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Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts That Don’t Seem Last Minute

BY: Sarah Gorr | Jan 28, 2016

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It’s difficult to hit all the right notes on Valentine’s Day, even when you’ve miraculously set aside enough time to prepare. But what to do when February 14 sneaks up on you? Last-minute Valentine's gifts always seem so, well, last-minute, and nothing screams “unoriginal” like grabbing the only heart-shaped box left on the shelf. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of five romantic gifts that are quick, easy, and thoughtful, too.

The Usual: Roses

The Alternative: A Stroll Through the Botanical Garden

It’s hard to go wrong with flowers, but if you didn’t remember to place your order in time, you might get stuck with that last wilting bouquet at the grocery store. If your date really loves flowers, she’ll probably appreciate seeing her favorite buds while they’re still on the vine. A romantic stroll around the botanical garden lets you admire nature’s beauty while getting some quality time together.

The Usual: Dinner at a Fancy Restaurant

The Alternative: A Cooking Class for Two

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you suddenly realize you forgot to make a dinner reservation at his favorite Italian restaurant. It’s certain to be booked by now, so what to do? Don’t fret—just pick up a bottle of chianti or a plummy montepulciano and present it with a certificate for a cooking class for two. This way, you’ll avoid a mood-killing wait and learn how to make some of your favorite cuisine together.

The Usual: A Mixtape 

The Alternative: A Pair of Concert Tickets

Streaming services and digital downloads have effectively killed the mixtape, that lost art form that once demanded such time and thought. Somehow, presenting your date with an mp3 player just isn’t the same, but there’s another way. Flip through his playlists or music library to refresh yourself on his favorite acts, then score tickets to see one of them live. For a little extra panache, tuck the tickets inside the liner notes of a corresponding album.

The Usual: A Stuffed Animal 

The Alternative: A Trip to the Zoo

Ah, the stuffed teddy bear, that ultimate last-minute Valentine’s Day gift. On sale everywhere from the pharmacy to the grocery store, this gift is as ubiquitous as it is painfully unoriginal. Instead, take your loved one by the hand to see the real thing at your local zoo. It’s a nontraditional choice for Valentine’s Day, maybe, but it’s one that any animal lover is sure to appreciate.

The Usual: Perfume or Cologne 

The Alternative: A Beer or Wine Tasting

No two noses are alike, so there’s no way to tell if you’re choosing a scent that will make your date gag or swoon. Satisfy the olfactory sense in another (more delicious) way by going out to a beer or wine tasting. Together, you’ll learn to pick out the scents of hops and wheat or oak and cedar as you taste your way through your favorite local brewery or vineyard’s selection.