Valentine's Day: Top 10 Gifts Under $35

Last Updated Feb 8, 2011 11:58 AM EST

After cutting back the last few years, couples plan to outdo themselves this Valentine's Day, spending an average $116 on each other, according to the National Retail Federation. That's up 11 percent over last year. Total holiday spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion. The top spending categories include dining out ($3.4 billion, flowers ($1.7 billion), clothing ($1.6 billion), candy ($1.5 billion) and greeting cards ($1.1 billion).
But for those who may not be into overpriced red roses or a $40 box of gourmet chocolates, here are some thoughtful and more original gift alternatives for roughly $35 or less.
  • For the Sweet-Toothed: Fudgey Awesomeness. That, at least, is the description of Julie's Fudge Chocolate Covered Cheesecake with Oreo Cookie Crust displayed here and on Etsy.com. Get six pieces (about a half pound) for $14, including shipping. Pair this with a moderately priced bottle of red wine and you're good to go for your Valentine's romantic rendez-vous.
  • For the Bar Hopper: Beer of the Month Club. A one-month subscription to The Original Craft Beer Club costs $37.75 and includes 12 bottles of beer.
  • For the Adventurous: Physical Fun. From a date at the driving range to rock-climbing, it doesn't cost much to give the gift of quality time and fun. Make sure to check out daily deal sites, for discounts. LivingSocial, for example, just ran this paintball package for $27 at Paintball Depot in North Jersey, a savings of 51%.
  • For the Flirtatious: A Pair of Hanky Pankies:. The signature lace designs are both cute and functional. A bit pricey at $18 a pop, thus perfect to receive as a gift. I'll let you in on a secret: A great place to find deals on this line of lingerie is none other than...eBay.
  • For the Accessories Queen: Designer Jewelry for Less. Gilt.com has a great selection of Valentine's Day gifts, including select jewelry, for 50% off, including this set of crystal stack rings, originally $60. There's even a section on the website listing best gifts for men, women and children under $25. My favorite: this beaded bracelet.
  • For the Sentimental: A Photo Book. At Shutterfly you can create your own personalized photo book straight from the digital images on your computer starting at $12.99. Apple's prices are slightly lower, so if you have a Mac, use the iLife software to build a softcover photo book for $9.99 or hardcover for $29.99.
  • For the Techie. Rechargeable iPod Speakers. These red ones from iHome are especially slick and only cost $27.49 on Overstock.com. Act fast because they have a "high sell out" risk.
  • For the iPhone-obsessed: A Sleek Case. You can find hundreds for $35 or less at Apple. My eye caught this red number by GeoMetric for $29.95
  • For the Snuggler: Cashmere Socks. Nordstrom has Ribbed cashmere blend socks for $18 per pair. A bit of luxury that goes a long way this winter.
  • For the One Who Has Everything: Where the SIdewalk Ends. Shel Silverstein's classic poetry book will bring a smile to anyone's face and set your steady back to the fourth grade when he/she had every line of "Sick" memorized by heart. Cost: $12.91 on Amazon.
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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