It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a box of chocolates or flowers on Valentine’s Day: Some things are clichés for a reason, and who doesn’t love being the envy of the office when a surprise bouquet of flowers is delivered to your cubicle, or getting to binge-eat a massive heart-shaped box of sweets?
But flowers die, and chocolates get eaten. (Probably pretty quickly, if we’re being honest.) Even a gourmet meal, one of the cornerstones of the holiday, lasts only a couple of hours.
Luckily, there are tons of incredibly romantic gift ideas out there — gifts you can keep enjoying without an expiration date. We’ve scoured the web for the best of the best, keeping in mind that not all couples define “romance” the same way. For some people, nothing says “I love you” like a gift that literally says “I love you.” Others prefer the same message spelled out in other ways, like through an activity that can be done together, or an item that shows you really know their personality. Some people embrace their inner cheeseball year-round, lavishing their significant other with adorable gifts on a weekly basis. While others are really only prepared for this level of cornball-ery once a year, so we like to make it count.
We’ve read hundreds of reviews and picked gifts that suit partners at every stage of a relationship, from couples who have built lives together, to those who are still charting the fragile terrain between “casual hookup buddy” and something more serious. Do you live with your boo, or are they hundreds of miles away? Somewhere in between? We’ve got ideas for that, too. Below are our top picks.
Fill-in-the-blank love journal
In an ideal world, you’d tell your partner what you appreciate about your relationship on a daily basis. In reality, sometimes we need a little nudging. The What I Love about Us journal offers a guiding hand to those who want to tell their loved ones all the ways they make them feel, with entries like “We’d make the best ___ team ever,” and “I love how good we are at ___.”
Da Vinci Code Mini Cryptex
Sometimes the journey is the best part. Made popular by Dan Brown for his 2003 novel The DaVinci Code, a cryptex is a portable vault used to store secret messages. Though the default password is “iloveu,” the combination can be changed to whatever you want, be it a riddle or a reference to an inside joke shared just between the two of you. Once the code is cracked, your lover will pull it open to find whatever small item you’d like to put inside, be it jewelry or a secret message of your own.
Full of Love Blanket
It’s true that not every couple is ready to have their love memorialized on a full-sized blanket. If you’ve only been dating your significant other for a short time, there are other options on this list that might not come off quite so strong. But if you’ve had a long life together full of wonderful memories you’d literally like to curl up with, this one’s for you.
Chances are, the first kiss you shared with your partner had you seeing stars. Find out what the actual planetary bodies were up to that night with this personalized star map, which uses the date and location of your first kiss to plot out the precise view of the sky at the time you guys were first locking lips. The map is also totally customizable, so you can choose not only the message you want written at the bottom, but also the color scheme it comes in.
Blank Date Nights
You know what’s better than simply saying “Let’s go on a date”? Sneaking one of these guys into your lover’s purse, leaving it with their morning coffee, or just handing it to them as they rush out the door. It’s up to you to concoct the date ideas, but your partner will know that fun is afoot the second they see it. Guaranteed to provide a rush of endorphins every time.
Remember back in grade school how we were expected to give Valentines to everyone in the class? But when, if you liked someone, you’d maybe write something extra in theirs? Go way, way back with these adorable vintage cards, perfect for giving to a new boo, or better yet, the one you’re crushing on. Each pack comes with 15 cards.
Personalized fortune cookies
An extra-cute twist on the regular Valentine’s Day card, personalized fortune cookies are the perfect gift for someone you’ve just started seeing, but would like to see more. Each box contains six cookies, and can contain multiple messages of up to 30 characters per message. The seller warns that vulgar messages and profanity are not allowed, so save the raunchy notes for the cryptex. A single cookie option is also available for just $5.99.
The Love Lamp
Mood lighting is one of the most crucial components of a romantic evening, so it’s important to make sure you’ve got it right. This LED bulb (note the heart-shaped “O”) mounted on a cute red cedar base will infuse whatever room it’s in with light (and love). Stick it in the bedroom, living room, or any space you feel could use a lift.
Burning For You
Not every expression of love has to be flamboyantly written on personalized couples towels. This matte print of two people snuggling next to a blazing campfire is sweet but understated, and will surely be a welcome addition to any wall space, be it in your actual home or your cabin in the woods. After all, there’s nothing more romantic than staring into a campfire, even if it’s one that’s printed on paper.
Heart in a Bell Jar
You can’t physically give your partner your heart, but you can give them a heart in a jar. Makes a great desk accessory for your loved one’s job at the morgue, or a more standard office environment if spreading mild panic among coworkers makes them smile. The “Yours” flag stuck defiantly behind the left atrium should let them know exactly where they stand with you.
Love Grows Here Terrarium
Few things brighten up a desk like a terrarium. Really, what better way to bring life to an otherwise drab workspace than a miniature, lush ecosystem contained in a glass orb? The Love Grows Here terrarium offers all that, but with one special bonus: A tiny figure standing inside waving an equally tiny “I love you” sign. Remembering that you’re there—at least in spirit— cheering your special someone on will be enough to motivate them through even the most grueling day at the office.
Box of Flowers Soaps
Flowers on Valentine’s Day? Cliché. But flower-scented soaps? A totally acceptable twist on an old stand-by. The cool-looking soaps come in four scents — jasmine, peony, gardenia, and calla lily — and are made of natural ingredients and fragrances. Your partner will think of you every time they lather up. Or better yep, hop in the same shower and lather up together.
Few desserts embody elegant romance quite like macarons. Their history traces back to 8th century Venice, but it wasn’t until the Renaissance, when Italian pastry chefs made them for Italian noblewoman-turned-French queen Catherine de’ Medici, that they became inextricably tied to French culture. Today, they’re beloved for their pleasing appearance and refined taste. Surprise your amour with these already made, or don your berets and do it together.
Fondue for Two
Fondue — more like fundue, amirite? Sorry. Seriously though, fondue is by far the sexiest way to consume large amounts of cheese, and nothing screams “cozy cold-weather date night” quite like a fondue pot. This one consists of a sleek-looking ceramic pot mounted on a mahogany board, and comes with a tea candle and two serving prongs. Use it for the traditional melted cheese and bread dish, or warm up chocolate for dipping fruit.
Bellabeat Leaf Urban Smart Jewelry Health Tracker
You can get your sweetheart an activity tracker and you can get them a piece of jewelry — but why not get both in one? This Bellabeat Leaf Urban Smart Jewelry Health Tracker not only looks great, it also performs a variety of useful functions, including tracking steps, distance moved, calories burned, sleep patterns, reproductive health, menstrual cycle, and stress. It can be worn in a number of versatile styles, transitioning easily from a bracelet or necklace to a pendant they can clip to their shirt.
Kikkerland Dual Heart iPhone Charging Cable
One of the surest signs that you’re super into someone is letting them use your phone charger, even when your own battery is still critically low. Never choose between love and a full charge again with this Dual Heart iPhone Charging Cable, which allows you both to connect to a single power source. The heart shape connector will help you feel close to your SO, even while you’re both totally absorbed in your own phone screens.
Let’s face it: Long distance relationships are always hard, but falling asleep alone is often the loneliest part. While technology hasn’t gifted us with teleportation (yet), this heartbeat pillow from Little Riot has to be the next best thing. Here’s how it works: When it’s time for bed, you and your partner both strap on your respective wristbands, which connect to small speakers you place under your pillows. The wristbands send the sound of their heartbeat to your speaker, and vice versa, letting you both sleep feeling a little more connected. Aw.
The Date Crate
When the weather outside is frightful, the last thing you want to do is venture out into the arctic cold or torrential rains in the name of date night. Indulge your inner homebody with the Date Night crate, which delivers monthly boxes of fun date supplies right to your door.
I’m Nuts About You Keychain
To the outside world, this looks like a pretty basic keychain, but you’ll know what it means. Designed to crack your punny Valentine up every time he or she sees it, the I’m Nuts About You keychain lets your significant other know you won’t be bolting anytime soon. (Sorry, truly.)