Valentine’s day last year may have been the last happy holiday many people have experienced in quite a while. Way too many couples were obliged to turn their relationship into a long-distance one or, worse, forced to spend every minute of every day together for months on end. Those of us who planned to do exactly that suffered too: according to statistics gathered by wedding businesses, almost two-thirds of 2020 marriage ceremonies were postponed, most of them to this year. No doubt, some of those couples were feeling the financial pinch of lockdown. Most of the rest of us can relate: if there’s ever a time to create more romance with less money, Valentine’s day 2021 is it.
This doesn’t mean you have to settle for store-brand chocolates, cheesy greeting cards, or Netflix (or its various alternatives) at home. No matter how little you have to spend, you can still make the occasion memorable with some good Valentine’s day ideas, especially if you’re willing to stretch your creative muscles and put in a few hours’ work.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes for Good Valentine’s Day Ideas?
- 2 What to Get a Guy for Valentine’s Day
- 3 Alexander Technique Lessons
- 4 A Home-Baked Cake
- 5 A Beginner’s Toolset for a Creative Hobby
- 6 Strength Training Equipment
- 7 Organize a Deep-Clean of His Home
- 8 What Girls Want for Valentine’s Day 2021
- 9 A Voucher for Cut-Rate Fashion
- 10 A Wardrobe Subscription
- 11 Giant DIY Teddy Bear
- 12 Become Mr. Fix-It for a Day
- 13 A Simple Multitool for Women
- 14 Valentine’s Day 2021 Gifts for Either Men or Women
- 15 Event Tickets
- 16 A Charity Voucher
- 17 A Food or Drink Subscription
- 18 The Gift of Better Sleep
- 19 One Week of Frozen Meals
- 20 Couples’ Gifts to Consider for Valentine’s Day 2021
- 21 Order a Tasting Menu at a High-End Restaurant
- 22 Poetry Fridge Magnets for Messages
- 23 A Special Memorial of the Two of You
- 24 A Romantic Camping Trip
- 25 A Couple’s Diary
What Makes for Good Valentine’s Day Ideas?
Here’s a riddle: does spending a ton on a wedding mean that a couple is more or less likely to get divorced?
If you listened to your inner romantic, you’ll have the right answer: couples who spend lavishly on wedding rings, dresses, flowers, and a black-tie reception are more likely to split up. Given that money problems are at least a contributing factor to so many divorces, this is doubly surprising. Clearly, the price tag of a Valentine’s day gift, by itself, doesn’t count for all that much in the context of the whole relationship.
So, instead of simply deciding on a budget and seeing what you can get for that amount, you will want to spend a couple of free moments over the next few days trying to think of good Valentine’s day ideas. Forget about the usual categories, and brainstorm a few in these:
- Something they can use, either at home or in their hobby,
- Something that will remind them of you when they see it,
- Something they want but will never buy for themselves,
- Something that will comfort them when they’re feeling down,
- Something that will save time or solve a problem for them on a regular basis,
- An experience you can share.
The last item requires some explanation: you may want to take the person you love to Venice for a week, but that may not be wise or even possible for you right now. That’s disappointing, but not catastrophic: you will be surprised at how much fun the two of you can have for under a hundred dollars.
Also, remember that the gift you choose reflects on how you see your partner and relationship. If your significant other is trying to lose weight, a box of chocolates sends an ambivalent message. If your boyfriend reads nothing but spy novels, he really does not want a book on goat farming in 19th-century Maine, however interesting it may be.
It’s always a good idea, whether Valentine’s day is around the corner or not, to keep listening to what they say. If you haven’t been together that long, there’s also nothing wrong with phoning up their friends or family members to run a few ideas by them. If all else fails, go through their old Facebook posts and Pinterest pins. You may not even know that they’ve written about getting into yoga or learning more about wine five times in the last month – not everyone spends time on social media every day. With a clue like this, though, your gift choice may be obvious.
If not, though, one of the following creative, thoughtful gifts may be just what you need:
What to Get a Guy for Valentine’s Day
The famous question: “What do women want?” can be completely straightforward compared to “What should I get my boyfriend for Valentine’s day?” Guys can send out just as many mixed signals as their fairer counterparts without meaning to, starting with “I don’t really want a gift this year.”
They also have less stuff in their life: a stylish woman may own dozens of pairs of shoes while the man in her life wears trainers everywhere. Once they have a wallet and a pair of sunglasses, they don’t need another of either. And the Xboxes and ATVs you do know they want may well be too pricey for a 2021 budget. Don’t worry, though: you just need to look a little beyond the ordinary for good Valentine’s day ideas.
Alexander Technique Lessons
Many men live with joint and back pain. We’d like you to believe that we got injured fighting bears and racing motorcycles, but really it’s mostly just us sleeping wrong and playing too many video games. Much of the problem comes down simply to bad posture, along with – some say – storing stress as tension in certain muscles.
The “Alexander technique” may help with this, allowing the man in your life to sit up straight as well as move more naturally. If you’ve ever seen a martial artist or dancer simply walk across a room, you’ll have an idea of how some people are naturally fluid while others use choppy, unbalanced motions to get from A to B. Gracefulness probably isn’t the first thing you thought of on the subject of what to get a guy for Valentine’s day, but it almost certainly won’t go amiss.
ProMoneySavings isn’t in the business of giving medical advice, and in fact there isn’t much real scientific evidence of the medical benefits of “mindful movement”. In other words, give him a voucher with a date attached to get him to actually go even if it sounds wonky to him: many people attest to these exercises leading not only to better health but greater confidence too.
A Home-Baked Cake
Sure, you can buy confectionery that looks and tastes better than what you’ll ever be able to achieve in your own kitchen. That isn’t the point, though: guys appreciate the sentimental value of a gift even if they pretend not to.
Most neophyte bakers will instinctively stroll down to the store for a pre-packaged mix, and this is fine. Baking from scratch isn’t that hard, though, and can become a delectable hobby. Doing the same things the same way always leads to the same results, so you’re guaranteed success every time. On the other hand, you still have plenty of room for your creativity to shine.
A Beginner’s Toolset for a Creative Hobby
Everyone should really have a hobby: it helps you keep your perspective on life, learn new skills and attitudes, and can even become a source of income. If he’s been feeling like exploring his artistic side, you may not be able to spend all it would take to equip a full carpentry workshop, sign him up for an oil painting course, or convert a room of your house into a glassblowing studio.
This isn’t necessary, though, and using the expense as an excuse not to get started is just stupid. You can help him on his way with any of the following manly pastimes for under a hundred dollars:
- Wood burning (this can also be done on leather for that cowboy look)
- Metal embossing
- Whittling and wood carving
- Or even an online course in graphic design using free software.
Strength Training Equipment
Do you want to make him feel good about himself? Even a small improvement in his muscular definition will do more for his self-esteem than a dozen compliments. You probably don’t want to drive him to the gym several times a week, though: at a minimum, that’ll mean that you have to go too.
This muscle-building device is designed to be used at home and takes up virtually no space in a suitcase. Instead of using weights or elastic bands, it forces the user to exercise one muscle group against another. The price is on the high side but compares well to a year’s gym membership. The novelty of exercising this way makes it easy to get started, and the gadget itself is nearly indestructible.
Organize a Deep-Clean of His Home
Men aren’t biologically bad at housekeeping, we just don’t care all that much. Still, we like a clean space to work, play, and relax in – we often just don’t realize that our home can be one of those mythical places. New Year’s resolutions fade, weeks turn into months and, before we even realize it, the most essential and visible surfaces in our homes are the only ones not covered with a layer of grime.
This is what makes a springcleaning of his house one of those really good Valentine’s day ideas: an opportunity to demonstrate what’s possible and hope that he’ll keep going on his own. You can do this yourself, of course, but you probably don’t want him to get the idea that you being his maid will become a regular thing. Professional house cleaners generally cost between $100 and $200 to give a reasonably sized dwelling a good once-over.
What Girls Want for Valentine’s Day 2021
The following may be the most important lesson you’ll ever learn about buying romantic gifts for women: forget Hollywood. Charging up on a white horse while holding a bouquet seems really impressive for about five minutes – after that, you’re knee-deep in wilted petals and equine poop. Dressing nicely and bringing her a potted flowering plant makes a much better impression in the long run.
At the same time, don’t ignore the magical aspect of giving Valentine’s gifts either. If your girlfriend does all the cooking in your household, don’t buy her a blender; even if she wants one, that can wait for Christmas.
A Voucher for Cut-Rate Fashion
Your wife or girlfriend wants to look her best; chances are that you want exactly the same thing. When it comes to clothes, this is unfortunately far from a cheap hobby.
You may both be surprised at how much gorgeous stuff is available on the second-hand market, though. You don’t even need to visit musty thrift stores; you can browse through online catalogs to your heart’s content. Doing this together is a lot more fun than standing around in a real store while she visits the changing room for the fifteenth time, and gift cards are available.
A Wardrobe Subscription
If you have a somewhat larger budget, you can also get her a few months’ membership of one of the several new services that will let her borrow high-end garments to wear only once or twice. This will allow her to look like a queen on every special occasion and often includes style advice from professionals.
Giant DIY Teddy Bear
We’ve all seen, at least in movies, those humongous stuffed animals that simply scream: “This girl has a boyfriend who loves her”. These can be pricey, but did you know you can also create your own with only a minimum of sewing knowledge?
This allows you to choose the snuggliest fabrics, incorporate bits of your old clothing, add lavender leaves to the stuffing for scent, and generally customize it in whatever way you want. Whenever she sees it in her bedroom, she’s sure to think of you.
Become Mr. Fix-It for a Day
Every house has leaking taps, cracked tiles, light fixtures and power outlets that have stopped working, and cupboard doors that don’t quite close. Once you live together, niggling little problems like these usually become the guy’s problem in a very un-romantic way.
While you each still have your own place, however, showing your girlfriend that her comfort (and safety) is important enough to you to take care of these things sends a powerful message. The two of you can also spend most of the day together while you are in control and doing what needs to be done – or, more realistically, swearing and sweating a great deal while just doing your best to keep it together.
If you own some basic tools or can borrow them from a friend, the only cost to this special Valentine’s day gift is the price for consumables like tape, washers, and replacement parts. As for skill, you don’t really need any: a lot of common home repairs don’t take experience to accomplish if you have Youtube. If some task really does need a professional touch, internet resources like these will be sure to point this out.
A Simple Multitool for Women
Someone climbing Everest carries a pack weighing 20 to 30 pounds; the average woman has almost as much stuff in her purse. Yet does anything in there typically help when she needs to tighten a screw to keep her office chair from squeaking, pry something open without risking a nail, or cut the tags off a garment she needs to wear right away?
Multitools are traditionally seen as a masculine accessory and many of them are marketed, inexplicably, as “tactical”. This shouldn’t stop you from considering a multi-function knife like this one as a present for Valentine’s day 2021 – once she has it, she’ll wonder how she ever got along without it.
Valentine’s Day 2021 Gifts for Either Men or Women
Many of the gifts above, like a multitool, home-baked cake, or hobbyist toolkit can easily be given to either women or men. A person’s interest and personality are usually more important than their gender, even on Valentine’s day, so questions like: “what should I get my boyfriend for Valentine’s day?” become a lot simpler when you cast a wider net. You can still stick to frilly pink things for women and stuff involving steel and grease for the boys, but the following good Valentine’s day ideas steer clear of these stereotypes. This can make one of them the perfect choice for someone you don’t know too well or a new flame you don’t want to scare off by giving a too-romantic impression right off the bat.
The difference between moldering in front of the TV and watching a live performance is like that between smelling coffee and tasting it. You no doubt know what kinds of bands they like – this may even have been what brought you together in the first place – so keep an eye out for when their next concert in your area is scheduled and book ahead.
Due to social distancing, seeing mainstream music live may not be the best option for Valentine’s day 2021. Have you ever considered that classical music is very underrated when it’s not piped into an elevator, and often possible to see performed for almost nothing? Finally, check out your local independent or community theater (not cinema, the one where flesh-and-blood actors perform on a real stage). The production quality you can expect isn’t stellar, but this doesn’t matter much unless you’re a total snob, and the ticket prices often make them an attractive Valentine’s day gift.
A Charity Voucher
It never hurts to show someone you care about that you care about other people, too. Numerous charities make it easy for you to donate any amount of money in someone else’s name. This is one of those presents you can give to the person who really does have everything.
Before considering this option, think carefully about whether the person will appreciate a gift of this type and is also passionate about the specific cause supported. The knowledge that their 2021 Valentine’s gift is helping to dig a well for some distant village in need may be heartwarming, but so is a cute sweater.
A Food or Drink Subscription
Everybody really, really likes something they wish they could afford more of: specialty cheeses, herbal teas from around the world, fine bourbons, hard-to-find ethnic ingredients, hot sauce, whatever. You’d probably fill their pantry with their favorites if you could…luckily, there is a much cheaper solution that’s nearly as satisfying: subscription boxes for almost any comestible you can imagine.
The Gift of Better Sleep
Is your partner unbearable before noon? Their not-a-morning-personess may have nothing to do with their personality: an estimated 1 in 3 Americans simply do not get the sleep they need.
A hectic schedule (raise your hands!) is part of the problem, but the quality of sleep matters almost as much as how many hours you spend in dreamland. Particularly if they often complain of being tired, consider some or any of these good valentines day ideas:
- Blackout curtains,
- Silk pillowcases (very comfy and much better for long hair),
- Melatonin supplements,
- A smart alarm clock,
- a white noise generator,
- and a bedside humidifier.
One Week of Frozen Meals
Some people enjoy cooking, some don’t, but everybody loves eating food they didn’t have to prepare themselves. Whether you’re a gourmet chef in the making or you generally stick to mac and cheese, your lover’s heart will flutter a little when they take a dinner you made specifically for them out of the freezer.
How difficult (and expensive) this will depend on what recipes you choose. In general, though, the more of anything you prepare at a time, the less work you’ll spend on each portion, so cook for an army and freeze some for yourself, too.
Couples’ Gifts to Consider for Valentine’s Day 2021
There are plenty of jokes and stories about buying Valentine’s day gifts that are really for yourself, like the $4,000 set of golf clubs for the wife who’s never played and never wanted to. Less diabolically, giving someone a box of candy and expecting them to share is kind of a dirty trick, as is trying to use Valentine’s day 2021 as an opportunity to convert your lover to a hobby you like.
Notwithstanding all the above, it is possible to get a present that’s really for both of you: either a thing you’ll both get some use out of or an activity that will bring you closer together while having fun.
Order a Tasting Menu at a High-End Restaurant
Do you eat to live, or live to eat? Regardless, you probably pay at least a little attention to value for money when browsing a restaurant’s menu – how much food are you actually getting? Just for one night, throw this approach out of the window and enjoy a tasting menu that showcases the culinary skill and distinctive flavors of an expensive restaurant (you may need to book in advance to order this).
Just don’t go on Valentine’s day 2021 itself, just presenting him or her with the reservation and browsing through the menu together is enough on that day. Actually visiting the restaurant a week or even a day after Cupid-fever has passed will save you big bucks.
Poetry Fridge Magnets for Messages
It’s probably not how Keats got his start, but word magnets that stick to the refrigerator allow anyone to spend an idle minute composing their own ditties. You can search for a magnet set with a romantic theme, but for a special Valentine’s day gift you may also want to look into getting a custom set made.
This way, you can have tiles of your favorite places and activities, names of your cherished (and less cherished) friends and relatives, household chores you love to bicker over, and all your favorite foods. Just remember that this kind of couples-orientated gift only works if you use it, so make a point of letting your inner wordsmith shine.
A Special Memorial of the Two of You
You may be surprised at what kind of custom printing you can get done online. You could, for instance, email a photo of the two of you to someone and get back a wall-sized version that looks like a painting, rendered on actual canvas. Other ideas you can think about include matching pajamas you can wear when you’re apart, coffee mugs to keep both of you more cheerful at work, a star map of how the sky looked where and when you met, and corona masks with each of your smiles you can swap for a laugh.
A Romantic Camping Trip
The trouble with living in civilization is that other people are always getting in the way. Make Valentine’s day 2021 all about the two of you: even if you can’t afford a bed and breakfast on the weekend of the 14th, pack a cooler and double sleeping bag and head out into the wilderness together.
This obviously depends on how adventurous you are, not to mention the current weather in your location. If the two of you are ready for an adventure, this may still be for you: take along some LED string lights, a bottle of wine, a battery-powered speaker, a nice meal, and a few special surprises to capture the Valentine’s day mood. There’s always the chance that you’ll be uncomfortable, but getting out of your mutual comfort zone is always nice, as is having to rely on each other for some things other than passing the chips.
A Couple’s Diary
One thing playing charades and looking for the perfect Valentine’s day gift teach you is that, however much you love them, you probably still don’t know all there is to know about your significant other. There’s no single way to magically remedy this, but there do exist a couple of tools that can help to bring you closer together.
One of these is a couple’s diary: a journal where you write to one another instead of your future selves. How you want to set this up is up to you: you could buy one with writing prompts already printed for both of you, for instance, or take turns picking topics like “When it’s hard for me to apologize” or “My happiest place in the world.” With a system like this, both of you can take a whole day thinking about the answer, providing you with another way of communicating.
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Remember that giving a Valentine’s day gift isn’t just handing over an object: it’s conveying a message from you to someone you care about deeply. Don’t just buy something and drop it in a box; every little special touch will make your gift feel that much more polished.
Engraving doesn’t cost much, neither does buying cute gift-wrapping supplies instead of the “Merry Christmas” paper you still have in the cupboard. If you can, include a thoughtful, handwritten letter instead of simply a card – this is Valentine’s day, after all, and while the thought may not be all that’s being given, it definitely counts.
Also, if you’re still stuck as far as a gift for Valentine’s day 2021 goes, you can always check out our gift recommendations from last year. Happy Valentine’s day!