With Valentine’s Day creeping up on us, last-minute shoppers are probably reaching for the default gifts. But before you surprise your significant other with the expected go-to presents (aka boxed chocolates and roses), consider spicing up your Valentine’s gift exchange instead.
“We rarely remember the gifts we’re given, unless it’s an engagement ring,” says relationship expert Susan Winter, adding that experiential gifts are really where it’s at. “A meaningful experience shows your partner that you’ve listened and paid attention, which shows that you care.”
When planning this year’s Valentine’s Day celebration, think back to the things you’ve heard your partner talk about excitedly. Has she always wanted to go ice skating in Central Park? Or visit a local vineyard? Surprising her with a unique experience is a fresh alternative to material items.
If planning this type of event leaves you feeling stumped, there are tons of other one-of-a-kind gifts that are unlikely to disappoint. Read on for some refreshing Valentine’s Day gifts to give your honey this year.
Instead of boxed chocolates and roses…
Let’s face it; a box of Russell Stover chocolates from Duane Reade is nothing novel. Instead, matchmaker and relationship expert Christie Nightingale suggests creating a personalized box of goodies.
“Make a love basket filled with items that cover all the senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell,” says Nightingale, principal of Premier Match, a national matchmaking firm. “Be creative with each gift that fits each category. For example, a sexy picture of yourself for sight, delectable sweets for taste, or their favorite fragrance for smell.”
The gift of togetherness is also unmatched. Nightingale suggests planning a romantic surprise getaway. Schedule dual massages at a day spa, or spend time in front of the fire at a charming cabin in the woods. Whatever you choose, the point is to turn off your smartphone and give each other your undivided attention.
Instead of diamond earrings…
Many of us feel pressure to spend a fortune on Valentine’s Day, but Winter says that doing so misses the point of the holiday entirely. “The point is to celebrate your love, and to pay attention to your partner’s needs and desires,” she says.
Instead of dropping several hundred dollars on expensive jewelry, show how much you care by creating what Nightingale calls a “recollection collection.” Try filling a box with love letters, keepsakes from special occasions, and cherished mementos from your time together.
“And, more importantly, you can add more items as your relationship grows over time,” says Nightingale.
Another cool (and super-easy) gift idea is to create a photo-slash-video stream of your favorite moments. Set it to some meaningful songs and surprise your partner with it. The thought behind this kind of gift will go much further than any piece of jewelry.
Instead of reservations at a fancy restaurant
Nailing down Valentine’s reservations at a chic restaurant is no easy feat. (It also doesn’t come cheap.) But is an expensive meal really the best way to show you care?
“Restaurants are all out to make money on Valentine’s Day – it’s such a racket!” says Nightingale. “Instead of going out and spending a fortune on a meal, make it an intimate and quiet evening at home. Invite your significant other over, open up a nice bottle of wine, and have fun with it.”
Another cool alternative is to make dinner together. Splurge on some exotic ingredients, and then turn it into a playful, joint activity you can do as a team. If you’re not much of a chef, consider buying two seats at a local cooking class. The main message here is to connect as a couple over an intimate meal. And if the dish turns out to be a flop, it’ll give you something to laugh about on the way home.