You might think shopping for Valentine's Day gifts involves simply roaming the aisle at your local grocery store to find a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers. Even if you're sticking to that traditional route this year, you should at least consider the best times to shop — especially now that many of the 2021 Valentine's Day deals have arrived.
Check out our guide to Valentine's Day sales below, so you'll know what to expect from deals, when to find the best ones, and what to do if you wait until the last minute.
When to Do Your Valentine's Day Shopping
When do Valentine's Day sales start? Last year we saw Valentine's Day deals pop up as early as January 1, with a few more appearing around January 10 and 11. More holiday sales appeared as time went on, and many offers ran through February 14 itself. Even though many deals will continue through Valentine's Day, shopping early brings better luck and more savings.
People who shop early not only have a better selection — no one wants wilting flowers — but also save on shipping. This is especially true when it comes to floral arrangements, as those prices tend to spike as soon as January 31 becomes February 1. And it'll only get more expensive as the holiday approaches.
The Best Deals on Valentine's Day Gifts
Whether you plan to give traditional or nontraditional gifts for Valentine's Day, here are the best deals you can expect.
Valentine's Day Jewelry
In 2020, the earliest jewelry sale we saw began on January 22 at Target, which knocked up to 80% off fine jewelry earrings, rings, and necklaces. Keep in mind this was an outlier, though — most retailers will only take about 20% to 30% off jewelry during Valentine's Day sales.
SEE ALSO: The Best Things to Buy in February
While some discounts can be great around the holiday itself — Kohl's took up to 65% off jewelry on February 8 in 2020 — the selection is typically better if you shop sooner rather than later.
Valentine's Day Flowers
Floral deals were available as soon as January 10 last year, when 1-800-Flowers cut up to 50% off with an extra 20% off. That doesn't sound so bad, but just a few days later, on January 14, the same retailer was offering only up to 40% off, with shipping from $4.99. As you can see, deals can change fast for Valentine's Day.
With flowers being in such high demand for Valentine's Day, you'll find yourself paying far more in February than other times of year. While it may be too late to take advantage this year, if you shop early, you can lock in low prices and schedule your delivery closer to the holiday. Pro tip: Avoid roses if you can. As expected, they're the premium flower for Valentine's Day and prices reflect that. Opt for rose-free floral arrangements in order to save a little cash.
Even better, keep an eye out for Wayfair's sale on Valentine's Day florals and wreaths. Last year, the retailer took up to 70% off and included fake arrangements; not only are these cheaper, but they'll last longer than a bouquet that will begin to wilt within days.
Valentine's Day Chocolate and Other Treats
Shopping sweet treats at the end of January or beginning of February brings the perfect mix of decent prices and varied selection. Look for items like festive frosted cookie multipacks from $20 at Cheryl's, but also keep an eye out for tasty deals at stores like Target, Amazon, and Godiva, as well as Kate Spade and Macy's.
Look for classic candies that all ages can appreciate, such as Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Cups from stores like Amazon. Last year, we saw a 2-lb. bag of Kisses for $8 and a 30-piece box of Reese's treats for $14. Amazon also had a 3-pack jar of M&M's in pretty Valentine-themed colors for $26. If you need something a little more sophisticated, Macy's offered a 14-piece box for $26.
If you want to shop Godiva itself, you'll have to hit the site at just the right time; in 2020, the sweet retailer knocked 20% off gifts around February 4, but the discount jumped to as much as 40% off with free shipping on $15 two days later. However, the next day it was back to a discount of 20% and free shipping on orders of $60. Perfect timing means you'll save a ton on both gifts and shipping to your sweetheart.
In general, watch for retailers to offer deals like 3 for $10 or 25% off candy at stores like Target and Amazon.
Valentine's Day Dining
Yes, there are COVID-19 vaccines rolling out now. No, not everyone will have them by Valentine's Day. That being said, you don't necessarily have to undertake cooking a special dinner on a Sunday night. Most restaurants are offering takeout options these days, so you could easily pick up dinner from your favorite eatery, or even have it delivered in many cases!
Most often we see deals geared toward couples for Valentine's Day, as should be expected. Watch for offers like "buy one, get one half off" or even "buy one, get one free." One thing you shouldn't expect is a flat discount for Valentine's Day dinner — at best you'll have a set price with a menu of a few different options. Whatever you prefer, watch for these deals to pop up a few days before Valentine's Day and run through the holiday itself.
Whether you dine in a restaurant or have a picnic in your car, be sure you're following local COVID-19 regulations and restrictions. No dinner for two is worth catching the coronavirus.
Personalized Valentine's Day Presents
If you prefer to gift something a little more personal, you can't get more personal than personalized gifts. (Sorry, was that too personal?) You can easily create custom photo books and prints at sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish. They tend to offer discounts in the lead-up to Valentine's Day, sometimes as high as 55%.
Aside from those two sites, you can also expect to find outright freebies on printed photos. Last year, Walgreens offered an 8x10" print for free as long as you picked it up at your local store; otherwise, shipping set you back $1.99.
Remember that you might not find Valentine's-themed discounts on these services, but their prices aren't crazily inflated for the holiday.
Alternative Valentine's Day Gifts
If you want to think outside the box, consider shopping for new electronics in February. You won't find the best deals of the year this month, but that doesn't mean they're not worth checking out.
SEE ALSO: What Is a Wedding Registry?
For instance, last year Amazon offered deals on Alexa devices and refurbished smartphones, and it took up to 30% off portable chargers. Apple gear was discounted by up to 50% at eBay and Monoprice boasted up to 40% off select electronics, while Walmart cut up to 69% off.
If nothing in the Valentine's Day sales is striking your fancy, there should be plenty of Presidents' Day sales to shop as well. These are especially great if your giftee prefers something practical like clothing, bedding, furniture, or home decor. These might not be traditional gifts, but they can still be meaningful — maybe even more so, depending on the item!
Last-Minute Valentine's Day Deals
If you're one of those shoppers who procrastinates no matter the occasion, you can rest easy knowing you'll be able to find something if you failed to shop early this year. Just remember that the longer you wait, the better luck you'll have when it comes to nontraditional gifts.
Look for items like clothing, tech, and especially home goods to be on sale. They'll fill the sales leading up to Valentine's Day because Presidents' Day is on February 15 this year. Odds are, you'll see better savings on these items than traditional jewelry, chocolate, and flowers.
Valentine's Day Pitfalls to Avoid
A huge number of Valentine's sales require coupon codes. While some may be obviously advertised, you'll probably have to search around for others. To keep from overpaying, apply any relevant coupon codes before you hit "buy" when you're shopping online. Minimum orders are another common shopping trap: last year, we saw a number of retailers offering discounts on purchases of $100 or more; these restrictions could lead to you overspending.
Shipping fees are another cost to consider. Free shipping isn't a common Valentine's Day offer. If you wait until the last minute and need expedited shipping, your costs will really add up. Be aware of your shipping options, and opt for local retailers or in-store pickup to save money when you can.
Flower retailers also tend to tack on extra fees for delivery in February, and sometimes there will be additional holiday delivery fees. These fees may not be obvious until you reach the checkout page, so pay attention to your total before you order. If fees put you over your budget, think about alternative gift options.
Readers, what gifts are you buying for Valentine's Day this year? Have you finished your shopping yet? Let us know in the comments below!