Non-Valentines Valentines Gift
February 10, 2012 8:19 PM   Subscribe

What is a good first date gift (and V-day is on Tuesday) that is not too romantic, but hits the right tone of "I think I like you, but I'm not crazy'?

I'm going to be in Toronto for some work this week, and while there I'm meeting up with a woman with whom there is romantic potential. We've met once before at a party and since then have been talking and emailing and we've decided that as we will both be in TO at the same time, we are going to have what may turn out to be a 2 day date. (We normally live in the same city, but for the next couple of months we're at opposite ends of the continent.) She's a working professional with some artsy flair. We've joked how loaded it is that our first date will be on, and into Valentine's Day.

So I want to give her something that acknowledges that I appreciate the chance to spend some time with her, I might want some more of that, but nothing normal like flowers or chocolates.

posted by miles1972 to Human Relations (46 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Buy her dinner. Listen to what she says she likes to do. If all goes well, send her a book or something in a week that shows you paid attention.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:26 PM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Go all out romantic and do the flowers and chocolates. Instead of roses, choose a bouquet that is small and beautiful. Instead of a heart shaped box from Target, give her a small box of chocolate dipped strawberries. Why not wow her? Why not go for the big, romantic gesture? Women love it. The worst that could happen is that she will adore you. How bad could that be, really?
posted by myselfasme at 8:34 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Treat her to a nice dinner and you can't go wrong with perfume or something from Things to Remember, they have really nice thoughtful gifts for the working professional and you can get it engraved to personalize it.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2012

Hmmm. First date gift? Unless this is someone you have known a long time, I am not sure I would do that. Seems a bit... premature.
posted by brownrd at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2012 [26 favorites]

Several years ago, I gave my date gonorrhea. She applauded my efforts and was quite taken with the gift.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:35 PM on February 10, 2012 [14 favorites]

Definitely buy her dinner.

If you can, buy her two wineglasses since you two met at a party and it would kind of connect your first date to your second date.

Also buy her a nice bottle of wine (doesn't have to be expensive) and strawberries dipped in chocolate.
posted by livinglearning at 8:39 PM on February 10, 2012

I would be weirded out if someone brought me a gift on a first date. Also, slightly (slightly) put out in a great-now-I-have-to-carry-this-thing-around-with-me-all-night sense.

So I would recommend something small and playful and silly that the two of you could use together during the date. Like a pack of pop-its or some bubbles or something.

Anything more than that would (I think) be a little weird.
posted by phunniemee at 8:44 PM on February 10, 2012 [12 favorites]

Small packet of those candy hearts with words printed on them that kids get for Valentine's Day. Try to get them from a good confectioner together with two truffles in a very pretty tiny box to have with wine after dinner.
posted by Anitanola at 8:49 PM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Bobette & Belle in the east end has some gorgeous stuff, including some pretty darn fancy marshmallows and everything is done so beautifully. I'd pick up something there and go further East to the Beach for a walk along the boardwalk. The weather's been great for that. Good people-watching and lots of dogs to stop and pet. If you start after walking through Kew Gardens then go east, you can walk along and back up Beech to Queen over near Ed's Real Scoop for some great ice cream in homemade waffle cones.

Otherwise, I'm a huge fan of SOMA and their unusual and non-traditional chocolates, also beautifully packaged. There are fun things, like "Sparky" - a special dark chocolate with pop rocks inside, and the toasted corn in tumbled chocolate there is my favourite splurge. Despite the name being contrary to your question, the "Crazy Love Box" might be perfect. But you might also need to get some extra Spiced Butter Toffee, because it's wonderful.

Also in the Distillery District, you'll find Distill, where local hand-crafted items can be found. You might find something that speaks to you there - it's chock full of artsy flair. It's hard to recommend anything specific without knowing more of her likes and dislikes - and there's Bergo Designs too, where you can get anything from a funny gorilla finger puppet to a gorgeous designer thing, anywhere from $2 and up. Maybe something will strike you as just right there.
posted by peagood at 9:05 PM on February 10, 2012

I've been given gifts on the first date before. It's always felt a teeny bit... forced, as if the guy was using it as a way to say something more about himself (I'm That Awesome Guy Who Got You A Book Right Away) than about me. Because, by definition, if it was our first date then he didn't know me well enough to get me a meaningful gift.

I think at this stage, the coolest way you can tell her you appreciate getting to spend some time with her is to... tell her, verbally, that you appreciate getting to spend some time with her.
posted by scody at 9:12 PM on February 10, 2012 [13 favorites]

Oh please please please, the ONLY correct answer to this is:

posted by incessant at 9:17 PM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

If this is a gift to bring to a date, I would avoid bringing anything bulky that she will then need to awkwardly carry for the rest of the evening. How about buying a pair of tickets to some kind of evening event/experience conducive to spending time together, where you can get to know each other better in a (preferably romantic) You can acknowledge that it's a fun, special evening for you two without making it feel like a Very Special Evening.

Other things that are good:

- Flowers. I know you said no flowers, but bear with me for a moment. Not a dozen red roses. I mean a loose, fresh-looking bouquet with a farmer's market look to it--the kind of casual, pretty arrangement you drop off when you pick someone up for a date. Not a will-you-marry-me bouquet, but a "I think you're great and picked you up this pretty thing because you're also pretty and it's Valentine's Day and we are going on a date" bouquet. Doesn't need to be fancy. Any nice florist can throw together a lovely little bouquet if you say "market style".

- if she isn't into that, or perhaps additionally--a small, potentially-silly, token-type gift that will make her smile and show that you've been paying attention to her and thinking of her during your correspondence. Think of what you know about her as a person and go from there.

I also really like the conversation hearts idea.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by anonnymoose at 9:22 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Draw a line from a small box of chocolate dipped strawberries to a banjo. OK, now avoid the banjo.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:24 PM on February 10, 2012 [11 favorites]

I semi-agree with scody. I think that first date gifts caaaaan be awkward, but I feel like it partially depends on how much you've already gotten to know each other beforehand through your correspondence. Is there some kind of connection already? A small, non-presumptuous gift might be good. No connection? No gift.
posted by anonnymoose at 9:26 PM on February 10, 2012

(Sorry, that should have said "in a (preferably romantic) setting". I will shush now.)
posted by anonnymoose at 9:28 PM on February 10, 2012

Women love it. The worst that could happen is that she will adore you.

I am a woman. I might appreciate a small, thoughtful, inexpensive gift on a first date from someone I had been corresponding with. Inexpensive is important.

If someone brought me flowers and chocolate, it would show that they didn't know me at all and didn't pay any attention to me.

The "worst that could happen" scenario is more likely "she gets seriously creeped out by your inappropriate gift, leaves early, and refuses to speak to you again. Not saying that's likely to happen; it's a worst case scenario. But "women" don't uniformly love chocolate and flowers.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [38 favorites]

Valentines day is cute and I love it. Treat her to a sweet old fashioned date where you pull out the chivalry (I would do it with a feminist flair). You guys could even agree to dress up 50s style, or share a milkshake with two straws, or go roller skating. Go classic.
posted by whalebreath at 9:49 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

As a recent college graduate, I can attest to the fact that many guys do NOT give women a gift or flowers on the first date. Because of this, I personally find it thoughtful when a guy does show up with flowers. She's artsy? Get her unique flowers like Amaryllis or Hibiscus.
posted by oxfordcomma at 9:56 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get her a pentel "sliding sleeve sharp pro" mechanical pencil! You can give her refills on the second date!
posted by roboton666 at 10:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

you can't go wrong with perfume

Oh, yes you can. Lots of people are allergic and there's no way of knowing what she likes. Anyway, who brings a gift on a first date? I would certainly be creeped out). Spend you energy coming up with a unique experience for the date and getting to know her.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:33 PM on February 10, 2012 [16 favorites]

Normally, I'd suggest no gift. If a guy brought me a real gift on a first date, I think it would be awkward. And no perfume or flowers if you don't know her well. I'm hugely allergic to flowers and I'd never made it through appetizers.

However, since it sounds like she'll be away from home for a while, is there something small you could bring that might remind her of home? I'm from Buffalo -- if someone brought me sponge candy or a Coffee Crisp, I'd be completely besotted. (In fact, since you'll be in Toronto, maybe you could send me a Coffee Crisp, and I could send her an email vouching for you being adorably sweet?) ;-) It doesn't have to be food, but something goofy to remind her you'll both be in the same place again, potentially together. Good luck!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 11:03 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be careful with the HUGE OVERARCHING GESTURE, there is a line where such things become creepy as all hell.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:44 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recommend a box with TWO yummy expensive truffles. Give to her but explain that it's for both of you to enjoy, as Valentines seems like a good excuse to splurge on good chocolate. It can be a nice gesture but not awkward for her if it's sort of a gift for yourself too, sort of as a celebration of the date, not of her or any implication that she owes you anything.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 12:08 AM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]

Perfume? Yikes. No. If she's travelling to get to Toronto, I think even flowers could be a little (little) annoying because then she either has to figure out a way to get them back home (annoying) or throw them away while they're still alive (always sad and kind of a waste).

I would suggest that if you're going to do anything, make it small and either consumable or something that's easily transported. So maybe a book you've talked about in your earlier correspondence. Or a DVD you've talked about and could watch together. Or some really good chocolate, like CrazyLemonade suggested.

(My now-husband and I were in a somewhat similar situation, and on our first date he gave me this random book that I had earlier said I'd always wanted to read but had never been able to find. It was really touching, but not in an overwhelming or creepy kind of way. Just a way that showed that he listened and actually was interested in me and not what he thought he *should do*.)
posted by McPuppington the Third at 12:22 AM on February 11, 2012

A gift on a FIRST date seems like a bad idea; some guy got me a CD on a first date once, and while I appreciated the gesture and knew it was coming from a sincere place, it also made me REALLY uncomfortable ("dude, you bought me a gift and you don't even know if I'm gonna want a second date yet").

However, since you've both been joking about the whole "oooooh, it's VALENTINE'S DAY" thing, a little something that kind of winks at the whole Valentines-Day romantic-gesture thing could be cute; I like CrazyLemonade's idea of a box with only two truffles (you know, "rather than the huge heart-shaped box"). Or try to find one of those corny valentine cards that they make for kids to give each other in grade school and give it to her (for extra adorability, write your name on it with your non-dominant hand - use your left hand if you're right-handed, or vice versa -- so it looks like it came from a little kid too).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 AM on February 11, 2012

A gift on a first date when you're both traveling? Uh, dinner is fine and dessert is fine in my opinion. No flowers because she's not at home so what would she do with them? Maybe if things go well you could get her a parting gift related to something you've talked about.
posted by spunweb at 12:35 AM on February 11, 2012

Another problem with perfume (aside from the fact that it's totally inappropriate for a first date, IMO, on the face of it): since she's traveling, it creates another potential problem in terms of packing it vs. carry-on.
posted by scody at 1:07 AM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

another vote for a little box of really good chocolate - 2 to 4 handmade little bits of delicious art
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:39 AM on February 11, 2012

I ilke you and naps.
posted by cogat at 3:34 AM on February 11, 2012

Yeah- flowers would be sad and cumbersome. I would hate carting them around. Maybe like A FLOWER.
Perfume? jesus no. You have no idea what kind of scent she likes, good perfume is incredibly expensive (and therefore inappropriate) and a lot of us ladies find perfume in general to be eye-wateringly too strong.

I love the idea of bringing fancy chocolate to share, especially because it hints at valentines but doesn't say "I've want to keep you in the basement as you have my babies."

another option is getting her something very small and specifically related to her or what she's up to. Something like a silly tourist thing like a Toronto snow globe or keychain. Keeping it under like six bucks, really physically small, wrapping it a little extravagantly, and present it at the very end of the date (so she doesn't have to carry it around all night). It would be really cute to have a nonthreatening keepsake of the city and your date at the same time.
posted by Blisterlips at 4:22 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Pick up a few of the type of Valentine's Day cards that kids give to their classmates. You can find these at any drugstore. They're 1) cheap 2) cute 3) not loaded with baggage 4) fit in a purse 5) acknowledge the holiday 6) hit the "I like you but I'm not crazy" tone.
posted by desjardins at 6:30 AM on February 11, 2012

If you buy chocolates, or flowers, or anything other than dinner and dessert, you are going to look creepy and desperate. You can try to alleviate that with a jokey gift, but why run the risk if you like this woman?
posted by ellF at 6:32 AM on February 11, 2012

As a woman, I would not love it if someone went "all out" on our first date - especially on/around Valentines day. It depends on if she knows you well enough yet to know if you are being fun and light-hearted, or weird and creepy.

I think dinner and a nice dessert would be good.
posted by fromageball at 6:50 AM on February 11, 2012

A book that made you think of her. Thoughtful and relatively inexpensive. Just don't overdo it by trying to imbue it with too much meaning.

Alternatively, a dessert you can both enjoy together after dinner.

Anything more expensive or elaborate could come across as trying too hard. And yes not all women love chocolate and flowers.
posted by Lieber Frau at 6:52 AM on February 11, 2012

I agree that it would be sweet and considerate to at least acknowledge that it's Valentine's Day with a small and inexpensive gift. The ideas from above that seem the most appropriate are
- the two really nice truffles
- the kids valentine...a real valentine card would seem a bit creepy
- something clever that references your hometown. I got Frank's Hot Sauce at a Buffalo wedding once and it's still the only hot sauce I buy
- anything you guys might have talked about in previous conversations...(she likes Winnie the Pooh so you get her the book the Tao of Pooh).
The key is small, inexpensive and something that has some shared significance. Don't overthink it and don't do anything trying to be "funny"...that rarely goes well.

Also, don't get her anything if you're just going to run in to the drugstore and grab a box of Russel Stover candy...better nothing at all then to have it look really half-assed. That just seems disrepectful.
posted by victoriab at 7:19 AM on February 11, 2012

Just saying, but I would like to retract my answer. On second thought, I feel like it would be WAY too much and it would be annoying to carry.

I really think you should try going to Chapters since they would sell great small gifts for under $10. Not too long ago, I saw a music box that was a vintage blue colour and it was very tiny, but I think she'd appreciate a small gift like that.
posted by livinglearning at 7:42 AM on February 11, 2012

Of all the suggestions above, I would go with those little candy hearts with words on them. They're silly and cute, and in the right price range. Plus, if conversation lags, you can read them to each other and laugh. FAX ME is the best text on hearts I ever saw.

Add me to the contingent of women who would be annoyed if I had to carry around a bouquet of flowers all night (although you already ruled that out, so it doesn't sound like a danger anyway). I would be uncomfortable with anything other than a very inexpensive (< $5) and lighthearted gift.
posted by looli at 7:53 AM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A gently used paperback book you enjoy, for her to read on the train/plane. No money involved and lets her know a little more about you (so be real about it and not pretentious).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:21 AM on February 11, 2012

Oh, I don't know. I went on a first date once with a guy that I had previously spent a good amount of time talking to on the phone and emailing with (he lived out of town and came into town for our first date). He brought a small book that was related to something that we'd spent a lot of time talking about. I thought it was sweet. So if you could find something small that relates to things you've already talked about - like a book or something - that would be a nicer gesture than chocolates or flowers (which I know that some women really like, but I personally would find cheesy on a first date, especially if that date is on valentine's day).
posted by echo0720 at 9:27 AM on February 11, 2012

I really like the "two very nice truffles to share" idea, and I would add on a homemade Valentine. As in, construction paper, use of a glue stick, a short handwritten sentiment. Perfect combination of classy, personal and quirky!
posted by moonbuggy at 9:54 AM on February 11, 2012

Humorous and small. The candy hearts are good.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 AM on February 11, 2012

I'm not clear if both of you are visiting town or not. Assuming that she isn't living in Toronto either you really don't want to get her anything that she's going to need to pack, and yeah unless there's something from your previous emails and conversations that's small+fun+thoughtful+inexpensive that is reflective of some shared joke that shows you pay attention but isnt anything more than a throwaway gesture I'd echo the advice of dinner.

Now, if let's say you still decide you want to get her something or after your date you decide you do, and she's staying at a hotel, have whatever it is sent up to her room while you're out on your date or the next day.
posted by dismitree at 2:49 PM on February 11, 2012

Another thing to consider is that if you're going somewhere fancy she might have a really small purse and no way to carry around a gift.

All in all, I feel like a first date on Valentine's Day is already fraught enough without adding a gift.
posted by mskyle at 5:32 PM on February 11, 2012

Thanks everyone. I'll err on the side of being my charming self and dinner, and no gift.
posted by miles1972 at 6:25 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

So, how'd the date go?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 5:48 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

It was interesting - in a good way. Not a slam dunk on either side, but enough that we'd like to see each other again. And the advice to not bring a gift was dead on.
posted by miles1972 at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2012

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