In some ways, Valentine’s Day is a recipe for disaster.
Whether you're in a new relationship or an old one, the holiday puts a lot of pressure on people to come up with the perfect (or even just an appropriate) gift. Advertisers know this, which is why V-Day gifts tend to be so damn expensive: according to Bankrate’s 2017 Valentine’s Day index, the average price for a box of chocolates was $14.69 last year, which is nothing compared to the averages for a dozen long-stem roses ($94.29), a fancy dinner for two ($96.00), or a solitaire diamond earring set ($324.39). That's an awful lot of money to spend on what is essentially a holiday manufactured by greeting card companies.
That said, you don't have to spend a ton of money to get an appropriate gift for your partner. All you need to do is put in a tiny bit of effort — but you'd be surprised how many people don't realize that. The end result is these Valentine's Day gift horror stories.
If you’re looking to feel better about your own gift choices this Feb. 14 (or if you're single and are just looking for a laugh), here are 10 terrible Valentine’s Day gifts to cushion the sting of Cupid’s arrow, courtesy of Reddit.
A PENCIL SHARPENER
Nothing screams romance like a trip to Office Depot, right? Wrong. Just ask this Redditor, whose dad gifted his mum with the ultimate snoozefest of a gift: a common office supply.
“My dad bought my mum a pencil sharpener one year for Valentine’s Day. It was the only gift he ever bought her on that day,” u/gfjq23 writes in the 2017 thread. “My sister and I pestered him relentlessly saying it was weird he had never bought her a Valentine’s Day gift, so he listened for what she wanted. She had been complaining that her pencil sharpener was junk, so he went out and bought this really nice electric one.”
Not surprisingly, u/gfiq23's mum was disappointed by the present — but before you start feeling too bad for her, keep in mind that apparently Dad is not a total stranger to the concept of gift-giving. “Every year on their anniversary, my dad gets my mom a rose for each year they have been married,” gfjq23 explains, “so he’s not totally unromantic.”
AN EX’S CLOTHING
While you might not want to see remnants of your past relationships in your apartment, it's probably even worse for your current partner — especially if you accidentally give her your ex's clothes as a present, as was the case with this Valentine's Day gifting snafu.
“Last Valentine’s Day, my GF found a sweater that my ex left a long time ago in my closet,” Redditor raffagapro recalled in a 2017 post. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was from my ex, so I said I had bought it for her for Valentine’s. She was so surprised and happy, and she absolutely loves the sweater, she wears it all the time.”
Here’s hoping the sweater’s new owner doesn’t spend much time on Reddit.
A TOILET SEAT
When giving a gift, context is important. You should always pause to consider: “What message does this item send to the recipient?” That’s why it’s probably never a good idea to give anyone a present that is associated, in any way, shape, or form, with excrement — and yet, that's exactly what one Redditor's dad did.
“My dad gave my step-mum a toilet seat once for Valentine’s Day,” u/makingmc recalls in a 2017 post. It was not a fancy, heated, or smart toilet seat, but the generic plastic kind. “He genuinely thought he had the best gift ever. This happened over 5 years ago and we still laugh at him about it.” At least dad saved step mum a trip to the hardware store?
A SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTION
Finding out you have an STI when you thought you were in an exclusive, committed relationship is bad. Finding out you have an STI on Valentine’s Day is even worse.
Year after year, when asked about their worst-ever Valentine’s Day gifts, Redditors consistently name STIs. “Herpes, in a five-year marriage, where neither party had it before,” u/JAJAY797 wrote on a 2017 thread. Granted, there's a lot of unfair stigma associated with herpes, but the introduction of an STI into a monogamous relationship is bound to ruin any of your planned V-Day festivities, so get tested regularly, folks.
ANYTHING YOU CAN BUY AT A GAS STATION
Valentine’s Day gifts needn’t be expensive, but they should at least imply that you've put a modicum of effort into it. That's why you should never buy something directly en route to your date. Take it from u/Etcetera7, whose partner of 2-3 years showed up with a gift that was clearly the product of a last-minute trip to the Shell station.
“I know he straight up forgot about Valentine’s Day as he shows up with [a] $5 gas station gift of a single fake flower and a pack of peanut butter cups,” u/Etcetera7 wrote in a 2011 post. “Now before you call me shallow, the gas station was directly next to my apartment building and I saw it earlier the same day. Pretty positive he swung by on his way over.”
It bears mention that Etcetera7’s partner did try again — and missed the mark a second time. “The make-up gift was [an] earring and necklace set," she wrote. "Yay, right? Wrong. My ears are NOT and never have been PIERCED.”
Here’s a doozy from u/sduncan1980, who booked a weekend trip to Barcelona with his ex back in 2003. Unbeknownst to her, he planned to propose over a home-cooked Valentine's Day meal, but when he arrived home early to cook, he found her in the bedroom, “bent over the end of the bed, looking straight at the door while getting pummelled up the arse by one of my supposed friends.” Happy V-Day, dude!
A PLASTER CAST OF YOUR FOOT
Making someone a plaster cast of one of your body parts could conceivably be sort of fun (especially if it's a naughty body part), but the #1 rule of gift-giving — on Valentine’s Day, as on every other day — is knowing your audience. This dude’s girlfriend apparently did not.
“One year, a girl I had been dating for a few years gave me a plaster cast of her foot,” writes user Dannzzor in a 2017 thread. “I’m not even a foot guy. I tried my best to appreciate it, but it mostly just weirded me out. She painted it this dull gray color. It looked like a dead zombie foot, and it was way, way larger than I thought her feet really were.”
A BLANK CARD
Arguably the most frustrating gift of all is one that reflects the giver's minimal effort. Take a card, for example: Many of these come pre-inscribed, and all the truly lazy need do is sign their names. Yet at least one person is out there, handing out blank Valentine’s Day cards. Redditor knowingcat writes in a 2012 thread that the worst V-Day present ever came in the form of “blank store-bought Valentine’s cards. He said he didn’t know what to write. Like a kid making an excuse for not doing his homework.” Guys, do your SO a favor and sign your name (or make your own card, if you're feeling up to the challenge). It's the very least you can do.