For a brand new love interest
via sugarwish.comAn over-the-top gift can either work for you or against you. "Select something meaningful that indicates you are looking towards a bright future, but you are not needy or desperate," says Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. To be safe, steer clear from anything too personal unless you are absolutely certain the feelings are mutual. (And then, are you really sure or is still just wishful thinking?) It's better to be sentimental but cautious – dinner for two at your apartment or a playlist made specifically for him or her. Or if you want to buy something, consider Sugarwish, an experiential "pick your own" candy gift that lets the recipient to choose their own sweets or A Full Leaf Tea Tasting Crate. It's thoughtful (especially during a cold time of year) but it's still just tea. (Get our free Valentine's Day guide packed with dozens of quick tips and sweet ideas for an amazing V-Day celebration.)
If you don't want to spend a lot of money, try these cheap Valentine's Day gifts.
Dating one to three months
via westelm.comFor a couple who's just getting started, gifts are likely to be casual and oriented toward each individual. Keep it simple! For example: "Chocolates and perfume are perfect for up to three months. You guys have just started dating, so don't go overboard," says Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. A few ideas: Offer a touch of candlelight or, if they enjoy coffee, this sweet mug with tiny gold hearts from West Elm is sure to be a hit. Check out these 15 signs that your relationship is solid as a rock.
Dating three to six months: Modest jewelry
via dogeared.comJewelry is always good, but don't splurge too much. "A heart necklace might seem a bit cliché, but it's also a great gift because the price point can be on the lower end when you have only been dating for a few months," says Trombetti. To make sure there's no confusion, consider something like this simple heart from Dogeared. (Don't miss these tips on how to clean jewelry at home.)
Dating three to six months: DIY Cocktails
via amazon.comIf your Valentine is a budding mixologist, a bar pack like this one from Bitter Truth is a great gift. With unique flavors like tonic, peach, olive, cucumber, and chocolate bitters, and a card filled with recipes inside, it's a simple yet thoughtful gift. (This is the best Valentine's Day gift you can give, according to science.)
Dating three to six months: Cashmere socks
via pairofthieves.comIf she's always cold, a pair of cashmere socks like these from Pair of Thieves is budget friendly, but really thoughtful. Besides, you can never have too many socks. (If you're single on Valentine's Day, these are the best gifts to give yourself.)
Six months to a year of dating: Gemstone jewelry
via bijouxxjewels.comYou know each other really well by now. You have articles of clothing in each other's apartment, or occasionally share the same toothbrush out of necessity. "The same rules above apply, but now you are even more certain of their interests, so something personal should be in the mix. A modest piece of jewelry says 'I love you' without saying 'I am committing myself forever.' A necklace, bracelet, or great pair of earrings would be great for her," says Gottsman. This pear-shaped, amethyst drop pendant from Bijouxx is perfect because it's meaningful yet still affordable. Another idea: Gift your Valentine a picture of the two of you on a vacation, in a pretty frame for his or her desk.
Six months to a year of dating: A plant
via plantogram.comForget flower deliveries; everyone does that. A fun idea for someone with a green thumb is to treat them to fully grown plants. From mango trees to tea plants, Plantogram is your go-to for greenery.
These are great Valentine's Day gifts that you can buy at the drugstore.
Six months to a year of dating: A journal
via via-pyramid-collections.comDoes your partner have a way with words? Then what better way to chronicle a start of a serious relationship than with a Tree of Life journal from Pyramid Collection? The leather cover's symbol represents growth, knowledge, and strong roots—all good messages to send on Valentine's Day.
Dating one year
iStock/kieferpixYou can do a little more at this stage, but aim for something more thoughtful. "Gifts for all senses such as a romantic dinner, music, flowers, and a massage are sure to delight," says Trombetti. "You can create a whole day out of it and have a date day/night!" Here are some creative date night ideas to inspire you.
Dating one year: A gourmet steak dinner in
via omahasteaks.comIs he a carnivore? Get him a delivery of premium steaks. It'll be like going to a fancy restaurant, but you won't have to get dressed. Better yet, treat him (and yourself) to Omaha Steaks, which is offering a Romantic Dinner In package of filet mignon and lobster tails. For the real foodie, Snake River Farms offers an American Wagyu Steak Flight. Lastly, if you want to go luxe, New York Prime Beef offers elite packages like the Kobe Japan steak box.