Roses are red. Violets are blue. Flowers are overdone. So what’s a gift giver to do?
Give a surprise getaway
The best Valentine’s Day gift is a surprise getaway or experience, says Pepper Schwartz, a University of Washington professor and author of “Frommer’s/AARP Places for Passion: The 75 Most Romantic Destinations in the World — and Why Every Couple Needs to Get Away.”
Aim for “something that shows that you know them — not that you did something generic, but that you did something that even required making a reservation,” she says.
Book a dinner at her favorite restaurant. Take him to a book signing. Schedule that pottery class she’s been wanting to take. Plan a movie marathon of rom-coms and “power through them,” Schwartz says.
Don’t wait until the holiday
If the best gift is one that displays forethought and planning, the worst is one that appears rushed and unoriginal.
“The most important thing is to try and not be trite,” Schwartz says. “Everyone knows how easy it is to grab a box of chocolates or some flowers from the grocery store, so those two just don’t hold a whole lot.”
And those gifts can be pricey. In 2017, shoppers paid an average of $48.86 for flowers on Feb. 13 — the day before Valentine’s Day — according to data from a panel of thousands of online shoppers compiled by the analytics company Slice Intelligence.
Pick a gift that’s personal
For a more memorable and affordable option, consider something other than a standard Valentine’s Day gift, says Jon Lal, CEO of cash-back website BeFrugal. He recommends a home-cooked dinner, hand-picked gift basket or a potted plant that lasts longer than a bouquet.
If you’re not into DIY ideas, online retailers like Uncommon Goods put a romantic twist on traditional gifts, with love potion candles and heart-shaped serving spoons.
Just avoid anything functional. Yes, you may need a waffle maker in the house, but Valentine’s Day isn’t the time to buy it. “By all means, don’t make it look practical,” Schwartz says.
Whatever you give, keep in mind that a personal touch is more important than the price you pay. “I’m sure she will be dazzled if she gets a pair of one-carat diamond earrings, but you don’t need to do that,” Schwartz says. “Sometimes it’s even more powerful to have something that was really clever.”
Some 44% of Americans plan to spend up to $25 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, according to a 2018 Valentine’s Day survey by Propeller Insights for the cash-back website Ebates. To find deals on gifts, sign up for email newsletters and follow shopping sites on social media, says Ben Rhau, content director at Ebates.
But most importantly, just give something
Although grocery store flowers and chocolates aren’t the most original gifts, Schwartz says giving something is better than nothing at all. Nonmonetary gifts, such as a poem, show you remembered the holiday, too.
Those on a budget who want to purchase something might consider giving a rain check. Schwartz suggests writing in a card what you plan to do or give in the future, instead of showing up empty-handed on Valentine’s Day.
Prices on gifts like candy, flowers and lingerie often rise on the holiday and drop later, Lal says. Since Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday this year, you could save money by celebrating on the weekend afterward instead.