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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