Last-minute Valentine's Day gift ideas that strengthen relationships

Stumped on what to get your Valentine this year? Give a gift you can enjoy together as a couple.
Image: Nixplay smart photo frame
Gifting experiences — or ways to capture them — is one way to give something this Valentine's Day that will improve your relationship rather than just check a box.Nixplay
By Nadine Jolie Courtney and Brianna Steinhilber

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You share finances, binge-watch the same shows and spend countless hours talking about your hobbies, goals and dreams — so why is it that your significant other is the hardest one to shop for? It's easy to just go for the same bottle of cologne, piece of jewelry or the standard flower and chocolate combo, but finding a gift that conveys just how much they mean to you is hard.

Instead of falling back on those old reliables, get a little more creative this year with activities that will actually bring you closer (sans the stress of waiting in line at the mall). How? By gifting "experiences" that will bring you together and give your significant other the best gift of all: quality time with the person they love.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than a quarter (28 percent) of Valentine’s Day shoppers plan to give a “gift of experience” such as concert tickets or a day at the spa this year. And they may be on to something: With people spending an average $196.31 (more than $30 up from 2019's $161.96), why not put that chunk of change to good use and make the gift a memorable one?

“The best gifts are thoughtful, and even better are experiential gifts that deepen and expand your love. Regardless of how many years (or mere months) that you’ve been together, sharing an experience will make you two closer and more connected,” says relationship expert and dating coach Laurel House.

Indeed, couples who schedule date nights around new and novel activities are more likely to report happiness, bringing to mind the old adage: Couples who play together stay together.

So forgo the pricey jewelry and instead pick a present the two of you are guaranteed to enjoy together.

1. Nixplay 2K 9.7-Inch Smart Digital Photo Frame

It's nice to have photos of your family, friends and pets on your desk or in your office — it brings those memorable experiences to life right then and there (when you likely need them the most). A digital photo frame lets you easily switch between your favorite shots or even set them to update at a timed interval. This smart digital frame lets you connect to various social media accounts (as well as online photo folders like Google Photos) making it easier than ever to relive those happy moments.

[If you want to go all out, consider the feature-packed, interactive, and actual art-displaying Meural Canvas II, a 2019 update to the highly-rated Meural Canvas.]

2. Serenflipity: 30 Everyday Adventure Cards

A hybrid of "The Secret" and a positive Cards Against Humanity, Serenflipity takes you out of your comfort zone with fun adventure cards. Simply pick a card and then follow instructions — such as asking a stranger for a mantra, surrendering yourself to the chef’s whims at a restaurant, or lasting an entire day without spending any money — taking as long as you need to complete each task. It also features a texting service that will send you fresh, challenging ideas, to ensure you’re always on your toes.

3. bluprint Crafts Classes

Whether your SO is a home chef, craft maven or a knitting enthusiast, bluprint's arts and crafts classes and guides are a ready resource to help them explore their passions. From woodworking to quilting and crochet, they'll be able to tap into a world of activities to try and enjoy all year long.

4. Studio Oh! Couple's Guided Journal

An interactive hardcover journal designed to help you express your love and foster a connection, this journal features writing prompts like detailing things you admire about your partner, and ways you make each other better people. Beautifully designed, there are also pages to reflect on bucket lists, anniversaries, hardships endured and favorite things.

[You might also like: One Question a Day for You & Me.]

5. Zeel On-Demand Massage

Is there anything as romantic and relaxing as a couple's massage? Unfortunately, the hassle of getting to the spa and the hefty price tag deter a lot of couples from indulging. Enter: Zeel. The app (or desktop version) allows you to choose from five different types of massages and book a masseuse (in as little notice as one hour) to arrive at your doorstep, table in hand. The service is currently available in over 85 cities and is especially smart to have on hand if you're someone who tends to forget the holiday (and are left choosing between the picked-over merchandise at the mall on Christmas Eve).

[You might also like: Soothe.]

6. "Married Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book" by Paperterie Bleu

Studies show that art therapy such as adult coloring books can help ease anxiety and increase mindfulness. De-stress together by working in-tandem on a funny adult coloring book like #MarriedLife. Designed for all color mediums — including pencils, paint and watercolor — the book is both satisfying to color and side-splittingly hilarious to read.

7. Cloud 9 Living Date Night Activity

It’s easy to get stuck in a relationship rut. Shake things up by surprising your partner with an exciting activity from Cloud 9 Living: think a Champagne brunch sail, a helicopter tour, Ferrari racing, a hot air balloon ride or a trapeze lesson. Simply choose your city — Cloud 9 Living offers 2000+ experiences in more than 30 states — and then choose between categories like adventure, spa, driving, nautical and more.

8. Love Is Art Couples Art Kit

Art is known for its healing and therapeutic properties, and research shows that doing new and exciting things as a couple makes your relationship more satisfying. We can’t think of a better way to do “new and exciting" then by making one-of-a-kind art at home, with your bodies. This unique DIY kit includes a black or white cotton canvas plus a combination of colored paint to choose from, as well as plastic sheeting, disposable slippers and a body scrubber. May we suggest the bathtub date box for a little post-art clean up?

9. ClassPass Gift Card

Couples who sweat together stay together. Stay fit in-tandem with a gift card from ClassPass, allowing flexible memberships to fitness classes you can easily book through the ClassPass app. Featuring hundreds of studios, activities and gyms in 39 cities — everything from spinning to boxing to yoga to barre — there’s something bound to pique your mutual interest. Users can also stream workout videos online, with the option to select videos based on length, fitness level, and workout type, so you can squeeze in a class together at home.

10. Molecular Gastronomy Kit

Another way to throw some novelty into your date-night routine: Turn your home kitchen into a Michelin-level experience with this molecular gastronomy kit, featuring tools, food additives, utensils and a recipe DVD to help you and your honey create a mad science meal-to-remember. Cooking together can foster communication, so be prepared for serious bonding as you play with your food.

[You might also like: Sushi Making Kit.]

11. Spa Gift Set

There’s a time for fancy dinner dates … and then there are those times when your significant other just wants to soak in the tub and let the worries of the world fade away. Encourage them to enjoy a quiet night in to de-stress with this spa gift box. This set includes lavender-scented natural soap, body oil, bath bomb, face towel, a clay mask and more — all packaged up in a pretty box for easy gifting.

12. Winc Premium Tasting for Two

Is there anything as romantic as curling up on the couch with a bottle of wine? Bring date night in by ordering this tasting for two right to your doorstep. In the box you'll receive a red and a white wine, a corkscrew and two stemless drinking glasses. Add mood lighting and a romantic playlist and you have all the makings of a meaningful Valentine's day (minus the crowded wine bar where you can barely hear yourselves think, let alone have an intimate conversation).

13. Care.com Gift Card

Whether your beloved is a mom, dad or trusted caregiver to a family member, Care.com connects you with a certified professional who can help take the reigns for a few hours. You can winnow things down by location, expertise, and availability. If you want to give your SO a short break from the daily grind of caregiving, this could be the gift they didn't know they needed.

HOW-TO GIVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP A BOOST

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