Valentine’s Day—and dating and romancing in general—can be costly, but they don’t have to be. Love is the prime mover in this world, and you can make it special regardless of the thickness of your wallet. To prove this, we scouted town for the sexiest gifts under $50 because (let’s face it) $50 gets you what $20 used to, and nobody wants to splurge on something they’ll only wear (or lick) once. It’s easy to get jaded by Hallmark sentiments but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t slap on something special, or lather your loved one in flavored body oil to show them how much you care. Here are some tricks to which you might consider treating yourself and your special person—wearable, edible or otherwise—because love is worth the effort.
This sultry holiday is the perfect reason to try something outside your normal boy-short/panty regiment. While it may seem silly to spend time lacing something up just to rip it off, your significant other appreciates the effort, and it's fun—like unwrapping a present.
If you're looking for to go full bow-chicka-wow-wow, try Arcade News (2821 Cerrillos Road, 471-0751), Santa Fe's one-stop-shop for adult movies, toys and treats. They offer some pretty fun wearable stuff, including both lace and fishnet cat suits ranging from $16-$18. You can choose from ones with halter-top necks or long sleeves. Or there are pricier options like the Desire Hosiery Lace V-Neck Bodystocking ($47), which features a plunging neckline.
Or maybe you're looking to dress up like someone else, in which case you could try the Exposed Police Officer Bedroom Fantasy outfit ($47.95), which comes with a baton and cap. Or the Cowgirl Exposed Bedroom Fantasy outfit ($35.95) is just some fringe attached to bikini strings, but somehow looks really cute.
If fishnet isn't quite naked enough, go with pasties. Arcade News has a few sets, but the Dreamgirl Pastie Double Set ($17.95) comes with two sets, each with a contrasting tassels. Our favorites are the leopard print and red ones, but the flame-shaped metallic red and blue ones are a close second.
Speaking of establishments that sell pasties and kinky lingerie, there's a new kid in town and she's pretty cool. Modern Aphrodite (1708 Lena St., Ste. 105, 989-9880) is a boutique specializing in erotic items. It opened about six months ago in the Lena Street Lofts and is owned and run by Ann Ridley, an honest-to-goodness sexologist (!).
The space is bright and welcoming and has a ton of gift options for every ambition, like lace eye masks ($8), which could easily spice up any outfit. If you're wanting a dominatrix vibe, this boutique has bunny masks ($10), and leather collars with matching leashes ($32). The boutique also offers Bijoux Indiscrets The Magnifique bondage bracelets ($25) made of strands of tiny gold chains that are so pretty you could wear them to dinner.
Modern Aphrodite also features beginner-friendly items, like silk ribbons ($16), which can be used as handcuffs, blindfolds or ties—or options if you're going full-on cuff, like some red furry cuffs ($22.99). And the boutique carries more outfit-based treats, too. The Pearl bra and thong ($22.95) set features pearl strings that form the lines of a bikini, and comes in red and white. This set is a good way to be really naked, while still wearing something cute. So is the shop's body chain ($48), which is more like a tank made of dangly gold chains. It's a hot number, and you don't have to go full stripper in this one—it could add a little something extra peeking out of a low neckline.
Don't worry boys, these sexy shops haven't left you bare. Modern Aphrodite offers tight briefs in a variety of flirty colors ($12.95). Maybe you feel like serving your special someone breakfast in bed while donning a banana hammock or lace-up briefs? Arcade News has both. Blue Line makes them for $34 and $47, respectively. They also make a racier sheer paneled option ($40.95).
If you want to serve something to eat right off you, try Arcade News' edible Kandy Undies for Him ($22.95). They are literally made of candy necklaces—yes, the kind you ate in elementary school. Be careful, we foresee this string bikini of candy being sticky insofar as the hair situation, especially upon removal. Or try the Couples Sweet Surrender His and Hers Edibles ($16.95). The box set comes with candy panties for both of you, so nobody goes to bed hungry.
Romance and massages do each other good and you can ramp up your usual rub-down routine with some edible oil. Arcade News has a few options and many flavors. The Wet Fun Flavors ($21.95) is more of a lubricant, but the gal working the shop says it's most popular. They have warming options too, like Body Heat, which comes in watermelon, cinnamon, piña colada, cherry and blue raspberry, all $8.95. Or strawberry Tingle Gel ($19.95), which seemed the gooiest option, but hey, maybe that's what you're seeking. They carry Nipplicious ($10.95), a nipple arousal gel, in watermelon also. (Damn, people like watermelon.) A massage with warming, edible oils may be just the sugar you've been asking Cupid for.
The lubricants at Modern Aphrodite may not be flavored, but they do have Lelo Personal Lubricant ($15), which is water-based so it's not sticky. It comes in a sleek bottle that will look nice on your nightstand. The Lena Street boutique also offers games that can help you and your partner out of your rut and into adventure. Try Sexy Truth or Dare ($14) or Intimate4Play ($14), a board game that inspires more intimate interaction.
As we all know, love is not all about sex. It's really largely about caring for someone else, and making them feel good. About being in peace with another human, and liking it more than the same peace alone. And we'll be damned if hot tubs don't feel good and bring soakers a heap of peace. You can your lover can take a 50-minute dip in one of the outdoor Ojitos at Sunrise Springs Spa Resort (242 Los Pinos Road, 780-8145) for $45.
The resort and spa's property has long been a destination for R&R. In fact, it used to be the final stop before arriving in Santa Fe along the El Camino Real Tierra Adentro, a trade route running between San Juan Pueblo (now Ohkay Owingeh) and Mexico City from the 1590s until the 1880s.
Today, it's a beautiful place where you can sit in steamy water and overlook the natural spring. The square tubs feature smooth flagstone interiors and are just across the hall from eucalyptus steam showers, which are really nice on dry desert skin. This is New Mexico, so we know you're as turned on by water as we are. And soaking in these Ojitos overlooking an oasis with your BAE is an especially hot combo.
If you're more a nature buff, the Spence Hot Springs (Hwy. 4, Jemez Springs) are probably your speed. Just a few minutes up a hill (and well-marked trail) from a parking lot off Hwy. 4 that sits about an hour and a half north of Santa Fe, these tiered natural tubs are particularly spectacular on a cold day, when they pour steam. It may be a bit out of town, but there is free treasure: soaking in the middle of the mountains. They are pretty well-known (search for them online and find easy directions, and photos to tempt you). Bet on spectacular views, but not privacy. In other words, leave the cinnamon oils at home for later, but maybe bring a picnic.
Be safe. Make love. Forget about the world for a while.