This year, Americans are estimated to spend $136.57 on Valentine’s Day gifts, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. I am hoping that this amount is spent on something besides candy, cut roses, Pandora charms and giant stuffed bears because I think people can do way better than those clichéd gifts.
It’s time to think outside the gift box!
For introverted book lovers, give a year’s subscription to Amazon Kindle Unlimited. The book lover can check out ten books at a time from a collection of over one and a half million e-books. Remember to ask the new Kindle Unlimited fan what he or she is reading and pay full attention to the answer. A certain author or genre of particular interest can spark ideas for future gift-giving moments.
For book lovers who enjoy talking about books with others, give the gift of a Little Free Library. It is truly a gift that will keep on giving. Give the new LFL steward a supply of books from thrift stores and secondhand bookstores, a collection of totes or a beautiful bookshelf to contain the library stash or accessories for the little library, such as twinkling fairy lights, on future gift-giving occasions.
For techie geeks, give the latest techno gizmo he or she has been talking about or posting about on Facebook. Alternately, search crowdfunding sites to discover a cool start-up that mimics his or her interests and buy into the start-up in his or her name. The start-up will usually send supporters new product once production begins. Read up on tech items or search Google for future tech gift ideas.
For car enthusiasts, pick up tickets to a local car or auto show. Attend the event and ask the car lover which models he or she likes and why. Listen carefully for the pattern of likes for future gift ideas such as a coffee table book or calendar featuring the person’s favorite car manufacturer or model. An alternative gift idea for Valentine’s Day is paid admission to a driving school, such as Indy Racing Experience or Lamborghini driving experience. Sit in the audience, cheer on the car lover and take photographs to use for future gift ideas from a scrapbook to a photo mug to a beautifully framed candid shot.
For those who love food and possible cannot stop posting photos of their meals on Instagram, take the foodie to the newest restaurant in town for a long, enjoyable meal. Order as many dishes as the foodie desires and talk about what is special about each one. Mentally bank the answers to help guide the search for future destinations for dining out experiences or for the purchase of a cookbook featuring the preferred cuisine or favorite chef for another gift at a later time.
For pet and animal lovers, give a basket of toys for the furry, feathered or scaly friends who share in our lives, an encyclopedia of cat, dog, bird, horse or amphibian breeds or a care and feeding guide book about the favored pet. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE A PET AS A PRESENT. Picking out a pet is a very personal decision and should only be done by the person who actually wants the pet. Instead, take the pet lover to the pet store, purchase donations for a shelter or foster group and then volunteer together at the shelter after dropping off the newly purchased donations.
For people who appreciate plants and flowers, give an air plant which will grow in any inside environment, the gift of a tree or perennial to plant outside for years of enjoyment, an indoor herb garden or a house designed for mason bees to encourage local habitation and pollination. Take the plant lover to a botanical garden and set him or her free to roam as long as desired. Pay special attention to the plants that are lingered over as this can help in selection of future landscaping gifts.
For sports fans, give game tickets to a favorite team or to a favorite sport and attend the event with the fan. Share stadium food and cheer with enthusiasm to make the game even more special. Alternatively, give special sports memorabilia of sentimental value. For future gift ideas, frame the tickets from the attended game with a team jersey, give sports apparel of the favored player or team or purchase season tickets as a gift.
For theatre or opera fans, buy front row or aisle seats with a good view of a current show and attend the performance together. Dress up for the show. Arrive early to take in the people watching, to look at the architectural details of the theatre itself and to admire the stage. After the show, ask the theatre or opera fan what the best part of the show was and if there are any future shows that season that are of interest. Buy tickets to those performances or even season tickets and repeat this amazing gift again.
For art lovers, go together to a gallery or museum and browse the offerings. Discuss periods in art history, the pieces and/or the artists. Listen for what perks the art lover’s interests. If that style of art or specific artist is featured in a future show nearby, use that as a future gift-giving and relationship-building opportunity. Alternatively, take the art lover to a wine and canvas event and paint a work of art together.
For the sensual partner, take a trip together to the local sex shop. Browse the merchandise and select something together to try at home. Sexy scratch-off lottery-type tickets can add a level of surprise to bedroom fun. Books on topics such as Kama Sutra or roleplaying can help couples explore areas of interest in more depth at their own pace. Pay attention to sensual likes and dislikes for additional gift ideas.
It just takes careful listening to figure out a wonderful, heart-felt gift that someone special will enjoy or adore. Browse his or her social media accounts to discover what makes him or her smile or ask a close friend or family member for guidance and use that input to help narrow down the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day or for any day of the year.