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30 Best Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts That Won’t Break the Bank

The truth is, most college students don’t necessarily have the funds to buy extravagant gifts for Valentine’s Day. After all, we have to save up for new textbooks, extracurricular dues, rent, and of course, college tuition. If you want to make someone feel extra special this Valentine’s Day, you shouldn’t have to break the bank to celebrate the holiday of love. Whether you’ve been dating your partner for a few months, one year, or longer, it can be tough to find an inexpensive gift that shows how much you love them. Fortunately, though, there are many cute gift ideas that don’t require dishing out a ton of cash for February 14! 

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift that’s thoughtful, original, and way better than a box of chocolates, rest assured you can find the ideal present for your special someone — all while staying within your budget! Luckily for you, I’ve gathered 30 of the best, affordable Valentine’s Day gifts so that you can shower your boo with love without breaking the bank. 

This list is ordered from least to most expensive, and every gift idea is under $25. Remember, though, it’s the thought and intention that counts, and your significant other is bound to love any of these gifts — regardless of the price tag. 

1. matching jewelry

Almost everyone had those matching BFF heart necklaces or friendship bracelets from Claire’s at one point in their lives. This trendy lego necklace is a modern and mature way to share a matching heart necklace with someone you love. Separately, the charms mimic lego pieces, but together they connect to make a heart. This one from Etsy comes in a variety of fun colors!

2. “We’re not really strangers” card game

This purpose-driven game is all about empowering meaningful connections, and what better time to play than on Valentine’s Day? The “We’re Not Really Strangers” card game features three levels of questions, plus wildcards that allow you to get even deeper with your SO. As the game’s motto goes, “Warning: feelings may arise.”

3. heart-shaped tea bags

Nothing warms your heart quite like a hot cup of tea. If your SO starts their day with a cup of green tea or ends their night with honey and chamomile to unwind, give them some heart-shaped tea bags this Valentine’s Day for a comforting gift. ToastedInkStudios sells heart-shaped tea bags with eight different options for just under $10 that will make them smile in between sips.

4. healing rose quartz

Is there a better way to tell someone you love them than by gifting them a healing crystal that reportedly emits vibrations of unconditional love? Rose quartz is believed to open up the heart, support loving relationships, and it can apparently help boost your confidence.

5. a handmade date idea jar

Laying around and watching Netflix movies can grow old fast, so give your SO 100 date ideas with a DIY project. Organize popsicle sticks into three categories by coloring the tips with markers in red, blue, and green. On the red sticks, write date ideas that you can do in your home, activities that require money and leaving the house, and full-day date ideas. This date night jar from Etsy is perfect for personalizing, or you can find wooden popsicle sticks and a glass jar online if you want to write each date idea by hand.

6. valentine’s day-themed cookies

You can totally buy chocolate chip cookies any day, but Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity for yummy heart-shaped cookies. Your partner will appreciate you taking the time to bake and decorate a delicious treat for them. Follow a sugar cookie recipe with ingredients you already have stocked in your kitchen and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make your dessert V-Day themed. If you’re feeling artistic, decorate the cookies with red or pink icing and write “I Love You” across the cookies for a sweet surprise.

7. DIY Paint-By-Number

If your Valentine has always wanted to tap into their artistic side but they never learned how to paint, help them get started with a fun paint-by-number kit. Michael’s sells tons of options for $8, like this elegant painting of a night on a terrace. The paint and four brushes are included in the kit, so all they need is some patience and free time!

8. emma chamberlain’s coffee

YouTube fanatics and coffee lovers will love a bag of Emma Chamberlain’s Coffee Blend. All of her blends are $20, but the Early Bird Blend Coffee Bag is a particularly delicious light roast that your SO will love sipping on their way to 8 a.m. classes. 

9. engraved leather Bookmark

If your Valentine loves to read and wants to avoid folding the corners of each page (something I’m guilty of), give them a personalized bookmark for V-Day. You can add their name to it, engrave both of your initials, or personalize it with a quote that reminds you of them. Etsy has a ton of options for custom bookmarks, but SRPLLeather sells these handmade leather bookmarks for only $8. 

10. pack of “Open When” Cards

Amazon

This gift is especially perfect for long-distance couples — it serves as a sweet reminder to your partner that you love them, even if you’re miles away. Use colorful markers to write “Open when…” on each envelope, then complete the phrase however you prefer, for example: “Open when you miss me,” “Open when you are having a bad day,” or “Open when you need a confidence boost.” Then, write thoughtful messages inside each card, and your SO can open the letters over time. Any pack of greeting cards will work, but these floral blank cards and envelopes from Amazon are adorable and only $7.99.

11. essential oil diffuser

The easiest way to get in trouble with your RA is to break one of the biggest rules: lighting a candle in your dorm. If your SO loves a scented room but lives in a dorm, give them an oil diffuser for V-Day. Bed Bath & Beyond sells the SpaRoom Pixie Oil Diffuser for $20 and you can buy a pack of essential oils on Amazon for $9.99. Not only is this a gift of luxurious scents, but it’s a thoughtful gesture for someone struggling with stress or anxiety, since essential oils can have therapeutic benefits and calming effects.

12. spotify-inspired glass art

This gift is perfect for any music lover. Was there a particular song playing at the party where you met each other, during your first kiss, in the restaurant of your first date, or on the radio when you realized you loved each other? Commemorate your special tune with a personalized song plaque and stand from Etsy for just $9. The elegant glass design makes it look like you’re listening to the song on an iPhone screen, but the album cover is a picture of you and your partner, making the gift all the much sweeter.

13. a funny Coffee Mug

If you’re buying a gift for the tea or coffee-lover in your life, you can never go wrong with a nice mug! Depending on the person’s style and aesthetic, you can search for a unique antique mug at a thrift store, or this hilarious “I Wet My Plants” mug that’ll be sure to make them smile.

14. zen Sunset Lamp

The lighting in dorms and student apartments is always too bright and harsh. If your SO is a fan of golden hour, give them a sunset projection lamp for V-Day. They can do homework in bed or take a nap with the warm lighting, and it costs less than $20.

15. Annotated Poetry Book

If you’re not much of a writer yourself but have always romanticized the idea of giving someone love poems, this is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift. Buy a book with a collection of love poems — like this one by Pablo Neruda for $10.49 — then, add annotations on the pages based on your significant other and highlight lines that describe them. Your partner can then read the poems through your eyes and add their own annotations for you as well!

16. constellation poster

In honor of where you and your partner first met, you can get a poster with the coordinates and a picture of the constellations in the sky of that exact location! Whether they are into astronomy or not, this personalized poster is truly thoughtful and romantic and sure to bring tears to your partner’s eyes.

17. mini planner

Everyone can benefit from journaling and mapping out their to-do’s! A new notebook is a thoughtful and affordable gift for Valentine’s Day, especially if your partner could use some organization skills or simply wants to keep track of their busy life in one place. This modern, leather-bound planner from Anthropologie is only $24.

18. Custom Socks

If your relationship is filled with practical jokes and good-spirited humor, gift your Valentine a pair of socks with both of your faces on them. This pair has an adorable pink and rainbow sprinkle background, and it’s only $13.65 on Etsy. Buy a second pair and you both can be matching with these hilarious socks.

19. hydrating Face Mask

Amazon

Everyone loves a good face mask, especially one that’s super nourishing and helps soothe tired skin. This one is hypoallergenic, vegan, and safe for different skin types. In the spirit of roses on Valentine’s Day, gift your special someone a hydrating rose face mask and help them practice self-care.

20. Spotify Code Keychain

One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever given is a Spotify code keychain. First, make a playlist on Spotify for your partner or combine the playlists you’ve made for each other in the past. Then, all you need to do is copy and paste the playlist’s link and order the keychain from Etsy for less than $20. The Spotify code for the playlist is laser cut onto the keychain so you can both scan it with your iPhone and listen to it easily.

21. a unique Scrapbook

If you’re someone who takes tons of pictures and collects small items from dates, a scrapbook is a creative, thoughtful, and affordable Valentine’s Day gift. Gather all the art supplies you own, buy a blank scrapbook, and print photos at your local pharmacy. Write notes, glue tickets, and letters, cut out pictures, and add some doodles to create a scrapbook that will take your lover down memory lane. Amazon sells scrapbooks in multiple colors for $15, making this an inexpensive, yet thoughtful gift.

22. espresso-scented candle

If your Valentine loves starting their day with a yummy cup of coffee and lives in an apartment where candles can make a comeback, they’ll love this espresso-scented candle. It has a subtle aroma of coconut milk, freshly ground coffee beans, maple cream, and vanilla sugar, and the elegant jar makes a great touch of decor for any space.

23. Personalized PopSocket

Give your partner a practical, yet personalized phone accessory! For only $15, you can put a picture of you and your Valentine on the Custom PopGrip. One of the cutest trends right now is putting a polaroid picture inside a clear phone case for everyone to see, but the PopGrip (or an Otterbox) might be safer if your partner has a habit of dropping their phone a lot. 

24. The World’s Hottest Chocolate

Put a spin on your classic Valentine’s Day chocolate box, and instead, gift your SO the World’s Hottest Chocolate from Vat19. Amazon sells this spicy hot, tear-jerking chocolate for $16.99, but the reactions you’ll both have after trying it will be priceless. Fair warning — even the tiniest bite sent my cousins running to the fridge to chug milk when they tried it. 

25. chakra healing bracelet

Originating from Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism, the seven chakras are focal points of energy along your spine. It is believed that unblocking your chakras will allow for energy to flow throughout your body and bring you enlightenment. If your SO is spiritual, practices yoga, or could use some positive energy in their jewelry collection, a chakra bracelet is a unique jewelry gift for V-Day.

26. 100 Movies Scratch-Off Poster

The 100 Movies Scratch Off Poster will help you complete your ultimate movie-watching bucket list! Grab a bag of popcorn and your partner’s favorite candy for a few dollars more, and enjoy a special movie night together.

27. poetry magnets

If your Valentine loves poetry, magnets, or puns, they’ll love these cute word magnets that are perfect for their dorm room, apartment, or office. The Original Edition of the magnetic poetry kit is $22 and has over 300 magnets allowing for endless possibilities of fridge door poems.

28. Custom Photo Puzzle

Depending on where your college is located, February is the time for snowstorms and canceled classes. Imagine spending the day sipping hot chocolate and doing a puzzle with your Valentine. Now, imagine the puzzle being a personalized picture of the two of you or of something your SO loves, like their dog! This custom photo puzzle lets you create a puzzle with any photograph for just $9.95.

29. plan a picnic

A picnic basket is a thoughtful affordable gift because it implies you will be going on romantic picnics together in the future! Amazon sells this nostalgic picnic basket for $19.96, but thrift stores are another great option if you don’t feel like splurging. Opt for a basket from a local Goodwill store and use the extra money to buy more picnic necessities for you and your boo.

30. Disposable Cameras

If you don’t feel like splurging on an expensive Polaroid camera, you can buy an affordable disposable camera for just over $21. Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day together or apart this year, you and your person can document your adventures and have something memorable to look back on later.

Isabella is a junior majoring in Literature & Rhetoric at SUNY Binghamton University. She writes articles for her university's newspaper, focusing on culture, entertainment, fashion and campus events. When she's not writing, Bella is typically thrifting, creating new Spotify playlists, learning vegetarian recipes, or painting.
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