Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and, whether single or taken, who doesn’t love a cute gift? Over the years, I’ve found some creative gifts—both handmade and store-bought—to express my love without breaking the bank that I hope give you some ideas if you’re stressing over that perfect way to say “I love you.”
For the homebody
If your sweetie likes a sweet-smelling home, try a Homesick Candle. Popularized by their United States-themed candles, the brand also makes occasion candles, including the aptly-named “Love” candle. With notes of sandalwood, plum, and floral, this candle is a no-brainer for a Valentine’s Day gift that can be enjoyed all year long! You also can’t go wrong with Target’s Magnolia line candles—my personal favorites to gift are the Cedar Magnolia and Sugared Birch scents, which can quickly fill your honey’s home with woodsy pine scents.
For the writer
For me, writing is the easiest way to express my affection for someone. Give me some beautiful stationery, a pen, and a little bit of time, and the words begin flowing. It can be fun to give a set of thoughtful notes: there’s nothing easier than writing a couple sentences a day, although this gift requires a little preparation. Pick a length of time you want to commit to writing a note a day to your loved one. It could be a week, a month, or even a year. Grab a pack of index cards (I prefer the pastel-colored ones), date one side, and write a little memory or sentiment on the other side. Present them to your beloved on Valentine’s Day—I organized mine in cute, matching recipe card holders, like this one. This homemade way of note-writing can be a sweet way to memorialize your love by the day for any occasion!
If you want a writing activity to do together, I highly recommend “One Question a Day” journals. Then, each day for a year, you both answer the same question. My boyfriend and I have the couple’s edition, but there’s also a “One Memory a Day” version that’s perfect for newlyweds.
You can also express your love through writing a poem, a story, or (my favorite) a letter analyzing your relationship “by the numbers.” Think of it as an “annual report” for your relationship: you could include significant dates that are meaningful to you, or maybe add up the number of trips you’ve taken together, or estimate how many meals you’ve cooked together, or how many days you’ve been together!
For the adventurer
Love can change over time. Maybe the first-year jitters have settled into comfort, or you’ve gotten into the routine of ordering sushi for date night every Friday. If you’re stuck on date ideas for you and your guy, check out the 100 Dates Scratch Off Poster. Each square reveals a new date idea—they range from simple activities, such as a picnic in the park, to some that require more planning, like horseback riding. Plus, once you’ve checked everything off your bucket list, you can frame the poster and display it as a cute reminder of some great dates!
For the dates themselves, grab them a comfy picnic blanket—or even an entire basket (dishes included) to break out once the weather gets nice. Plus, you can never go wrong with this wooden beer caddy that has its own bottle opener.
For the music lover
Hear me out—keychains sound lame, like some kind of middle-school spring break purchase, but not a keychain like this. Memorialize your relationship with a custom Spotify-themed keychain. Customize this everyday reminder with a picture of you and your honey and a favorite song name. You can even specify the song length (which can be any number you want, like a meaningful date!), and more.
Maybe you’re a talented pianist, or maybe strumming a guitar is your passion. Try your hand at writing your loved one a song, or pick their favorite tune and write new lyrics (personalized to be about the two of you, of course!). Finally, you can whip up the 2021 version of a mix CD—a customized Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music playlist with meaningful tunes you can always play during a romantic dinner (or blanket-fort-making evening!).
For the sentimental
Maybe you’re less of a letter writer and fall more into the “collector” category, whether your mementos are movie tickets, pictures, or other little physical memories of you and your love. Pull everything together in one place and start a “love box”—a place you can both keep treasured items that are reminders of the good times. For example, last year I screenshotted a bunch of texts from my boyfriend throughout the year, then had them printed and put into a special envelope. Now he can pull them out anytime he wants and see the conversations that started our relationship. If you don’t want to get a whole box, try something smaller and cute, like a little tin mailbox.
For the photographer
Traditional scrapbooking can take a long time and a lot of effort, especially when curating perfect pages. And that can be a satisfying and beautiful way of memory keeping. But if you don’t have the time for that right now, don’t be deterred! Instead of spending hours on a special scrapbook or wrestling with online, digital-book formats, buy a simple notebook with lots of blank pages. This can be your “living” scrapbook for you and your beloved. If your photos are on your phone, go through and save your favorites, then have them physically printed at a nearby store. Add in pictures, one per page, with fun captions or memories scrawled underneath. This takes off the pressure of creating a fully-fleshed out scrapbook while leaving room for lots of new memories and photos to fill the subsequent pages.
For the artist
Does your man enjoy artwork? Is he a tactile person? How about something that reminds him of you that you can do together? Try a custom paint-by-number kit! Simply send in your favorite photo together, and this company produces a large canvas with a minimum of 24 paint colors. This is a great date night (or, probably, several date nights) activity that’s like multiple memories stacked into one.
If painting by number isn’t your thing, and you want to go a little “outside the lines,” head to your nearest craft store, and grab a two pack of canvases, some brushes, and some paint. Set up your stations facing each other, and paint the other person’s portrait! You can also grab heart-shaped wood plaques and use paint, stickers, or photos to create a cute memento for one another.
Even if gift-giving isn’t your partner’s top love language, gifts that express intentionality and thought will never be ill-received. With that, go forth and gift! Share the love—and maybe stow a couple ideas in your back pocket for years to come.