It's almost Valentine's Day 2012, and for those who haven't planned ahead, putting together a romantic but affordable gift at the last minute can seem daunting. Not to worry: here are ten free or affordable gift ideas for him and for her on Feb. 14, with little to no prep work required.
From more casual gifts like a free concert or a movie gift basket to romantic gifts like a handwritten letter and personalized gifts like a donation to his or her favorite charity, here are ten gift ideas for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day.
1. Flowers For Good: Flowers are always a good idea for a last-minute, affordable Valentine's Day present. But as a romantic gesture, red roses are somewhat overdone. Instead of just giving flowers, then, try checking out Flowers for Good, part of a partnership between Organic Bouquet and Global Giving. When you order roses, lilies and other flowers from Organic's site, five percent of the proceeds go to a charity of your choosing. Donation options include organizations like Amnesty International, PETA, the American Lung Association and Project HOPE.
2. At-Home Massage: A professional massage costs money, and often cost upwards of one hundred dollars or more. But there's no point in just kneading your Valentine's back and calling it a night. Make the gesture more romantic by buying some massage oil, lighting some candles, and even grabbing a few smooth pebbles for a hot stone massage.
3. A Handwritten Letter: In an age of instant emails, frantic IM conversations and near-constant texting, letter-writing has become a lost art. A letter to your Valentine letting them know how much they mean to you is something they can carry with them for years to come. Get some good paper, use your best penmanship, and personalize the letter with a lipstick kiss, a spritz of perfume or cologne, or just a drawing on the envelope that references an inside joke between the two of you.
4. Movie Gift Basket: Chocolates or a romantic DVD are easy gifts to buy on their own. Why not combine them to make a more meaningful gift? Pick your Valentine's Day date's favorite movie, their favorite candy, some popcorn and a good movie soundtrack, then put in all in a gift basket or bag. You can enjoy the treats (and the film) on Valentine's night.
5. Free Concert: Many colleges and universities offer free tickets to show throughout the spring semester. If you live a short drive from a college town, check out their web site and see what's available for the Valentine Day 2012 weekend.
6. Valentine's Day Playlist: Make a mix CD of all the songs both of you like, your favorite love songs, or of songs that have special meaning for the two of you (your first dance, your first date, your wedding). Make a few of them if you can--one for the holiday itself, and a couple others for him or her to enjoy as the week goes on.
7. Personalized Coupon Book: This gift works especially well if you're living with your Valentine, or if the two of you are married. Create gift cards that your date can use for the next week, the next month or the next year, from offering to run errands and cook dinner to giving them a foot massage or covering them with kisses.
8. Slideshow or Scrapbook: Take your favorite pictures of you and your Valentine's Day date and make a slideshow tying your lives together. You can send it to your Valentine during the day as a work-time surprise, or set up a projector in your home and play music while you remember together. Putting together a Valentine's Day 2012 scrapbook can also be a thoughtful, romantic gesture that's big on personalized touches and low on cost.
9. Sing Them A Song: It may sound ambitious, but when it comes to meaningful gifts, nothing says the thought that counts like being serenaded on Valentine's Day. If you can sing and/or play an instrument, impress your date by giving your own rendition of their favorite love song. If you're feeling creative, write your own, with lyrics meant just for the lucky recipient.
10. Make Dinner (And Dessert): Who wants to get Godiva chocolates when they can have a molten chocolate lava cake? And who wants to go out to dinner when they can have a delicious homemade meal prepared at home? Check out some romantic dinner options here, as well as dessert recipes and a Valentine's Day 2012 brunch.