Valentine's Day is a weird gift-giving holiday. It's a bit too close to the overindulgence of the holidays for most people to be comfortable dropping large amounts of money on presents, especially given the cost of living crisis many are facing at the moment. More often than not, something small but heartfelt is best and bonus points for originality.
Sure, gift baskets full of the usual suspects (chocolate, flowers, plushies) are great but they're also cliché and unremarkable. For an impactful gift look locally and ask yourself, 'what are they interested in?' 'What excites them?' and from there.
We've put together a list of ideas that are customizable for that special someone in your life and can easily be found in local shops at different price points.
A beautiful edition of a classic love story
Independent bookstores are arguably romantic places to begin with, so imagine picking up a beautiful copy of a classic love story to gift your Valentine. It's poignant, shows forethought, and will have a story behind it (literally). If it's vintage, even better. MacLeod's Books on Pender and Richards is a great place to look for a characterful tome but if you need more used bookstore suggestions we have a list here. If for some reason you're against used books, there are tons of beautiful editions of classics to be found online too like these painted editions of Jane Eyre and Persuasion. Just keep looking until you find a version that fits their aesthetic.
If you're a crafty person Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday to show off that skill. Embroidery in particular is a great way to personalize any gift in an affordable way. Throw blankets and sweaters can be thrifted and then personalized with embroidery to make them more special. Consider incorporating their initials or even a romantic quote to make the gift more meaningful. If you're not crafty, embroidery is still something worth considering. Stores are increasingly offering the service when you order products like sweaters or pyjamas, though it's a more expensive option. Make Vancouver will embroider aprons, blankets, hats, patches, tote bags, and more.
Limited edition/pink liquor
If your Valentine is into cocktails, a limited-edition bottle from a local distillery can make a really special gift. If you have a higher budget you could pair it with a vintage coupe glass. There are plenty at thrift stores and that leaves money left over to have their initials engraved on the base. To really play into the Valentine's Day theme, Odd Society Spirits in Vancouver has released a limited edition strawberry version of their signature Wallflower gin which would make an adorable gift set with the glass. Other cutesy options include Amaro (because it sounds like Amore) from The Woods Spirit Co or if you want to make a spicy joke, Chili vodka from Sons of Vancouver distillery.
Art is always a good idea
Again, if you're artsy, make the art. If not, then there are a few options. Art is always a good gift idea no matter the person or occasion but when it comes to Valentine's day keeping romance top of mind is advised. There are several local artists at different price points on Etsy and Instagram who do portrait commissions in different styles based on photos of couples which is a unique and irreplaceable gift. If your relationship isn't there yet, head to a thrift store, local craft fair or gift shop and look for art that reminds you of them if there's an explicitly romantic theme (not necessarily in that way) then even better.
If you're going to give jewellery, do it creatively. This gift involves an experience and feels a bit more weighty than your standard bracelet because it's custom measured (it all comes back to custom) and welded around the wrist making it permanent. It's a good gift for couples who aren't in that stage where engagement is on the table but they're ready to take a step towards a bigger commitment. Do people exchange keys anymore or are we all jumping to living together to save on rent?
Regardless, Leah Alexandra and Melanie Auld are both local jewellers who offer permanent bracelets and you can turn visiting their beautiful stores into a full Valentine's date (make an appointment!).
Get a craft kit and do it together
This is both a gift and a date idea that isn't too expensive. Head to your local craft store and pick up a ready-to-make kit (yes, they're usually for kids but where's your sense of whimsy?) either one you can do together or one each. Pair this with a bottle of wine and you have yourselves a very entertaining night with a keepsake at the end of it.
An experience and a disposable camera
Experiences make great gifts for minimalists or people who don't like to accumulate 'stuff' and they support local businesses. However, it's also nice to have something to unwrap on a holiday so what about combining the experience with a cutesy disposable camera? You can get disposable cameras at most London Drugs stores but there are also cute ones to be found on Etsy or Amazon.
If you need experience suggestions we have a list of affordable dates in Vancouver, winter-friendly dates, first-date ideas, and all of the restaurants hosting Valentine's Day dinners.