By Kristin Varela on February 13, 2013
Valentine's Day is tomorrow, and for those of you who have waited too long to order the always appreciated box of Vosges truffles, shame on you! However, there's no need to fret. I've polled our diverse staff members — young and not so young, married and single, practical and fanciful — to come up with a few last-minute gift ideas for the driver you love.
Dream car rental: Spring for a weekend rental of your significant other's dream car. Pack a romantic picnic, drive to a make-out mountain and watch the sunset, or just crank up the tunes and cruise the 'hood.
Pop-the-question road trip: Stash that bling in the center console and hit the open road. Wait for the right view, the right mood and the right energy, and then dig that diamond out and pop the question.
Ford's Warriors in Pink scarf: It's pretty, pink, silky and soft, and I get tons of compliments every time I wear mine. It also helps support a variety of organizations dedicated to breast cancer research.
The Practical-ly Married
A trunk or backseat organizer: End discussions about why kids and spouses can't throw away their trash or stow their stuff while in the car by outfitting the vehicle with an organizer. "No, I'm not frustrated by this or anything," said the colleague who suggested this gift. "Really this would be a gift for me — disguised as a gift for them. I'm sneaky like that."
Warm heat, warm hands: Invest in an aftermarket heated steering wheel cover for those with warm hearts and frigid hands.
Clean/service the car: Most moms would appreciate having their car professionally detailed to get the crumbs out. The cherry on top would be if it was taken in for a full service and oil change by someone else, thereby negating taking the kids to the mechanic. Help keep the family car clean by storing a booklet of full-service car washes in the vehicle.
I'm-not-it coupons: Every parent deserves an occasional break from chauffeuring the kids. As one of our Family reviewers noted, "I would love someone (I don't even care who) to do all of my kid- and family-related driving for one week just to see what I put up with. Moms out there — I'm sure you can relate!"
Top off the tank: Hand the family car over to your spouse with a full tank of gas. For a one-two punch, put a little love note in the car (nothing fancy — a piece of paper with a heart drawn on it tucked into the instrument cluster should invite a gushy smile).
The Frugal Lover
You-choose-the-station coupons: Give your spouse the gift of the radio station he/she enjoys for a drive, a day, a week — you get the idea.
Mix CD: My husband actually did this for me for Christmas. It was more practical than a costly upgrade of our car's audio system to Bluetooth, satellite or internet streaming. More importantly, it was sweet and meaningful.
Turn naptime into date time: One of our Family reviewers hit the road during her baby's naptime. She and her hubby went to In-N-Out, drove to a nearby park, parked and ate their lunch with the baby strapped in snug. While listening to music, they talked and caught up — uninterrupted. The baby even stayed asleep long enough to get drive-through coffee afterward.
Classic car books: Invest in a few classics to top off your loved one's collection. Don't forget to include a nice personalization on the inside cover.
Car magazine subscription: Pretty much everything is available digitally these days, but there's something fun about reading an actual print car magazine, according to one of our staff members. My husband also notes the nostalgia that comes along with flipping through the pages as he did as a child after saving up enough allowance to buy the latest issue.
Chocolate cars: They're cars made of chocolate. What's not to love?
Driving shoes: For folks with stick-shift sports cars, or those who just like to look the part, pick up a nice pair of driving shoes to adorn the feet of the one you adore.
Radar detector: Nothing ruins a hot date night like a visit from the friendly state patrol officer. Prevent future letdowns with a radar detector.
Defensive driving school: If your Valentine has any long-term potential, invest in a local defensive driving class for both of you. It'll be a fun bonding experience, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with having a partner you trust completely with your car/life.
Fuel the flame with a gas gift card: For something a little less personal, but still thoughtful, pick up a gas station gift card. This might be more meaningful for couples separated by long distances.
GoPro camera: Your Valentine can mount it anywhere on his/her car to capture cool pictures and video of him/her driving his/her prized car. It's simple to use, not to mention it also can be used for capturing cool footage of other hobbies.
Apple of my (protected) eyes: One of our single editors would love an extra pair of driving sunglasses so he can leave them in his car rather than schlepping them in and out his house.
The Loved and the Loaded
The ultimate gift: And last but not least, one of our staffers suggested that a car itself makes a great Valentine's Day gift. Nothing says "I love you" like a bright red Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin