A night of karaoke will make you happier than a new sound system, according to science. Psychological studies have revealed that experiences make us happier than material goods. When you buy a physical good, your satisfaction with that purchase is high but decreases over time, whereas satisfaction with experiences increases over time. Experiences are minimalist — they don’t have to be stored, or create waste, or even cost money. Shared experiences have the additional benefit of connecting us with others. What better day to share a happy experience with a loved one than today?
Below is a list of 50 unique experience gifts for your loved one. Ranging from simple to grand, free to extravagant, you’ll find the perfect idea to celebrate your love.
1. Go on a nostalgic bike ride. One of my favourite dates my husfriend ever took me on was a bike ride around Paris to all his favourite spots. It was the weekend that we met, so it was uber romantic. —Holly Rose of Leotie Lovely
2. Recreate your honeymoon or first date. Bring back the memories of the beginning of your love by recreating a memorable experience from your past.
3. Take a Spiritual Sabbatical.
4. Spend the night at a hotel. It can be exciting and liberating to be out of your house and comfort zone (even if it’s just for the night). Pack your bag but leave your worries at home.
5. Take a train ride to another city nearby. I’d like to rent a cute little cabin upstate and spend an entire day wandering around DIA Beacon, having lunch at a little cafe in town and sitting by the fire at night. —Christina DeSmet of DeSmitten Design Blog.
6. Go bowling. At the nice alley, not the cheap smokey one, okay?
7. Get outside in the fresh air. Turn off your phones, set an out-of-office reply on your email and go skiing, hiking, sailing, whatever you’re into.
8. Go to karaoke and serenade each other. 🎶I Got You Babe.🎶 Time After Time.🎶 Cheesy love songs abound, so take your choice or go for them all!
9. Score sporting event tickets. A classic, but baller experience gift if your significant other is a sports enthusiast.
11. Plan a romantic getaway. Go to your favorite city or a completely new place. Wherever you go, remember you are there to enjoy each other and make memories.
12. Have a spa day. Go to a spa together or create a spa day at home. Purchase some lovely oils and scrubs, put your feet up, and enjoy some chocolate — it’s your day!
13. Check out some live music. One of the greatest experiences in life can be hearing your favorite band/musician/orchestra in person. See who’s playing and treat yourself or your partner to a performance for Valentine’s Day.
14. Be a tourist in your own town. Especially here in NYC, there is so much to do but we generally don’t take advantage. Put everything else on hold for the day and do all the activities you have on your list but haven’t made time for.
15. Buy a membership to your favorite museum. Or go with your partner to their favorite museum and present them with a gift membership.
DRINK & DINE
16. Prepare a meal together. Red foods encouraged! Get the recipe for this Creamy Beet Detox Soup via Sustaining Life.
17. Take a trip to the farmer’s market and then make a healthy meal together. Learn tips and tricks for how to grocery shop at your local farmer’s market on Selva Beat Magazine.
18. Go out to a local restaurant. Just don’t go on February 14th! Read about the best sustainable and eco-friendly restaurants in NYC on EcoCult.
19. Bring the chef to your house. Not big on cooking and don’t want to go out? Try Kitchensurfing, a service that sends the chef, the equipment, and the ingredients to your house. All you have to do is eat and enjoy!
20. Treat yo’ self with vegan ice cream! Frozen treats can be delicious and cruelty-free. Get the scoop on Van Leeuwen shops in NYC on Sustaining Life.
21. Make your partner’s favorite dessert. Learn how to make a deliciously healthy Cashew Raspberry Dreamcake via Sustaining Life.
22. Have a picnic in the park. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a good idea in February! Nevertheless, pack your favorite foods, a bottle of wine, and blanket for a cozy al fresco meal.
23. Drink and learn. Visit a local brewery or go on a vineyard tour and wine tasting trip. Get informed about biodynamic wine with this tour of California’s Sonoma Valley on Conscious Living TV.
MAKE OR LEARN SOMETHING
24. Take a flower arranging or ikebana class. Find a class that works with local flowers and experience the zen of floral arranging. Go home with beautiful Valentine’s Day bouquets and memories.
26. Create your own special fragrance. Out of all the senses, fragrance is the one that’s most closely linked to memory. But instead of unwrapping a chemical-laden fragrance stamped with the name of a celebrity or fashion designer on Valentine’s Day, I love the idea of attending a perfumery workshop and creating a custom botanical scent. Sarah Horowitz leads classes and offers by-appointment Blending Bar experiences in West Lake Village, CA; Jessica Hannah hosts several events a month in San Francisco; and Florescent‘s Susannah Compton occasionally leads workshops in Washington, D.C. In Brooklyn, Julia Zangrilli can set up an all-natural version of her gorgeous #NOVAScentBar upon request, and Anne McClain of MCMC Fragrances and Tanwi Nandini Islam of Hi Wildflower Botanica sometimes teach classes too. —Melissa Cantor of Ethica
27. Learn meditation together. Take a class or join a group meditation event and then encourage the practice in each other all year round.
28. Make terrariums. Recreate (in terrarium form!) a scene from a place you love, a place you’ve traveled to, or a special memory.
29. DIY together. If you’re both crafty, DIY together with fun kits from Uncommon Goods.
30. Make your own candles. Conventional candles are pretty toxic and pollute your home. Follow this easy recipe to make your own candles and put them in a jar you already own. —Hanna Barror-Padilla of Sotela. She has more zero waste Valentine’s Day ideas here.
32. Take a class together. I think it would be really fun to take a class as a couple. I’ve been wanting to learn pottery and this class at Sugar Hill Clay would be awesome and not crazy expensive. —Meg Navoy of A Wool Story
34. Learn a new language. Take a language class together and at the end reward yourselves with a trip to a country that speaks the language. Italian anyone?
35. Make your own hot sauce. Simply follow the instructions, combining the spices with the included peppers, vinegars, and brown sugar to create your own handcrafted condiments. Six bottles and customizable labels let you package up to six of your own small-batch sauces that’ll turn up the heat on your favorite foods (and your love life)!
36. Make the Custom Love is Art Kit. By fine artist Jeremy Brown, each kit allows couples to capture the beauty of intimacy in a new and elegant way by bringing the canvas to the bedroom. Your choice of non-toxic paint color takes shape on a cotton canvas of your choice in the form of pure love.
DO AN ACTIVITY
37. Get matching tattoos. Too much? Couples do this anyway, so they might as well do it on Valentine’s Day just to up the eyeroll factor of their story, right?
38. Plan something your S.O. loves, but you’ve been too stubborn to enjoy with them. —Tavie Meier of MadeFAIR.
39. Take a Valentine’s Day yoga class. I love this idea! Soothe your minds and open your hearts with yoga.
40. Plan a scavenger hunt with romantic clues. This experience is lots of work, but has the potential to be lots of fun! Send your significant other on a hunt using inside jokes or special places and memories as the clues. Wait at the end with a big bunch of locally grown flowers!
42. Watch old romantic movies. Stream classics like Casablanca and Roman Holiday or timeless favorites like Say Anything and The Bodyguard.
43. Take over each other’s Instagram accounts and create photographic love notes. Show the world your love and create a record of it via social media. It’s 2016 after all.
44. Schedule a photo shoot with a local photographer. Spring for professional photos with either an intimate indoor shoot or bopping around notable places from your life together (your favorite park bench, the place you met, etc.)
45. Make a fort. A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law surprised his wife with a fort in her living room and I thought it was absolutely adorable. Lighten up the space with candles and watch a movie to make the night more romantic. Tapping into our inner child should be a requirement on a weekly basis. —Hanna Barror-Padilla of Sotela
46. Stay in bed all day. Need I say more?
HANG OUT WITH FRIENDS (TOGETHER)
47. Host a Galentine’s Day brunch. Take a page from Leslie Knope and make February 13th a celebration of friend-love.
48. Throw an Anti-Valentine’s Day party. Invite all your single and “old” married friends, make delicious food, love potions, and of course, invite over a few ex-lovers! —Andrea Reyes of A. Bernadette
49. Host a backyard bonfire. This is harder in NYC, but you can get those little mini bucket bbq’s that kind of do the trick. Project movies on the roof of the apartment/backyard/garage and pull a mattress and blankets outside. —Holly Rose of Leotie Lovely
50. Host a famous couples costume party. Tell guests to come dressed as the hottest couples and plan activities like team games, love song lip synching, or a line up of cheesy rom-coms.