Valentine’s Day is supposed to be one of the happiest holidays of the year - it’s a celebration of love, after all. Instead, it’s pretty likely one of the most disliked ones.
While the intentions behind the tradition are good, over the years, it has turned from a celebration into an obligation, with a checklist of movies, a romantic date, and a box of chocolates (and maybe a piece of jewelry) for a gift.
But Valentine’s Day can be fun, too. It just takes a little courage to make a few unconventional decisions. Stay in instead of going out, order your favorite take-out instead of planning a grand romantic date, or skip the overpriced flowers and classic chocolates for more unique gifts. Make gift-hunting fun and memorable instead of routine or stressful.
Here are 11 gift ideas for this Valentine’s Day that you should try to bring an extra fun element to the holiday.
Assemble a Cookie Box
Valentine’s Day cookie boxes seem to have become all the rage these days, but they’re far less prevalent than conventional Valentine’s Day chocolates.
A Valentine’s Day Cookie Box is supposed to play with a conventional cookie box look and tweak it for the holiday. It usually means that all of the cookies (however many types you choose) adhere to usual Valentine’s colors and forms: they’re either red or pink (or at least contain detail in traditional Valentine’s colors, like a red jam-filled center or pink candy bits), and shaped like hearts, flowers, stars and other items associated with romance.
That said while adhering to the theme of the holiday is good and all, it’s unnecessary. In the end, what matters is that your significant other likes the contents of the cookie box flavor and texture-wise, and not just as an expression of your love.
If they’re someone who isn’t particularly fond of trying new things or experimenting with flavors, you can simply go with the classics! Get a heart-shaped red or pink box (to stick to Valentine’s theme), but fill the contents with things you know your partner will enjoy. If the only cookies they like are classic chocolate chip or Oreos, then make a regular Oreo cookie box instead of looking for special gourmet cookies. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Swap Sweet for Savory
How about you skip sweets altogether? No Valentine’s Day chocolates, no cookies, no cake, etc. If your significant other isn’t all that fond of sweets, there’s no need to give them sweets just because the established tradition calls for it.
Instead, get that heart-shaped red box and fill it to the brim with their favorite savory snacks. Instead of cookies, get them potato chips and popcorn. Instead of candies, get them roasted nuts and pretzels.
If you want to up the ante and make it extra memorable, try going with more gourmet-grade brands, like swapping Lays and Doritos for Torres chips with their unique flavors your partner may not have tried before.
(This option works if they’re fond of sweets but they’re fond of savory snacks, too. But just to be on the safe side, keep their favorite chocolate bar on hand if that’s the case).
Choose Surprising Flavors
If swapping sweet for savory sounds like too extreme a gift for Valentine’s Day, but plain old chocolate sounds too dull, try switching up the flavors!
Luckily, we live in an era where finding uniquely flavored sweets have become significantly easier. Is your partner a fan of spicy foods? Try gifting them chocolate truffles with chili! Maybe they’re a fan of Asian cuisine - try finding some matcha or ginger chocolate.
Or, if you have the time and willingness to spend a little extra time in the name of being memorable: make your own assortment of Harry Potter’s famous Bertie Botts candy! Just get a bunch of truffles, hard candies, and gummies, mix them up in one box, and make a game of trying everything!
Sure, maybe some of the flavors will leave your significant other neutral or even outright disgruntled. But in this case, it’s the game aspect that matters!
Assemble a Thematic Box Around a Flavor
On the other hand, if you know that your partner is a picky eater and doesn’t like getting surprised when it comes to food, you can simply experiment with the form of the gift without risking them not enjoying the flavor.
After all, classic Valentine’s Day chocolates are traditional for a reason. Everyone likes chocolate. It’s easy to make people happy with it.
But if you’ve known your partner for a while, then you likely know what other flavors they enjoy. Maybe they always go for a lemon meringue pie when you order a dessert at a restaurant? Or perhaps they always choose pistachio gelato when you go for ice cream? Or maybe they always keep a box of strawberries in the fridge?
You get the point. Choose a few different desserts with their favorite flavor and assemble the gift box around them. It’s even easier when you consider that finding chocolates with that flavor might not be all that hard.
Assemble a Thematic Box Around a Brand
If you’re unsure about the flavor (or find working with one flavor too dull), you can assemble another kind of thematic gift box - one around the brand!
For example, maybe your partner loves Nutella. Get that heart-shaped box ready and fill it with various Nutella-filled items: a big jar of the spread itself, Nutella biscuits, Nutella snacks, etc. Maybe their favorite chocolate brand is Ritter Sport - go ahead and fill the box with various Ritter Sport bars.
You get the point. If you’ve noticed that your partner is particularly partial to certain snack brands and always keeps a pack of this or that somewhere in their pantry or fridge, then they’ve already done half the job for you without even realizing it. All you need to do is capitalize on them, giving you a hint.
Swap Classics for Unconventional and Exotic Treats
Chocolates and cookies are good and dandy for people who do like sticking to conventional flavors. But what about those who do like experimenting?
If your partner is always into trying new stuff, this Valentine’s Day is an excellent opportunity to expand their horizons (or, at least, attempt).
Maybe swap traditional gourmet chocolate (or add to it if you’re nervous about swapping) for traditional Japanese treats like dango and mochi, or up the luxury angle with classic French Marron Glaces, or go with something rare and unexpected like Taiwanese milk biscuits.
Let your imagination fly. If you look at a dessert and it decidedly DOESN’T scream Valentine’s Day, then that might just be the exact thing you’ve been looking for.
Go a Step Further and Make it a Prank (But Have Something Conventional on Hand!)
This option is a bit risky but may also have the best payoff. But just to be on the safe side, do keep a box of your partner’s favorite chocolates (or cake or anything else you know they will enjoy) on hand.
Make your Valentine’s Day gift a prank. Take the most romantic-looking, cliche Valentine’s gift box (all pink and lace) and fill it with something entirely peculiar and non-romantic. Now, keep in mind that for the gift to truly work, that weird and non-romantic something should still be on the list of things your partner enjoys. For example, if they’re a fan of spicy food, fill that box with the nicest-looking, glossiest peppers you can find. Or maybe they like pickles - fill the box with various pickle jars.
And, just so they’re not disappointed, place the “true” gift (chocolates, cookies, cake, etc.) at the bottom of the box, all covered up with the “prank.”
It will be something to laugh about, enjoy, and remember. A genuine triple threat!
Get a (Non-Standard!) Luxury Gift Box
Maybe you don’t have time to assemble a box yourself. Then you might want to consider finding a luxury gift box that goes a step further than just classic Valentine’s chocolates (though, again, there’s nothing wrong with Valentine’s chocolates!).
The simplest option would probably be a gift box with gourmet cookies, preferably from a brand your significant other hasn’t heard of but offers a broad enough selection that you can choose something that fits their taste. It checks off both points required: it would be an unexpected gift and still be filled with sweet treats more-or-less associated with the holiday.
But if you’re willing to take the experiment one step further, maybe you should seek out gourmet gift boxes that aren’t necessarily concentrated on desserts. Perhaps a gift box of gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, or a thematic gift box assembled around specific traditions or flavors.
Go with the Classics but Experiment with the Form!
There’s a reason why the classics became classics. They’re enjoyable by the vast majority of people. I cannot say I’ve never known anyone who didn’t like chocolate, but the numbers are so minuscule compared to those that consider it the best thing ever that the risks of a romantic partner not enjoying a good selection of luxury chocolates is close to non-existent.
So what do you do if you know that good old gourmet chocolate is what they’ll enjoy the most, but you still want your Valentine’s Day gift to be unique and memorable?
You shift the experiment’s focus: you stick to the classic and well-loved flavors, but you switch up the presentation.
One good idea that has gotten traction in recent years is the “dessert charcuterie board.”
It’s exactly what it sounds like: you get a board as you would for cheese and meat, but instead of savory ingredients, you assemble a selection of all your partner’s favorite sweets. Classic chocolates, cookies, pretzels, etc. - as much of it as you can think of.
And if you wish to sneak in a few unexpected options - well, the classics are there for your partner to fall back on if they’re not in the mood for experimenting.
The idea is simple: give them a new experience but avoid the pitfalls that may come with being overzealous.
Make Something Yourself
Is your significant other someone who values acts of service over material items? Is their preferred love language quality time spent together and not physical gifts?
If that’s the case, then take time out of your day to make them something yourself.
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. For a person who values acts of service, even the easiest and quickest cake or cookies would mean the world over the most luxurious gourmet-grade chocolate.
It would be the knowledge of you spending time trying to make something special for them that they’d value over everything else.
Put a little extra thought into the presentation, and you’ll quickly turn this Valentine’s Day into something memorable. And maybe even start a new romantic tradition that’ll last for many years to come. Who knows?
And Last But Not Least: Just Ask What They Want!
It may not sound particularly romantic, but sometimes the best thing you can do is simply ask what your partner would wish to receive for a present.
You don’t even need to be overt in your questioning: simply ask if they’ve found a new dessert they’d like to try or if they’re running low on their favorite chocolate. But if being sneaky isn’t working, be overt and honest.
Communication is the key to all stable, long-lasting relationships. In case you don’t know your partner’s limits (maybe the prank would upset them instead of making them laugh, perhaps they would prefer an assortment of classic milk chocolate over everything else, even if they’re down with experimenting from time to time), then it’s always better to ask.
Maybe it takes out the element of surprise from the celebrations, but at least you’ll know for sure that the person you love will enjoy their gift.