If you’re thinking about what to give your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, it pays to think outside the chocolate box. Picking nontraditional gifts won’t just impress your loved one with your creativity, it will save you money, too.
Demand for Valentine’s Day staples (red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries and other traditional gifts) is sky-high right now, elevating the prices – and costs will only increase as Feb. 14 creeps closer.
The trick, therefore, is to find gifts that are still sweet and romantic but don’t have the same markup. If you’d like to dodge the expense of pricey Valentine’s Day gifts, consider these alternative money-saving presents.
Visit any flower-delivery site, and you’ll see the classic bouquet of red roses front and center – with an average price of around $40. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find daisies, averaging less than $30 for a bouquet. They’re just as thoughtful and come in a variety of cheerful colors, including yellow, orange, red and pink.
Traditional: Flowers delivered at the office
Alternative: Flowers waiting on the kitchen table at home
Even the most budget-friendly bouquets will cost at least $30 (plus delivery charges) if you want them delivered. Luckily, you don’t have to shell out for a flower-delivery service to surprise your beloved. A dozen red grocery-store roses can be purchased for as little as $10. If you do have $30 or more to spend, that money goes further at the grocery store, meaning you can upgrade to a more elaborate arrangement.
Traditional: Chocolate-covered strawberries or a fancy box of chocolates
Equally sweet and decadent, however, are cookies. Getting a dozen of them delivered from a treat-delivery service can easily be done for less than $30 (plus delivery). Your local bakery or mall cookie store, meanwhile, will generally charge you $1 to $2 each for fresh-baked cookies.
Traditional: Teddy bear holding a heart
Alternative: Nearly any other stuffed animal
When plush animals take bear-holding-heart form around Valentine’s Day, markups happen. The classic Valentine’s Day teddy bear will run you $5 to $15 more, compared to stuffed frogs, dogs and other critters of comparable sizes and even generic teddy bears without the red heart.
So pick up any stuffed animal and add some red ribbon for Valentine’s Day flair. Or consider picking up the heart-holding bear on Feb. 15 or Feb. 16, when the price will be reduced by 50 percent or more.
Traditional: Gift packages categorized as “Valentine’s Day” on gift-delivery sites
Alternative: Gift packages categorized as “Just Because” on those same sites
Many flower-and-gift delivery sites bundle treats and gifts together in a basket or box. But where you click can affect how much you pay. Gift bundles in the “Romance” or “Valentine’s Day” category tend to be a few bucks more expensive in late January compared with comparable bundles in the “Just Because” category. Packages in the latter category may not have the pink-and-red-hearts aesthetic, but the treats will taste the same.
Traditional: Fancy dinner out
Alternative: Candlelit takeout dinner at home
On Feb. 14, many restaurants switch to fixed-price multi-course menus that rake in more money than their regular menus. You can cut those costs (and still skip cooking) if you opt for takeout. By eating at home, you’ll also avoid the server’s attempts to sell you wine. Light candles or pick up balloons from the grocery store for ambiance.
Traditional: Fine jewelry
Alternative: Useful gadgets
Heart-shaped baubles are ubiquitous this time of year and make an elegant, traditional Valentine’s Day gift. But once you see the price-slashing that happens with these items on Feb. 15, you’ll realize just how marked up some of them are.
So go for “thoughtful” instead of “dazzling.” The Echo Dot, Google Home Mini, Tile keychain attachment and Amazon Fire Stick sell for less than $50. Your sweetheart will use them every day – and think of you every time.