Much like a marriage isn’t about the wedding and dating is more than the individual dates, the greatness of a relationship and the quality of the gifts given are not one in the same.
That being said, my now-husband skipped our first Valentine’s Day and it broke my little nineteen-year-old heart.
We had a long-distance relationship for a few years while Lance was in the Marine Corps; I was just outside of St. Louis and he was all the way in North Carolina, which might as well have been half way around the world for two broke kids. Since we had to be apart, I made something special for our first Valentine’s Day. I crafted him a very intricate, hand-sewn card and mailed it with conversation hearts in another language I had found online. He didn’t eat chocolate back then, so it was the cutest traditional gift I could find.
The days leading up to Valentine’s Day I checked my mailbox religiously; surely he would send me a card, I thought. On the phone leading up to the holiday I kept talking about how much I loved it and how I wished we could be together but since we could not I’d sent him something special. I was painfully obvious.
Valentine’s Day neared and nothing came—but since we’d talked about the holiday so much, and since Lance is so considerate, I was certain he hadn’t forgotten it. The afternoon of the holiday we were on the phone, and I was playfully asking where my card was when someone knocked on my door. I squealed in excitement, randomly certain I was being sent flowers for the first time in my adult life, and told him I was on my way to find his surprise. I answered the door, and a package sat on my mat. Was it a valentine from my far-away love?
No. It was a bag of filthy, mismatched shoes someone in my crummy apartment complex thought I may be interested in.
I was dumbfounded. And poor Lance sat horrified on the other end of the line, silent and suddenly very aware of what he (hadn’t) done. It’s hilarious in hindsight, but as a love-sick teenager it was painful.
In Lance’s defense, he explained he didn’t realize I’d care if I got a gift on Valentine’s Day; he said he’d been looking for something right but didn’t want to just mail me junk. (Or he’s a great on-the-spot liar, but I won’t question it too far.) Regardless, nearly a decade later he still goes a bit above and beyond for the holiday, likely to avoid that horrible silence ever again.
Here’s the point of my hilariously cringy tale of holidays past: it’s better to be prepared.
If you’re stressed, pressed for time, and generally overwhelmed, here are five great gifts you can find at the mall before your Valentine’s Day date.
No. 1: Kate Spade Rosaria Heart Sunglasses in Pink Gradient from Dillard’s
It’s the grown-up version of heart-shaped sunglasses I’ve been longing for! While I personally can’t justify the price of designer frames, if you want to splurge on someone this is sure to be met with a smile.
$160, buy it here
No. 2: Finley Shoulder Bag in Wild Rose from Fossil
It’s practical and pink—what combination could be better? (Oh, and yes, I do realize this is more expensive than the sunnies I said were a splurge. This is also a splurge, sure, but it’s also actually leather.)
$258, buy it here
No. 3: Kirsten Drop Earrings in Blush Pearl from Kendra Scott
I have these earrings in brown mother of pearl and they are a personal favorite. Do I also need pink mother of pearl? When does my Kendra Scott obsession stop being cute and start being weird?
$75, buy it here
No. 4: Mickey and Minnie Mouse Scented Tsum-Tsum Plush Valentine’s Day Set from The Disney Store
Speaking of cute obsessions… Imagine the great reaction you’d get for gifting a heart-shaped box of chocolate-covered strawberries, then add on the fact that the recipient can keep these ones forever. Enter this adorable Tsum-Tsum set! If your heart belongs to a Disney dork—I’m a lifelong member, personally—this is the right gift. Bonus points if you pair it with actual chocolate-covered strawberries.
$19.95, buy it here
No. 5: 3-Wick Candle in Mango Coconut from Bath & Body Works
A candle makes a great gift, period. I picked this particular scent for two reasons. One, it’s pink, which clearly fits the visual theme I was going for. Two, mango coconut is (obviously) not a floral scent. Personally, floral scents tend to leave me physically ill. If you aren’t sure of someone’s scent tolerance, go for fruity—in my experience, it has a wider audience.
$12.95, buy it here
Happy Valentine’s Day!