Shopping Guide

The Guide to Flower Shopping for Flower Haters

February 12, 2016

The only thing worse than a bunch of pink carnations is bitching about pink carnations so much you basically guarantee yourself never getting gifted flowers.

You see: I’m not really a flowers type of girl. And I have, to my recent regret, waved that flag proudly. It’s true that bouquets of flowers can be awkward: Am I supposed to carry this thing around with me all day? Have you ever tried walking the crowded streets of New York with your two normal bags, a winter coat, AND an armful of long-stemmed roses? It’s also true that if you give me a bouquet I might make an uncomfortable face that makes you uncomfortable, and that I may give you an awkward side-arm hug we’re both better off forgetting.

But none of this changes the fact that flowers are kind of beautiful. (We’ve already established I’m a hypocrite—why stop now?) Even to an emotional scrooge who is afraid of color, like me.

Shop the Story

The logic is this: Since I "don’t really" like flowers, if I actually do like them a little, almost anyone will like them. So here is how to buy me flowers. Let’s pretend I haven’t already ruined my chances.

  • Do not buy the lurid bouquet that the Duane Reade or the Safeway already built for you. You want creative points too, don’t you? Here are some flowers that places like these almost always have that you can throw together on your own: Baby’s breath, Eucalyptus, or 3 to 5 different types of flowers that are all a similar color. Still no? Just find some ribbon and enough peanut butter cups to constitute a bouquet.
  • Do buy dead flowers. Pro: They never die twice. Con: You’ll have to be very, very delicate with them, more delicate than you might be with something that is still alive.
  • Do not buy roses ironically this year! Please don’t waste your money on pink carnations! As they say, we are voting with our dollar when we do this, thus perpetuating the onslaught of pink, tutu-like flowers flooding stores in late January. It is our civil duty to stop this cycle.
  • Do buy branches. Pro: A nice mix of half-dead-looking and half-alive, these are your best friend if you’re unsure of which way your date might lean. Con: They are very big. Do not try to carry them into a restaurant. Pro: This makes a nice excuse to “drop them off before dinner.”
  • Take explicit advice from your company’s Art Director and Design & Home editor. Don’t have these? I do. Here's what they say:

If you're picking up flowers on the way home... Look for a supermarket, grocery, bodega, or even a pharmacy with flowers in the window and pull over fast. You have a good chance of finding a few of these:

  • Orchids
  • Lilies
  • Hydrangeas
  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Eucalyptus

If you happen to live near a flower store:

  • Dogwood, Cherry, and Quince branches
  • Peonies
  • Gardenia
  • Sweet Pea
  • Alyssum
  • Honeysuckle
  • Ranunculus
  • Poppies

If you want extra credit (Alexis is here for you):

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • TJ
  • Robin
  • kimikoftokyo
  • Noreen Fish
    Noreen Fish
  • Amanda Sims
    Amanda Sims
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


TJ August 26, 2018
If someone is kind enough to present one with flowers, the only appropriate response is thank you! Please stop with the artistic critique of a kind gesture.
Robin August 26, 2018
Kenzi, I'm with you. Flowers are the opposite of impressive unless some thought, effort, and creativity has gone into them by the giver. You've offered some beautiful ideas.
TJ October 8, 2016
This is a bit of flower snobbery! Add a few herb stalks around some pink carnations and it is no so bad.
kimikoftokyo April 12, 2016
I'm a not flower lover. I mean I like sunflowers every once in a while but it's not my thing. But I love the smell of eucalyptus. Maybe I'll post this lovely article to give hints
Noreen F. February 15, 2016
I love flowers, but if someone gave me eucalyptus I would make a face. It makes a sneeze and I hate the smell!
Amanda S. February 12, 2016
I think he got the hint.