Gift Guide: Gender-Neutral Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $35

Clouds marked the end of a sunny January. Yesterday, the winds blew incessantly, knocking over plants on our balcony, as if to say, “Here I am. February!” Just around the corner, Cupid is readying the arrows, perhaps hoping the wind carries some of them home this year. I like to imagine the arrows are for everyone, and come at no cost. I imagine it’s what the world needs right now. In hopes of making Saint Valentine proud, here’s a gender-neutral valentine’s day gift guide, for cheap.

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I admit that celebrating holidays has increasingly become a thing for me these past two years. Perhaps it was the pandemic that turned me around. I feel the need to give recognition to the little traditions we still keep. Sometimes, it’s all we have to connect the before to the after; a single stray line, thin as hair, which I cling onto like a rope holding me above the waves.

This year, I was hoping to do a bit of traveling for Valentine’s Day. We spent an evening sprawled out on a wool rug, searching for the perfect getaway. Alas, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. Travel costs have sky-rocketed, and the industry certainly has not missed this commercially-driven holiday. We came to the conclusion that spending $500 a night for a hotel, or $150 a person for a pre-fixe meal just wasn’t in line with our financial goals, or our personalities. In true fashion, disappointment was replaced with a challenge: To come up with an equally satisfying, frugal Valentine’s Day celebration weekend.

Quickly, we traded in gift-giving for ideas. We swore to cross off every activity from our wish list. Visions of Lego pieces gifted on a Christmas morn and strewn on the dining table that we still have not received flitted in front of my eyes. Talk of Saturday picnics on the green as we listen to free music in the neighborhood made me smile. We have yet to study the starry sky in our new mountainous area. “We’ve got a hammock for that!” Or trek the trails where the coyotes roam. One by one, we made our plan and promises.

In light of that, I did include a few activity ideas with each gift. A little freebie that I hope sparks appreciation for the person that you’ve probably spent the most time with these past few years. After all this time, I still have a soft spot for the simple things.

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