “Because guys won’t buy themselves lotion.” – Brian

Graphic Valentines Day 4

1. Compression anything: “Anything that can reduce swelling or inflammation for long term longevity. Compression ice packs for back/shoulders/legs, compression socks, and foot support insoles.” – This is mostly from my brother Ken.

2. Sara said she got this nail kit for Mac last Christmas and it’s his absolute favorite.

3. Hyper Ice Hypervolt: “It’s awsome for sore muscles.” – Ken

4. Power Drill: “Mine is from Milwaukee and I love it.” – Ken (You can’t deny a classic.)

5. A good pair of sunglasses: Mac’s on his second pair of these sunglasses because he wore the first pair out. He loves them because they are super classic, they have a slimmer frame than the original Wayfarer, and they just make him look and feel cool.

6. A Leatherman: “It’s like a swiss army knife but bigger.” – Ken

7. “I like my Gentleman Jon Delux Wet Shaving Kit” – Derik

Ok, that’s it for the gifts. But we also asked them to comment generally on Valentine’s Day, and we found it helpful.

“I feel like Valentines day is the holiday that gets the worst rap with guys because it’s the holiday that they’re most responsible for, but the least responsible about.”

Listen, the oldest known valentine was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife back in 1415, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. If he could manage that, guys nowadays can at least manage a card, right? But it shouldn’t be one sided – it’s a holiday all about romance and guys want to feel the love too.

“Generally Valentine’s Day makes us feel like idiots because most of us aren’t great at orchestrating romance. Mostly we just want… ahem.” 

It’s a bit cliché but still seems to hold true – men don’t always know what we want, but we generally know what they want. So if you have a specific way you want to celebrate then there’s nothing wrong with giving some clear direction. Or offer to take the reigns and plan Valentines day this time. We haven’t properly celebrated in years beyond cards, but hell, why not? It’s actually on a Friday this year, and it’s another excuse to get dressed up and go to a nice dinner. It’s official, Brian, I’m planning it this year. No holiday should make you feel like an idiot. I got you.

HOT TIP: Plan a “day date”. It’s hard to get a sitter on Friday night (especially on V-day) so just postpone the celebration and plan a daytime date on Sunday. Recently Brian planned one of these – We left the kids for 4 hours, went downtown had a fancy lunch, bar hopped at the new cool hotels, and we felt like we were 25 years old again living in New York City. There was something very special about feeling that freedom during the day…

We hope everyone has an awesome February 14th, whether you’re celebrating this holiday of love or not. And if anyone has any other great ideas for gifts or activities throw them in those comments. xx

Fin Mark
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We love doing dates from 3-7pm. Someone else feeds my kids and does the wording hour, but we can still put them to bed on time so they’re not a nightmare. We hang out at a coffee shop or book store in the afternoon, eat dinner at a normal time, then rent a movie at home after kids are asleep. It’s the best!

That’s so cute and smart!


Man. Sometimes the heteronormativity just drowns me. Even places where I’m excited to look at design, it’s like, BAM, NO GIRL. (And the design world is pretty freakin LGBT!)


Why click on the piece if you know from the headline that you are not the intended audience? Just looking to be outraged?

Samantha W Zutler

Yikes. Can you imagine if that was our response to every single non-white/heterosexual/man/wealthy person – basically, every person who has ever been marginalized? Just: “hey, this isn’t for you anyway, so stop complaining?” It seems like a better question might be: “can’t we do better?” It seems pretty easy for a Valentine’s Day story (yes, on a design blog! As Dana points out, there’s certainly an LGBT presence in the design community!) to speak to more relationships than hetero. There’s room for everyone in the tent.

I was actually going to make a similar comment. I wish this blog was more inclusive! There are all sorts of relationships out there, and this post only speaks to a small sliver of them.


I agree that diversity should be included in all things but this just says gifts for “men in relationships”. Couldn’t any of these gifts be given by a male to his male partner? It does mention a couple of female names of partners but the rest aren’t specified (unless I’m missing something).

After reading your comment I looked through the post again and found it to be quite gendered, though. When you think about it there’s no reason to have separate gift guides for him and her (and don’t get me started on kids toys).

For what it’s worth, I didn’t find your comment “outraged”. It’s a perfectly valid viewpoint and it’s always good to think about how we can do better with the way we represent norms in our culture.

Hey Dana, note absolutely taken. This post was written from the perspective of a particular type of relationship which clearly isn’t as inclusive as it should be, as Samantha pointed out. We want everyone to feel celebrated. We apologize for making anyone feel excluded, that is the opposite of what we want to do and clearly we failed. Thank you for taking the time to let us know how you feel because it holds us accountable for the future.

Samantha W Zutler

Thanks Jess! I’d love to see this blog be more inclusive, and I’d love to see you hold *yourselves* accountable for it. There are plenty of ways to start – more diverse artists and makers in your posts; more diverse house tours; more diverse staff at EHD (and, if that’s a work in progress, start with bringing on guest writers); more diverse clothing companies – or, better yet, decline to feature clothing companies that only feature white, young, super skinny models (I try to buy from only these companies and it is no small feat!). I think Cup of Jo does a great job of creating an inclusive community. So does Whole 30 – in both cases, you can see the business owners make inclusive choices every step of the way. I adore this blog – it’s one of a handful that I check every day, and I’ve been a fan since the beginning, but the lack of inclusivity consistently troubles me.


In order to specifically hire “more diverse staff” they would have to ask in the interview how the potential hire identifies? Isn’t this both illegal and a form of discrimination? Shouldn’t job offers be based on talent?

Annie K
Inês Seabra

I think people are going nuts with this “inclusive” thing. I live in Portugal (Europe), so posts like “we found the best dressers” with links to stores are perfectly uninteresting and useless to me. Should I be commenting on these posts demanding them to consider us all-over-the-world readers?? Like… “Hey, do you realize that a large part of your readers do not have access to these stores? Why is this your norm?? You should try to be more inclusive!” This makes no sense…
I read plenty of stuff from LGBT people, and when they talk about their sexuality I don’t go demanding including me and my own sexuality.
People write about what they relate to. And I read what I relate to, and pass along what does not interest me. That’s what living in a free world is all about.
I think this new era of supposed freedom is beginning to impose new types of censorship, and I don’t like that at all.

Annie K

Ines, with all due respect, you’re comparing apples and oranges.

You’re comparing your experiencing of living elsewhere to the experience of those who are marginalized within our greater society, and are fighting in small ways to be “seen” and represented by a company (EHD) that encourages this kind of feedback.

Censorship is no joke – a request to be taken into consideration is not an attempt to bring down the website, or God forbid, silence hetero, white voices.

Here’s some light reading if you’re interested. It’s about white privilege in America, but can be easily translated to other groups:

Inês Seabra

I made an absurd comparison precisely to make a point. That’s how absurd I think this is. And a comparison is meant to make you think outside the box. I’m not diminishing what people all over the world go by day by day. People should demand respect, equal rights, to be included and not ignored. There’s a big difference between suggesting different subjects that would appeal to me as a reader, than censuring an issue or even suggesting a ‘more diverse staff’ (what??? so, tell me how would this go, because I’m curious… people should start hiring based on race and sexuality? Or… people should start letting go white employees in order to make room for more diverse staff?). People are different from one another. Each individual is a unique being. That being said, there are similarities (pretending that there are not is another absurd). That’s what makes us relate to one another. So, yes. There’s room for a post about gifts for guys, the same way there would be room for a post about choosing the right aquarium for your iguana, because all over the world there are people facing the same issues who would relate to it and… Read more »


we took a day off of work and are calling it our Thursdate. (or mondate, tuesdate….) A whole day without kids to do whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want….


The comment comparing compression gear to lingerie is pretty offensive


I doubt the compression gear is offended. Lol. And we wonder why Trump got elected.


The man claimed that men buy women lingerie, so it’s time women do something to take care of men’s bodies. That implies that lingerie is somehow good for women. It makes no sense and I found it a bit offensive. It’s fine if you don’t agree, but please don’t be rude

Annie K

Right on sister! Trump got elected because women AND compression ice packs are oversensitive. Let’s all stick to lingerie and keeping our mouths shut and see what happens, yes?


Come on–life’s too short to get so easily offended! Don’t get your lingerie in a wad. 🙂

We see that the quote was worded poorly and we totally see where you are all coming from. It has been edited.

Annie K

Thank you for your responsiveness, Jess and all.

Lisa Hamel

Thanks for the ideas! I might hop on the Bombas ankle socks or replacing all his work out socks and underwear. Practical but thoughtful–exactly what he likes!



My husband and I both work from home and recently had an “Ah-ha!” (maybe a “Duh”!) moment. Instead of paying for a sitter, we block out a day on the calendar when we can do a Day-Date, and similar to Emily& Brian, we have an amazing brunch, visit a bookstore, or do something cool like a glass-blowing class. It’s been really nice, especially since I’m often pooped at the end of a day to have much energy left for me and my esposo, after work and kids take it all!


Thank you fir all you do.
But just FYI

Fashion Saturday is my favorite! Abd I literally look forward to it all week.


Definitely love the suggestions here!

XX Angelica


What 9 guys didn’t tell you what they really want for Valentine’s Day…
Is to not celebrate it at all.


Sex or blow jobs if anything. 🙄




Hello.This article was extremely fascinating, especially since I was looking for thoughts on this issue last week.

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