30 Gifts That Will Impress Your “Difficult” Valentine

For the most part, we actually enjoy buying gifts. As professional shoppers, we delight in finding that one trinket that’s going to surprise our romantic partners and loved ones come February 14th. And, for the most part, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel (if we do say so ourselves). But, there are outliers in this shopping scenario — the people that leave us hemming, hawing, and endlessly scrolling to find the just-right thing that will satisfy their highly-exacting tastes. The kind-of-difficult ones.

You know the type: if you’re going to get this person a sweater, you can’t get them just any sweater; it has to be ethically sourced, top-of-the-line cashmere. A simple glassware set just won’t do, either; it has to be design snob-approved. Well: look no further, harried shopper. Because when it comes to those hard-to-please folks in your life, we’ve got you (and them) covered. Ahead, find 30 gifts that will actually pass muster with your pickiest Val-pals.


At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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Baby Yoda Guitar Pick

The Val-pal: Your guitar-playing, science fiction-reading hookup

Why They’ll Love It: Is your boo … picky?! (Guffaw! Sorry, had to.) If you want to wow the “Star Wars”-loving troubadour in your life for the low, low price of $4.49, you can end your search now.
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The Philosopher’s Stoneground Sprouted Almond Butter

The Val-pal: Your crunchy (guffaw!) childhood bestie

Why They’ll Love It: If your Valentine is particular about what they’ll put on their bodies — organic cotton only, please! — they’re probably equally picky about what they put in their bodies. Therefore, we suggest a tried and true (and sustainably made) snack from Patagonia Provisions, the food-purveying arm of the renowned outdoor retailer. Everything in their inventory is just as low-impact as the brand’s clothing — but luckily, these goods are one-size-fits-all. Our pick: this nut butter made from sprouted almonds. (Ooo la la.)

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Mavogel Modal Sleep Mask

The Val-pal: Your best friend (and former roommate), who’s still living in that group house

Why They’ll Love It: Your thrifty bestie is saving her pennies by remaining in your (affordable) former multi-roommate pad — but she’s really ready to live alone. Help her get through these final months of dealing with rowdy flat-mates with this top-rated, super-soft weighted sleep mask.
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Sugar Momma Cookie Co. Lucky Charm Hot Chocolate Bomb

The Val-pal: Your work wife (and former 3 PM pain au chocolat partner-in-crime)

Why they’ll love it: A heated debate sprung up during a recent team meeting regarding the merits of flavored hot chocolate bombs — some of were waving the banana cream pie flag; others were proponents of a dairy-free option; others still advocated for the ultimate childhood treat: a bomb laced with Lucky Charms “marshmallows.” (Me.) Luckily, no matter the sugar preferences of the Valentine in question, there is a hot chocolate bomb that will help your work wife reminisce about your shared late-afternoon bakery pick-me-ups at the office.

Shop hot chocolate bombs on Etsy
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Mad Libs Dear Valentine Letters

The Val-pal(s): Your former brunch squad-turned-far flung friend group

Why They’ll Love It: Harness your silliest inner child with a time-honored goofy game of wordsmithing. You can use this Zoom-compatible activity for any remote February 14th celebrations with your gang, and then have a tangible memento to drop in the mail.

Shop Mad Libs on Amazon
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LiBa Massage Hook

The Val-pal: The over-worked, over-hunched friend who’s quarantining solo

Why They’ll Love It: Massages make great gifts, whether it’s a visit to a professional spa or a casual foot or back rub delivered by your boo. However, with the possibility that social distancing prevents both of these things from happening, we’re going to suggest the next best thing: this fanatically-reviewed massage cane, which enables anyone to give themselves a sublime pressure-point massage and target hard-to-reach places.

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Masha Apparel Tie Dye Bamboo Socks

The Val-pal: Your loungewear-connoisseur roommate

Why They’ll Love It: We’ve seen a lot of tie-dye in the past 12 months, and in our professional opinion, the gradient and color distribution on this pair of socks are of expert origin. Even better, they’re made from bamboo — a renewable fiber that’s naturally absorbent and sweat-wicking. Your eternally sweats-clad roomie will definitely approve.

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FantasyBear “Star Wars” Candy Molds

The Val-pal: Your sweet-toothed spouse

Why They’ll Love It: Sure, the Whitman’s or See’s sampler is a crowd-pleaser, but why not make your chocolate gift interactive this year? We love the idea of DIY-ing some sweet treats that align wsith your partner’s passions, whether they’re a Star Wars superfan or a connoisseur of all things herbal. Simply browse for a mold that aligns with your belief system, add some melting chocolate to cart, and voilà! Edible R2D2.

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Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker

The Val-pal: Your sweet-toothed spouse, who really enjoyed their chocolate Darth Vader and now wants to DIY other desserts

Why They’ll Love It: Chocolate-making was such a hit that you’re looking for something else you can whip up at home. Enter this pint-sized, affordably-priced ice cream maker — it will allow your sweetheart to produce single servings of sorbet or gelato on a whim.

Shop Dash on Bed Bath & Beyond
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Alder New York Cleansing Facial Brush

The Val-pal: Your Irish Spring-devotee partner

Why They’ll Love It: Alder is a queer- and woman-owned indie skincare imprint that makes a range of beautifully designed, unisex products for all skin types. This small-but-mighty scrubber is equipped with over one million (!) nylon bristles to stimulate the dermis, making that AM face-wash feel, well, one million times more luxurious than it normally does. A sweet and thoughtful gift for anyone who could use a cleansing boost — even the most low-maintenance bar-soap user.

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This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

The Val-pal: Your insomniac new-mom friend

Why They’ll Love It: They’ve always been a troubled sleeper, and with a newborn at home, it hasn’t gotten any easier. Help them unwind with this ahhh-inducing pillow spray — it contains a blend of lavender, vetiver, and chamomile oils, all of which promote relaxation.

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Boomie Custom Handmade Recipe Cards

The Val-pal: Your mom, whose hand-written bolognese recipe you reference almost weekly

Why They’ll Love It: Your mom still has the same recipe box that she’s had since you were a kid, and when a new dish enters her repertoire, she dutifully jots it down. Help her maintain this tradition with some fresh handmade paper from artisan-goods website GlobeIn.

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Snow Peak Wabuki Collapsible Chopsticks

The Val-pal: Your great-outdoors-loving partner

Why They’ll Love It: For gear enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than Snow Peak — the Japanese brand is responsible for some of the best quality and most elevated design on the outdoor market. We love their top-rated folding chopsticks as a gift for anyone who loves the great outdoors (or just noodles) — crafted from bamboo and stainless steel, the utensils’ ingenious design enables them to collapse into a 4.5-inch pouch for seamless transport.

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Homesick Candles Date Night

The Val-pal: Your co-parent

Why They’ll Love It: Before you became parents, date night was a pretty regular thing for you and your boo, whether it was burgers at your local watering hole or a rarefied omakase meal where you’d waited months for a reservation. Now, most nights are reserved for collapsing into bed at 9 PM, but you can still channel those cherished romantic evenings of yore with Homesick Candle’s fig and cashmere-scented votive. (The cheeky-burner brand will even inscribe a custom message if you click the “Make It Personal” button when you add to cart.)

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Haus Citrus Flower Apertif

The Val-pal: Your hostess-with-the-mostess mixologist buddy

Why They’ll Love It: Your bestie who used to love throwing dinner parties is suffering from a serious lack of stimuli these days. Get their creative juices flowing again with an additive-free aperitif made with herbs, fruits, and botanicals for maximum slow-sipping enjoyment.
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Bormioli Rocco Stackable Wine Glasses

The Val-pal: Your “I’ll have one more glass” ride-or-die

Why They’ll Love It: On those evenings that one nightcap turned into seven, this person was by your side, ordering more fries and making sure you got into the right Uber at 2 AM. The pandemic has quashed both of your nightlife habits for now, but you can still help them imbibe in style (at home) with the gift of chic and easily stored wineglasses.

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Jewellry by AMMA Sterling Silver Initial Necklace

The Val-pal: Your highly sentimental, very minimal sister

Why They’ll Love It: When in doubt, call upon a forever crowd-pleaser — even the most stylishly restrained among us can’t resist the siren call of a dainty personalized necklace.

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Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier

The Val-pal: your beauty gadget-curious sister

Why they’ll love it: Your formerly sunscreen-skipping older sister has a renewed interest in her beauty rountine of late, and is suddenly experimenting with skincare supplements and plant-based serums. Wow her with Hey Dewy’s pint-sized, portable, USB-chargeable humidifier; perfect for refreshing the complexion midday (or really anytime of day).
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Golde Cacao Turmeric Superfood Latte Kit

The Giftee: Your gut health-conscious best friend

The Rationale: She’s beginning to dip her toes into the waters of clean eating, eschewing fast-food for the acai-forward rainbow bowls that she spotted on Instagram. She’ll appreciate the gift of this body-warming turmeric latte blend.

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Quince Mongolian Cashmere Loungewear

The Val-pal: Anyone in your life who will benefit from cashmere

Why They’ll Love It: We’re pretty evangelical about Quince’s highly competitive prices and top-notch quality — and their cashmere separates are vetted reader faves. If you know someone who deserves a treat on February 14th, they’ll love a pair of luxurious joggers or a super-soft-sweater.

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Felicia Liang New York City Chinatown Poster

The Val-pal: Your weekly dim sum partner

Why They’ll Love It: While your standing Sunday dim sum date is on hold at the moment, you can still cherish the memories of endless cups of oolong tea with this poster from New York artist Felicia Liang. (A portion of proceeds from the poster will go to Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund, for local-business relief.)

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Leesa Seat Cushion

The Val-pal: Your live-in lover, who is slowly destroying their back in that hard wooden chair

Why They’ll Love It: There are a handful of products — face masks, hand sanitizer, office chairs — that will go down in 2020/2021 history as indispensable items. Another must-have on this list? The butt pillow — perfect for helping uncomfy home chairs achieve WFH-ready comfort levels. If your partner is still laptopping away in a chair that’s not intended for prime time, they’ll really feel pampered when they sink their cheeks into Leesa’s memory-foam cushion.

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Olympia Provisions Salami Bouquet

The Val-pal: Your extreme-foodie friend

Why They’ll Love It: Think this “bouquet” of salami is ridiculous? Silly as it may seem to deliver cured meat in the form of a fresh-flower bunch, this bundle is bound to send the food snob in your life into paroxysms of joy. Portland’s Olympia Provisions is renowned for its handmade, antibiotic-free charcuterie, which is produced locally in Oregon’s first USDA-approved salumeria. 

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Jeremy Ayers Pottery Friendship Mugs (Set of Two)

The Val-pal: Your mom, who was kind enough to let you move home last March

Why They’ll Love It: Being roommates with your parents wasn’t easy when you were a teenager, and surprise surprise, not much has changed. However, even though it hasn’t been a picnic, your mom has kinda been your rock in 2020. Show her some love this Valentine’s Day with a handmade mug set that you can both enjoy.
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Urban Flowers Chicago Tied Bouquet of Mixed Roses

The Val-pal: Your by-the-book mother-in-law

Why They’ll Love It: Thanks to a rustic presentation, unexpected sprigs of greenery, and a beautiful mix of Valentine’s Day-approved roses, this simple bouquet satisfies both your alterna-teen tendencies and your mother-in-law’s traditional taste in gifts.

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Ecoflax Linen Fitted Sheet

The Val-pal: Your sweaty bed-mate

Why They’ll Love It: OK, we know it’s a little spendy, but linen bedding is so luxurious, we can’t resist the opportunity to splurge on it. Aside from being a renewable and biodegradable material that’s super eco-friendly, linen is strong, antibacterial, and naturally cooling. On a holiday that’s all about getting into bed, why not make the boudoir extra soigné with this super-fiber? 

Shop linen bedding on Etsy
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Click and Grow Smart Garden

The Val-pal: Your wannabe-green thumb boyfriend

Why They’ll Love It: Poor dude. He tries so hard to be a plant lady, but it’s just not going to happen. (For, uh, several reasons.) However, this countertop herb garden won’t be deterred by his light-challenged basement cave — it self-waters and has built-in lights to ensure healthy and happy greenery.

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Fujifilm Mini Link Smartphone Printer

The Val-pal: Your vintage-obsessed Netflix-and-chill companion

Why They’ll Love It: They tote their film camera everywhere they go, but they still can’t capture every waking moment with their point-and-shoot. Give them the ability to fudge a filmic moment with a printer that will turn their digital shots into sepia-toned masterpieces.

Shop Fujifilm at Urban Outfitters
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Jessica Sennett Cheese Grotto

The Val-pal: Your home-cook partner who, over the course of 2020, has acquired literally every kitchen gadget under the sun (except for a cheese grotto)

Why They’ll Love It: A tiny had-carved box just for storing cheese?! Now we’ve seen everything! In all seriousness, our jaws hit the floor when we laid our fromage-happy eyes on Jessica Sennett’s “cheese grotto” — a segmented wooden storage container that allows for air circulation around your precious block of cheddar — while still preserving it and protecting it from the elements. Does one need a special jewel box for cheese? Probably not. Is this the perfect gift for the turophile in your life? Absolutely.

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Starlite Motel in Woodstock

The Val-pal(s): You and your cabin-fever suffering spouse

Why They’ll Love It: While this is certainly a tough year for travel, you and your honey need a change of scenery — preferably a romantic one. Airbnb is full of beautiful, intimate lodgings boasting enhanced cleaning procedures that you can search by proximity to narrow down car-accessible destinations. We love the vintage vibes at the restored Starlite Motel in upstate New York, but if that’s not your speed, check out these 10 romantic Airbnb destinations.

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