House of Cards and Curiosities

House of Cards and Curiosities

Photo: House of Cards & Curiosities

Neighborhood: West Village
Type of Place: Card Shops Gift Shops

Ladies and Gentlemen, you have a week left till Valentines Day. One week to assemble your stash of gifts and cards for the husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, children, mom, dad, grandparents, and (don't forget!) friends in your life. If you've got more than one girlfriend or boyfriend, you've got even more work (as well as, possibly, some explaining) to do. One week; do not waste it.

What's that? You say that since you're single, you can take a pass on this holiday? I disagree. It's a holiday that celebrates love; so unless there is no one at all that you love (and I refuse to believe that's true), you're involved here. Your mom would love something in the mail, as would your niece, nephew, and best friend from college (well, OK, if you're both straight guys, that last one could get awkward in our culture; but you get the idea).

So we've established that this holiday does include you, and we've established that it's coming up fast. Now what? Now, a little West Village shop with fun, offbeat items, many very affordable, for the Valentines gift list I hope you're putting together in your head.

Starting with cards: Lovely, unique examples featuring flowers or cupcakes or even chimpanzees start at $2.75. If you're thinking more of a bulk-card situation, a la cards to every kid in the 3rd grade way back when and I encourage this approach—who doesn't want a Valentine?), 15 vintage-style cards with envelopes are $15.95; 20 "Valentines Fortune," "Valentine Fairies," or "Pop-Out Friendship Bracelet" cards with envelopes are $14.95.

I'll admit, girly gifts seem easier to locate for this holiday; so I tried to find good gender-neutral suggestions. And I discovered: "Love Me Tender" mints in a tin printed with Elvis' photo, $5; fun salt and pepper shakers (who says guys don't cook?), including a stainless steel–and-rubber pair shaped like dachsunds, $29; "1970s Rock and Roll" quiz cards ($9.95, and lemme play!); a slinky ($15, and awesome); and postcard books (30 postcards each; perhaps profiles of "Women Who Dare" for a gal and the photographs and paintings of Man Ray for a guy; $12.95). There are also rock, shell, and even bone artifacts here, of varying sizes and prices; some of the rocks seemed very cool to my girly eye but might well interest guys as well. The shop's website says there are "mounted insects" in stock, which I did not notice and am glad I did not notice—but hey, if this suits your giftee, go for it. I also liked the antique Chinese coins ($2). Coffee mugs are gender-neutral—fill one with chocolate kisses and you're good to go. I liked the one that says "Life Is a Series of a Thousand Tiny Miracles" ($14.95), which may be a tiny bit girly, but then again, maybe not (and in any case there are many mug options here).

If you're crafty, there are beads (I was partial to the candy-heart replicas, printed with "Let's Kiss" and "Sure Love," $3; but there are many choices, including little skulls!). If your recipient collects this kind of thing, animal figurines in glass (not all of which are girly) start at about $10. If you're looking to make a big statement this holiday, dip into the "tub of wedding couples" ($1 each) for little plastic brides and grooms. Two of these slipped into a card will surely generate attention. And I must mention the vintage-y jewelry box with a ballerina inside (OK, it's pretty flat-out girly, but I just loved it; $29.95).

Duck in, shop around, and use your imagination. You'll be able to check lots of loved ones off your list without needing a federal bailout—and the smiles you'll generate will surely be priceless.
  - Pamela Grossman; Feb 7, 2010

House of Cards and Curiosities
23 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
(212) 675-6178