PSA: Please Do Not Buy These 3 Things for Valentine’s Day

A list of dos and don'ts for a modern, romantic, non-sucky Valentine's day.

Here’s an idea: let’s make Valentine’s Day 2023 not suck. Let’s keep expectations low and spirits high. Let’s not buy unoriginal, wasteful gifts that say “I spent some money on you but don’t think of you as having any personality whatsoever.” Let’s use this extremely capitalist and heteronormative “holiday” as an excuse to show that we care. Here’s a quick and dirty guide on what to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine’s Day.

Photo: Sheelah Brennan

Don’t Buy Carnations

Come at me, Big Carnation. This is my truth.

If you are a 15-year-old boy reading this, carnations are fine. If you are a 30+ year-old boy reading this, carnations are not fine. They do not “look just like roses.” There’s a reason why they’re so much cheaper than every other kind of flower: they are dinky and ugly and sucky and not romantic at all. If you’re on a carnation budget (as many of us are), I highly recommend buying the second-cheapest flower at the grocery store. Or a potted plant, which is far less wasteful than cut flowers, anyway (if you do get something in a pot, stick with a neutral colour—see next point).

EQ3’s Posey vase.

Do Buy a Vase

If you want to really level up your flowers—without levelling up the price too much—get a vase to go along with them and cut/arrange the flowers yourself. This isn’t mandatory, of course, but it’s a thoughtful extra step to take. When it comes to picking a vase, neutral is the best, safest choice—unless you know your partner is a maximalist, then you have my permission to go nuts with it. EQ3’s Posey vase isn’t super bold, but has a creative silhouette… and it’s only $18.

lover's tempo paperclip chain necklace
This Paperclip chain necklace from Lover’s Tempo is great for everyday wear, as long as they wear gold.

Don’t Get Jewellery to “Change it Up”

It’s the age-old story: one partner wears gold jewellery every day. Their lover thinks, “Gee, you know what would be neat? I’ll buy them silver jewellery, for a change!” The giftee accepts the present with grace, not wanting to crush the hopeful look on their lover’s face, deep down knowing that the silver necklace will tarnish, untouched, in their jewellery box forever. Roll credits. Directed by James Cameron.

(The Paperclip chain necklace from Vancouver-based Lover’s Tempo above isn’t a “don’t”…unless they only wear silver. The same brand has plenty of silver options.)

Meijuri's Block Large Hoops
Mejuri’s Block large hoops, an elegant pick for a silver-wearing person.

Do Buy Jewellery They’ll Actually Wear

This is just the opposite of my last point, but I’ll reiterate: if you’re deadset on buying something shiny, note what jewellery your partner already has and get something that matches or compliments it. Simple but refined pieces are a good way to go (like the earrings above from Mejuri).

If you are interested in purchasing a $300 burden, you can get them here.

Don’t Burden Them with Giant Stuffed Animals

Wow, I hate everything fun, don’t I? I like a person-sized plush bear as much as the next idiot, but after you’ve posted the massive beast on Instagram and perhaps shared one uncomfortable night with it in your bed… then what?

Giant stuffed animals are ultimately inconvenient, wasteful, and not particularly thoughtful (“Oh honey, this bear is SO me! It totally doesn’t look like something you’d win at an overpriced carnival game!” said no one, ever). Unless you’re going to Revenant-style sleep in it, these stuffies only serve one purpose: internet clout.

apple pie
Credit: The Pie Hole

Do Gift an Experience

Create lasting memories instead of waste by gifting an experience: think concert tickets, sports, theatre, or whatever kind of weird thing your partner is into. A ceramics or cooking class is also a good choice—local bakeries like The Pie Hole offer some pretty sweet options.