With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in February 2019.
Valentine’s Day is coming up; have you thought about what you’re going to get for your lady love?
Chocolates and flowers are pretty boring and cliche. Jewelry is expensive, and equally unoriginal. She might swear she wants “nothing,” but what she usually means is that she doesn’t want anything big. She’s probably still hoping for some small acknowledgment of the holiday, even just a card. And if she thinks she’s okay with your skipping even that, she’d still be thrilled — especially so given the surprise — to receive something from you. Everyone prefers to be thought of and appreciated, rather than not.
So what to do?
How about a DIY gift? Something super low in cost but super high in thoughtfulness.
To peruse the mountain of DIY V-Day gift ideas out there is to get lost in an avalanche of lame-ness — stuff that’s overly cheesy and too foo-fooey for most guys to consider making. A few gems do exist in the rough though, and we’ve collected the best ideas for you below.
Heart & Map Print
By our lights, this is the best idea in the bunch. It’s both romantic and cool, and creates a nice piece of wall art that she’ll actually want to hang up. It’s always an amazing fact that two people who grew up hundreds or thousands of miles away from each other, ultimately meet up, connect, and join their lives together ever after. You can create a print that showcases this wondrous serendipity, where one side shows a map of where you’re from, and one side shows a map of where she’s from. Another option is to create a 3-paneled heart, that also puts a map of where you both live now in the middle. Primer Magazine has a free downloadable Photoshop file for both a 2-panel and 3-panel heart, and walks you through the process of bringing these prints to life.
Wire Heart Ring
A simple ring that will still elicit a sincere “Awww,” from your gal. All you basically need is wire, two types of pliers, and a file. It’s not the most difficult process, but if you’ve never worked with wire before, it might take you a few tries to really nail it.
Framed Book Page Print
If your main squeeze is into reading, a literary-themed gift can be just the ticket. You can find framed pages of books overlaid with images/text for sale (the one in the image above is). But they’re also not hard to make yourself. Given the nature of the holiday, a page from one of her favorite romantic-themed novels (paging Jane Austen), overlaid with a romantic image or quote, is of course apropos.
Valentine Light Bulb
A sentimental shelf or desk ornament, for less than $5. You hollow out an incandescent lightbulb, replacing its innards with a wire heart “filament,” and then attach it to a wooden base. It’s simple but sweet. And eye twinkle and crinkle inducing.
Initials Carved Into a “Tree”
Carving initials into a tree is a classic romantic gesture. Unfortunately, it’s not actually good for the tree, and unless the tree is near your home, your lover won’t get to see it very often. This easy project evokes the romance of this timeless gesture, but creates a piece that can be put on a mantle and gazed at indefinitely. You can actually buy wood rounds like you see above from a craft store, but you can also create your own from a discarded backyard tree branch. (Follow the same instructions we gave for making wood coasters here.) Then all you need is a wood burning tool, and you’ve got a Valentine’s gift that costs nothing, but will make your gal swoon.
Your partner wants to be appreciated far more than she wants some material bauble. Think about all the reasons you love her, write them down on pieces of paper, fold them up, and then stick ’em in a jar. You don’t have to do 100. “10 Things I Love About You” will do. If you are feeling ambitious, 52 is a nice number; then she can open and read one of the messages once a week for a year. There are all kinds of ways you can jazz up the jar if you want, like etching something on the glass.
A card can often really be enough, particularly a homemade card, particularly a homemade card that involves a nice pun, and which is emblazoned with an actual physical object on the front. The ideas above are pretty clever and will be sure to make her smile.