an illustration of gift bags and boxes in an article about gifts to give your valentine
The best gift is one that you put effort and thought into, rather than a cheap store-bought item. (Illustration by Julie Chow, University of California, Berkeley)

Avoid Buying These Gifts for Your Valentine This Year

Say no to generic and impersonal presents and opt instead for personalized items and experiences unique to your significant other’s interests and your relationship.

Thoughts x
an illustration of gift bags and boxes in an article about gifts to give your valentine

Say no to generic and impersonal presents and opt instead for personalized items and experiences unique to your significant other’s interests and your relationship.

Every year on Valentine’s Day, people worldwide exchange greeting cards, candy and flowers in a vibrant celebration of love. Yet the holiday becomes more complicated as the pressure to figure out what to buy your valentine increases. After all, what gifts can accurately express your emotions in a heartfelt way without coming across as cheesy or repetitive? Which items should you avoid purchasing, and what do you replace those gifts with to make your loved one feel special? Whether you are scrambling to come up with new gift ideas for your partner or hoping to add a special touch to your Valentine’s Day gift this year, it is essential to note which gifts to buy — and those that should be left unbought.

What Not To Buy

— Do not buy cheap manager’s special flowers you find in the sale section of the grocery store. This will not make your valentine feel valued or treasured. Instead, you will come across as tightfisted, and it will appear as if you do not care to invest in the relationship. Hurting your partner’s feelings is not worth saving a handful of bills.

— Avoid appliances, home products and kitchenware of all kinds. Gifts such as pots and pans, vacuums, blenders and other types of small kitchen appliances each have a time and place as gifts, but they just do not do the job on Valentine’s Day. Furthermore, you should also avoid technological appliances like phone chargers.

— Be careful that your Valentine’s Day gift does not imply that your partner needs to work harder to maintain your love. Exercise equipment, self-help books, toolkits and workout clothes can muddle your message of love with ideas of inadequacy that could lead your partner to feel insecure about their self-worth and the relationship as a whole.

— A generic Valentine’s Day card from the store with your signature at the bottom will not be enough to show your special someone how special they are to you. On the contrary, it will seem as if you put little thought and effort into your gift.

— Everyone loves the gift of money, but Valentine’s Day is not the holiday on which you want to receive cash. Money will not cut it on the most romantic day of the year; in fact, it just might turn the mood from romantic to very unromantic in a heartbeat. Valentine’s Day is your time to demonstrate your affection, appreciation and love for your partner. It is less about the present itself and more about the thought and intentionality behind it.

— The basic heart box of inexpensive chocolates from the candy aisle might be perfect to give to a middle school crush, but it is often seen as cheesy and not attentive. If you want to buy your valentine chocolate, go for it! However, try finding their favorite kind of chocolates or something more creative, like chocolate-covered strawberries.

What To Buy

— Create a handmade card or buy a nice card at the store and then personalize it. This personalization can include writing favorite memories you have made as a couple, your favorite characteristics about them as a person or 14 reasons why you love them. If you are buying a card, try to select a card that they would appreciate — one that somehow relates to them and/or your relationship.

— You can buy the classic dozen red roses — or you can be creative. Find out your loved one’s favorite type of flowers and buy an assortment of them at the store. If you really want to go all out, go to a local florist. They can help you customize your bouquet. (Even Kroger’s florist will help you arrange the floral pieces you select!) Moreover, if you or your partner happen to be sentimental, look up the various meanings behind each flower in order to intentionally convey a deeper meaning.

— Another gift to give your valentine is anything customized: mugs, pillows with your names and anniversary dates on them, canvases with a picture of you both together on it, or a heart-shaped puzzle with each of your names on it are some options. If you do something with photos, make sure to subtly ensure your partner approves of the photo before using it. Otherwise, they might not want to use or display your gift.

— Give the gift of experience. Plan a romantic weekend getaway, a fun day trip to a nearby city or an exciting date night filled with new restaurants, shopping, coffee shops and the movies. Planning an event shows your partner that you not only want to spend quality time with them, but you are willing to work hard and invest money and time into making them feel special. Moreover, you are creating an environment where you both can make fun memories together as a couple.

— If you are feeling adventurous, try your hand at cooking a fancy meal for your partner. Cook or bake their favorite dish, a food you have never attempted before or a special dessert. Use candles, tablecloths, fancy ceramic plateware and glass stemware to better enhance the romantic ambiance.

— Jewelry is a popular gift on Valentine’s Day that can convey heartfelt emotion. Nevertheless, it is important to be thorough regarding which piece of jewelry you select. Pick a piece that is classy, one that will stand the test of time. Consult a friend or family member who knows your loved one well to confirm that your piece will be well-received. Choose a piece that has meaning behind it for you and your valentine. It does not have to be expensive; there are hundreds of options on Amazon under $20.

Valentine’s Day is meant to be filled with joy and the celebration of the one you love. Do not let the stress of gift-giving to the special someone in your life overwhelm you, but be careful with what you do purchase and the implications that might come with it. Regardless of the gifts you give, however, make sure to demonstrate how much you care for your valentine with your words and actions.

Writer Profile

Julianna Steen

Auburn University
English Literature, minoring in History

A few of my favorite things include reading romance novels, watching action movies, baking (and consuming) anything chocolate, creating for my business, He is Simply Goodness, and going on adventures with friends and family!

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