Friday, February 4, 2011

Ten Thousand Ways to Say I Love You

Ten Thousand Villages
1941 S. 1100 E.
Suite 1945
Salt Lake City, UT 84106

There are 10 days left until Valentine’s Day, February 14th, and for many, this is the trickiest gift-giving day of the year. Whether the message you’re trying to send is ‘I love you truly, madly, deeply’ or ‘I noticed you across the quad,’ the underlying sentiment is the same: you matter to me.

When I was a student at Brigham Young University, the BYU bookstore used to go nuts on Valentine’s Day. I expect it still does. One service they used to offer was encasing your gift inside of a helium balloon. I still have visions of helpless teddy bears trapped in airless prisons. Talk about a metaphor for a suffocating relationship!

But I’m not the hardened Valentine’s cynic that my previous observation might imply. My best Valentine’s Day memories consist of simple gestures: an unexpected rose delivered to my work place or a homemade breakfast.

So fear not Valentine’s Day shoppers. I’m here to tell you the best places in Utah and Salt Lake Valley to shop for unique, inventive and non-schmaltzy Valentine’s Day gifts. (Tip: my readers of the fairer sex may wish to subtly refer their masculine counterparts to this blog entry.)

I can’t think of a better place to start your Valentine’s Day shopping than in a city called Sugarhouse. Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade foreign import store located on 11th East 1941 South in Sugarhouse. You’ll find home décor, jewelry and accessories, textiles, chocolates, cards and books from India, Korea, the Philippines, Africa--38 countries in all. Everything is handcrafted and fair trade, which means the artisans in each country receive a fair price for their wares.

Jewelry, scarves and handbags are all unique and beautiful. The jewelry ranges from sweet simple pieces as low as $12 to intricately-crafted works of art created with semi-precious stones. Picture frames made from diverse materials like bone, fabric, wood and newspaper also make great Valentine’s Day gifts.

Some of the most delightful items in the store are in the children’s section. There are hand-sewn dolls and animals in brilliant fabrics, beautiful painted blocks, and books that tell about lives of children around the world. I was particularly taken with a CD of international Sesame Street songs.

Candles, tablecloths, pieces of art and sculpture, exotic chocolate, cards…you can’t by a cliché gift at Ten Thousand Villages. Every piece is a unique way to say “you matter to me.”

Not that I’m knocking the traditional approach. Flowers are never wrong.


But do you really want to venture anywhere near a flower shop on Valentine’s Day?

What is the best/worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever given or received? Share your V-day tragedies and triumphs in the comments section. The person with the most striking story will get a gift purchased at Ten Thousand Villages.


  1. Well, no gift for me. Which is fitting because the reason I will not win the reward is because I have never received a gift or been acknowledged on Valentines Day, hence no reward gift.
    ...oh the 11th grade, there was this guy who gave me a very small heart shaped box with three or five chocolates in it. He told me he had it "left over" and asked if I wanted it. I suspected he had a secret crush on me, but he moved a few weeks later, so there was no time to find out.

  2. I have received no gifts from boys, men, or even manboys, sadly. I get very nice little Valentine gifties from my mommy, though. She makes us baby cheesecakes (and a big one for Dad). And some of my sweet girlfriends have sent nice Valentines over the years. I'm fine with that. Much rather that than some dude gifting me something pink and furry from Fred Meyer's Valentine's bondage collection.

    As to Ten Thousand Villages, I must second you -- Valentines is almost charming there. I bought a whole bunch of their red capri shell Valentine's hearts a few years back and actually use them as Christmas tree ornaments. The lights shine through them. And really, Christmas is the best season o' love. Why not Valentines for Jesus?

  3. Oops. That's *capiz* shell. I love going to 10000 Villages just to see what new pretty things the artists in the Philippines have made from capiz shell.

  4. Shari, you are a valentine because you are a Feb. baby. The best valentine's day gift is you!

  5. Marie,

    I'm so glad you too have discovered Ten Thousand Villages. I think baby cheesecakes sound heavenly. Perhaps those should become a part of my annual tradition on Valentine's. Admittedly, my annual tradition right now consists of nada. But I think I ought to come up with something and cheesecake might just fit the bill.

  6. I've gotten some nice gifts from my husband over the years, although we usually just go out and exchange cards. I know, we're boring. V's day in college, I was having a particularly tough time in the dating scene, and I started the fabulous tradition of buying MYSELF something for V's day which I have continued ever since. YEAH!

    Here are my rules: 1. I impose a financial limit, just as I would in choosing a gift for someone else. 2. I let myself have a lovely time shopping for it, whether in stores or online--it's a look-and-linger approach. I never hurry myself along. 3. The gift itself has to be totally fun with zero practicality (I will never gift myself a vacuum cleaner, ladies! Think more along the lines of "those oiled leather boots I've been eyeing for a while" or "the full-body hot stone massage"). 4. Buyer's remorse is NOT part of the package. I refuse to feel guilty before, during, or after this tradition!

    This is a tradition you can totally steal from me, by the way. You're welcome.


  7. Perhaps a little belated, but I'll add one to best Valentine's Day gifts.

    This was a few years ago, when I had just started a new job at BYU. A few weeks before Valentine's Day, I mentioned to a co-worker--one with whom I've always had a purely platonic friendship--that I had never been given flowers or chocolate on Valentine's Day. Not said with bitterness. Just as a matter of fact.

    So on Valentine's Day said co-worker showed up to work with a big bouquet of roses and my favorite chocolate bar--just because he thought that it was just wrong that I had never been given those things for Valentine's Day, and he had to set the universe right.