Amidst all this hate it can be tricky to remember that we’re supposed to be approaching the most loving day of the year. Valentine’s Day: when everyone who has someone is urged to go and blow a load of money to prove how deep their love is. Or just to show that they’re able to remember an arbitrary date. Or because there was a 2-for-1 offer on heart-shaped chocolates and they simply couldn’t resist. In my line of work, I’m generally expected to write something Valentines-y, ideally with a selection of unique Valentine’s Day gifts with which to surprise your loved ones.
Chocolates/roses/teddy bears/lingerie/sex toys are so frequently recommended as Valentine’s gifts, the chances of them actually being surprising to your partner are basically zero. What’s more, some of those categories (lingerie and sex toys primarily) are only ever likely to surprise if you buy something so wacky and ‘out there’ that your partner probably didn’t want it in the first place.
A partner once bought me the most beautiful glass dildo as a gift. It was incredible and very much appreciated, but surprising? Hell no. He wouldn’t have bought it for me if he didn’t know I’d been lusting after one like a dog in heat.
So. Want to actually surprise your partner? Pick up one of these genuinely unique Valentine’s Day gifts.
Genuinely unique Valentine’s Day gifts that I cobbled together to make some #content
A 6 foot inflatable T-rex
There is nothing more surprising than finding a T-rex in your kitchen.
A gift voucher to have your loved-one’s car serviced
I include this only because a) it’s an actual thing you can buy and b) I don’t have a car, so in my mind I imagine any kind of car repair/servicing/maintenance to be so wildly expensive that it falls into the same ‘push the boat out for your loved one’ category as tea at the Ritz.
A McDonalds Happy Meal
Cheap, cheerful, and unless their previous relationships have been with the Hamburglar himself, chances are this will be a genuinely huge surprise.
The lives of 100 children
It’s not creepy, honest. For a for less than the price of a dozen roses at Marks and Spencer, you could buy 100 vaccines and literally protect 100 actual real life children from polio. Yeah, I know I sound worthy as fuck, but this has less to do with my worthiness than my love of bargains.
100 lives. £13. THIRTEEN POUNDS. Amazing. Although I guess not a truly unique Valentine’s gift if I’m buying one too.
An overwhelming sense of dread
If you’ve both agreed not to buy each other Valentine’s presents, then surely the most unique Valentine’s Day gift is that creeping sense of dread when someone tells you that they ignored the rules and bought you something anyway. The panic as they reach for whatever it is! The guilty feeling that you should have done the same! This sense of dread can be achieved for relatively little money, although I can’t speak to the human cost.
Remember that Carol-Ann Duffy poem about how love is like an onion? Someone genuinely once gave me an onion on Valentine’s Day, and it was incredible. Also incredibly cheap. And you can use it to make casserole!
Whatever they would normally buy, but wrapped in a special bow
My favourite Valentine’s Day gift is the one that requires almost no preparation at all. It screams ‘casual elegance’ and ‘understanding of my partner’s needs.’ It’s also – because my partner has very simple needs – essentially consists of me ordering a pizza then sticking a bow on it. And to be honest I could probably dispense with the bow.
Valentine’s Day is like sex
I realise this post might sound dismissive of Valentine’s Day, so for those of you who love doing it I hope you have an incredible time and get to do all the sharing and romance and shagging that your hearts desire. But I have become desperately jaded by the whole affair – and I was pretty damn jaded to start with. These days it’s not just red cards in supermarkets and adverts that induce you to buy flowers, Valentine’s also marks 50 Shades film releases and increasingly passive-aggressive (or just downright aggressive) marketing.
This week I genuinely received an email with this subject line:
Book now to avoid heartbreak this Valentine’s
I get what they mean – they think you’ll be heartbroken if you arrive at the restaurant and get turned away without a reservation – but it still doesn’t sit well with me. It still plays into the idea that failure to properly ‘do’ Valentine’s is a relationship dealbreaker. Add to that the pressure to find unique Valentine’s Day gifts – ones which are suitably surprising/impressive/beautiful/expensive, and you’ve got a recipe for a horrible day all round.
I know most of you know this, of course, but I like to restate something similar at this time every year, in case there are some who missed the memo, or who are struggling to work out how to broach the subject with their partner. So for what it’s worth, here goes:
Valentine’s Day is like sex: lots of people will tell you how to do it ‘right’, but only you and your partner can decide what works for you. And many people would rather not do it at all.