How To Not Suck… At Valentine’s Day Gifts

Heads-up to everyone in a couple: Valentine’s Day is Friday and some of you will be expected to give some sort of gift to your loved ones. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with chocolates, jewelry, or flowers, but that special someone in your life is probably worth a little creativity and planning… right?

(Plus, if there is anything we’ve learned about floral delivery services is that you don’t always get what you pay for.)

Sure, you can always plan a last-minute romantic dinner under the Golden Arches, but your partner may not be all that impressed.

Yes, you’re running out of time. But fear not, Consumerist readers.

Here are some creative and inexpensive ways to not suck at Valentine’s Day giving.

1. Profess Your Love: Scream to the world how special your partner is with a personalized web site. For as little as $10, you can buy and register a domain name. Stick a dot-com or dot-net on the end of your two names together, or try Upload some photos and a romantic Valentine’s Day message, then post the link on Facebook to show your partner’s friends how creative you are. You can even add a private password-protected page on the site for your partner’s eyes only. (We’ll leave content ideas for that page up to you.)

2. Not Kid Stuff: Think of those coupon books kids make as gifts for their parents. You know, the ones where each coupon promises to help with a different chore? Your “coupons” don’t have to promise you’ll do the laundry or clean the bathroom (well, they can — you know what pleases your partner), but instead, get a little more up close and personal. Promise a massage, a home-cooked meal or something a little more, um, personal, and your recipient can redeem the coupons at any time. We recommend you try not to hide too many conditions in the fine print.

3. An experience: Is there something your partner has been wanting to do but you’ve resisted? Now’s your time to show him or her that you’re putting their needs first. Buy tickets for that sporting event, opera, ballet, or concert that you’ve been avoiding. Or try something out-of-the-box: dinner at the local haunted restaurant, the circus, or a local walking tour.

4. A Picnic: Take a picnic blanket — or a sheet will do — and set up a romantic picnic in your living room. Add finger food that you can serve to your loved one, and maybe a few adult beverages.

5. A treasure hunt: Create clues and hide them around the house — or in public places — directing your loved one to a special treasure. Exactly what they find at the end of the hunt, of course, is up to you. It could be as simple as finding a love note or a bottle of wine and two glasses.

6. Pamper Him/Her: Go crazy with a DIY spa day. Start with a homemade skin treatment or exfoliating mask. You only need some veggies and other ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen. Next, give a home manicure and pedicure — yes, for the guys too — and no, boys, it doesn’t matter if you suck at painting nails. Then comes the bubble bath and a nice long massage.

7. A song: Most couples have a special song or two, so why not give your loved one a live performance? If you have a friend with a guitar, even better, but this works perfectly well a cappella. If you’re not shy — or maybe, especially if you’re shy — do it in public. If you’re feeling poetic, why not write an original song? Okay, fine. You can always just pull a Lloyd Dobler, which also gets you out of having to actually sing.

8. Photo Gifts: If you’ve been with your partner a while, you probably have a bunch of great photos, but they’re all sitting on your hard drive. Make some prints of special moments of the two of you together and buy a few frames. Gift complete. Or, take it a step further and create a calendar — you can find lots of web sites that will do this, or stop by your local do-everything pharmacy or office supply store to place your order. The same retailers will also craft a collage of photos on canvas. Just like pricey artwork, but you choose your moments from your photo library, and they come ready-to-hang. Add in some picture hooks and you’re ready to go.

9. Basket of Joy: Hit the dollar store and grab one of those baskets made famous by our holiday shopping post and fill it with goodies — even add some of the ideas from this column — a special framed photo, some massage oil… use your imagination.

Come on, readers, help out your fellow last-minute gift planners, and share your gift ideas in our comments section.

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You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.

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