Valentine’s Day Gift Etiquette

The annual February 14 celebration of love comes with hopes for new romance, expectations for relationship advancements, and the possibility of totally humiliating yourself, your significant other, or both because of a gift exchange gone wrong. This year, steer clear of blushing blunders by minding these simple gift-giving guidelines.


1. Beware of "we" gifts.

(Premade Date Night Scrapbook Page Layout, $14.95, Etsy)
(Heart-Shaped Fondue for Two, $13.95, Wrapables)

Sometimes gifts that require the giver's contribution or participation is really more of a treat to the person who gave it than the one who received it. If he's not into cooking, he's probably not going to go gaga over an apron and recipe book. Similarly, just because she happily attends Nascar events with you doesn't mean she wouldn't prefer a day of pampering as a gift. If you know he or she will adore gifts to be enjoyed by two, by all means, go for it. But if not, keep the lines drawn clearly in the sand and focus on gifts perfect for her and gifts that will make him smile.

2. Don't force romance.

Romantic gifts like scented bath confetti ($7.95, Wrapables) and chocolate body fondue ($15, Victoria's Secret) can be wonderfully fun-provided there's no pressure or awkwardness attached. If you're thinking of going the exotic or amorous gift-giving route, make sure you and your partner are comfortable with intimate activities. If romance is an uncharted or lightly tread area, go for tamer, sweetly romantic options.

3. Know your audience.

If he or she is a romantic, cheese it up. But if not, opt for something you know he or she will like. Girls, if you think he'd enjoy answering over 500 questions about careers, college, leaving home, parental relationships, raising kids, traditions and milestones, by all means, go for the lifetime journal shown here ($49.95, Red Envelope). If he's not really into self-discovery, opt for cutesy golf balls ($24.95, Personal Creations) or whatever else rocks his world instead.


1. Don't diss what you get.

Who cares if he didn't pick out a bouquet that speaks to your personal style or forgot that you like dark chocolate better than light. In this instance, divinity is not in the details. In the case of Valentine's Day, when the pressure is on and men may not be feeling amorous on-demand, it really is the thought that counts. Besides, the best way to get exactly what you want is to spell it out for him.

(Sweetheart Box, $15.95, See's)
(Teleflora's Heart of Hearts Bouquet, $39.15, Go Florist)


2. Keep your expectations in check.

Snap yourself out of daydreaming of little robin's-egg blue boxes tied up with white ribbon. This might not be your year to become BFF with Tiffany. One of the best ways to make sure you're not happy with what you get is to set the bar too high. Instead, give him a break-we're in a recession after all!-don't hold your breath for fancy watches and sparkly jewelry, and expect nothing. Then anything you do get will be a pleasant surprise.

(Tonneau cocktail watch, $75,000, Tiffany & Co.)
(I Love You drop pendant, $500, Tiffany & Co.)


3. Don't like your gift? Fake it.

The surest way to shy your sweetie away from Valentine's Day excitement is to find fault with his or her efforts. Regardless of whether you love or loathe the gift he presents, put on your sweetest smile and express gratitude and everyone will be better off for it.

Catch all of the gifts you see here and more fabulous selections in our Valentine's Day gift guide!

More from Kaboodle:
Warning: Your Perfume May Be Laced with Urine
Valentine's Day Gifts for Every Relationship Stage
10 Ways to Beat the Winter Doldrums
Gift Registries for Divorcees?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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