17 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts (And Why You Should Avoid Roses)

Valentine’s Day.

That holiday that creates pressure to be uncharacteristically over-the-top romantic using red roses and chocolates.

Well, if you are ready to try something different you’ve come to the right place.

Here you will find enough unique gift ideas to get you through several Valentine’s Days and probably some anniversaries, too.

But first, please, no more cut flowers and roses.

I’ve been reading How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee and have completely changed my outlook on bouquets of flowers which just happen to be the universal symbol for Valentine’s Day.

According to Berners-Lee, a single, out-of-season rose (aka roses in February) effects climate change potentially as much as four and a half kilos of bananas being shipped from thousands of miles away.

Then if you think about the amount of land and resources being used to grow the roses; land and resources that could be growing food and you are talking a big impact in the name of romance.

And finally, when you actually buy the flowers, they are generally still wrapped in plastic that can’t be recycled.

Not so romantic now, huh?

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So, here are 17 alternatives that are still romantic, will last longer, and be more fun to receive.

1. Handwritten Bracelet

Write a special message in your best handwriting and Etsy will turn it into a handwritten bracelet. A sentimental gift that can last as long as your love. You can even order one in rose gold for a bit of traditional symbolism.

2. What I Love About You Journals

Along the same lines as the handwritten bracelet, this is a handwritten journal that will be not only romantic, but potentially hilarious as you get a chance to show off your drawing skills. Stick figures, anyone?

A fun keepsake that the recipient can look at when she needs cheering up or is missing you.

3. A Love Map

Another unique Valentine’s Day gift that will last longer than a rose, the love map can be any significant place to mark a significant point in your relationship- where you met, first kiss, first “I love you’s,” cities where you’ve lived together, and so on.

4. Star Map

Again, with maps, but this time-maps of the stars. You give a date and time when your relationship started and you will see what the stars above may have looked like at that moment. The moment was written in the stars. Cheesy! But so romantic.

5. Have Your Song Turned into Art

Maybe you both have a song that you sing together, a song that reminds you of each other, or a song from a significant moment like a first dance. Whatever the song have it turned into a beautiful, contemporary piece of soundwave art that will remind you of each other when you see it, but give you an earworm as well.

Not all gifts need to last forever as a keepsake.

Making your own hamper can be as individual as your partner. You can spend as much or as little as you want. You can make it themed. Think of it as a Date Night In, in a box.

The box or basket can be something you already have and use scarves for the base and wrapping.

Assuming you pick goodies your partner will use up, this can be a great minimalist-style gift with little to no waste depending how careful you are at finding plastic free items.

Good thing you have this list!

6. The Cinema Hamper

Put in a DVD (easily found second-hand with no packaging) or a picture of your online rental along with some popcorn, a candy treat for each of you, and maybe a cozy, recycled wool blanket to snuggle in on the couch.

Order some take-away so no one has to cook (unless you want to). And you are set for a night in. If you have young kids, you both know how rare this experience is now!

Easily turn the gift into a night out with cinema vouchers instead.

7. The Relaxing Hamper

Create a spa evening for two by putting together some rose scented soap, yummy smelling heart-shaped bath bombs, some massage oil and either scented soy wax candles or a diffuser with some essential oil.

Relax in the bath, exchange massages, and see where it takes you. No aphrodisiac necessary.

8. The Saucy Hamper

This is similar to the Relaxing Hamper, but with a little extra something. Grab a Gin and Tonic Hamper, or Prosecco and Clementine and throw in a small (or big) bottle of the real thing. A Saucier version of the relaxing hamper, but since you’re home, no one has to drive so you both can let loose.

9. The Chef Hamper

Making a meal together can be fun. Lee and I used to cook together when I still lived in California. We’d pick a recipe and make it together. For me it was an early lunch and for him a late T. But it worked.

Find a recipe and maybe handwrite it on a cute recipe card to keep and make again.

Throw in some ingredients and maybe a personalised wooden spoon and a couple of aprons, and you both can cook up some love in the kitchen. How and where you decide to eat it is up to you.

10. The Inner Child Hamper aka Sundae Hamper

Find a couple of cute soda fountain glasses, tall spoons, an ice cream scoop, chocolate sauce, and any other toppings of your choice and you can have an ice cream sundae party for two big kids.

Ok, so maybe we want to be a little more adult for this holiday. And maybe you want to get out of the house.

Memories make the best presents, can cost as much or as little as you want and- if they’re good ones-will last a lifetime.

So here are some unique Valentine’s Day date ideas besides a “romantic meal” for two.

11. Chocolate Making Class

Why buy chocolates when you can make them together and eat them together?

Potentially messy fun and a sweet experience.

12. Make Rings

Instead of buying jewellery, make it! This could also be an interesting way to “pop the question” if you are so inclined.

Already married? This could be a fun anniversary gift and then renew your vows.

13. Winemaking

Sampling your creations along the way could call for a night out as well or at least a taxi. Lunch is included as well as a tasting of award-winning creations in case yours aren’t as stellar.

14. Stargazing

Get away from the light pollution to spend an evening under the stars. Peaceful, romantic, and a chance to cuddle if there’s a chill in the air.

15. Surf, Pizza, and Prosecco for Two

What’s not to like? A beach day, pizza, and prosecco! Unique Valentine’s Day gift for the win!

16. Canoeing for Two

Maybe you prefer to stay out of the water.

So, working as a team to canoe a canal could be fun and if you have a large meal after, you can enjoy it knowing you got some exercise in as well.

17. Swing Dancing

Dancing is so much fun. I took ballroom dancing for a year and a half and all walks of life were in there having a ball. Give it a try and you may have a new hobby to enjoy as well.

Experiences are only limited to your imagination. It’s a thoughtful gift and memorable.

They are my favourite to receive. They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive- taking a yoga class, or getting a couples massage are great choices for getting out and doing something besides dinner and drinks.

If these particular experiences aren’t in your area you can search Travelzoo, Airbnb, and Groupon for experiences by region and there are tons out there!

Hopefully you have found the list inspiring and made planning Valentine’s Day a little easier.

Oh, and if you get a card, avoid the glitter so it can be recycled.

Let me know in the comments below some of the best gifts you received for Valentine’s Day? How about the worst?

3 Ways to Avoid Minimalism and Decluttering Burnout

Congratulations on making the decision to declutter and make your family’s lives ones of minimalism and simplicity!

Downsizing things, reducing debt, letting go of toxic relationships and overbooked schedules are all part of minimalist living and you’ll reap huge benefits from all of it.

But first, you have to get there. The question is, where exactly is “there”?

The truth is your destination is completely up to you.

Minimalism isn’t a one size fits all solution. Your definition of minimalism probably isn’t the same as it is for someone else.

Some people choose an extreme shift, (giving up cars, not having a TV, downsizing to a basic cell phone or not having one at all), while others opt for a more laid-back approach.

It’s an individual choice how extreme or moderate you go in your minimalist journey.

One thing’s for sure though – you have to start somewhere. That begins with purging the possessions and clearing the clutter, and that alone can be overwhelming. In order to keep your sanity and avoid burnout, here are three tips:

1. Make a Plan

You may think you don’t need a plan. After all you know you need to just get rid of things to clear the clutter and free the space around you of junk.

That’s true, but if you go into this lacking a plan (or vision), you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed, stressed, not sure where to start, and find yourself burnt out.

Instead, spend some time visualizing what minimalist living means to you.

Include your partner and older kids in the planning. It is so much easier to divide and conquer once you start.

It is also easier to stick to the plan and keep each other accountable if everyone in the house is on the same page.

Discuss your motivations for decluttering and minimalist living. Do you want more free time? Are you trying to maintain a cleaner home? Are you trying to save money? Do you want to help the environment?

Your motivations will depend on what you and your family value and may even vary amongst yourselves.

Once you’ve decided what you want minimalist living to look like for your family, you next need to decide how you will go about achieving your lifestyle.

Will you downsize your home? Cut back on your wardrobe? Spend less on Christmas and birthday gifts? Cut back on single-use products?

These decisions and others will help you and your family evaluate the things you can and can’t live without.

Once you have the plan, you’re ready to take action!

2. Start Small – Pick One Room or One Category 

The fastest way to confusion, chaos, and burnout is trying to do too much at once.

One approach is to take it one room at a time. Start with the smallest room first so you can see progress quickly and don’t move on until this room is completely finished.

If you follow Marie Kondo, she chooses to start the process one category at a time until that category is complete, like clothing.

How you decide to tackle the process is another decision your family will have to make, but once you decide, begin!

So how exactly do you declutter? This goes back to having a vision for what minimalism means to you. But here’s a general tip that is easy to follow regardless of how much you’re keeping or getting rid of:

Make four piles – keep, sell, donate, and recycle or repurpose. As you go through the room, or pile of let’s say clothing, every single item you pick up should immediately be put into one of those four piles.

Once you have everything sorted, get rid of the trash pile first because it’s the easiest one to let go of.

Then create a plan for getting rid of the sell pile. Consider how will you do it—online listings like Facebook’s Market Place, attending a car boot sale, or eBay are all great options. Mum2Mum markets are great for selling items for children under 5 (toys, clothes, baby gear, etc.)

Then move to the donate pile – load it up and drop it off at a local charity shop or wherever you decide to make the donation.

The Recycle or repurpose pile is something you can do together. Are there items that can be made into something else so you don’t have to buy new? Think cutting old towels into rags for cleaning, turning old shirts into bags for produce or pillows for keepsakes.

Then take your recycling to your local tip and get them into the appropriate place. Clothes in any condition can be taken to H&M in exchange for £5 vouchers. Schuh has started the same type of program for shoes.

The last pile, keep, can be set aside for now. More than likely you’ll need to go through this pile again to keep whittling things down. This is a good pile to implement Marie Kondo’s question as to whether or not your items “spark joy.”

I took what Joshua Fields Millburn said in The Minimalists about everything in his closet being his favourite.

That resonated with me more than the spark joy. Everything you own should be your favourite.

The bonus is that you are more likely to take care of your things if they are all your favourites.

3. Don’t Let Emotions Make the Choices

As you start sorting through your stuff, you’re going to come across possessions with sentimental value.

For instance, maybe you just found a box filled with your kids’ art projects from reception. Yes, they bring back fun memories, but what are you really going to do with that box of stuff after all this time?

Nothing.

I know this will sound harsh, but it’s true. Get rid of it.

You don’t need it, especially moving into a minimalist lifestyle.

Think into the future, when you are gone, what will your kids do with those items when they go through your things?

Will they treasure and store them until they pass it on to their children?

You can send things like the kids’ art projects to Doodle Nest where they turn them into cute coffee table books that you can keep and flip through from time to time without storing the actual projects.

There are plenty more ways to make mementos into keepsakes that you would proudly display and use rather than store.

Ultimately, what you keep and don’t will be up to you and your family and no one will come over and shame you for it. But if you get stuck refer to your family’s original plan and remind yourself why you are clearing the clutter.

Embrace the Process

The journey to shifting to a minimalist lifestyle is not going to happen overnight.

There is a lot of mindset reprogramming that will have to happen to make the changes permanent. You may find you have to do this process more than once and that’s ok. You’ll get to the point where it does become “just stuff” and you will realise just how much you don’t need.

Follow these three tips and you’ll find the process of decluttering and moving towards a life of minimalism doesn’t have to result in overwhelm, chaos and burnout.

Instead, these tips can help it be a less traumatic experience and help you and your family achieve the lifestyle you want to live.