The month of February has been deemed the month of love for hundreds of years, and the history behind Valentine’s Day is actually a little interesting. From a saint performing forbidden marriages to potentially falling in love with his jailer’s daughter, the stories that surround the holiday are murky at best, but it’s still obvious why they inspired the holiday.
Though Valentine’s Day traditions around the world are probably a little different, if you choose to give a gift, then the most important thing we can say is to be genuine. Your gift doesn’t have to be fancy (but it can be if your loved one is into that). The value of a great Valentine’s Day gift is more than its monetary cost. So, below we’ve offered some tips and asked some questions that we hope will help you narrow down the kind of gift you’d like to give.
Who are you shopping for?
Perhaps the first thing you need to consider is who you are shopping for. If you’re grabbing something for a sibling because that’s what you do in your family, your choice will probably be different than if you were gifting something to a grandparent or spouse. Don’t forget that Valentine’s Day gifts can be given to children and friends, too. Once you’ve narrowed down who you are shopping for, then you can mentally filter out the items or experiences that you know won’t apply to them.
Once you know to whom you are giving gifts, take a moment to look at their personality, interests, and the shared experiences you may have together. Those are great places to get hints and ideas. If your husband or boyfriend loves cars, then maybe buying a couple of tickets to a local car show would be a pleasant surprise, or gifting him a car wash membership. If your wife or girlfriend loves to garden, taking some time to find a gardening gadget that makes her life easier could be a fun idea. The list goes on. Sports, working out, making food, traveling, trying new restaurants, collecting certain items—there are so many interests out there. See what interests them, what distracts them, and where they spend their time. That knowledge will lead you to a phenomenal gift. Promise.
What is the best gift for Valentine's Day?
The best gift for Valentine’s Day is the one that your loved one will personally appreciate. This can be influenced by what type of relationship you have, how long you have known the person, etc. So as you go about choosing the “best gift,” take into consideration its receiver and check your own assumptions at the door. Are you considering a romantic night out with your gent when he might appreciate being home more because he travels a lot? Are you looking at lingerie for a woman who would really prefer a pedicure? Are you looking at expensive jewelry for a partner who is very concerned about finances? We’re not saying there is anything wrong with a romantic evening, staying home, lingerie, pedis, or jewelry, but if it will cause stress, leave expectations unfulfilled, or sow discord, then it doesn’t matter how nice the gift is—it’s the wrong gift.
So how do you go about getting the perfect gift? If it’s for your significant other, especially if your relationship is relatively new, then ask. Ask them about what they would like to do for Valentine’s Day, what kinds of gifts would they be comfortable with, what budget would be appropriate, and maybe even ask if they have a wishlist you could look at. Sometimes asking might seem a bit unromantic, but disappointment from unmet expectations is even worse. To find the perfect gift, do some due diligence and ask some questions. It’ll be worth it.
Sometimes you want to give a gift, but you don’t really have the chance to ask them what they’d want, like figuring out Valentine’s Day gifts for teachers in your and your children’s lives. In this case, the key is to be observant, thoughtful, and intentional. Observe what they like and need, and try to use that knowledge to guide you to a thoughtful gift.
What do I get my girlfriend/boyfriend for Valentine's Day?
An appropriate Valentine’s Day gift depends on what stage in life you’re at and how far into your relationship you are. First week of dating, and you’re both broke college kids? It’s probably best to stick to the dollar store’s chocolate or conversation hearts. (They’re delicious, inexpensive, and no pressure!) If you’ve been dating longer and you’re still broke out of your mind, then write a letter, leave love notes, make dinner, or look up some DIY tutorials like paper or duct tape flowers.
If you’re in a serious relationship and are more financially stable then consider these ideas with them in mind:
- Conversation hearts arranged to leave a message
- Handmade paper flowers
- Duct-tape roses
- Gift cards to favorite stores or experiences—these can range from $5 to a favorite coffee shop to tickets to a Broadway show or a sports event
- Something for their pet
- Personalized items like a mug, a tumbler, a picture of the two of you, a keychain, or a piece of jewelry
- Board games
- Book nook reading valet
- Bath items like shower steamers, bath bombs, or bath salts
- Couple’s Mug Set
What are appropriate gifts for different stages of relationships and different stages of life?
Relationships come in stages throughout our lives—from flirting in high school, to recently married and broke, to rocky relationships as you become empty nesters, to happily together for 60 years—and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for gifts. But there are some unspoken rules about how much you should spend on a Valentine’s Day gift depending on the stage of your relationship. A very expensive pair of earrings probably wouldn’t be appropriate to give to the girl you just started dating last week, for example. And, unless you agreed otherwise, doing nothing for your husband of several decades probably wouldn’t be appropriate, either. Below we’ve listed out some gifts to consider depending on the stage of your relationship.
Just Started Dating
All of these ideas are meant to be fun, affordable, and sans stress for new relationships.
- Board games: Happy Little Dinosaurs, Cover Your Assets
- Movie tickets
- Water Bottle
- Gift Card
- DIY Valentine’s basket
- Couple T-shirts
Dated for a Few Years/Newly Married
These are some gift ideas for more committed couples, mostly because they are more expensive and are things that you might use together long-term. There are some overlaps because some things are timeless.
- Ergonomic Chair
- Bath Products
- New sheets
- Gift Cards
- Board Games: Splendor, Settlers of Catan
Together for 10+ Years
Couples who have been married or together for more than a few years are probably well-established and have already given the typical Valentine’s Day gifts. At this point, things like shared experiences or bucket-list items may be more welcome than a particular item. That being said, who can resist a good chocolate bar on Valentine’s Day?
- Tools that may not be necessary, but are fun (and convenient)
- Weekend get-away
- A nice watch
- Hobby supplies
- Valentine’s Day baskets
- Tickets to a play
- Helicopter or hot air balloon ride
- Couples massage
What do couples do on Valentine’s?
First, what do couples not do on Valentine’s Day? But really, every couple is different and has a different dynamic. Just be sure to ask your significant other what their expectations are so you’re on the same page. In this section, we’ll share some common things that couples choose to do on this day of love, but doing something that means something to you and your significant other is more important than doing what all the other couples are doing. With that said, let’s dive in.
We had to list this one first because we knew you were thinking it. Going on a romantic date, whether it be a nice dinner out (or in), a walk in the moonlight, a cozy movie night on the couch surrounded by candles, a couple’s massage, a night out dancing, or a day trip to the local hot springs are all cute ideas. If your other dates have seemed a bit lackluster lately, Valentine’s Day might be the perfect excuse to pull out all the stops. Here are some more ideas.
- Play a game specifically for couples like Love Lingual or Let’s Get Deep
- Make a treat together like chocolate-covered strawberries or your own version of deluxe popcorn
- Create a playlist of your favorite love songs and dance like no one’s watching
- If you have a tub big enough to fit the both of you, take a romantic bubble bath
- Recreate your first date
- Start a bucket list and let your dreams for the future sweep you away
- Share your love with the less fortunate by volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen
- Spread your love to the elderly by making handmade Valentine’s cards and handing them out at an assisted living or nursing home
- Create a scavenger hunt around the house for your partner to follow—you get to decide what the prize will be
- Have a favorite movie trilogy or TV series? Take the day to watch them, and don’t forget the snacks
- If the weather permits, go for a picnic. In case of bad weather, go to a food court and people watch together
- Write each other a love letter—no peeking until it’s done!
- Make a Valentine’s-themed breakfast together, then enjoy it in bed (bonus: take turns feeding each other)
- Go indoor camping by turning on the fireplace and setting up a makeshift campsite in your living room. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
- Do a puzzle together with your favorite songs playing in the background
- Go stargazing
- Indulge in an at-home spa—cucumbers, robes, face masks, massages.
Rest & Recreation
Though grand gestures of love are certainly something some couples dive into, there are just as many couples who like things low-key and easy. Sleep in. Catch a movie on a laptop. Order pizza. Just setting aside a few hours or a day to spend quality time together is sure to be a gift unto itself.
Some couples also really enjoy getting out and doing things together. If that’s you and your loved one, do it! Try something new or do something you already love to do together. Sharing an experience with each other is a gift with memories built in.
If you and your partner do like giving gifts, then Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for it. Some couples go big by sending flowers, chocolates, or singing telegrams to each other during the day, especially if both have to work. Others keep gifts small and sweet, like a genuine love letter or a handmade gift. Whatever you choose to give, just make sure you put some thought into it. We’ve probably all received a gift that felt slapped together at the last minute, and Valentine’s Day is definitely not a day you want your significant other to feel last on the priority list.
Walk Down Memory Lane
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and look at all the love you’ve shared as a couple over the years. Visit places that have a special place in your heart, read past letters or notes from each other, and go through pictures of you over the years. You’ll find yourself remembering the good times you’ve shared, which will bring you both even closer together.
Book a Trip Somewhere Special
While Thanksgiving and Christmas may be all about family time, Valentine’s Day could be all about some couple alone time. Though you could certainly do a day trip somewhere to try the food, catch some entertainment, and enjoy the sights, you could also make a whole weekend out of it. Couples can go somewhere new or decide to return to a favorite location that holds a special place in their hearts. Whatever you choose, getting away from the buzz of everyday life is a great way to deepen your connection.
What Not to Do on Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day has long been lauded as the holiday of love. However, Valentine’s Day, like love, can be difficult to navigate. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.
Giving gifts with expectations attached
Just because you give a gift to someone does not mean that you deserve a gift in return. The very definition of a gift is something willingly given to someone without payment—which includes expecting them to give you something in return. Give your gifts because you want to, without the expectation that they will reciprocate. (Even on Valentine’s Day.)
On the flip side, if you receive a gift from someone, don’t feel pressured to give something in return. If you want to, then go for it, but remember that a true gift should not demand payment or reciprocation. In the event that you give a gift that’s received with awkwardness, whether the gift was wholly unexpected, is interpreted as something it’s not, or is seen as an invitation into something the receiver isn’t ready for, remember to be graceful. Apologize if necessary and let it be.
Publicly making a grand gesture
Grand displays of affection are amazing in stories, but sometimes in real life, they can cause problems. Before you do something big, make sure you know your loved one would be okay with it. Ask them casually in passing, or have someone else ask them if you want it to be a surprise. Grand displays of affection or declarations of love made in front of crowds may cause your loved one to feel embarrassed, awkward, and even pressured to go along with it when they really don’t want to. Alternatively, if for some reason your gift or gesture is not well received, it could leave everyone uncomfortable, not just you. If you are into grand public gestures, be certain that the intended recipient is, too.
Misunderstanding a relationship
It’s very normal for friendship to turn into romantic interest, though we all know that sometimes it happens for one person and not the other. If you’re hoping to use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take your relationship to the next level, make sure you talk about the possibility beforehand and/or observe signs that indicate your friend feels the same way.
We love love. We do. And we love how Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate that love and a chance to pour yourself into your relationships. That being said, remember that no gift, no relationship, and no event, entitles you to intimacy. There are a lot of things that can go right on Valentine’s Day and a lot of things that can go wrong. If things don’t turn out the way you expected, be graceful and respectful.
What are some non-romantic gift ideas for friends and family members?
- Funny t-shirts
- Honey hot sauce
- Jerky heart box from Man Crates
- A heart-shaped umbrella
- A donut bouquet
- Chocolate-covered Oreos
- A house plant
What are some DIY gifts for Valentine’s Day?
Whether your funds are a little stretched or you just like the feel of a homemade gift better (they really do feel more special), making your own Valentine’s day gift is a wonderful idea. No matter what it is, it will automatically feel special because you put time, effort, and thought into it. Here are a few ideas.
- Try making these Valentine’s day muddy buddies. The fastest way to the heart is through the stomach, right?
- Chocolate Valentine’s day cookies with a sweet message (recipe here). It’s easier than it looks.
- Red velvet sandwich cookies. Cute!
- Red velvet mug cake. Easy and luxurious.
- These coffee mug mixers are cute and thoughtful and will remind them of you every morning
- Homemade bath tea, like these four recipes from Prancier or this recipe from Young Living
- Homemade bath bombs–because the fizzing is the best part, let’s be honest
- All natural DIY beard balm to make him feel extra special
- Fast and easy DIY peaches and cream soap
- Personalized mug—just take a white mug and a permanent marker, draw on your message, then stick it in your cold oven, preheat to 350, and bake for 30 minutes to set the marker
- Etched Valentine’s day glass
- Romantic movie basket—pretty much Valentine’s version of a date night in a box. Think movies, sparkling cider, your loved one’s favorite candy, a card game, etc.
- Love book full of 52 reasons why you love your partner
- Make your own Valentine’s day card
- Reasons I Love You jar
- Carved candle with your initials—so cute!
We hope our list of various Valentine’s Day gifts was helpful, and we hope you enjoy the special day with the ones you love the most!