February is fast approaching, which also means that Valentine’s Day, for better or for worse, will soon be at our snowy doorsteps.
Before St. Valentine even existed, the Romans celebrated a mid-february fertility festival that involved the sacrifice of a goat to encourage successful marriages and agriculture. Luckily, it’s 2020, and these days, cards, flowers, and chocolates are totally acceptable substitutes for animal sacrifice. But don’t rely solely on the standard Valentines go-tos; these are okay as supplementary gifts (and certainly encouraged), but thoughtful, meaningful presents shared on this day always take the cake over impersonal, last-minute items grabbed in the check-out aisle when you suddenly remember what day it is.
Things to consider when picking out the perfect gift
The key to selecting the best present isn’t just about looking up unique ideas on Pinterest and picking out anything that strikes your fancy. You should expect to do at least a tiny bit of legwork in order to personalize your gift. I recommend asking yourself the following key questions:
- How can my gift contribute to having meaningful shared experiences as a couple?
- How can my gift inspire my partner to enhance current interests or activate new ones?
- How can my gift symbolize or create vulnerability, intimacy, and romance?
- Is my gift aligned with my partner’s values and ethics?
Experiences — not items — are what people remember. How can your gift contribute to a meaningful experience for your partner? Is it something they can use? Does it inspire potential? This could mean many different things. For example, you might purchase a nice journal for a partner who loves to travel, and encourage them to write about their journeys. Alternately, you might buy tickets for a weekend away to a destination that they’ve always wanted to go. The journal evokes promise of the adventures you’ll on together, and the weekend away whets the travel appetite! Both lend to meaningful experiences, either directly (doing the thing) or indirectly (encouraging the thing.)
What are your partner’s current hobbies? What are some things they’ve expressed interest in but haven’t actually gotten around to doing yet? If your girlfriend has mentioned on several occasions how fun it would be to learn how to paint, you might consider purchasing a small paint set or maybe go to an art lesson together. This might not seem all that romantic on the surface — but the very fact that you heard them, and remembered, is romantic in and of itself!
Have an outdoorsy partner who loves adventure? Nothing wrong with buying outdoor garb you’d think they’d like and look good in, or other items that evoke feelings of adventure. Cute hiking socks, mountain bike gloves, hand warmers, stylish buffs, pocket knives, snowshoes or thermoses are all totally valid ideas in this scenario! Hobby-related gifts demonstrate thoughtful attentiveness to your partner’s passions, and can have the dual-purpose of being practical and stylish at the same time.
Symbolism is perhaps one of the most powerful factors to take into consideration — so it’s no wonder that heart-shaped chocolates and red roses are so popular this time of year. But your present doesn’t have to be directly connoted with romance to evoke feelings of intimacy. It could boil down to gifting a favorite book that has great personal meaning to you; or it could be something to inspire nostalgia (either shared or individual to your partner.) Do they miss childhood vacations at the old family cabin up north? How about a pine-scented candle to bring back fond memories? Or maybe one day they were reminiscing about penny candy and bottled coke. The romance here comes in the consideration, rather than the item itself.
If your boo has strong principles, it shows great compassion to pick out a gift that aligns with them. That might mean going out of your way to find organic, sustainable flowers (instead of imported roses from South America). It might also mean prioritizing eco-friendly clothing lines who pride themselves in sustainable practices, fair trade chocolate, or supporting your community by purchasing unique artisan jewelry made by local artists.
Some ideas to leave you with
- Sushi making kit
- Your favorite book
- A vintage/special edition/signed copy of his or her favorite book
- Snowshoes or microspikes
- Hiking poles
- Mountain bike gloves
- Cute hiking socks
- Personalized binoculars with birdwatching book
- Stylish outdoor garb with hiking guide
- Stylish travel garb with travel guide
- Scented candle
- Funky flask and their favorite liquor
- Unique jewelry made by local artists
- DIY tea bags with personalized quotes, love notes, or inside jokes.
- Organic cut flowers from locally-owned florist
- Fair trade chocolate
- Personalized woodcutting ax
- Eco-friendly clothing
- A cookbook that you can use together (make that part clear!)
- Cards made by local artists and/or on recycled paper
- DIY “gift cards” (there are lots of fun ideas for this online!)
- Thermos or travel mug & special tea
- Yoga mat/meditation cushion
- Super warm cozy sweater with special hot chocolate
- A houseplant that represents your relationship
- Special incense or crystals
- Bathtub caddy tray
- Go to a Sip & Paint, a pottery studio, or other artsy class together!
- Tickets to the big game
- Take salsa lessons
- Picnic basket with pledge to go on more picnics together this year
Above all, have fun!!
Hopefully some of these ideas sparked your imagination! Remember, it doesn’t have to be shiny and expensive to be meaningful.
Happy Valentine’s Day!