Four inexpensive Valentine’s Day gifts that are better than chocolate or flowers

By Alan Miles

You want to come up with a gift that’s a little bit different this Valentine’s Day because you need to make the point to someone that they’re special to you. Chocolate or flowers let your valentine know you didn’t forget them, but they don’t say much else.

The key is to get personal. You don’t have to come up with a gift that no one has ever given before — just a gift that reflects who your valentine is and shows that you see him or her as an individual.

Here are four possibilities for meaningful yet inexpensive Valentine’s Day gifts:

1. A handmade card.

Have fun with paper doilies and construction paper, show off your artistic side, or simply find something online to print. But focus on the message. Think about what it is you like about this person and say it — poetically, if that’s your thing, or simply straight out. Think about how they make you feel and tell them. If you want to be lighthearted, include something that will make you both laugh. When your valentine gets your card, you want them to see not only that you like them, but that you know them, too.

inexpensive Valentine's Day gifts

A plant, like the ficus my wife and I planted together, is an inexpensive Valentine’s Day gift that endures as a reminder of your affection.

2. A plant.

While cut flowers can be lovely, the great thing about a plant is that it endures, often for years, as a reminder of your affection. My wife and I planted a ficus from a grafting we did in a plant propagation class we took together before we were married. Thirty-five years, four kids and four grandkids later, it thrives in a corner of our living room.

If your valentine is a plant person, take a little time to figure out what’s going on in their plant kingdom. Do they have preferences for flowers, foliage, color, kinds of plants (cacti vs. orchids), types of containers, etc.? (For many of us, difficulty of care is also a factor — one year, my wife bought me a nearly indestructible Sansevieria.) Do you see a perfect spot for a plant? Check the space and keep it in mind as you shop so you can find something ideal for that environment.

3. An exciting meal.

Valentine’s Day is a good time to try something that goes beyond everyday fare, so when it’s served again it brings back memories. The closeness you feel during a romantic dinner can become a touchstone for remembering your early feelings for each other. Although it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, I still remember the first meal my wife-to-be cooked for me — curried spinach pie in cabbage leaves. And I have to admit, whenever we have it, I get a little sentimental.

Find a recipe that highlights your valentine’s favorite foods and cook them a meal to demonstrate your affection. To help spark your creativity, you can search our recipe collection by ingredients, types of dishes and other criteria.

4. A massage.

How about giving a gift that helps your valentine de-stress? With a loving touch, you can give a massage your valentine will appreciate even if you’ve never massaged before. Since it’s for Valentine’s Day, you may want to explore the sensual aspects of massage. Just remember to keep it personal — everyone is different, and the success of your massage, as with other gifts, depends on knowing what your valentine would like. Follow their cues or, if you’re not sure, just ask what you can do to help them relax and feel good.

Whatever gift you choose, if you give something that says I’m thinking of you — the one-of-a-kind, totally individual, they-broke-the-mold person that I really care about — chances are very good you’ll have a happy Valentine’s Day.

What were some of your most memorable Valentine’s Day gifts?


About the author: A Frontier employee since before the co-op had computers (over 30 years), Alan explores ideas and issues related to a sustainable lifestyle — from cooking and culture to social and environmental responsibility. He enjoys Shakespeare, but not as much as college basketball. Alan is a family man, liking nothing better than spending time with his wife of 33 years, his four kids and four grandkids.

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