Ah, Valentine’s Day—the holiday that throws every coupled-off person into a deep, Hallmark-fueled panic as they desperately search for something that sums up all of their love into one perfectly-wrapped gift.
And while we might not know what that one gift is (although we have a few pretty good ideas), we definitely know what it isn’t. A.k.a. one of these 10 things, which are the worst gifts you can give for Valentine’s Day, from the cheesy to the cliche. But fear not—we’re also offering suggestions on what to buy instead so both you and your S.O. end up happy.
1. An oversized teddy bear
Leave the stuffed animals for the kids, please and thank you. Your partner is much more likely to enjoy curling up with this cozy weighted blanket than a creepy seven-foot tall teddy bear, after all. We recommend this one from Gravity because it’s super soft to the touch and provides just the right amount of pressure that’s comforting without being suffocating.
What to give instead: Gravity Blanket from Gravity for $249
2. Heart-shaped jewelry
PSA: You do not need to buy someone a heart-shaped necklace (or bracelet or earrings) to show your love for them. In fact, not only do you not need to, but you probably shouldn’t. Opt for classy over cheesy with something more along the lines of this popular Kate Spade initial pendant necklace. It’s personal yet understated and elegant—exactly what a romantic gesture should be.
What to give instead: Kate Spade New York One in a Million Initial Pendant Necklace from Nordstrom for $58
3. A candle
Sorry, are you looking for Valentine’s Day gifts or gifts for your Aunt Sue’s 70th birthday? Nothing against candles, of course, (we love the Capri ones from Nordstrom!), but they’re not exactly long-lasting or personal. A similar but better pick would be our favorite essential oil diffuser, which your partner can customize with their scents of choice and which has enough capacity that it can run for 11 hours straight before it needs to be refilled.
What to give instead: InnoGear Upgraded 150ml Diffuser from Amazon for $14.99
4. Flowers (and nothing else)
That bouquet of red roses is a lovely gesture but in a week (or less), all your S.O. will have left is some dried petals and wilted stems. Instead, swap out the fresh flowers for a live plant, which will last a little longer (like your relationship, hopefully). We tried out popular plant delivery service The Sill and loved the variety of plants they offer, how healthy said plants are, and the fact that they’ll deliver right to your door.
What to give instead: A live plant from The Sill starting at $5
5. Cheap lingerie
I understand—and appreciate—where your head is at here, but know that no woman will understand—or appreciate—it when they’re wearing itchy, too-tight, poorly-made undergarments. Your better bet in that department is one of these Instagram-famous Lively bras. When one of our editors put them to the test, she found the bras and bralettes to be both fashionable and comfortable.
What to give instead: Mesh Trim Bralette from Lively for $35
6. A night out at the movies
While there’s an exception to this one (looking at you, parents who need a night away from the kids), spending upwards of $50 on sub-par movie tickets just to eat sub-par popcorn (which will cost you another $20 a pop) and sit in sub-par seats isn’t exactly the most romantic of evenings. All of that money would be better spent on the streaming service everyone’s obsessed with lately: Disney+. You can curl up on the couch and watch all of your favorite flicks together in the comfort of your own home.
What to give instead: A one-year subscription to Disney+ for $69.99
7. Household appliances
Sure, they may really want a new vacuum or a new toaster. But February 14th is Valentine’s Day, it’s not a housewarming party. If you’re intent on a more practical gift, however, at least make it something the both of you can use and enjoy together—like a meal kit delivery service. Of all the ones we’ve tested, we like Home Chef the best because it has super fresh ingredients, delicious recipes, and easy-to-follow instructions.
What to give instead: Home Chef starting at $6.99/meal
8. A bottle of wine
Unless it’s the end-all-be-all of wines, that bottle of merlot is something you pick up on your way home from work on a Friday night—not something you give your one and only for Valentine’s Day. Take it up a notch with a boozy subscription service like Firstleaf, which will deliver a selection of vinos to their doorstep every month.
What to give instead: A Firstleaf gift card starting at $25
9. A generic gift card
Nothing says “I love you” quite like a VISA gift card you grabbed at the grocery store checkout line (along with a plain Valentine’s Day card, of course)… Even if you forgot about the holiday and it’s February 14th and you’re empty-handed, don’t worry. Rather than settling for a gift card, treat your partner to a sparkling clean home courtesy of Amazon Home Services. I tried out the new service for myself and my apartment is the freshest, most dust-free it’s been in months (so worth it!).
What to give instead: Amazon Home Services’ house cleaning service from Amazon
10. A cliche gift basket
All those pre-arranged baskets of soaps, candies, lotions, and other assorted knick-knacks are always the things that go on sale after Valentine’s Day—because everyone knows they’re awful gifts. If you really can’t decide on just one thing for your partner, at least get them a subscription box that they’ll actually use and look forward to month after month. One of our top picks for women is FabFitFun (which is full of beauty goodies) while we like Dollar Shave Club (all the shaving essentials you could need) for men.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.