10 Distinctly un-romantic Valentine's gifts

Updated July 11, 2018

Valentine’s Day is an annual tribute to our collective inability to express our romantic feelings on a day-to-day basis. It’s a festival of guilt, a time when men and women in couples all across the country realise that they spend most of their time silently resenting or pointlessly bickering with the person that they’re supposed to be in fairy-tale love with. Other couples ignore the celebration altogether, and some prefer to subversively mock it by spending less than an hour’s wage on the tackiest present they can find. Whether it’s a guilt-laced, misguided attempt to rekindle the fire of a relationship or something purposefully satirical, Valentine’s Day is always full of distinctly unromantic gifts.

Love Message Disc Shooter

This gift is basically a violent version of Love Hearts. What better way could there be to express heartfelt, in-no-way-clichéd sentiments like “kiss me quick” and “I am all yours” than firing them at your partner from a disc-shooter. Assumedly, the “victim” is supposed to gather the discs they’ve just been shot in the head with, read the messages and then fall even more madly in love with their assailant.

Related: The ancient origins of Valentine's Day

Personalised romance books

Romance novels obviously aren’t nauseating enough on their own, because companies such as Book by You have decided to make things even worse. You can now insert your names in place of the main characters in any one of a whole collection of bland, monochrome romance novels. Unless you happen to share your entire personality with one dreamed up by a jaded ghost-writer, these can be nothing other than horrendous and wholly pointless.

Related: The most controversial books of all time

Household appliances

Sometimes, being functional isn’t the right way forward. Whilst your partner might have been complaining that they want a new toaster or that the vacuum cleaner isn’t working properly, it doesn’t make it a good Valentine’s gift. The reaction will not be positive. If you’re looking to purposefully buy something terrible as a joke, there are plenty of funny options here. Nothing says true love like a brand new spatula with the price-tag left on.

Related: The saddest romantic comedies to watch alone on Valentines


Although many couples will enjoy having a drink together, there is only one message if you buy alcohol as a gift. You are essentially suggesting a joint loosening of inhibitions and a fumbling, unsatisfactory and downright smutty night in. It’s not so bad if you get something rare, expensive or especially sought after by your partner, but it still won’t make his or her heart melt.

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Weight loss aids

Anything from a workout DVD to pedometers, low-fat recipe books or fitness equipment screams one message: “I am not happy with the way you look.” Even if they aren’t happy with how they look, never, ever get a gift like this for your loved one. No matter what your intention, it is guaranteed to kill any hint of romance on your day.

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Sex cheques

These are basically notes that have a supposedly sensual message on like “I promise to suck your toes for 10 minutes before sex.” There are inevitably better examples than this, but any sexual act written on a faux-cheque basically amounts to emotional prostitution. Plus, the intended purpose of these gifts is a method of strong-arming someone who isn’t in the mood into sex, which isn’t exactly Valentine’s-friendly.

Related: Lupercalia: The forgotten Valentine's Day

A fast food/chain restaurant dinner

If the nice restaurants are all booked up on the day, don’t be tempted to go for the budget option. Chain restaurants are soul-less, and even if you like the food the atmosphere will be manufactured and utterly devoid of romance. If you’re looking to mock the tradition of the Valentine’s meal, however, fast food is definitely the way to go.

Related: Gentlest ways to break up with your girlfriend

A Cactus

Flowers are a stereotypical Valentine’s Day present, but they hog the limelight. If you’re looking to overthrow the petalocracy and celebrate the wonders of alternative gift-plants, look no further than the cactus. Requiring little attention and being virtually impossible to get close to without being hurt, they’re a pretty apt metaphor for an estranged and emotionally damaging relationship.

Related: Old "romantic" customs we're glad are gone

Valentine’s Clothes

Ties, socks, sweaters and any other item of clothing with a cartoonish red heart plastered across the front is about as romantic as the Christmas equivalent. Nobody actually wants to wear celebration-themed clothes, and love is not something you can express in three words and a poorly printed graphic. Don’t even try to find a good one – they don’t exist.

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Edible Underwear

This gift manages to be smutty, uncomfortable, and impersonal all at the same time. The aforementioned issues with sex-themed gifts reach a whole new level if you happen to choose “lingerie” you can eat. Sweet tastes are the norm, but if you feel like visiting a whole new dimension of weird, go for the beef jerky variety

Related: History's unlikeliest love stories

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.