The PopSci Valentine’s Day Gift Guide
Our selection of the best in tech and gadgets that will make your S.O. swoon.
Let’s skip the last-minute teddy bear picked up at your local grocery store and opt for something a bit more meaningful this Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re shopping for your S.O. or prepping for an annual Galentine’s celebration, this holiday presents a perfect opportunity to share your love of a person or purpose—along with a token of appreciation.
While we’re certainly not above dark chocolate or sentiment-filled cards, the team at Popular Science is inclined to up the ante with gifts that will stick around long after February. From a Theragun to soothe your loved one’s aches and pains to a retro-fitted Polaroid camera that captures your favorite memories, we’ve collected thoughtful gifts to share the love.
Mike Epstein, Reviews Editor
Hush Hush Projects
Do you ever wish you could fall in love with your partner all over again? Fog of Love, a “romantic comedy” board game, gives two players the chance to collaboratively play out a love story between two premade characters with their own life goals, romantic needs, and personal quirks. Whether or not your fictional couple works out, you and your partner will have made a little Valentine’s Day love story all your own.
The best massage is the one that involves love, tenderness, and a machine that tenderizes your muscles more intensely than any hand ever could. The Theragun Mini percussion massager is quiet, easy to use, and will help you help your partner relax.
The Apple Watch Series 7 is a very personal device that tracks how many steps you take and how often you stand up. It also knows your heart: Literally, it tracks your heartbeat. And with an Apple Watch, you can also send your heartbeat to your partner. If you want to splurge and get matching watches, you can share your fitness information with a partner to set goals and stay in shape together.
Quinn Gawronski, Editorial Assistant
A better night’s sleep is a universal gift anyone would be grateful to receive, which is why we recommend this AN Cooling Weighted Blanket for your loved one this Valentine’s Day. Whether your partner tosses and turns throughout the night or has a hard time nodding off, therapeutic blankets can improve sleep quality, reduce pain, and relieve anxiety. With hypoallergenic cotton and non-toxic glass beads that won’t create stuffy heat, this pick will lull your Valentine to sleep every night.
Capture your moments together in an instant with this Polaroid camera. While your cell phone might be the go-to for spur-of-the-moment shots, it can’t compete with the nostalgic quality of Polaroid photos. Whether you hang your favorites on the fridge, send them out in holiday cards, or create a romantic scrapbook, the tangible memories captured by a camera can be a keepsake for years to come.
Give your partner the gift of self-care with this at-home spa foot bath. They can skip the trip to the salon and indulge right from the couch—whether it’s followed up with a full pedicure treatment is up to them. And with bubble jets, massage rollers, plus warm water, this makes for a luxurious gift that anyone can enjoy.
Stan Horaczek, Senior Gear Editor
A set of LED strip lights can help set any mood in your home—whether it be a romantic dinner for two or a cozy night in watching Netflix. This 32.8-foot strand can produce more than 16 million colors for truly customizable ambient lighting. It can also sync with music through the companion app, so your illumination can match your Valentine’s Day vibes whether it be Boys II Men slow jams or Pig Destroyer grind metal tracks.
Wine and dine your Valentine with the help of the Sunflora Picnic Backpack, which comes with everything four people need to enjoy a fancy meal. The backpack can carry napkins, wine glasses, silverware, and even a blanket to lay out in the park or your living room. It’s a very classy setup, so even if your V-Day meal consists of Crunchwrap Supremes and Baja Blast, you can still make it feel like you’re dining in the gardens of Downton Abbey.
Belkin’s BoostCharge has a pair of 10W wireless charging coils built-in, so both you and your Valentine can simply slap your devices down on the pad without having to fight over the charging cable. Whenever one of you isn’t there, the other person can use the second charging pad to power AirPods or any other device that’s capable of charging wirelessly. It’s a practical gift, but they’ll appreciate the thought when you’re both at a 3-percent charge before bed.
Tony Ware, Associate Tech Group Commerce Editor
Every couple knows that one of the keys to a healthy relationship is to be able to calmly clear the air. Another key is to make sure nothing negative hangs in the air to begin with. The Blueair Pure Fan Auto can’t help if a person is an irritant, but the HEPAsilent filter will make sure there’s a space in your place that’s 99% free of dust, pollen, and balmy air currents where you can clear your head (and lungs). Designed to gently distribute cool, clean air across 90 degrees without oscillation, it’s a quiet, movable, white noise-generating fan that’s great in a home office, yoga studio, or to help optimize your sleep environment. Emerge refreshed and ready to deal with anything or anyone.
Want to help both your love and your garden grow? Show that you care about managing food waste and smells with this countertop composter. Compact, taking up only one cubic foot, but able to fit 2L of scraps (even chicken bones), the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 breaks down contents to a tenth of original volume to create nutrient-rich fertilizer you can use to nurture the flowers that accompany next year’s gift-giving occasion. On top of that, a carbon filtration system eliminates odors, letting you use it indoors but also be able to appreciate the smell of each other. And isn’t that a romantic way to show you consider your partner’s feelings?
Let’s be honest, sometimes the greatest gift you can give is some peace and quiet. And some of the greatest peace and quiet you can give comes in the form of Bluetooth 5.2 noise-cancelling earphones. One of the more attention-grabbing sets I’ve experienced recently is the Grell TWS/1. Designed by Alex Grell—an audio engineer responsible for some of Sennheiser’s most refined, renowned high-end headphones—the TWS/1 inherently has a warm, engaging, articulate character. But what really gets the most out of the 10.1mm dynamic drivers is the SoundID app that accompanies these. It features a simple hearing test that digitally tailors tonality to your preferences; while I had to take the test twice to get my optimal result (the first time, in a noisy environment, returned a bass monster), the end result is more sumptuous without overwhelming the natural expression of the music. Few things say I love you like recognizing that your partner’s musical tastes are unique and showing that you want to bring clarity to their life. So get them these and leave them alone with their favorite playlist for a while.
You’ve planned the perfect evening in … and then the Wi-Fi goes out. You can open the wine, light the candles, put a romantic meal in the oven, but without the perfect playlist or rom-com streaming the mood is just off. So, if you’re looking to reconnect as a couple, make sure there are no disruptions with the Nest WiFi system from Google, which adds 1,600 square feet of coverage to your system and doubles the processing power. With faster speeds of up to 2.2 Gbps and a speaker conveniently linked to Google Assistant, you can use voice commands to tell all your smart bulbs to dim, queue those smooth jazz jams, pause internet to any devices you don’t want to disturb you, and even ask about the weather—though you’ll already know things are heating up because love is in the forecast.