Small Valentine's gestures, not too corny, delivered sneakily
February 5, 2014 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Ideas needed for a low-key sneak attack expression of "I'm glad you're in my life and I adore you, even if this holiday is for the birds (according to you)"? I expect no reciprocation (really) other than verbal acknowledgment + kisses. This relationship is good--fabulous, really--but scheduling/logistics and his stubbornness against "Hallmark holidays" mean that Valentine's will likely pass unmentioned. And yet...I love any excuse to do something special with/for him, so I'd like to leave something sweet on his doorstep.

Other factors: We've been together for nine months, and live nearby but not together. His young children will be with him on Feb 14, so nothing NSFW/K. We are in our thirties. We are both broke as a joke.

Is it overly corny to write out some verses of a poem (like the last two stanzas of this one) inside a card? What about lyrics from a song? Credit will be given to the artist, of course, but I wonder if it's just too cheesy. It's hard to pinpoint, but as much as I love that idea, it's like something Teenaged Me would've done. He and I are both highly allergic to cheezeball sentimentality, but I am very sentimental, deep down, and in any case I am deeply infatuated with this person. I have abundant evidence that he feels the same about me, FWIW. And yet I seem to have lost a sense of what's appropriate for such a Valentine. What is corny? What is good?
posted by magdalemon to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I am strongly considering a texted or emailed image of the "I Choo-Choo Choose You" valentine from The Simpsons.

It says "I'm thinking of you", "I think Hallmark Holidays are dumb", "I have a sense of humor", and "small yet meaningful gesture", all in one package.

I also like the many silly pop culture related valentines that are out there, for instance these Law & Order themed ones.
posted by Sara C. at 1:45 PM on February 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

My dad puts roses under women's windshield wipers. Yes, my mom knows about it.
posted by mjklin at 1:52 PM on February 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

I think a simple meal served in a romantic way would be nice... maybe a picnic for him and his children? Sandwiches, chips, and grape juice served in goblets? This is assuming you're comfortable being romantic around his children....
posted by cacao at 1:54 PM on February 5, 2014

Look, you know what might be special for him? Let VD pass unmentioned. Especially because he will be spending it with the kids.

Why not do something romantic and hearts and flowers and candy for presidents day or read across America day?

People have tried to do something special for me on days that are not special for me and it has never made me happy.

Alternatively - tell him you do not want VA to pass unmentioned, you do not need anything, and see if he is okay with being surprised.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

FWIW, my partner and I feel mostly the same way about V-day as you and yours, and keep gestures fairly minimal.

This may or may not apply to your guy, but in the past I've done the following for my partner:

Created a funny illustration featuring his favorite animals doing tongue-in-cheek V-day things. This was simply a sheet of drawing paper, pencil, ink and colored pencils.

Created a homemade meal consisting of his favorite foods and chose a documentary or film he'd mentioned wanting to see sometime.

Gave him one of his favorite treats (licorice chews) and a voucher (my own illustration) for a thorough massage - redeemable anytime. This is originally a NSFW/K idea but you can certainly keep it clean if you like.

One thing I noticed, that you may have in common, is that we're both proponents of practical gift-giving - things you will actually use. For example, I would much rather have a potted plant than a dozen cut flowers. That might be something to consider when you're thinking of gift ideas.
posted by stubbehtail at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the front:

You make me want to be a better person.


And by better, I mean more naked.

I'm also a hating on holidays time a boyfriend got me some prosciutto and was all, "here, because you like prosciutto!." That was it. I love prosciutto. That gesture went over brilliantly.
posted by phunniemee at 2:03 PM on February 5, 2014 [11 favorites]

When we were first dating my husband gave me a huge head of cauliflower because "it's like flowers, but better because you can eat it."
posted by JoanArkham at 2:11 PM on February 5, 2014 [31 favorites]

I got this from an old boyfriend for Halloween once, but it's definitely a Valentine's Day possibility: a 99cent blank card, "Sweets for my sweet!" written inside, and a buttload of candy (bonus if it's the kind of candy he likes and/or can share with his kids) all in a USPS express box through the mail.
posted by jabes at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2014

Sincere card and his favorite treat.

Later in the relationship you can get even bolder. The Bear had a similar view of the holiday, so eventually I escalated to sending him flowers and chocolate covered berries (his favorite) at work. He was embarrassed and delighted. These days we go right ahead and get smooshy for the holiday.
posted by bearwife at 2:30 PM on February 5, 2014

a cute thing i saw on my friend's instagram which was a husband coming home to find that his wife (who works different shifts from him so they barely see each other, usually briefly in passing) had left post-it notes hidden all over the house for him to find. so when he opened a drawer there was an "hey there cutiepie!" when he went to grab a snack from the fridge there was a "you're such a great cook" and when he crawled into bed underneath his pillow there was an "i miss you."

another twist on this could be writing an individual letter on different post-its hidden all over, and when he finally finds all the post-its with all the letters and unscrambles them it translates into a loving message :)
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:46 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

had left post-it notes hidden all over the house for him to find

I did this with a boyfriend. It didn't start out coinciding with valentine's day, but it lasted until then because I ended up making about 100 of them. I asked a question looking for ideas here. Boyfriend was delighted. Feel free to steal it!
posted by phunniemee at 2:53 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is very traditional, in one sense, but can be unexpected since your sweetie is a man--I discovered I was the first person to bring my SO flowers on a date way back in the day. He was completely surprised and delighted and brings it up occasionally to this day. I think more men should get flowers. I helped him with his resume way back when we were dating and he made me a thank you note that was a picture of fireflies in a jar that was made with layers of paper cutouts. I have it framed still--it looks like cute folk art. One broke valentine's I got what was blooming outside locally (cut branches of blooming red camellias, stunning), but I am in a milder climate.
posted by Lardmitten at 3:17 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hate valentine's day. I hate flowers, the obligatory physical intimacy, the puns, and most of all the hearts. I'd like something practical for that day, if anything. Most other stuff is so cheesey I can't help but roll my eyes. I'd rather a pack of batteries for my remote than a card with cutesy sayings and sentiments. So maybe think less sentimental. You can still show you care that way.
posted by Aranquis at 3:32 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is there some kind of household task you could do for him? Maybe shovel his walk or take out his garbage or something mundane-but-annoying like that? It's not "corny" but it's a definite caring gesture. I did something like that for my ex when he asked me to feed his fish while he was gone for a business trip (I washed his dishes and cleaned his tub) and it was warmly and gratefully received.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:48 PM on February 5, 2014

If you both haven't planned to mark the day, even a little gesture may trigger anxiety for him as he's planned no little gesture for you (because he's been clear about how he feels about the holiday) and he has his kids, which also may prevent some quick save-the-day-to-get-you-something moves on his part. Your gesture, though well-intended, could end up being an aggravation.

Why not let that day pass and do something on another day, maybe even Feb 15 to celebrate 1/2 off chocolates day?

My partner and I both dislike Valentine's Day. But, I do like to show him I think about him throughout the year by leaving little notes for him to find, giving cards or flowers for no reason, or by picking up some little item that I know he wants, but that likely wouldn't register when it comes to big celebration gifts. I probably do something like this every 6 weeks. I know that he treasures these items and is quite sentimental about them. IMO, an out of the blue gift to show someone you care is worth so much more than going through the prescribed motions on a Hallmark holiday. Plus, it takes some of the must be reciprocated on the same day pressure off and turns into pure, sweet fun.
posted by quince at 4:11 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife feels similarly to your boyfriend. Last year I got her a ridiculous two-foot tall card from the drugstore and the ugliest stuffed valentine's bear I could find. It was silly and went over well.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:30 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

last year I got my boyfriend a bunch of pepperettes from a local butcher, and wrapped them up like a flowers to make a manly bouquet. That went over really well!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:26 PM on February 5, 2014

Bake some chocolate chip cooks for him and his kids to share, or a batch of brownies. A nice home baked treat will be a sweet gesture, you can leave them on his doorstep and he will not feel obligated to buy you a gift he can't afford in return (but he could make you a little something with his kids' help if he wanted to return the favor, and they might enjoys it. Kids like having a reason to celebrate and don't care about the Hallmark. Aspect).
posted by misha at 7:22 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Including his kids in this is a great idea--send them a valentine kid card, and give him one two. Stupid stuff--like Spiderman valentines. Add gummie worms or some other kid candy.

Play against the "one day of the year to love someone" idea and give him a beer or sausage of the month gift.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:41 PM on February 5, 2014

Thirding baking something.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:22 PM on February 5, 2014

Mix tape, cookies for the kids, and a wedge of old cheddar (or maybe Cheez-its) on his doorstep.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:29 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you bake, but I was going to make these little mini pies on sticks for my honey, since he's a big fan of apple pie but a whole apple pie is a bit much for two people to get through. I put his lunch together in the mornings, so I was going to sneak a few in there, along with the little printable labels they have there. You can also check the home page of that site for other ideas.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:35 PM on February 5, 2014

And yet...I love any excuse to do something special with/for him,

Give him a "Happy 13th February!" card/gift. He'll appreciate the Valentines-style gesture with the nod towards his feelings about actual Valentines.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:45 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

We don't usually do anything on the 14th, but we follow quince's example and sure as heck celebrate the 15th - Discount Candy Day! It's fun, because it allows us to feel superior and mock the commercialism of the whole thing while still jamming delicious chocolate truffles from ugly heart boxes down our gullets, and at bargain basement prices. My family also has a proud tradition of giving each other the tackiest, gaudiest pop-up cards we can find. I find that people who are allergic to cheeseball (or sincere) expressions of sentimentality often work well by going SO far in the direction of ironic cheeseball sentimentality that it feels, well, nice.

This year, I'm hoping we can order in Chinese food and marathon Buffy episodes on Netflix. Try not to get hung up on the specific day - any day you can find some time to eat tasty (heart shaped?) snacks and spend time with your sweetie is a good one!
posted by bowtiesarecool at 6:25 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

My two favorite scenes revolving romantic gifts:

Stranger Than Fiction


The first is spoilerish if you have never seen the movie. I am not sure either of them would work for you, especially if you aren't familiar with either film, but you never know.
posted by Silvertree at 7:20 AM on February 6, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! Lots of good ideas. Including cured meats, delivered bouquet-style...!

This is also a great bank of ideas to use on future occasions!
posted by magdalemon at 9:35 AM on February 6, 2014

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