10 truly thoughtful gift ideas for your Valentine, Galentine, Guyentine or whomever you want to show some love

Stop the cynicism: let’s make Valentine’s Day joyful again with meaningful gifts for special people in your life.

Better Connections

Gifts are one of the five love languages devised by marriage counsellor Gary Chapman, but there’s no reason why we should limit this fun form of communication to our romantic connections. We have Parks & Recreation’s Amy Poehler to thank for bringing us the concept of Galentine’s Day – a pre-Valentine’s celebration focused on female friendship – but here at dara & co we don’t like to put any limits on spreading the love.

Every year, the cynics will emerge to rail against the bland commercialisation of Valentine’s Day and pooh-pooh those who choose to celebrate their love every February. But gift-giving doesn’t have to be boring, nor is it about spending hundreds on a ten-a-penny gift. And a day dedicated to love doesn’t have to be all about romance.

Why not consider giving a meaningful, memorable gift to someone you care about this year? Here’s a list to inspire you, and transform your gift-giving game for your Valentine, Galentine, or whomever you want to delight with a surprise token that says, ‘I love and appreciate you.’

Fix a prized possession

If your loved one has a prized possession that’s seen better days, think about bringing it back to its former glory. Great if you can use your own skills for this job: you may be handy with a sewing machine and could fix a much-loved item of clothing, or you know how to revive a cherished piece of furniture.

Of course, you can also enlist an expert’s help. Tara will always remember the time her husband had her wedding shoes resoled. “They were Christian Louboutins and the red soles were all scuffed. My husband snuck them out of the house and got the soles repaired,” she said. “It was an incredibly thoughtful gift.”

Make a hamper of their favourite things

What if, instead of picking an impersonal hamper from the countless options in the shops, you curate one packed with your loved one’s favourite bits and pieces? It could be all their favourite snacks, or their favourite shower gels and shampoos. Or it could have a theme: a ‘cosy night in’ hamper, or a ‘spa day’ hamper. The idea is to pack it with all the little things you know your giftee loves.

Create a photo book or collage

We all have thousands of photos stored on our phones or in the cloud. Photos we rarely look at, let alone print out. If you’ve known your giftee for a while, make a photo book filled with photos of special moments you’ve shared over the years. Or, if you’re stuck for time, make a photo collage or a frame featuring some favourite snaps of both of you together. You can add little touches to accentuate your book or collage, like dates, quotes or memories.

Give a gift that lasts the year

A subscription service is a gift that lasts for the whole year. Consider the person you’re buying for and subscribe them to something they’re interested in. There are so many to choose from: coffee clubs, gin clubs, cosmetic boxes, magazine subscriptions, customised clothes. You can spend as much or as little as you want. The key is that it’s something that will put a smile on a loved one’s face every month.

Be(e) planet aware

Shares in a beehive – or a ‘hiveshare’ – is a gift with so much meaning. It’s an investment in the planet’s future, with the added bonus of wonderful, raw Irish honey. Usually, these hiveshares include a collection of bee-related products – candles, lip balm and hand salves made from beeswax – together with updates on your hive. We’d be absolutely buzzing if someone gifted us this!

Reignite a love of film

Is your loved one mad for movies? Perhaps they have a young family and don’t get to go out for a screening as often as they used to. What about getting them some vouchers for their local cinema? Seal the deal with the offer to babysit while they tuck into some popcorn.

Make something special

If you’re crafty, why not make something special? Whether you can knit, sew, do woodwork, paint, or make jewellery, use your skills to create a gift just for them. About 10 years ago, Ronan received an incredibly thoughtful gift from his brother-in-law: “He created a framed piece filled with replicas of my favourite album covers (16 in total),” he said. “It’s the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received.”

Curate a digital mixtape

Nothing says ‘I know you’ quite like the perfect mixtape. Today’s mixtapes are more likely to be a playlist, but the sentiment is the same. Compile a collection of your loved one’s favourite songs, songs that mean something to them, or songs that make you think of them. Share the playlist with them or, if they’re old-school, create an actual mixtape or burn a CD. For Conor, a burned CD of all his favourite REM songs from his siblings made him feel “cared for, understood, and special”.

Give the gift of time

As we’ve become more time poor, it’s quite the invaluable gift. Why not give a loved one ‘time vouchers’. They could be anything from a simple coffee date or a walk on the beach, to a date night or a 30-minute phone call with a loved one who lives far from you. The idea is you are putting aside that time to spend with this person, who can cash them in during the year.

Say it with words

Be a cheerleader or support your loved one by writing a series of notes for different situations: when they’ve received bad news, when they need a pep talk, when they have something to celebrate. Customise the notes to offer encouragement, support or cheering up. Pop them in envelopes with a prompt – “open when you’re feeling down” for example. In this way, you’re there for them, in every situation, right when they need you.

Deirdre McArdle
Cork-based Deirdre has written about cutting-edge technology for 25 years. Married for 20 years with a five-year-old daughter, she is currently navigating perimenopause; just the latest hormonal upheaval in two decades of multiple fertility procedures.

Get your daily dose of dara & co

By clicking Subscribe, I agree and accept the Terms & Conditions of dara & co.