Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches, and spending is, too. According to the National Retailer's Association, the average consumer spends $116 on Valentine's gifts. While flowers and chocolates are always on the shopping list, this year you might consider some unique gifts for your special someone that won't break your budget. Whether the man in your life is romantic, rugged and outdoorsy or a techie geek, there are some fun, practical and inexpensive gifts he'll appreciate all year.
Coupon books are a fun gift idea. You can find several different styles at online book retailers. These little books contain sweet, romantic notes that you can pull out and tuck into pockets, into briefcases, into lunch boxes or under pillows. Other coupon books offer services to your partner such as washing the car, cooking his favorite dish or letting him have the TV remote for the day. Inside other books, you'll even find some naughty romantic suggestions. Coupon books let you give an entire year of gifts for under $18.
DVDs or digital movie downloads of an action film will delight even the most unromantic of fellows. If you want to enjoy the movie with him but action flicks aren't your favorite genre, you can find an assortment of action movies with a dash of romance in them such "True Lies" or "True Romance." Join him on the couch with a large tub of popcorn and enjoy an evening together for under $20.
Food is always a perfect gift option. For an alternative to traditional chocolates, give a basket of sausage, crackers, cheese and a good wine. You can also find bakery baskets for as little as $10. If you are set on chocolate, consider a basket filled with mugs, packets of hot chocolate and other treats.
If he can't leave the house without a cup of coffee, broaden his java palate with a basket of gourmet coffees. Sample packs that include flavors like chocolate truffle, caramel and hazelnut can cost around $12.
For a truly different and inexpensive food gift, FortunatelyYours.com has a selection of custom created fortune cookies for under $15. You can put your own personal message on the inside, giving him a doubly sweet treat.
Sports and Outdoors
If your Valentine's tastes run toward sports, a travel mug with his favorite team logo on it will only set you back $12. If he's a real outdoor enthusiast, he might appreciate a sardine can survival kit that prepares him for nearly any emergency and can be tossed into his backpack; this gift will run you just $13. A Mighty Wallet might also be the perfect gift. The wallet comes in several colors and designs, is made from nearly indestructible Tyvek and costs $15.
Gifts for Techies
For the techie on your list, a keychain speaker amp lets him attach his iPod or cell phone and rock, boogie or stomp to music for around $15. For around $20, your geek-on-the-go can have his very own roll-up computer keyboard.
Presents for Businessmen
For the man who is a bit more practical, consider a business card case. While the digital world has replaced most paper marketing products, the business card won't be going out of fashion anytime soon because of its career networking advantages. Several styles are available for less than $20, and for a few dollars more, you can have the case engraved with his initials.
Gifts for a Man of Arts and Letters
Books and magazines are a great gift, and you can make it romantic if you give a book of poems or a magazine on romantic destinations. Online bookstores have hundreds of options to choose from for under $20.
The Bottom Line
Beyond the flowers, cards and chocolate, there is an infinite variety of fun, useful and thoughtful gifts to make this Valentine's Day special. Everyone appreciates a gift that was uniquely selected for them, so choose a Valentine's Day gift that's meaningful, not one that empties your wallet.