Valentine’s Day Survival Guide for College Students With Gift and Date Ideas

Sarah Reese
May 4, 2021

Valentine’s Day in college can be stressful. There’s a lot of hype and expectations that can be really hard to meet. Cue the Valentine’s Day survival guide. Maybe you’re a really bad planner but you have a big heart. Maybe you have a big heart…but you have no money. Or maybe you loathe the existence of Valentine’s Day, seeing it as another consumer-driving holiday where you’re forced to think of romantic activities and gifts. Or worse, it makes you think about your loneliness and how many V-day Instagram posts you’ll scroll past before you start screaming. So how do you deal with Valentine’s Day? No matter your situation, we’ve got things to do on Valentine’s Day when you’re single, gifts for him and her, and how to ask your crush on a date.

Single on Valentine’s Day

First off, being single on Valentine’s Day in college is pretty great. You don’t have to worry about spending money you have or being obligated to come up with over-the-top romantic ideas. All the expectations the big day brings can be completely avoided and you can carry on in peace. But maybe you don’t feel that way, and being single on the most romantic day of the year is a huge buzzkill for you. If that’s you, here are some survival tips.

What to do if you’re single on Valentine’s Day

  1. Don’t go on social media. If seeing people happy and in love is a sore spot for you, then avoid it altogether. You have complete control over where you spend your time so just don’t go there for a day. Instead, spend some time outdoors or catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You may be surprised at how much better it will make you feel.
  2. Have a ‘you’ day. Dedicate a whole day to your significant person: you! Maybe start it off with a good workout, then treat yourself to a nice meal, something you wouldn’t usually do. Maybe pamper yourself with a massage or spend some quality time enjoying your own company in some meditation. Then come home and binge-watch your favorite TV show with some popcorn or a box of chocolates. It sounds like the ultimate day.
  3. You can also plan a full day of productivity. It sounds dreadful, but can actually be pretty empowering: You’re doing something good for yourself. For example, you can start working on your resume to score an internship you’ve been eyeing. Or focus on a class you want to improve in, maybe by exploring better studying methods. If you want to get healthier, create a diet and nutrition plan. Anything that’s productive and can help you focus on something else counts, and you can go to bed feeling really good about yourself.
  4. Gather your friends together and have a Galentine’s (or Guyentine’s) Day. You can make this special or low-key, whatever you want. The best Galentine’s Day can usually be spent watching romantic movies with good snacks and lots of chocolate. You can even decide to do a gift exchange to show each other how much you value and appreciate each other.
  5. Newly single? Take this day to reflect on everything you learned from your past relationship. You can do this by making a list of things you want and don’t want in your next significant other. This sounds silly but can actually be really helpful when attracting the right person into your life. If you don’t identify what works and what doesn’t work for you, you may just always fall into the same crummy relationships over and over again. So grab a pen and start writing.
  6. Spread the love! Choose to pay it forward like buying a stranger’s coffee, holding the door open for someone, or volunteering somewhere. Anything that makes you feel good can turn your day around. It can be a simple act that doesn’t require a lot of work or planning but the benefits are amazing, so try it!
  7. Plan ahead, and wait until Valentine’s Day to buy yourself something you’ve wanted for a while. It’ll give you something to look forward to and make you feel special. Why be sad that no one got you anything when you bought yourself something you actually wanted? Sounds way better.

Valentine's Day care packages from mom and dad

Your parents can get in on the act. Who loves you better? Make it easy for your folks and let them know what you’d like to see in your care package on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day gift ideas from parents to daughter in college

  • Some new tops from J. Crew. Did you know J. Crew was on Amazon? That means you can get that 2-day prime shipping straight to your daughter’s dorm with something she actually wants! Check out their new arrivals, there’s usually something for everyone from this brand.
  • A dead sea mud mask to help her relax with that spa-like feel. Since your daughter probably can’t afford a spa day as a college student, why not bring the spa day to her? If you’ve got the budget, pick up a few extra so she and her friends can enjoy the day together.
  • A weighted blanket can help her sleep better because they ease anxiety and stress. Look for the right size, since this is a big factor for the benefits of the blanket. For best results, the blanket should weigh approximately 10 percent of your daughter’s body weight.
  • An assortment of herbal teas makes a great Valentine’s Day gift from mom and dad. These are especially good for when your daughter needs a relaxing mini-break from her roommates or simply wants to cozy up with a cup of tea after a long week of studying.
Sending a care package to your son on Valentine’s Day might be a bit trickier to get right. Of course, the gift itself doesn’t matter. What’s really important is the love from back home it represents. Still, he might appreciate some of these.

Valentine’s Day gift idea from parents to son in college

  • A Hydroflask reusable water bottle. Odds are, your son’s campus has water fill-up stations all over since that’s the norm these days. So why not get him an insulated water bottle that he can take everywhere? A good bottle should keep water cold for up to 24 hours. Perfect for those hot spring and summer days and 3 hour-long lectures.
  • The game of Spike Ball. This volleyball-like game is super fun for everyone, especially college guys! He can rally up some friends and play when springtime rolls around.
  • Bose wireless earbuds are a great present and will be used constantly, whether your son is working out or walking to and from class. If he’s already got those, don’t forget about the on-ear version of Bluetooth headphones.
  • Socks. There is no such thing as too many socks, especially in college. So don’t feel like this is a lame gift: Socks are practical and would be the perfect add-on to other presents in the useful theme.

College students who are in a relationship on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air…but money may not be in your pocket. The good thing is no one really expects you to spend a lot the only person putting that pressure on you is you! There are so many inexpensive things you can do on Valentine’s Day, and it can still be extremely romantic if you play your cards right.

Valentine’s Day date ideas for college students

  1. Go ice skating. Does your school have an ice skating rink? If you have a hockey team or even an outdoor rink if you live somewhere cold, sometimes they open it up and allow you to go skating for free or for a very reasonable price. Usually, you only have to spend money to rent the skates and then you and your sweetie can have a romantic time falling, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. Follow it up with a movie and some hot chocolate and it sounds like the best V-Day date there ever was.
  2. Make a playlist specifically for your SO of all the songs that remind you of them. Take them someplace sweet that has relevance to your relationship and listen to the playlist together. Even if you take a drive to nowhere, this can be one of the best non-date dates ever. And it’s incredibly thoughtful.
  3. Make a scavenger hunt. How fun is this?! You can get really cheesy and make the clues a poem and place them at important landmarks of your relationship. Maybe the first place you met. The first place you kissed. The classroom where it all started. Get creative. You can lead it to a box of chocolates or a dozen roses or whatever you want. They’ll be so blown away by your effort and creativity they won’t care what they get at the end.
  4. Watch the sunset together. The best way to end the day will be to watch the sunset together if you can see it. Grab a blanket and find a spot to sit and cuddle as you chat and enjoy being with each other. It’s free and it’s a special way to show someone you care about them.

Gift ideas for your significant other

If you want to buy your SO a gift for Valentine’s Day, we got gift ideas for him and her. Find one that fits your budget and is meaningful, romantic or just plain fun. 

Valentine’s Day gifts for her

1. Chocolate-covered strawberries

chocolate covered strawberries for valentine's day in college Nothing says “I love you” like chocolate-covered strawberries. These are the BEST and everyone enjoys them. You can get them specially delivered and hopefully your girlfriend will be in a sharing mood!  

2. Heart necklace

Want to say something sentimental with a piece of jewelry but don’t want to drop all that money? This delicate heart necklace is so sweet and cute, your Valentine will love it and won’t even care how much you spent on it. It really IS the thought that counts.

3. Cutest little desktop planter

If your girl’s a green thumb, she’ll enjoy a pretty plant to nurture. Most planters are a bit bulky and space is precious in small spaces like dorms and apartments. A desktop planter vase is the perfect gift to remove the bulk of a planter and give her a little greenery to spruce up her day.  

4. Essential oil diffuser 

essential oil diffuser for Valentine's day in collegeThere’s a reason diffusers are always popular gifts. An essential oil diffuser can do more than just make her space more fragrant; it can be calming and relaxing. It’s great for long days of studying or romantic nights in with each other.  

5. Jade facial roller

Looking for something trendy? Check out this jade facial roller. Jade is known for its calming and soothing effects. It can help ease stress and diminish the look of bags under the eyes and puffy eyes while awakening and rejuvenating the skin. (Hint: Whatever you do, don’t mention the puffy eyes or bags. Stress the massage and rejuvenation aspects).

Valentine’s Day gifts for him

1. Book of date ideas

A book of date ideas is the gift that keeps on giving your entire relationship. Whenever you’re looking for something you and your SO can do, you can pick up this book and find something. Easy! This book has so many unconventional dates and activities for you to make the best memories together, even if they’re total fails.  

2. A handwritten book by you

handwritten book for Valentine's Day in college Another book, but this one is customized and made especially by you. If your boyfriend is a sentimental kind of person, he will absolutely adore this because it was made by you.  

3. Fondue for two set fodue for two for Valentine's Day in college

No stove needed! The best thing about fondue is you can do a cheese fondue or chocolate fondue and either make for a romantic meal where you and your lover can enjoy all the bite-sized dips you want. This also makes a great party item, so the next time you host anything you can pull this out and it’s sure to be a hit.

4. A blueprint of his childhood dog

blueprint of dog for Valentine's Day in collegeA dog is a man’s best friend. So why not get your BF a blueprint of his canine friend to remind him of his pup. This one is perfect to hang up by his desk and he will be so grateful for the thought you put into it that alongside his doggo, he will think of you every time he sees it.

5. USA beer cap map

USA beer cap map for Valentine's Day in collegeIf your hipster boyfriend is a craft beer lover,a beer cap map is the perfect gift. It can even be the basis of your future travel plans. Sure, it might be local at first, but in time you can hit every state and make sure to take a beer cap with you to put on the map.

For those who are crushing hard on Valentine’s Day in college

Valentine’s Day is the most cliche day to tell your crush you're into them. It’s also the most acceptable day in the year to do just that, whether you're in college or not. Everyone is much more approachable on Valentine’s Day. Still, admitting your feelings to your crush is hard. No one wants to get rejected. If that’s a possibility, you want to gear yourself up so you don’t fall flat on your face.

How to survive telling your crush you’re into them on Valentine’s Day in college:

  1. Send a card to your crush. It doesn’t have to contain a declaration of love; it can say how much you appreciate them. Be specific, listing the traits you find most endearing. A note is an easier way to tell someone you like them since you don’t have to get the words out in person and worry about saying the wrong thing.
  2. Give a handmade gift to your crush. It can be anything from a painted mason jar to a decorative box. Fill the container with heart-shaped chocolates and attach a Valentine to it. Your friend will appreciate that you took the time to make something unique.
  3. Invite your crush on a “casual” pizza date. You can either go get pizza or bring it over for them; either way, it's not too expensive. Ask the pizza shop to make the pizza into a heart shape (most pizza shops will!) This is totally worth it and if your crush does say yes to pizza, chances are they like you already so you don’t have to worry about being rejected!