Valentine’s Day gender-neutral gifts may be a good option for those outside the gender binary


Many options for gender-neutral Valentine’s Day gifts include candles, candy and letters.

Logan Metzger

As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people may be wondering what they should buy for their partner.

Many couples on Valentine’s Day often buy each other gifts as a sign of affection for each other. As such, many retail stores, both online and otherwise, cater to this Valentine’s Day audience by setting out gift sections.

One issue with these retail store gift sections is the lack of representation for those individuals in relationships who identify outside of the gender binary or do not identify as male or female.

“Representation is really important as a human being, and already, we have low representation as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Trinity Dearborn, senior in women’s and gender studies, president of Pride Alliance and president of Asexual Aromantic Alliance. “It is already very stigmatized during Valentine’s Day season because everything is gendered to be cis-normative and heteronormative. The only depictions I see are straight couples that are gender binary, that are cisgender and that are usually white.”

Some ideas Dearborn and other sources suggested include chocolates, candles, gift cards, a letter and playlists.

“Something that you buy for each other is hard to escape being gendered or hard to escape being heteronormative because it is so ingrained into what Valentine’s Day means,” Dearborn said. “Having gender-neutral gifts is great, especially if you are buying gifts for, say, your friends, and they don’t know how they identify, or you are in a new relationship and want to fight the stigma against cis and heteronormativity.”


A Valentine’s Day classic is someone getting chocolates for their partner, but there are other sweet treats too.

“Ask people about their dietary restrictions and allergies because sometimes people don’t do that and don’t read what is in the candy, and then the person receiving the gift can’t eat the gift,” Dearborn said.

Dearborn said a good tip for cheap candy is often waiting till Feb. 15 and going into stores like Walmart and buying candy that is now on sale.

Fat Girl Flow, a blog by Corissa Enneking, said was a great site to pick out gift boxes full of different food, from chocolate and pickles to alcohol and cookies.

Another blog, titled “Ctrl Curate” suggested starting a date night dinner with a heart-shaped pizza and bringing it all to a sweet end with funnel cake or feeding each other truffles.


A way for partners to know each other is to pay attention to what scents they like and don’t like, and an easy way to say “Hey, I’ve noticed what you like” is to get them a candle.

“Spread joy and warmth with a beautiful candle,” according to MSN’s website. “Set the mood and your intention by the light of a flickering candle while perfuming the air with a lovely scent.”

Dearborn said to check with the partner before buying them a candle to make sure their residence allows candles and make sure they are not sensitive to any particular scents.

“If they currently own a candle, they’ll probably enjoy a candle,” Dearborn said. “But if they don’t own a candle, probably don’t get them a candle.”

Gift Cards

Buying a gift card is a way to ensure no one gets offended with a gift that they will not like, and almost every business has some sort of gift card or coupon available to pick up or buy.

Dearborn said they usually split up their choices of gift cards into two types: a place that has lots of options and a place that is very dear to the recipient.

For the first option, Dearborn suggested places like Walmart or Target where things are not super expensive but there is a wide variety of choices.

For the second option, Dearborn suggested places the person does not usually get to shop at or is a bit on the expensive side but still a place they would like.

“You can’t go wrong with gift cards. Select a local movie theater and a favorite restaurant so you can enjoy your gift as a couple,” according to “But don’t limit yourself — you can get a gift card for nearly anything, from iTunes to Netflix to Amazon to your local grocery store. It’s a good way to personalize a gift that really can’t be personalized.”


Something really special that costs almost nothing is a handwritten letter or handmade card.

“I have never cried over a gift given to me made by some company,” Dearborn said. “I have cried on multiple occasions from letters people have given me. I still have those letters, but do I know where these random gifts are? No.”

Dearborn said things like letters and handmade cards are more meaningful and heartfelt because it is a way to show how much a person cares for another person due to the effort of making something like a letter or card.


A way to show the love for another person cheaply is to make a playlist full of someone’s favorite songs.

“If you have absolutely no money to spend, then some extra time and effort needs to be put in,” according to the Little Yellow Butterflies website. “Make a Spotify playlist of all their favorites or a mixture of yours and theirs or even just of songs that remind you of them. That’s sure to brighten their morning commute. Make the playlist, give it a special name and share it with them over Spotify with a sweet message.”

The blog “Delightful Studios” suggested that creating a personalized playlist or pre-made CD is a simple and meaningful “do it yourself.” The blog suggested choosing an eclectic mix of songs that have a special meaning to you and the recipient.

“Honestly, I think the best gift is probably not even associated with Valentine’s Day,” Dearborn said. “What does this person need or want in their life that could help? Do they talk about this book that is really cool, or are they into makeup and there is a new product out? Surprise them with something; like if you live together, clean the house or make a meal.”