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Budget-Friendly Galentine’s Day Gifts Your Friends Will Love

We have Leslie Knope to thank for one of the best holidays of the year: Galentine’s Day, AKA Valentine’s Day’s cooler sister. Now, I’m a firm believer that Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate all kinds of love — not just the romantic kind — but I think it’s fun to designate a day just slightly adjacent to the 14th to exclusively celebrate platonic love, which I feel doesn’t get much recognition (plus I’m also just a Park and Rec fan). 

And maaaaaaaaaaybe these holidays are just a ~silly capitalistic invention~ to get you to buy unnecessarily tacky and sappy presents for your loved ones on an arbitrary day of the year, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending one or two days of the year explicitly showering folks with your love… as long as you still remember to spread love on a regular basis, too. <3

I will say, though, that maybe it’s time more of us branch off of the basic Russell Brand box of chocolates (you know the one) to express our appreciation for those we love.

If you’re struggling to find something to give your friends on Galentine’s Day (or Valentine’s!), here are a couple ideas — each can be as inexpensive and heartfelt as you want to make them!

Send them letters

Sending a note on Gal/Valentine’s day is a pretty basic tradition, sure, but think—when was the last time you actually wrote a nice letter and mailed them to your friends? This is especially great if you have friends at other universities and want to surprise them with a cute delivery! 

Aside from writing the actual letter, I recommend taking the extra step to decorate the envelope. Some of my favorite things to do are:

  • Cover the envelope in stickers
  • Doodle faces, flowers, chickens… anything!
  • Study a video on lettering and write the recipient’s name in a pretty font (make sure you leave the addresses legible, though!)
  • Seal the envelope with wax 
    • You don’t need a fancy set for this! Simply take a crayon and melt it with a lighter above where you want a puddle of wax to form. Once you create a puddle about the size of a quarter, press a metal button or cap into the wax until it solidifies. This method is best used for decorative purposes, though, so I’d definitely recommend making sure that your envelope is sealed another way if you want to send this through the mail.

Within the envelope, I also like to include a couple goodies for my friends as more tangible tokens of my love. Some ideas are:

  • Origami: Cranes, hearts, planes, flowers… the list goes on! (to minimize damage, try to go for designs that can be flattened in the envelope and then expanded once taken out!)
  • Stickers: You might have a sticker collection you want to share or perhaps you have a couple extra Valentine’s stickers from Trader Joes; Maybe you’ve made original stickers using packing tape and cardstock! 
  • Pictures/polaroids of you and your friends
  • Treats that are safe to put through the mail like a packaged tea bag you want to recommend or a small wrapped candy is always a fun surprise!

Make them keychains

My personal favorite thing to do each year on Galentine’s day was to make keychains out of Shrinky Dinks for each of my friends and family. This is perfect if you have an artistic side and want to have more flexibility in creating custom designs that are specifically unique to your friend, but also one of a kind!

To make them, you just follow the basic instructions of Shrinky Dinks and attach them to a keychain with some kind of jumpring. Make sure to hole-punch a hole close enough to the edge of your keychains BEFORE you bake them, though!  

One year, to honor the founder of Galentine’s Day, I made keychains with a different “Leslie Knope compliment” and corresponding doodle for all of my friends. Some of my favorites were:

  • Friend, you rainbow-infused space unicorn”
  • Friend, you poetic, noble, land-mermaid”
  • Friend, you opalescent tree shark”
  • Friend, you delicious stack of waffles”
  • Friend, you spectacular cloud of brilliance”
  • Friend, you beautiful, glowing, sun goddess”
  • And who can forget the iconic “Uteruses before Duderuses”?

Of course, Shrinky Dinks aren’t the only way to make homemade keychains. If you want to try your hand at beading, crocheting, or claywork, you can make custom keychains or charms for your besties that way, too!

Personalized Socks

It’s funny how socks were the worst gift you could get as a kid, but now, they’re one of the best! I know, I know, we’ve all heard the joke, but it’s no less true. 

Socks are easily inexpensive, so they’re perfect for gift giving. Even better, they’re versatile, so personalizing them to your recipient is a simple task.

Got a friend who’s always cold? Give them fuzzy socks! 

A friend who collects funky sock designs? Find them a pair unique to your friendship!

Are you and your best friend practically inseparable? Get yourselves matching socks!

If you’re a crafter, maybe you can even knit or embroider socks just for them!

Thus far in my life, the most memorable Galentine’s gift I’ve ever received was a pair of socks. My friend bought a pack of dog-themed socks from Old Navy and gave each of us a pair with a different dog on it that she thought best represented us with a little card attached that listed qualities we had in common with our designated dogs. That card is still hung up on my wall.

Socks are a super simple gift that goes a long way. Whenever your friend stumbles upon their pair as they rummage through their sock drawer, you’ll remind them of your love and friendship. Isn’t that the most wholesome thing?

I hope you were inspired by some of these ideas and try them out on your loved ones this year! Remember this Valentine’s Day season that the true spirit is about spreading love to everyone — not just a significant other. AND it doesn’t have to be exclusively about how you express it in a gift, either (even though that never hurts!) Sure, this entire article is about gift-giving, but conveying your love and appreciation for those in your life can be as simple as giving them a call or sending a text to let them know that you love them. 

However you choose to show love this Valentine’s season, be safe and be sweet!

Ashley Lopresto

UC Irvine '25

Hey! I'm Ashley and I'm a first-year student at UCI. Whenever I'm not agonizing over declaring a major, I love rewatching my comfort shows and movies, baking, talking to my friends, and daydreaming about moving abroad.
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