Last minute Valentine's Day gifts that won't break the bank

Here's what Americans are asking for this Valentine's Day — plus tips on where to get the best deals and discounts.
Image: A man crosses a street with a bouquet of roses on Valentine's Day in New York in 2018.
21 percent of Americans surveyed say flowers are on their most-wanted list. Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images file
By Nicole Spector

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Valentine’s Day is here and if you’re anything like me (you know, busy, tired and generally kind of forgetful), it may have skipped your mind.

Though enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day has lost some steam, spending this year is expected to surpass $20 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. A survey from determined that, on average, Americans will spend $58 this year, up five percent from 2018.

Where will those dollars go? Largely to the classic Valentine’s Day fare.

“Traditional Valentine's day deals are still winning out, with a focus on flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and dinners for two,” says Marc Mezzacca, founder of CouponFollow.’s survey broke down what Americans are asking for:

  • Chocolate, candy or other food treat: 35 percent
  • Flowers: 21 percent
  • Jewelry: 16 percent
  • Electronics including wearables: 10 percent
  • Lingerie: 10 percent
  • Skincare, makeup, perfume/cologne: nine percent

We’ve rounded up some of the best deals you can still take advantage of in these categories.

BETTER editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, BETTER does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Valentine's Day sweets

Chocolatiers and sweets shops are well aware that Valentine’s Day is the closest shopping holiday to Black Friday for their business.

Various retailers are pushing tasty deals, including:

Ordering online at this point in the game may not be of much help, unless you plan to celebrate over the weekend. If looking to observe on the actual day, your best bet is to go to a Walgreens, CVS or other drugstores where they’ll have ample varieties of chocolate boxes and other Valentine’s treats available for less than the gourmet vendors.

Valentine's Day restaurant deals

Though found that just 35 percent of people want food as a gift, RetailMeNot detected a much higher level of interest.

“This year we’re seeing that the most wanted Valentine’s Day gift is a nice dinner in a restaurant,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. “Sixty-two off Americans said they would like to receive this the most.”

The average spend on a Valentine’s Day dinner is $85, Skirbolls adds, meaning “those paying the bill are in luck too as many restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day specials this year such as Fogo de Chão, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Rosa Mexicano and STK.”

For more deals, check out local spots on Groupon and browse social media for restaurants in your area that may be getting in on the Valentine’s Day action with a special offer.

Roses are red, and also blue — and in demand

A bouquet of red roses is a strong traditional choice, but if you’re sweetheart digs something a bit more striking, go for bolder colors.

"Unique floral demand is growing,” says Kate Law, VP of merchandising for ProFlowers. “Our black, purple, blue, and unicorn roses are a hit. People are looking for gifts that are going to stand out this season. "

Plants are also a welcome gift.

Plants are popular products with younger consumers, whether they’re purchasing potted succulents or a tabletop cactus,” adds Law. “This trend is increasingly becoming prominent across the industry."

Check out the following related deals:

Jewelry is seeing some downright dazzling discounts

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, also, beauty is diamonds and other gems! Here’s some knock out sales:

Tech gifts for Valentine's Day? Why not?

Tech may not be the most romantic gift, but it’s almost always useful and greatly appreciated.

Perhaps because Valentine’s Day doesn’t exactly scream technology, there aren't a ton of sales being advertised for the occasion. Target’s most recent sale on The Apple Watch series ended on February 9, but it’s wise to check out their weekly sales and top deals section which often feature tech. Currently, it you buy a new Samsung Galaxy S9 and other Samsung phones at Target, you can nab a $200 gift card.

Similarly, at Best Buy, you can save $200 on select Samsung phones. You can also save $150 on select iPad Pros and up to $100 on Apple Watch Series 3.

Lingerie and skin care (if you know your partner’s preferences)

Gifting makeup, skincare products, fragrances and clothing (including lingerie) can be risky, so it’s not recommended to gift these items unless you know what your partner likes.

That said, you might impress by gifting a Kylie Jenner Lip Kit. According to research from marketing data provider SEMrush, this like has seen a 60 percent surge in searches between January and February.

Here’s where you can get the best deals on skincare and lingerie:

If you know what your Valentine wants, don’t risk surprises

As Jeffrey Galak, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business underscores, gift giving can be stressful. Try to stay focused on what would actually be a meaningful present, rather than on making a smashing impression.

“The single most important thing for any gift exchange is to understand that the best thing you can get a recipient is something they really need or want,” Galak says. “It may not be romantic or exciting, but research overwhelmingly tells us that that is the [best course of action]. Certainly social media adds a twist to that because now people are sharing their gifts with the public. You may not want to get your partner the running shoes they want because that’s not the traditional gift, but if that’s what they want, get it. Their friends may see this on Instagram and say, ‘who gets their [Valentine] running shoes?’ But I bet secretly they’re all thinking, ‘I wish I’d gotten something I actually wanted.’”

Don't miss: Last minute-gifts that will strengthen your relationship

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