I love flowers as much as the next girl and while I don’t have a sweet tooth, I certainly appreciate a hunk of fine dark chocolate. What I don’t appreciate is someone giving me a gift because they felt obligated to do so rather than a gesture that was thoughtful and genuine.

Rushing last minute to pick up a bunch of clich├ęd red roses and over processed chocolate is not loving or romantic. It reeks carelessness and forced sentiment.

This year I thought I’d share some of my ideas for meaningful Valentine’s gifts for both sexes, for those who partake in the Valentine’s tradition. Meaningful doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money, or even any money at all. Hopefully my list gives you a good range to cover various budgets and sentiments.

  1. Full Body Massage By You. This is a no-brainer. Most people love a relaxing, warm massage and who better to get one from than the one you love? Put effort and time into this one to make it memorable. Get those non-toxic candles, prep the room you’ll be using and choose soothing music.

  2. High Quality Kitchenware. Nothing says love like giving the gift of home cooked meals or healthy smoothies to the foodies or health-conscious folks you love. If your budget happens to allow for the best kitchenware in the world, these are some of the best and thoughtful gifts you could give. From cookware that will last generations to a blender that will make healthy eating and drinking a breeze to time-saving appliances, these are my top picks.
    Le Creuset
    KitchenAid
    Blendtec
    Cuisinart

  3. Home Cooked Gourmet Meal. Speaking of the aforementioned love through food, I can’t think of a sane person who would not greatly appreciate a well thought out dinner prepared by the person they love. Even if you’re not a seasoned chef or experienced home cook, with enough research and preparation, any competent person can put together a decent meal made with a lot of love. Start by thinking about what the person loves to eat and choose accordingly with your skills.

  4. Art. If you’re searching for a Valentine’s gift that will last forever and doubles as a potentially great financial investment, art is where it’s at. From small and quirky drawings to large and modern paintings, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few of my favorite artists:
    Mary Lonergan Art
    Veronica Yazmin Art
    Kevin Ang Bingkoland

  5. Surprise at the Restaurant. If you’re one of those people that loves going out to a nice dinner on Valentine’s, that’s great. How about adding a thoughtful gesture to the evening by dropping by the restaurant earlier that day to drop off that Valentine’s Day card, flowers, candy, etc. you were planning to give your loved one? Any good restaurant will be willing to hold onto those items for you and place it strategically at your reserved table so that your date will be oh so touched by your extra effort. 

  6. Pick A Gift Instead of A Gift Card. If it’s with genuine intention and doesn’t cause you to have a financial heart attack, there’s nothing wrong with giving actual gifts. However, let’s forego generic gift cards whether your intention was to gift a spa day, books, skincare, or a meal. Put real thought into the person you’re presenting the gift to and actually pick the gift yourself. If you want to gift a spa experience, you pick the treatment that you think she/he would enjoy. If it’s a book you want to give, then you pick the book. This is about showing your love and attention to this person, not about getting whatever your budget allows.

  7. Personal Coupons. This is one of my favorite all-time gifts that works really well for Valentine’s too. Whoever you’re gifting must have something in their life that they would appreciate help with sooner or later. Whether it’s coupons for free babysitting, a free home-cooked meal, a foot rub, an afternoon of helping to clean out their garage- anything that would make that person’s life better, easier or happier is a wonderful thing. 

  8. Togetherness Photos. Before you go jumping to conclusions about having to hire an expensive photographer to do a whole photo shoot, think of the friends and colleagues in your life. Chances are you’ll know someone who is a pretty decent amateur photographer (if not professional) who will either give you an hour for free or charge you nominally for taking a bunch of pictures of you and your loved one. Nothing says sentimental love more clearly than wanting to take and keep pictures of the two of you.

Remember, real romance is not all about dollar amounts and things that wither away after a few sunrises. It’s about giving of yourself, putting in extra effort and thoughtfulness. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3