Gifts are always tricky in relationships, and no holiday makes that more obvious than good old Valentine’s Day. Standbys like jewelry, flowers, chocolates, and cards will usually do the trick, but if you really want to impress the one you love, we advise giving them something a little more thoughtful than a heart-shaped box of sugary sweets.
Valentine’s gifts can be even scarier if the date comes in the beginning stages of a relationship. If you’ve only been dating a short time, giving her a diamond necklace or him plane tickets six months in advance could get you in trouble, or at least provoke an awkward moment. If you want your Valentine’s Day celebration to have a tech spin, we’ve got you covered on both bases. We’ve narrowed down a long list to our favorite romantic tech gifts for every price range and stage of relationship. It’s a no-brainer.
Couples just starting out
USB Mix Tape, $26
If you’re giving to a music enthusiast, nothing will help you get as many thoughtful points as a well-crafted mix tape. The days of cassette tapes are long gone, however, so give her the modern version with songs on a 1GB USB stick. This one comes in nostalgic packaging that definitely ups the romance factor while also being a fun novelty. We can’t guarantee that the songs you put on it will win her over, but we’d suggest a few romantic tunes, songs you both like, or songs from bands that you’ve seen together.
Camera Lens Mugs, $24 to $35
This gift is perfect for the girlfriend who is a bit of a photography fanatic. These camera lens mugs are fun, unique, and thoughtful as long as your loved one has a keen interest in photography. They come in several different sizes based on real lenses, have realistic rubber-grip focus rings, and the tops are even inspired by lens caps. There are both Canon and Nikon versions available, so make sure you pick the right one. You wouldn’t want to offend her sense of camera-brand loyalty.
These are a fun way to give your guy a way to display photos that doesn’t require a cheesy frame that has to live on his bedside table. The set of six frames is magnetized for optimal fridge-display and comes with a dry-erase pen for captioning photos. Put a few cute couple photos and a few silly ones into the frames and you’ve got a playful not-too-serious gift that he’ll love.
For the music buff out there, go with something that is festive in color but practical for everyday use. No one likes gifts that end up getting packed away in the corner of the closet. These bright headphones keep with the holiday’s theme but are a great pair of basic on-ear headphones that have cushy padded ear cups and features like in-line controls and collapsible construction.
Relationships that are going places
Instagram prints, $30 and up, each
We love the new wave of options for printing your Instagram photos, and homemade thoughtful wall art almost always makes a great gift. If you can sneak your way into her Instagram account, you can get quality square canvas prints of your favorite photos that she’s snapped, or you can have prints made of your own Instagram photos that she might like. One is nice, but these prints really pop when paired in a grouping of three or more.
Click & Grow, $70 and up
What’s better than flowers on Valentine’s day? Well, probably a lot of things, but if you want to take the classic standby in a new direction, try gifting your sweetheart the Click & Grow electronic planting system. With four AA batteries, a little water, and a seed packet, you can grow flowers, herbs, or even baby tomatoes with ease in just two weeks. With special sensors and software, the Click & Grow will stay on schedule even if you leave it alone or forget about it. Besides, there’s something romantic about giving something that will continue to be a gift for a long time.
Kindle without ads, $109
This one only applies to guys who like to spend time reading, but if your Valentine fits into that category then a Kindle is a great way to go. You’ll get points for buying him something that he’ll actually want to use on a daily basis, and you can rack up even more thoughtful points by loading up the device with books you know he’d be interested in reading.
iHome iP4, $200
This retro-styled modern take on the boombox from iHome is a great gift for the music lover who also has a fun sense of style, and harbors a little nostalgia for the good old Say Anything days with John Cusack. It has fun but not laughable styling, great sound, is portable, and nicely holds an iPhone or iPod right in the middle for blasting some of his favorite tunes.
In it for the long-haul
Knomo Lola laptop bag, $169 to $275
This stylish bag will hold all of her important tech and life essentials, is functional, and has a luxurious look and feel. The lola tote is meant to carry a 15-inch laptop in its quilted inner sleeve, but it will also hold other gear like a kindle or a large camera, plus a day’s worth of purse contents. It comes in either a classic quilted nylon or supple pebbled leather. This bag gets points for style and makes a great everyday tote or carry-on bag.
Nikon 1 J1, $599
Give your loved one the gift of a coveted new micro 4/3 camera like the Nikon 1 J1, which offers a 10.1-megapixel sensor, interchangeable lens capability, fast autofocus, and HD video recording. This will be a significantly better camera than any point-and-shoot but doesn’t come with the added bulk of a full DSLR. Go for the red version if you want to be festive or opt for the sleek white instead.
USB Cufflinks, $195
Give him something fancy with an added tech twist with these USB drive cufflinks, each of which can hold 2GB of data. It’s the equivalent of giving jewelry for guys, but you get major bonus points for finding a pair that will make him feel like James Bond and probably come in handy at least a few times.
iPad 2, $499 and up
It may not be the most unique gift around, but who wouldn’t smile at opening a brand new iPad 2 on Valentine’s day? You can have it engraved with a sweet note, load it up with apps, photos, and music, and throw a red Smart Cover on there to keep with the lovey dovey mood.
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