Wooing the love of your life (or your date du jour) doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Case in point: Our 10 best gifts for your favorite Valentine are all under $25. You may have to add a little charm, creativity and romance to the presentation, but the good news is that those are all absolutely free.
Here are MainStreet's heartfelt suggestions:
1. Butter up with baked goods. Heart candies scream “cheap,” but heart cookies? Trés chic! Williams-Sonoma’s (Stock Quote: WSM) exclusive set of dark chocolate butter cookies are stamped with messages like “Kiss Me,” Love” and “Flirt.” The sugar will be addictive, even if the relationship isn’t. Set of 9, $22
2. Serve up a surprise. Pamper your sweet thing with breakfast in bed, complete with mimosas delivered in modern champagne flutes on a slick serving tray. The gesture is so romantic, price won’t even be a consideration. Wanna kitsch it up? Stamp an English muffin or slice of sourdough with words, “I love you.” Toast stamper from FredFlare.com, $6; tray, $14, and champagne flutes starting at $3 each, from Cb2.com.
3. Say it with chocolate. If you’ve got trouble verbally expressing your feelings this Valentine’s Day, say it through an M&M candy, customized with your own message. Choose two shades, plus two lines of eight characters for both colors. You can say anything from “Marry Me” to “I’m Not Into You.” Bonus: You still have money left to buy a fancy container. Mymms.com, $18
4. Flower ’em with a modern bouquet. A dozen roses are predictable, rather formal and absurdly expensive in February. You can still shower that special someone with gorgeous petals for a fraction of the cost. Origincrafts has $6 mini bud vases, which means you can buy an assortment and still have enough dough leftover to fill them with little buds.
5. Clutch her with couture. If you can’t afford high-end designers, get the next best thing: their one-of-a-kind collections created exclusively for less-expensive partner stores. Our fave? The super-cool Brooklyn-inspired Hayden-Harnett for Target clutch, with chain wrist strap and attached coin purse. At $20, you still have $5 to slip two Godiva chocolates inside.
6. Ring in romance. Tiffany isn’t in your budget? Impress her instead with baubles she’ll want to brag about. We love Urban Outfitters’ J’taime Necklace, which is inscribed, “Each day I’ll love you more” in French. If that’s too much of a commitment, downsize to the equally fashionable (and affordable) rhinestone cougar ring with emeralds. $24 each.
7. Decorate him with arm candy. For the snazzy guy who dresses the part, give him budget-friendly bling that suits his style: cufflinks. CufflinksMan.com has varieties for every personality from clubs for the golfer and corkscrews for the wine lover to sailboat wheels for nautical types and even miniature grenades for that special someone with anger management issues—all for $25 and under!
8. Kick off happy hour. Tempt your amour’s inner-mixologist with a hip bar set in a seductive shade of crimson. We heart Pike Street’s 5-Piece Bar Set in red, which comes with a cocktail shaker, tongs, double jigger, stirring spoon and strainer. $19.
9. Cook over an open fire. There’s something very sexy about creating a meal for two over an open fire, especially when you can do it in your apartment, with one easy-to-clean pot, and on the cheap. The mini fondue kit comes with a small bowl, metal stand, forks, a tea light and a recipe book for 10 bucks, leaving you $15 for stuff to skewer.
10. Give them spa-aaah time. Take a load off their feet (and your wallet) by givng an evening of primping and pampering at home. All you need are some scented bath essentials, a few spa accessories, candlelight, and an invitation that can’t be refused. Try Bath and Body Works' red gauze sponge, $6; Bath Cupcake in a Box, $8 and Davies Gate Mini Powder Sugar Bath Soak, $9.
Bonus for the Beer Lover! (We just couldn’t stop at 10.)
Gift him a cold one. Greet your favorite beer aficionado at the door with a frosty glass of his favorite brew and you’ll win his heart forever. Try the funky recycled windshield pilsner glasses in a slight shade of green—they’re a great talking piece, easy on the wallet and perfect for car buffs and the eco-chic. UncommonGoods, $20 for two.
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