Even if Valentine’s Day is a "manufactured" holiday created by the marketing gods of the 1950s, participating in the tradition can mean a lot to the people in your life because, in the end, it's just an excuse for you to show them that you love and appreciate them. Now I'm sure you have already seen plenty of gift guides online, many of which, would lead you to believe getting the most expensive heart-shaped item you can afford is the best way to show someone you care. But people speak love in different ways, as proven out by The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (1995), that introduced the concept of love languages. It explains that there are many ways to express and receive love. The key is to give a gift to your Valentine that will be most appreciated by them, not just what you would want. So we created a gift guide that looks to these languages of love; Receiving Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Quality Time, as inspirations for gifts that will be a home run for him or for her.
If you are unsure of your, or your significant other's love language, you can take the test to figure it out.
Note: Items marked with a * indicate What is a Gentleman receives a commission on purchases made at that retailer
This is the love language Valentine's Day was truly built for. For the ladies that love gifts. This is where the classic gifts like jewelry, teddy bears, and flowers come into play. That being said, if you are going to bestow the lady in your life a gift, stay away from clothes as sizing mistakes can lead to uncomfortable conversations and feelings of being misunderstood. Instead, get her something personal, or at least creative. For this, we suggest jewelry from her favorite store like Anthro*, or a company that specializes in specialty charms like Alex and Ani*.
If your guy is the type of guy that really enjoys getting gifts, regardless if they are big or small, get him something useful. Sure a chocolate heart is nice, but spending money on something he can use more than once is even better. This doesn't have to be anything fancy, but something small like a casual watch is perfect because it will remind him of you everytime he looks at his wrist, and let you know he was thinking of you everytime you see him wear it.
If giving one gift isn't enough, we suggest going for a gift that keeps on giving after the red-colored holiday has passed. By this, we mean a subscription to something that will keep the giving coming over and over. For guys, we suggest something like Birchbox Man to keep him clean and looking good, and for the ladies, we suggest getting her a gift card for Rent the Runway so she can look fresh to death without having to commit to a single nice dress for the entire spring season.
Words of Affirmation
Words of Affirmation are a bit trickier to master than just getting the perfect gift. You also have to figure out the right words to tell your Valentine. For this, we suggest looking into personalized items that allow you to write how you feel about the other person, affirming your love. Companies like Shutterfly or Minted do a great job of personalizing items with custom quotes and photos you select, making these gifts truly one of a kind.
Everyone deserves a break and we find many of the women in our lives enjoy that break in the form of a massage. Not a half-hearted one you give to her most nights after she asks for it as you're about to go to sleep, but a real one done by a pro. This can be a solo endeavor for her or you can shell out for a couples massage so you two can relax together during a relieving rubdown. Groupon* is great for these kinds of gifts. Not only does it save you money, it also serves as something tangible you can give her to prove it wasn't something last minute.
Listen, it's no secret, men are fairly simple creatures with generally common needs. So for the man in your life who values physical touch we suggest getting him a coupon book of risque favors. These are simple yet impactful booklets of vouchers for you doing them favors either in the living room (back rub) or in the bedroom (no example needed). While it shouldn't take a booklet to treat your significant other, the gesture of giving them a gift will be sure to make them smile. Just make sure you allow them to cash them in!
Acts of Service
Guys let's face it, we don't always do what we are asked to do by the women in our lives. Valentine's day gives us a perfect opportunity to not only do what we are supposed to, but add in a little extra for the holiday to truly make it special for her. While you could take a page from the physical touch category and go with a massage coupon from a place like Groupon*, performing an act of service in front of others tends to make a bigger impact. For this, go for a surprise at her work. We find that her favorite dessert or food from her favorite lunch spot (that doesn't deliver) is the way to go. A pro tip, enlist the help from one of her coworkers so you can get into the office. However, if her workplace is super serious, this may not be the best option. Instead, set something up for when she gets home, have her favorite things presented to her and her house cleaned for when she walks in the door. Knowing you went all around town to get her favorite things AND cleaned will fill her with love and gratitude. If that isn't her style, then getting a gift card to a place like Sophora* or Drybar.com where you can gift her a session with a trained makeup artist or hair stylist can give her a pampering session that she will truly love.
Getting a gift for a guy that values acts of service isn't as tough as it sounds. The right gift for someone who values acts of service is essentially doing something nice for them. For Valentine's Day, it will be pertinent to do something holiday themed. For this, we suggest a surprise of sorts. This can be in the form of making his favorite meal unannounced, having his car detailed while you "borrow it for an errand" or simply doing some chore he has been putting off for a while and leaving behind a card saying how much he means to you. That being said, this is not a time to do something you've asked him to do over and over so he doesn't have to do it anymore. This can give him a sense of failure and is more of a selfish move as it will likely be something benefitting you in the end, not him. If cooking isn't your thing, and you don't have time to run extra errands, gifting him an activity so he doesn't have to schedule it is a good idea. For instance, a voucher for a Spartan Race* (which now has a 2 for 1 sale going on) or setting up and scheduling a whiskey tasting for him and his friends, which can be done professionally or right at home are great valentines day gifts
The quality of a gift for those valuing quality time largely rests with the giver. Knowing what your Valentine likes to do in their free time, and enabling them to partake in that activity with you can be the perfect gift for someone who values quality time over all else. In fact, adapting many of the activities we have already discussed like a couples massage coupon from Groupon, running a Spartan race together, or love coupon book can all be done with an emphasis on the time spent with one another. In addition to what we have already gone over, we find that joint learning experiences are the greatest gifts for the "quality timers." This includes partaking in joint lessons or activities that point you both towards a common goal, like cooking, or working out. For those into cooking with their valentine, there are two great options: Option one, get your partner a Hello Fresh* subscription and set up dedicated weekly partner time to learn how to make new meals together at home, or Option two, go to a local cooking lesson purveyor for a fun night out where you are learning together with proper instruction. For those looking to connect on a more physical level, purchasing yoga class passes are a great way to share a meaningful experience. This can be done at your local yoga studio, or if you are shy or don't want to be in a room of advanced yogi's while you try it out for the first time, there are great online packages you can buy for the two of you through websites like Yoga Download* or My Yoga Works*.
When All Else Fails
Some people just want the classics. If your Valentine is really into the simple card, flowers, and chocolate kind of Valentine's Day, then the suggestion here is easy, go to your local drug store for a card, and hit up Sherries Berries* for the rest. They make great chocolate covered strawberries and have a variety of other sweet treats that she will definitely dig. This is also a great Valentine's Day gift for your first Valentine, your Mom. DO NOT FORGET YOUR MOM! Pro Tip: Order these ASAP as the delivery deadline is getting pretty close!
If nothing we have recommended so far really seems to strike you as something the guy in your life would like, you really can't go wrong with going with him to a movie he wants to see and/or giving him a shoulder massage unannounced and without the expectation of reciprocation. Because every guy needs to escape and release some tension every now and then.