Thought you had established a “no gift” policy this Valentine’s? We know how that story ends. Hint: with one person being disappointed. Don’t show up to Valentine’s dinner tonight empty-handed. Here are three last-minute gift ideas that are both more thoughtful and pragmatic than a box of chocolates.
The gift of nourishment: MealPal
If only we all had the luxury of meal prepping like our favorite Instagram lifestyle and food bloggers do. Just easy peasy stuffed peppers that you can make for a week’s worth of packed lunches. Unfortunately, most of us spend our Sundays lounging rather than taking to our kitchens to make economical, efficient and tasty meals. However, innovative food startups have made it possible to save money on food without cooking at home.
MealPal, in particular, is a creative idea perfect for any urban professional looking for tasty bites — particularly your entrepreneur boyfriend or girlfriend who’s so busy building their business that they doesn’t want to waste mental capacity on thinking about food.
For $119 a month, users can choose a single meal Monday through Friday from over 1,000 participating restaurants across 7 cities — Washington, DC, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. If you don’t need a daily fix, you can go with a cheaper plan: $79 for 12 meals each month or $42 for 6 meals. MealPal is only available for lunch and you have to schedule a time to pick up your grub.
The gift of wealth: Buy a share of their favorite public company
How about giving your loved ones shares of their favorite companies? Your hubby’s favorite induglence is a Shack Burger (SHAK) and strawberry frozen custard, his favorite gadget is a GoPro (GPRO) and his dream car is a Tesla Model S P100D. Though you may not be able to afford to buy him the Tesla (TSLA) right now, SparkGift lets you gift stock to anyone within a matter of minutes. The company creates a gift certificate and sends it to the recipient, who will have to set up an account on the site.
Accounts are opened with Folio Institutional, an online brokerage firm that handles all of the trades conducted through SparkGift. Unfortunately, as the gift giver, you’ll be charged $2.95 and a 3% fee, but recipients don’t need to pay anything to redeem the gift. You can give between $20 and $2,000 per gift, and they never expire so can invest at any point in time.
Most traditional brokers won’t allow you to do this, so this is a fun, exciting alternative to teach your lovers about investing and help them take part in the growth of their favorite brands. SparkGift makes investing fun and simple so young investors (or any first-time investor for that matter) can learn about the stock market.
The gift of quality time: Drink & paint together
Tipsy bonding is always a great idea. Get your loved one a voucher to one of the many “paint & wine” locations where you can have a romantic date night while flexing your artistic muscles. Typically, an artist instructs a small group of people step-by-step to replicate a featured painting of the evening. Prices range from $30-$50 and depending on the location; drinks may be included, or you may have to buy them at the bar or BYOB. Gilt City and Groupon (GRPN) frequently have vouchers to these locations, as well.
A few suggestions: Wine and Canvas is a nationwide chain across 25 states. Pricing at Wine and Canvas locations is between $35-$45 a person.
Regional chain Muse Paintbar (across eight states along the east coast) offers creative options like painting wine glasses and offers theme nights like “empowerment of women.” Even if you have zero artistic skill, this is a great opportunity to challenge yourself and even bring out the competitive edge in your significant other.
What are you getting your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Let me know at @melodyhahm.
Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate.