Curious couple looking in the box

Most say Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love.

But really it's a time when couples spend wads of cash on all things pink, red and white. On gifts, like chocolate, flowers and teddy bears.

Americans spend a lot of money, too. The National Retail Federation reported that Americans will spend $18.9 billion, a new record due to "an improving economy" that has given Americans a chance to spend more money on their loved ones, U.S. News reported.

"It's great to see consumers coming out of their shell this year, looking to spend discretionary budgets on those they love once again," Pam Goodfellow, a principal analyst for Prosper Insights & Analytics, said in a National Retail Federation news release. "While many will splurge, some will still look for simple and affordable ways to show their appreciation for friends and family and celebrate in a way they are most comfortable with."

In fact, about 55 percent of consumers plan to spend on Valentine's Day this year. The average person will spend $142.31, with about $96.63 going towards a spouse or significant other and the rest going to family, friends, co-workers, pets, teachers and classmates.

Men spend more than women, dishing out $190.53 on their partner while women spend $96.58, the report found. On average, men tend to spend almost twice as much.

Finding the right gift can always be a problem, especially since Christmas just passed and your significant other may have received everything on their list. There's also romanticism to consider - do you buy your spouse something romantic or do you focus on practicality?

To find the right gift, it might be helpful to look at what you shouldn't get your partner for the holiday.

In most cases, women actually don't always want something expensive, according to BankRate. They just want something that'll show their man cares for them.

"More than expensive gifts, women want their men to show them that they truly cherish them. By doing a little homework and paying attention to the things their loved one really cares about, men can make women feel adored," author and relationship expert Robyn Spizman told BankRate. "It's not about cost."

So we could fill this list with ideas about what you should get your spouse, but that's been done before. Let's look at what partners don't want for Valentine's Day instead.

Spring apparel

Matthew Kirkwood of Ben's Bargains, an online retail website, told me in an email that buyers should avoid spring clothes, even if the deals seem appealing. Most spring clothing will still be on sale in the coming weeks, so there's no need to rush on those items just yet.

Patio furniture

The same applies for patio furniture, Kirkwood said. There's unlikely to be many great deals at this time of year, so women interested in buying their man a grill may want to hold off until closeout sales in December and January.


Not only is this cliche, but most jewelry stores overprice their items because they know it's a holiday staple. Sales will only give at most 10 percent off, Kirkwood said, which is why buyers may want to wait until September or August to start racking up the diamonds.

For kids, don't get toys

As the NRF suggested, some Valentine's Day gifts are shared between families. This doesn't mean that parents should buy their child a toy right away. Most toys are full priced right now to make up for the bargain prices from around the holiday, so parents are unlikely to find a good deal on the shelves.


Given that Valentine's Day falls on President's Day weekend this year, luggage will be at full price, too, to take advantage of travelers, Kirkwood said. It may be best to wait until March, when the new models come out near summer.


You should really think twice before buying you and your significant other a pet for Valentine's Day, Sharilyn Johnson wrote for Huffington Post Canada in 2013. Pet ownership is a major decision for couples and shouldn't be handled passively on the 14th of February. Instead, take time to talk through the decision with your partner so you don't surprise them with a major life decision like this. It could spell potential doom in your relationship.

Gift cards

Yes, that $15 iTunes gift card will help your spouse buy the new Justin Bieber album, but it won't come off all that romantic, Johnson wrote for HuffPost Canada. These are often seen as "an afterthought, so much so that stores keep them at the check-out counter so you'll buy them on the way out. To put it another way: if you resort to this as a Valentine's Day gift, you've pretty much checked out of the relationship," she wrote.

A night at White Castle

In a list of Valentine's Day gifts that'll make your spouse break up with you, Time suggested not going to White Castle for Valentine's Day. The fast food restaurant offers a romantic dinner for two, and requires reservations to be made ahead of time. This isn't exactly the most romantic place to spend your holiday, but it could make for a good "absolute hoot to mock-celebrate Valentine's Day at a down-and-dirty fast food joint," Time reported.

Alcohol or lingerie

Some Americans probably think a bottle of wine and some Victoria's Secret underwear will do the trick. But you might want to think twice about that. A survey from found that 33 percent of women and 22 percent of men don't want a bottle of alcohol on Valentine's day, while 22 percent don't want any sort of lingerie. Careful about embracing those cliches. It won't go down silky smooth.

Some 99 cent store items

One of the leading value stores in America, 99 Cents Only Stores, unveiled some items you shouldn't get for Valentine's Day earlier this year, like Tylenol Extra Strength, athlete's foot creme, or even some types of deodorant - all of which are available in their stories.

Anything on Feb. 14

The perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day is to celebrate the holiday on the next day. U.S. News Money's Erin Lowrey suggests that couples find good restaurant and gifts deals on Feb. 15 since there will be some potential saving opportunities. Many times there are so-called "fire sales," which mark down Valentine's Day items by a significant margin, allowing couples to buy them for cheap.

"This rebellion can be accomplished by deciding to ditch the gift route entirely," U.S. News reported. "Spend the time together with loved ones doing a mutually enjoyable activity, whether it costs money or not. Double Valentine's Day rebel points if it's free."

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