From birthdays to anniversaries, men all around the world struggle to find the perfect gift. Maybe he doesn’t quite know her style. Or maybe he feels clueless about her shirt size. Then he might settle for flowers and chocolates. But what about the memories you’ve made? All of those things in her mind make for the best gifts a girl can receive. Movie tickets, first dates and even printed out “first-text” conversations can turn into some of the best gifts you could ever give her.
Check out these 10 presents that say I love you for him—and light up the world for her.
1. 365 (Or However Many Days) Reasons Jar
I spent hours preparing this one-year anniversary gift for my boyfriend. But the payoff that followed made the time worth it. Collect a mason jar, construction paper and glue. For each day of your relationship, write down something you love about her. Think about every reason she’s awesome. I know, it sounds intense to think up of that many. But once you start thinking, it’s actually quite easy to keep the reasons coming. Some of mine included, “I love the way you make me laugh” and “I love how you and I love the same video games.” Simple reasons such as these make someone smile for hours after receiving the gift and for years to come.
2. Care Package
“Care packages usually do well for me,” said incoming Penn State University freshman Madeline Consentino. “I’ve given those out a couple of times, and the nice thing about that is that you don’t have to use them right then and there. You can use them whenever you see fit.” Care packages range from movie date nights, filled with popcorn, soda and DVDs or sick-day care packages, stuffed to the brim with microwavable chicken noodle soup and DayQuil.
Simple and easy, “Open When…” letters turn a sour day into a sweet one. Just drive to a Staples nearby to pick up supplies, like envelopes, Sharpies and lots of love. You could write a letter for when she’s sad or when he’s happy. You could write a letter for when you’re far away from your girlfriend. You could even write a letter that’s filled with corny dad jokes just to make her laugh. Add some cute hearts and smiles all around the packaging for some extra creativity and pack them all together. A bundle of letters coupled with a side of love will always brighten her day.
4. “Kisses for When I’m Not There” Gift
Some people use actual Hershey Kisses for this. Others use paper and kiss on it with lipstick to hand them to their partner. Just imagine, you’re both halfway through the summer and both miss the heck out of each other. Then, one day, she discovers a package in the mail, filled with chocolate or paper kisses that say “kisses for when I’m not there.” Not only will you score major brownie points with her, you’ll also score major brownie points with her parents for your thoughtfulness.
“I once put all our memories into a shadowbox,” said SUNY Old Westbury junior Kristina Morales. “I’m usually not creative, but I tried to be for our one-year anniversary. I took all the tickets and pamphlets and little things I collected throughout the year, and put them in one shadowbox to keep it all together. My boyfriend loved it.” I once did this as well for my one-year anniversary. To this day the shadowbox hangs in my boyfriend’s bedroom, filled with our tickets from our first-dates to wrappers from candy we’ve eaten together. Put your best memories on display.
6. “Hooked On You” Candy Jar
Buy a mason jar from your local craft store, gummy worms or bugs and place them into the jar. Then, stick a sign on the outside that says “hooked on you,” referring to the bugs they use to fish. People always relate dating to a pool, or that “millions of fish in the sea” exist. This gift just plays off of that.
7. The Five Senses Gifts
Penn State junior Chris Tassillo said, “My girlfriend went out of her way to get a gift that related to each of my senses and from there she made signs and things that went along with the gifts. I loved it because she took so much time out of her day just to do that for me. No one had ever done that before.” Stuck on gifts for all five senses? Give a gift card to a movie theater for sight. For taste, buy her favorite snack. For sound, splurge on a pair of new headphones for her. For touch, spend money on a top she’s been staring at for the longest of time. For smell, pick out a candle that enhances her favorite scent. If you know the person well, putting together this gift should feel like second nature — like your senses.
8. Coupon Book
Coupon books replace gifts for when our cash flow depletes. But don’t mistake this for laziness. Making a coupon book for your boyfriend or girlfriend exemplifies what a coupon means. A free back rub, choice of dinner, where to go for date night, choice of movie or even “win an argument” coupon make up some examples of what you could put into the little book. You’ll make choosing date nights a lot easier in the future. Your future-self thanks you already.
9. Shoes with a Side of Cheese
“I got my girlfriend shoes once,” said University of Florida junior James Sanchez. “But I didn’t want them to just be shoes, ya know? So I put a sign on the inside of the shoebox saying ‘I’m so happy you walked into my life.’ She loved the pun and almost cried seeing. Even the little gifts like that make someone so happy.” Honestly, can we all agree that this should describe the standard for men? If I received this gift, I would just about faint at the cuteness.
10. Homemade Card
Your loving words written in a card will make your girlfriend smile on any day of the year. But a homemade card that puts in the extra effort lights up someone’s life like no other. “I was running low on time one year,” said Siena College junior Alex Stein. “I made a card from some cardstock I had to pair with the gift. My girl loved it. It was simple and to the point, but she still has it hanging up on her wall to this day. She loved that I made it myself.” Some cardstock, sharpies and maybe a few extra stickers makes up what you need for this basic DIY. Maybe add a pun like “I’m so happy you’re a ‘piz-za’ my life” with a picture of pizza on it, or “we make a great pear” with a picture of two pears. Do what you think will make her laugh and smile. She’ll love the time you put into making the card in the first place.