Valentine’s Day can be costly. Last year alone, the average American expected to shell out roughly $144 on the holiday, racking up a national projected spending total of $19.6 billion, according to a 2018 survey by the National Retail Federation.
Almost all who celebrate the day planned to give their significant others something special—candy, flowers, jewelry, restaurant meals, movies, clothes and of course, cards. Gifts of experience are popular, with 24% of consumers planning to give one. More than half planned to buy Valentine gifts for other family members. About one-fifth intended to buy for friends and two in 10 planned to buy for their children's classmates and teachers and their pets, too! Approximately 10% said they were going to give something to give to co-workers.
Showering your sweetie with flowers, chocolate and/or jewelry doesn’t have to zap your wallet, though. We found lots of beautiful, budget-friendly gifts that will express your love.
For people who have little time to shop, flowers can be a great last-minute gift choice. And as an NEA member, you’ll receive a 20% discount when you purchase through the entire 1800Flowers.com family of brands. 1800Flowers.com, along with 1800Baskets.com, carries the freshest flowers and finest selection of plants, gift baskets, gourmet foods, confections and plush stuffed animals—perfect for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to log in and get your discount code here before ordering!
Don’t assume that you have to spend a fortune to get something nice, says New York City gift expert Rachel Weingarten. She also recommends 1800Flowers.com, which has lovely traditional bouquets and charming novelty items, with options to add extras such as chocolates, balloons or teddy bears. “You can always choose a traditional heart shaped arrangement—because sappy is still cool,” Weingarten says.
The company offers great ideas for Valentine’s Day including their Bunches of Love Tulip & Iris Bouquet that bundles 10 stems of rich red tulips with 10 stems of vibrant blue iris plus a teddy bear and chocolates. Or Keepsake Red Rose Heart Shaped Wreath at $49.99, a Sweet Heart Bamboo plant (starting at $34.99), or the Love Pup™ bouquet of puppy-shaped white carnations in a basket of colorful flowers ($54.99).
For something different, Weingarten suggests BloomsyBox, a flower delivery service that ships hand-tied arrangements containing a single type of flower (roses, alstromeria, orchids, hydrangeas, etc.) direct from grower farms to your sweetie.
Weingarten is a huge fan of Edible Arrangements because they combine “the beautiful and romantic aspects of flowers along with thoughtful and healthy fruits and treats.” For example, their Valentine's Day Bouquet ($79.99) is made of flower-shaped pineapple slices, grapes, strawberries and chocolate dipped strawberries.
To put your own stamp on it, “do something special with flowers,” suggests Lindsay Roberts, founder of TheGiftInsider.com. Gift wrap a bouquet in plain paper on which you’ve written the recipient’s name in giant letters, or give flowers in a chalkboard vase on which you’ve written a sweet message to tell your Valentine how special he or she is.
Roberts also likes the single and multiple flower arrangement from Blooms by Heinau which preserves fresh-cut flowers so they last 6 months and never need water. Prices start at $14.95 for a single flower (any color) Rose Keepsake in a glass cube.
Search NEA Discount Marketplace for sweet deals on chocolates and other treats from retailers such as Godiva and Ghirardelli. You also can get an NEA discount through Flowers and Gourmet Gifts at the entire 1800Flowers.com family of brands, including Harry & David, The Popcorn Factory, Simply Chocolate and more
Consider Harry and David's Heritage Chocolate Assortment ($24.99) of rich, premium chocolates includes dulce de leche and dark chocolate raspberry flavors. Or give your chocolate lover Decadent Chocolate Petits Fours ($39.99) a selection of 12 demitasse (or bite-size) cakes in Triple Chocolate, Mocha Bean, Almond, Truffle, Hazelnut and creamy Milk Chocolate flavors from 1800Flowers.com.
Weingarten suggests Moonstruck Chocolate Company for reasonably priced, high-quality chocolates that make beautiful gifts. “Even a $10 or $20 chocolate gift looks special,” she says. For example, their Critter Truffle Collection ($16) box of four hand-decorated truffles includes a milk chocolate lab, extra-bittersweet cat, ivory toffee mouse and milk chocolate bunny.
Another chocolate source Weingarten likes is Lake Champlain Chocolates, a Vermont company that makes all natural chocolates, hot chocolate mixes ($13 and up) and other goodies. Their Valentine collection prices start as low as $15 for the cute Be Mine Chocolate Frog, which they describe as “waiting to be made a prince” with a kiss.
If you’re looking for something different, Roberts recommends KohlerChocolates.com’s Rare Facets jewel-tone chocolates. A box of nine ($21.99) pairs dark chocolate with pineapple, sour cherry, cranberry-raspberry, blueberry, mandarin ginger and pomegranate flavors in bright colors. Prefer a more traditional look? Choose a 4, 9 or 32-piece box of bright red Dark Chocolate Hearts chocolate shell covered raspberry ganache with hints of champagne and cognac centers ($9.99 to $69.99).
Select jewelry that your significant other will love wearing, advises Weingarten. Consider it an investment, regardless of the price, and choose an important piece that he or she will enjoy each time it’s worn for years to come.
“Jewelry doesn’t have to include a ‘forever’ piece to be meaningful,” Weingarten adds. For example, she says “Etsy has adorable matching rings that speak more about the moment than ever after.”
For gift ideas, click the Gifts tab at Swarovski to find a range of jewelry selections for men and women, many priced under $100. If your sweetie would like a traditional heart theme, consider the clear crystal heart-shaped Alana Pierced Earrings ($69) or pink stone and rose gold One Pendant ($119), or give him blue and stainless steel Crystaldust Cuff Links ($99).
You’ll also find a selection of classic and stylish jewelry for men, women and children at Macy’s. Many are under $150, like the diamond-accent black stainless steel men’s Caravelle New York quartz watch ($125) or Charter Club Women’s Rose Pavé Gold-Tone Bracelet Watch ($37.50).
When you shop these retailers and other top jewelers through NEA Discount Marketplace, you can find discounts, plus earn cash back when you shop.
Before you splurge on something big or expensive, get a second opinion, suggests Roberts. Ask his or her best friend or a close relative to look at the piece you’ve chosen and tell you if it’s something the recipient will really like.
Tips for gift recipients
If your significant other never seems to know what you like even though you drop lots of verbal hints, pin your favorites on Pinterest, then ask your loved one to browse the items you’ve pinned with you, Roberts says. Or go to the mall together so you can specifically point out what you’ve been eyeing. “That takes the guesswork out and you get what you really want,” Roberts says.
No matter what you want to buy or receive, be mindful of your budget. If money is tight, opt for an outing rather than tangible gifts. Attend a free concert in the park, visit a museum, take a leisurely drive to a part of your home state that you’ve never visited before, volunteer at a local charity or shelter, or have a Valentine’s picnic on the living room floor. Experience gifts often are the most memorable, Roberts notes.
And this year, the National Retail Federation reports 24% of the people they surveyed planned to give their Valentines a “gift of experience,” such as concert tickets, spa services or art lessons, and nearly 40% said they’d love to get that type of gift.
“It’s not the price of the Valentine gift that matters,” Weingarten says. “It’s showing how much you care.”
Find more great deals through our discount shopping programs
Through NEA Discount Marketplace, you can search for member-only deals on a variety of sweet Valentine’s Day gift ideas from retailers such as Restaurant.com, Regal Cinemas, Shari’s Berries, Macy’s and many more.
NEA members also receive a 20% discount through the entire 1800Flowers.com family of brands, including Simply Chocolate, Cheryl's, The Popcorn Factory, Fruit Bouquets and many more.
NOTE: Information in this article is accurate as of January, 2019.