Valentine’s Day is approaching, and so is the pressure to find the perfect gift for your other half – especially if they’re difficult to shop for. As a result, many stores are stocking up on chocolate, teddy bears, flower arrangements, and other heart-shaped odds and ends. But that doesn’t mean that you have to fall into the trap of getting your sweetheart the same, redundant gifts year after year. To really wow that special person in your life, give them the gift of an amazing experience instead.
Tell your partner “treat yourself” with a pamper package
If your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse has been going through a straining time or you know they just need a break, giving them a relaxation-themed gift is a wonderful surprise that you know they will appreciate. No matter your budget, there are a ton of ways to help your loved one get some well deserved R-and-R.
If you want something more affordable, many beauty and wellness salons offer pedicure treatments or 30-minute massages for around $20-$40. Call to see if they sell gift vouchers, or schedule a surprise appointment. If you have a bit more to spend, consider buying a gift certificate for a full spa day at a hammam or therapeutic center. Many places offer full packages that include a mixture of massage, facial, skin health, or other relaxing treatments.
Go the extra mile and pair it with a gift of jewelry with healing benefits for relaxation that will extend long past Valentine’s Day! If your loved one is overstressed or overworked, this would be a gift they won’t soon forget.
Give them an adrenaline rush
Does your partner love action and excitement? Think about getting them a gift that will get their blood flowing, such as a voucher for a tandem skydive (or indoor skydiving for a risk-free thrill).
Depending on where you live, think about buying a membership to their favorite amusement park. If your partner has ever mentioned wanting to do activities such as bungee jumping or riding a few laps in a racecar, giving them a ticket to experience something exciting will surely put a smile on their face. If your better half isn’t a daredevil but enjoys a bit of a rush, some accessible options include go-kart racing, tickets to a mountainside funicular, or a day pass at your local ski/snowboard park.
Nurture their love for nature
For the more outdoorsy types, there is no shortage of gift options if you’re looking for a memorable experience. If your loved one is a hiking or camping enthusiast, you can purchase an annual pass for entry into all U.S. National Parks for $80. Or, you can reserve a campsite in advance for a romantic and adventurous weekend getaway. If they love a little more thrill, reserve a whitewater rafting tour (or a glass-bottom boat ride if you live within reasonable proximity to a sea or ocean). If they love nature but aren’t into “roughing it,” consider getting them a “glamping” reservation.
This would allow them to experience the comfort and convenience of a hotel while also being just steps away from the great outdoors. Other fun and easily attainable options include entry into a wildlife preserve, taking a forest tour, or riding a funicular to the top of her favorite mountain (and taking the scenic route down as a hike or cross-country camping trip).
Tune into their senses
Although maybe a bit less conventional, think about giving them a full-body treatment as a gift. If your loved one is into meditation or similar techniques, consider giving them a session in a sensory immersion tank or an ASMR spa. Or, look into sauna centers that offer packages that include a variety of different temperatures and humidity levels. If he or she is a foodie, reserve a meal and wine pairing; some even offer blind tasting where you are served either blindfolded or in complete darkness.
You can even give them a pass to create their own fragrance at a perfume-making workshop. By highlighting different senses, you can provide your partner with a wide range of positive effects such as health benefits and stress-relieving properties. This type of gift can be enjoyed either as a couple for a unique bonding experience, or alone for an added bit of reflection and introspection.
Get some hands-on creativity
Help him let out his creative side by giving an artistic gift that will give him a sensory boost, as well. Add some pizazz to painting by giving your partner a ticket to a boozy paint night, or you can even set up a balloon-painting studio at home (just make sure to prepare beforehand to prevent losing your deposit).
Another cost-friendly and easily available gift is a pottery or sculpture-making class, which is likely offered by your local recreation center. Go even more outside of the box with a woodworking or glass-blowing course. And, you’ll give them the added benefit of having something to take home with them. This is a simple but fun present that will let your loved one explore their creative side.
Catch a once-in-a-lifetime event
What better way to show someone how much you love them than by giving them something truly rare and unique? For a really romantic and intimate experience, reserve a spot to see something spectacular like the Northern Lights, a meteor shower, or a lunar eclipse. Rent an RV, campsite, or even Airbnb for a front seat to the action.
Although not centered around natural occurrences, other exciting events such as Mardi Gras, Carnival, San Fermín would create memories that your partner will want to talk about for years to come. If you don’t want to travel across the world, check out what might be going on in your local area. Whether it’s an animal migration, star party, or even a sporting event, you can find a way to spending your Valentine’s Day checking out something that you don’t see everyday.
Tie in a marriage proposal
Planning to tie the knot but you’re waiting for the right time? It’s not the most popular time of the year to pop the question (that would be Christmas), but Valentine’s Day is already a holiday that is based around love, tenderness, and commitment to your significant other. While the actual proposal is an event in and of itself, presenting her with a jaw-dropping ring will definitely tip the scales.
Depending on her personal style and preferences, there are a ton of ways you can set it up. You can plan a standard rom-com move by planting the ring in a glass of champagne, or you can step outside of the box for a more individualized approach. To really push the envelope, you can ask staff or service members (or a trusted friend) to help you out by taking a hidden photo of her reaction or playing a part in the overall plan. But no matter how big or small, a Valentine’s Day engagement will make the date even more special year after year.
Add the element of surprise
This is sort of a simple one. Who doesn’t love surprises? While most gifts are a surprise in one way or another, you can take it up a notch by planning a clandestine event in their honor. This can be anything from a surprise party between friends and loved ones or a completely different experience like spending the day at an escape room or silent disco. This is probably better for those who have a more spontaneous personality, but there’s something for everyone if you’re creative enough.
Don’t be afraid to extend the holiday by a day or so to add even more shock value, because he’s definitely going to be blown away if he thought Valentine’s Day was just the typical dinner and a movie. You can even recruit his friends or family to be in on the plan if you want some backup and extra support to make sure the surprise goes over smoothly.
Make it personal
If your special someone isn’t the easiest to shop for, really dig deep to find something that’s extra individualized for him or her. Is he obsessed with animals? Call your local animal shelter or a puppy-renting service to spend the day with a bunch of furry friends. Or, make a reservation at a cat cafe to let your loved one get their kitten fix.
Does she love a particular painter or artist? Check your nearby studios for special events or promotions where she can spend the night surrounded by her favorite pieces (and maybe a glass of bubbly or two). Your partner will definitely take notice of how closely you’ve listened to their likes and dislikes, which will win you major brownie points in the long run. There’s no way to make someone happy like showing them how in tune you are with their wants and feelings.
No matter how many Valentine’s Days you’ve already celebrated with your significant other, it’s never too late to shake up the routine. Don’t fall into the rut of your partner expecting the same thing time after time. Regardless of their personal interests, you’ll easily find something fun and interesting to do that will take the pressure away from finding the perfect material gift. Physical gifts are easily overlooked and forgotten about, but the memory of a mind-blowing and exciting experience will probably last much, much longer.