Frugal Living 

4 First-Year Valentines Gift Ideas – Lower the Bar With Love

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RosesMy first Valentine’s Day with my now-husband, I received a gorgeous floral arrangement delivered at work, followed by dinner out and chased with 1/3 carat diamond stud earrings. We were young, had no financial commitments other than auto insurance, and had money to throw at courtin’.

The sad truth: Your first Valentine’s Day performance sets the bar for (what hopefully will be) years to come.

Whether seeking a romantic gift for Valentine’s Day or Hug Your Cat Day, try gifts that say, “there’s no where to go but ‘up’ from here.”

Chocolate-covered anything

This gift is as expensive as you want it to be. Find hand-dipped fruit from online sources from a local chocolatier or restaurant. Go even cheaper and bathe the fruit in chocolate yourself. Your Valentine’s not so sweet? Yes, Virginia, you can dip bacon.

This gift’s outlook for the future: I’m sensual and I will at least feed you.


Opening with a diamond is doable. But assume that she’s imagining bigger for every blingy purchase to follow. Look for something that reminds you of a dear or unique quality. Example: Answer her (or his) proclivity for Pirates of the Caribbean over-the-knee boots and rum, with inexpensive black pearl earrings.

Keep jewelry simple and understated until your wallet allows for carat growth. This packs the impact of the little padded box but doesn’t leave you buying the (gasp) engagement ring next.

This gift’s outlook for the future: You’re my Audrey Hepburn. She only got a rotary phone dialer in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, so you’ve got that going for you.


Alright, I guess. Overpriced and tired, roses won’t make this list. Worry less about the flowers themselves and instead concentrate on delivery or presentation. This does not make permissible grocery store carnations. Look for small creative arrangements with splashes of classics like tulips or hydrangeas. Then work the element of surprise. A delivery at work or school garners jealousy disguised in compliments from friends or coworkers, making her the center of positive attention from Negative Nancys.

This gift’s outlook for the future: Roses are red. Violets are blue. With this sensible arrangement, I’m helping you flaunt my love for you.


Tread lightly when gifting liquor and love. Champagnes, like Perrier-Jouët, sell boxed sets decked in satin like an alcohol coffin – alcohol coffins are wedding day expensive. Grain alcohol alone might send a disturbing vibe. But a basket filled with ingredients for a shared-favorite cocktail and glasses for two takes planning and makes grain alcohol okay, right?

This gift’s outlook for the future: I’ll heart drinking with you 4-ever.

While we shouldn’t celebrate each other only on these greeting card holidays, it’s still important to slow down and share symbols or trinkets of our love – even if the trinkets symbolize your everlasting commitment to frugality.

About Guest contributor Laura Pagles: I work and write for My biggest battle when prioritizing work, family, interests, and maintaining my own identity is remembering to slow down and stay frugal. I study the FatWallet Forums and follow our deal-hunting experts for Valentines deals that say, “I love giving you gifts, but we can’t forsake the mortgage.” Watch my posts for the tips and shortcuts I’m finding for managing a healthy and fun lifestyle for myself and family, while keeping my spending – and affliction for footwear – in check.

(Photo: luannhuntphotography)

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “4 First-Year Valentines Gift Ideas – Lower the Bar With Love”

  1. Marilyn says:

    Awesome post. I laughed out loud repeatedly. I’d be pretty impressed with black pearls but I’d also caution guys against starting too early with jewelery. How much will she pile up if you are together for 50 years?

    Flowers, such a waste of money. It’s my hope that readers of this blog (and the people they would date) would skip the Valentine’s Flower Extortion.

  2. indio says:

    We made a big batch of chocolate covered fruit recently. The pound of Callebaut chocolate set us back almost $10 but we had chocolate covered banana, apple, blueberries, cranberries and even dipped some spoon for use with mugs of chocolate. The treats were worth way more than $15 or so we were out of pocket for everything.
    I agree about spending money on flowers that are just going to die in a few days. I would much rather have something that lasted longer. Also, my garden is going to start blooming in a few months and I’ll have lots of flowers to cut and bring inside then.

  3. lostAnnfound says:

    Instead of cut flowers that will last a week, how about a GC to a favorite nursery so that when spring comes you can go shopping and buy a perennial that will remind you of your love for many years? Black-eyed Susans are my favorite!

  4. eric says:

    I think gifting “experiences” have always been the best for me. Going out, doing something fun together always leave a lasting impression.

    • Laura P. says:

      So there! I have a post about cheap dates that’s all about creating your own unique experiences rather than buying into some restaurant manager’s idea of romance.

  5. zapeta says:

    Yeah, I’ve built up unrealistic Valentine’s expectations the last few years, so I’m afraid this will be a letdown year and will reset expectations to a more normal level.

  6. billsnider says:

    I met my future wife at a valentine day party. It was her birthday also. We also got engaged on a future valentine day. So you can imagine the pressure of having to get multiple cards and gifts this has posed for me over the years.

    And yes, she was worth it!

    Bill Snider

  7. billsnider says:

    Hugs and kisses to all the girls out there on Valentines day.

    Sorry guys!

    Bill snider

  8. On my first Valentines with my now wife, I proposed! I traveled from 1400 miles away, surprised her, and then proposed on the lake. She loved it, and said “yes”! But, I don’t think I can really top that!

  9. Let’s face it: flowers only have value when they come (a) for no reason at all, (b) for a totally personal reason (like she’s in a play, or wins an award, or something).

    Great post. Totally rings true.

  10. Laura P. says:

    So general consensus is random for high impact or no flowers?

    Thanks everyone for all the sharing. Some of you have set the bar pretty high (but are darn romantic).

  11. Candy is dandy, but liquor is…not a good idea. (With apologies to D. Parker)

  12. Sarah in Alaska says:

    hm. I’m surprised original poetry didn’t make the list.

  13. Shirley says:

    When we first began dating, my husband sent me flowers at work. That made a big hit with me and my co-workers. Enjoyng my delight, he began sending them for every occasion imaginable… even Halloween!… and receiving them ultimately became commonplace and no longer special. Moderation and the unexpected are the keys!

    • Strebkr says:

      It sounds like getting the flowers in from of all your co-workers was the real hit there. Nothing wrong with your co-workers thinking he is great.

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