Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school when you would go around and give your valentines out to each person in the class? You’d pass out Smarties, mini Hannah Montana-themed Valentine’s Day cards, and little trinkets that were promptly discarded if they weren’t candy. Now, as college students, it’s time to step it up.
We’re starting off basic: chocolate and flowers. While generic and simple, it shows that you are thinking of them and is a relatively fail-safe gift. During the Valentine’s Day season, just about every store sells heart-shaped chocolates. Flowers are quick and easy to buy at places such as ShopRite and Trader Joe’s, starting as low as $3.99. If you get them their favorite flowers or flavor of chocolate, that will make the gift that much sweeter…literally.
When looking for small and easy gifts for friends, something to say, “I love that you’re my friend,” get them a gift card to one of their favorite stores, such as Rook if they’re a local coffee junkie or Playa Bowls if they enjoy delicious acai bowls.
Another idea is putting together a cute photo box of all the memories your friend group has made. Places like CVS and Walgreens have photo-developing stations in their store where you can print photos directly off of your phone or develop film from a disposable camera. You could even make these pictures into cute stickers and create a cute card with a nice heartfelt message.
Shutterfly is another great way to turn memories into gifts. They can print photos onto just about anything, from mugs and books to giant blankets and t-shirts. Shutterfly is free to sign up for and frequently offers discounts, making this a great resource for unique gifts on a budget.
Valentine’s Day gifts don’t always have to be pink and red or big chocolate hearts. Sometimes, experiences are the best gift you can give someone to make a memory with them. Whether it be dinner together, tickets to a sporting event, concert tickets for a band you both love, or setting up an at-home movie night with all of their favorite snacks, gifting experiences is often more special and fun for both parties.
Sophomore marketing student Megan Zennario stated, “I prefer experiences as gifts because they are more meaningful and memorable.”
You can also do many of these activities on a budget. Experiences don’t have to be super expensive to be special, especially when you’re with the person you love spending time with.
If you are looking for great gifts for guys, get their favorite cologne or an outfit that they would like.
Something simple but thoughtful would be to create a basket or gift bag full of his favorite snacks, drinks, and gift cards.
For example, if he likes sports, you can get him a new piece of team apparel or a jersey. If he likes the beach and surfing, you can get him new surf wax and accessories for his board.
If you’re looking for a sweet, considerate gift for your girlfriend, tailor her present to her interests. Get her books she’s been wanting to read or t-shirts featuring her favorite bands. Jewelry is almost always a safe bet, but make sure to double-check if she’s a silver or gold girl first. Little Words Project located in Pier Village has Valentine’s Day-themed bracelets that you can even customize with your name or initials.
Kaitlin Chillemi, a sophomore education student, mentioned, “I love getting heartfelt gifts and something that is unique to our relationship.”
When shopping for your significant other, it’s important to know what type of person they truly are and what gift they would actually like to receive. Take the time to think about their interests and things they’ve been talking about over the last couple of months to show that you are attentive and thoughtful.
If you want to get something more sentimental and meaningful, you could make a jar full of date night ideas—like going to your favorite restaurant, watching a fun movie and making popcorn, or having a beach day—or a jar full of reasons you love them. Another cute, expressive gift idea is to make a playlist full of songs you love listening to together or ones that remind you of each other.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spent $23.6 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts and experiences in the year of 2022. They project sales to reach $26 billion this year.
While many people think that the more expensive a gift is, the better, this isn’t necessarily true. It may be nice to spoil your loved ones every now and then, but just showing your love and appreciation to the important people in your life is enough.
For this Valentine’s Day season, get your person a gift they will love and remember forever, big or small. Having it come from a person they value in their life already makes the gift something special.