Stumped on what to get your lady love this Valentine’s Day? Do your gifts bomb year after year? This year save yourself a little suffering and figure out what not to get your lady Valentine – and what to do instead.
Flowers, especially red roses, are the most traditional of all Valentine’s Day gifts, which means that for the time being a bouquet that would have cost you about $10 back in January is holding steady around $25, and a really nice bunch of roses could cost you over $100. So I can understand why it would be tempting to get a dozen silk roses instead, but trust me – 99% of the time, they’re tacky, and “but baby, they’ll last forever, just like us!” will only get you so far.
Worse: Silk (or real) rose in a beer bottle.
Worst: Silk roses made out of lace underwear.
What To Do Instead
If you have to do flowers, make them real. Bouquets are great, and potted mini or micro-mini rosebushes will earn you points with the botanically inclined. If you really can’t do the dozen, though, or your lady is a plant killer, consider getting her a stylized rose, like this Iron Rose. Better yet, splurge for a Swarovski Crystal Rose Bouquet – it’ll cost you about the same as a high quality bouquet, but it really will last forever, and it’s sure to take her breath away.
Cookie Cutter Jewelery (Even With Diamonds!)
I’m not naming any names, but if you’ve seen it on a commercial a thousand times, it probably isn’t anything she wants. Just because the women in the ads make the “oh!” face when they open the chain-jewelery-store’s little velvet box doesn’t mean your lady love will. At best, it shows a lack of creativity (how many other guys saw that commercial and bought exactly the same thing, after all?) and at worst, it shows a lack of effort or understanding of her taste. Chances are, the kind of jewelery she wants, you cant afford, and the kind you can, she doesn’t want.
What To Do Instead
This is the big conundrum with jewelery of any kind – unless you know exactly the style she likes, it can be almost impossible to find that perfect something. If you’ve got your heart set on getting her a shiny rock, get a sense of her style by taking a look at the pieces she wears often – and those she never wears – and maybe enlist the help of her sneakiest friend to see if there’s anything in particular she’s been dreaming of.
A Heart Shaped Box Of Chocolate
Sure, it’s the traditional gift, but that also means that every box of chocolate in every store across the country is going to be hugely marked up for about a 7 day period before Valentine’s Day. Couple that with the fact that most generic Boxes of Chocolate aren’t anything to write home about and you’re looking at courteous appreciation – which isn’t quite what either of you were hoping for!
What To Do Instead
Better: If you really want to surprise her, but want to stick with sweets, there are lots of gourmet mail order sweets available this time of year. When it comes to chocolates, look for ones with high quality ingredients (the fewer additives the better, and look for ones that list the source of the chocolate) and artisan style finishing touches – like a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt or gray sea salt.
Best: For a real treat, buy a block of high quality domestic or imported chocolate from a specialty store, a nice Candy Thermometer, and make your own custom sweets right in your own kitchen, either together or as a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s Day surprise. This Recipe Book can teach you how.
Anything To Wear To Bed
Whether you go for cuddle-approved Comfy Jammies or barely-there Satin Bustier, the chance that it’s going to go over well is slim to nil. For something skimpy, let’s be honest – it’s more a gift for you than her. Even if she’s the type that loves sexy getups, let her make it a gift to you. Swing too far in the other direction with something you think she’ll find cozy and she might feel like you’re trying to cover her up on the #1 date night of the year. And in both cases, if you’re way off in the size (either too big OR too small), it’ll be even less flattering.
What To Do Instead
No, no, and more no. Vacuums, irons, toasters, even a brand new washer and dryer are all things that your valentine might need this February 14th, but I promise you, they absolutely are not what she wants. Valentine’s day is for romance, not practicality, and there’s no bigger buzzkill than thinking about dust bunnies and dirty socks. Now, before you go getting clever: a maid service isn’t a good V-day gift, either. Even if she’s stressed and worn thin with housekeeping, it’s a bad day to acknowledge it, and inviting others to clean the house could make her more self conscious and even feel like you’re judging her.
The Exception: If you KNOW she really REALLY wants it – whether “it” is an expensive new Stand Mixer or a set of Ceramic Knives, if your ladyfriend is someone who loves to cook but doesn’t treat herself to the latest greatest gadgets, Valentine’s Day can be an acceptable time to splurge for her – including a maid service, but only if SHE’S mentioned it first. Seriously, though, no vacuums – even if the one she’s got is belching smoke and like as not to drop dead at any moment, make it a hand-made-cards and inexpensive, creative date kind of holiday and give her the vacuum as a “thinking of you” in a week or two.
A Gym Membership/Makeover/Plastic Surgery
This is another well-meaning-gone-wrong gift category. You’re trying to say, I want you to be healthy, I want you to be happy with your body, I want you to feel good about yourself. She hears “You’re fat and ugly and I don’t like you.” Not exactly the Valentine’s Day message you want to convey. Even if she complains that her boobs are sagging, her wrinkles are showing, and she’s carrying an extra 5lbs, unless she’s explicitly asked (no, “do you think I should get a boob job?” doesn’t count), this isn’t the way to go.
What To Do Instead
Spa date for two. Not for one, for both of you – you’re going too, whether you like it or not (though you probably will!). Not only is it an excellent (not to mention sensual) way to bond, but she won’t feel like her looks are being singled out, and won’t wonder what you’re up to while she’s soaking in a mud bath. If you can’t afford a weekend getaway, have your own spa party at home with a Spa Kit. Just remember – bubble bath, facial, and foot rub first, then Hot Oil Massage.
Stop. Go directly to the doghouse. Do not pass go, do not collect any gold stars for effort. Cash or gift cards are just about the worst gift you can get a lady, ranking right up there with nothing at all. If you don’t know what she wants, make an educated guess or get something generic but considerate (see: nice chocolates). If you don’t want to sit in a restaurant on the busiest dining day of the year, make other plans – no I.O.U.s. If you do it right, she’ll probably enjoy a simple date just as much as (if not more than) an expensive one – but trust me, handing her a card with cash in it isn’t going to score you any points.
Ultimately, the best rule of thumb for finding the best Valentine’s Day gift – a present that will really knock her socks off – is to think passionate, not practical; romantic, not realistic. She’s already in the mood to feel like a princess, you just have to be charming! What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever given? The worst? Let me know in the comments!