Uncluttered Valentine’s Day gift ideas

We’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day in two days. Haven’t bought your loved ones anything yet? Don’t panic. OK, maybe a little panic. You’ve got 48 hours! The following are some nice gift ideas that will express your feelings and keep you out of the dog house, all without creating a pile of clutter that must be dealt with at some point:

  1. Create an unexpected playlist. Many Gen-X’ers out there remember the labor-intensive, excruciating process of creating a mix tape for a loved one. The careful selection of exactly the right songs, placed in precisely the proper order to create a crescendo of meaning and feeling. Only the right mix of sentiment, fun, humor, and truth would do. And it all had to fit perfectly on a 60-minute cassette. The harder you worked, the more your recipient meant to you.

    Today, the process is less labor intensive (raise your hand if you remember holding a tape recorder up to the radio to capture a song), but just as meaningful. If your loved one has an Mp3 player like an iPod, sneak into his or her iTunes account and create a playlist of songs that speak to your relationship. Give it a fun name and sync the results to her device. Her commute to work, etc. just got that much more pleasant.

  2. Get the car detailed. My wife did this for me last year and I was elated. I keep my car tidy but I can’t get it anywhere near as nice-looking as a well-equipped professional can. Some detailers will even travel to you for on-site cleaning. While the kids did eventually track sand and Goldfish crackers into the car again, it was a nice few weeks before they did and extremely appreciated.
  3. Gather favorite photos. I admit that I still like looking at paper photos more than their digital counterparts. Holding a picture in my hand is nicer than sitting in front of a screen or even holding a tablet or a smartphone. That might be a function of my age, but I suspect some of you feel that, too. It’s also nice to browse a well-ordered album, and there are several companies that produce great-looking photo books. Shutterfly does a great job, as does Apple, if you use its iPhoto software. I’ve ordered several photo books from Apple and they look great.
  4. Get a landscaping consultation. I love “fiddling in the yard” as I call it but I’ll admit that I don’t really know what I’m doing. Last summer, I spent about an hour talking with some folks at a local nursery and learned so much. Most landscaping companies offer free consultations, so consider that if your better half enjoys gardening or landscaping. Also, check with local colleges, universities, or adult education organizations for classes in landscaping or really anything that will encourage an interest or hobby.
  5. Re-live a first date. In 1986, I took my very first date to see Jumpin’ Jack Flash. I’m not eager to see that movie again, but I suspect it’d bring back some pleasant memories if I did. It’d be great fun to take your significant other back to the restaurant, theatre, hot dog stand (etc.) that marked the beginning of your relationship.
  6. Digitize home movies. This one will take some planning, but it’ll be worth it. Many people have boxes of 8mm movies sitting around or old VHS tapes. The simplest method of digitizing them is to set up the projector (many rental stores will have one if you don’t) and a digital camera. Roll the film, record with your digital camera and then import it into your computer.

    When recording, keep these tips in mind. Make sure the room is as dark as possible. Position your digital camera on a tripod and keep it as close to the reel-to-reel projector as possible, so that the angle is nearly identical. Zoom into the projected image as closely as possible. Finally, manually set the camera’s focus, as the auto focus could have trouble in this scenario.

Happy (early) Valentine’s Day!

13 Comments for “Uncluttered Valentine’s Day gift ideas”

  1. posted by MayT on

    Simplest to digitize old films is use a service that does it. Much better quality and reasonable prices. I’ve use iMemories, but there are others out there.

  2. posted by A_nonymouse on

    My husband loves warm choc chip cookies, but not the traditional Tollhouse type. For this Valentine’s I’m making him a big batch of his favorite type, scooping it out and freezing. Whenever he wants a cookie, all he has to do is plop however many he wants onto a mini cookie sheet and into the toaster oven. In 10 minutes he’ll have his warm cookies.

  3. posted by Monica on

    I’ll take a box of chocolates. I promise that clutter will be gone in 10 minutes or less. :p

  4. posted by Leslie on

    We go out to dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date every year for Valentine’s day. It’s also the same restaurant we went to when he asked me to marry him. 🙂

  5. posted by Marrena on

    This was clearly written by a man. 🙂 Are there women out there who would be thrilled by car detailing as a Valentine’s Day present? Nothing wrong with the old standby of flowers. If a bouquet is bought and wrapped in nice paper, rather than a flower arrangement in a vase, the only non-compostable clutter is the rubber band.

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Marrena — I loved Dave’s suggestion for a car detailing!

  7. posted by ceduke on

    OMG I would LOVE it if hubby got my car detailed! He gets on my case about the cost every time I take it in myself, so I doubt he would. Maybe if I hint heavily… 😉

  8. posted by purpleBee on

    As Valentine’s Day falls in late Summer here in the Southern Hemisphere (the equivalent of early August for our Northern Hemisphere friends), my suggestions are

    Surprise your partner with a lunchtime picnic with their favourite finger foods. Or a beach sunset picnic

    Arrange a service for home exercise equipment they use

    If they have a craft/hobby, buy them something to organise or transport it. Or if its something like embroidery or paper art, book a framer to frame a work of their choice – because you’re so proud and want to display it

    And a cute one I heard on the radio, a gift voucher for 10,000,000 kisses

  9. posted by Dawn F on

    A shiny, clean, freshly-washed, great-smelling car would be a SUPER gift! Add a new travel mug to the cupholder and I would be delighted. 🙂

  10. posted by danielle on

    I’m also in the “I’d love to have my car detailed!” camp. Something I’d probably never want to pay for myself but would really enjoy if my boyfriend bought it for me. I’d also take a gift card for the car wash since that’s something I never seem to get around to, either.

    Actually, maybe I’ll just ask for a new car for Valentine’s Day…seems like that would be easier!! 🙂

  11. posted by A_nonymouse on

    @Marrena, count me in the car detailing love camp, too. It’s what I got for my last birthday–best present ever! Well, at the time it was the best ever.

  12. posted by Marrena on

    I stand corrected!

  13. posted by Mary on

    Oh my gosh, I would adore having my mini van detailed! I might have to suggest that as a future gift to my hubby. I would do it for him but he is the only one who rides in his car and he is a neat freak so it’s always clean. My van? Yuck. Especially after the winter and I don’t want to spend time in the cold garage cleaning it out.

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