This is a classic predicament. You want to acknowledge the holiday, but you don’t want to come on too strong. For example, ideas of fine jewelry, dinner from a Michelin-star restaurant, or a commissioned Renaissance-style oil painting of the two of you should be thrown right out. Instead, focus on the thought behind your gift. This first Valentine’s Day gives you an excellent opportunity to prove that you’ve been paying attention to their interests.
The simplest thing to do is to ask yourself, what do they like? Buying a book, game, or album they’ve mentioned having their eye on is an easy way to prove your interest in theirs. You can even start reading/playing/listening along with them to better understand their passion. If your significant other is the more practical type, think about something they’d use, such as a cozy scarf for someone who’s always cold or a cast-iron pan for someone who loves to cook. However, you’ll want to avoid strictly utilitarian presents for Valentine’s Day. While it’s thoughtful to pick up a box of tea that helps with your partner’s stomach aches, you should avoid making that their big gift.
For those who aren’t sure where to begin, standards like a stuffed animal, flowers, or candy are a good starting place. Instead of a stuffed bear holding a heart-shaped box of chocolates you can grab at CVS, why not pick something more personal? You can pick up a Pokémon plush for the Nintendo fan in your life, or a violet in a cute planter for someone with a green thumb. Even the classic box of chocolates can be upgraded by finding their favorite brand or getting a sampler box of candies from around the world.
The primary gift-giving tip, of course, is to simply listen to and communicate with the person you’re buying something for. When they tell you what they like, pay attention and store that information away for later. You don’t have to break the bank to find something they’ll love, what matters most is showing your partner that you value what matters to them.