Valentine's Day Gift Giving Habits Across the USA

Valentine’s Day Gift Giving Habits Across the USA

Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, better get a gift for that special you-know-who! Love is in the air and so is the sweet embrace of a giant teddy bear you never asked for and that CVS bottom-shelf perfume you’ll never wear. Thanks though. It’s that time of year when we express how we feel by how much we spend. How romantic.

Love is a battlefield and so are the gifts that surround it. What does a partner actually want to receive? How much is too much and is a $20 gift considered “cheap”? Is three dates enough to buy your love interest a gift? A card?

We were just as curious when it came to the (monetary) matters of the heart, so we took to the masses. By interviewing 4,000 participants across the US we were able to gather American sentiment around Valentine’s Day gifts, how much should be spent, the timeline for giving a gift, and more. 

Key Findings:

Americans will spend $51.32 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, on average

Idaho had the highest V-Day spend at $84.38, Alaska had the lowest spend at $20

Dinner was the #1 choice for a gift while underwear is the most poorly received Valentine’s Day gift

Big-ballers, Shot Callers: States Spending the Most on Valentine’s Day

Roll out the red carpet because the big Valentine’s Day spenders are here. If you’re hoping for rose petals on the bed, Dom Pérignon in the fridge, and maybe a bit of bling-bling, some states offer a better bet than others. When we asked participants from each state how much they were planning to spend for the upcoming holiday, some didn’t hold back!

If you want to spend Valentine’s Day in luxury, you’ll have to head to the potato state, as Idaho ranks #1 biggest spender for Valentine’s Day gifts. These studs are giving more than just spuds with an average spending of $84.38. Right now the average cost of roses in the US is around $80 (yikes, we know), so Idaho is feeling generous enough to throw in a box of chocolates too. 

Heading to the East Coast, a second-place winner emerges. They don’t call it the Diamond State for nothing as Delaware ranks #2 biggest Valentine’s Day spenders. Small in size, mighty in spending power: Delawareans will spend $78.13 on average this Valentine’s Day. 

The third-place winners follow closely behind. Oregon ranks #3 biggest Valentine’s Day spenders with an average of $77.50 on gifts. Just remember, Oregon, and Portland even more so, is considered a weirdly wonderful place, so don’t expect that $80 to go to your typical bouquet of flowers. America’s weirdest Valentine’s Day gifts are covered later, so hold onto your (heart-shaped) hats. 

Cities projected to spend the most this Valentine’s Day

If we get more granular we can see that some cities defy their state average. Where their state counterparts might be stingy, these cities are going all out! The top spender cities were as follows: 

Houston – $105.27

Atlanta – $89.04

Myrtle Beach – $87.50

Phoenix – $85.63

Dallas – $79.25

Baltimore – $78.75

Tampa – $73.75

Denver – $71.79

Detroit – $67.15

San Francisco – $65.36

If you’re from any of these big 10, you can expect a gracious gift this Valentine’s Day, but remember: it’s a two-way street down lover’s lane!

The Cheapskates of Valentine’s Day

We’ve celebrated the most lavish of lovers, but what about those who are sore to spend on amor? Praise be the Idahos and Delawares of the world, but we’ve got to call out the other side of the spectrum too. 

Our stingiest Valentine’s Day gift-givers have hearts possibly just as frozen as the lands they live on. That’s right- Alaska takes first place for the stingiest Valentine’s Day spending in the country. On average, Alaskan couples will spend $20 for gifts this February 14. Not all is lost, however. Over half of Alaskans said they prefer homemade to store-bought gifts for the holiday. It’s the thought that counts!

America’s Dairyland: known for their kindheartedness and cheese-loving spirit. Wisconsin is known for many things, but gift-giving isn’t one, unfortunately. Wisconsin ranked #2 stingiest state when it came to Valentine’s Day spending. On the plus side, 84% of Wisconsites said that a card is enough for Valentine’s Day so at least expectations are met. The latest data shows a greeting card will run you about $5, so Wisconsin’s average Valentine’s Day spending of $30.26 won’t get you much further than a card and candy.

To top off the bottom three, Iowa hits the hot seat. Iowa ranks the third stingiest Valentine’s Day gifters with an average spend of $34.77. On the flipside, Iowa comes in #5 for lowest cost of living, so we can imagine that the dollar for devotion stretches a bit further in the Hawkeye State. 

Best and Worst Gifts to Give

The 93” Giant Teddy Bear from Costco is $399.99 and just because it costs a lot doesn’t mean it’s nearly as wanted. Every year, partners half-smile through the unpackaging of their new vacuum cleaners or hard swallow a box of plastic-tasting chocolates. Through the moans and groans, we wanted to know: what is it that people really want for Valentine’s Day? The proof is in the (data) pudding.

Hungry for a happy Valentine’s Day? So is the rest of the nation! The #1 favored gift for Valentine’s Day was dinner. A candle-lit meal at your sweetheart’s favorite restaurant will do just the trick. Following a flavorful theme, the second-best Valentine’s Day gift goes to chocolates. 

Food may be the greatest of gifts, but you can’t go wrong with bling-bling! Jewelry ranked #3 for top gift to receive. It’s worth noting that women put jewelry as a top choice 96% more than men. It’s true what they say, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.

There are winners and losers on this day of affection. The #1 worst gift was underwear with 99% of respondents saying this would be the worst gift to receive. The bottom two goes to household appliances. Although a robot vacuum cleaner is handy, it certainly doesn’t scream romantic for 96% of respondents. To round off the bottom three, stuffed animals ranks third worst gift to receive for Valentine’s Day. Save Teddy for the tots this Valentine’s Day. 

Timeline for gift giving: what’s considered acceptable by popular vote

What’s the line between creepy and caring when it comes to gift giving timelines for V-Day? Is a couple of dates too soon to gift give on February 14? 4,000 Americans weighed in on the exact timeline they believe is appropriate to gift someone a Valentine’s Day present.

Over half of Americans agree that the sweet spot of Valentine’s Day gifts is after 1-3 months of dating. The romance is still blooming, but a small gift wouldn’t hurt at this stage. Another 26% believe that the right time is 6 months after dating.  A small 9% of extremists believe that Valentine’s Day gifts shouldn’t even be considered until over a year of dating! 

Men vs. Women: What’s an acceptable gift? 

Love may be a universal language, but we’ve found that men and women speak it quite differently. What constitutes as “heart-eyes” for men, might be a real eye-roll emoji for women, and the reverse. 

Let’s start with the card. We asked male and female respondents if a card is good enough for Valentine’s Day or if there should be a gift to accompany it. Surprisingly, the majority of men (54%) said a card is not enough while 65% of women said just a card is fine. There goes the myth of women being high-maintenance! 

Both men and women agreed that dinner was the best gift to receive, but they diverged on their second and third-best options. Where men said chocolate would be a good #2 gift to receive, women cited jewelry as their second choice for a Valentine’s Day gift. The third best option was flowers for women and a gift card for men. 

How much are men and women expecting their darlings to spend? The numbers are in and, ladies, get the wallets out. Women expect their male partners to spend $49.59, but men expect their female partners to spend more, $60.61 to be exact! 

*Insufficient data for transgender, non-binary, other gender identities, and non-heterosexual relationships to draw conclusive findings.

Weirdest Valentine’s Day Gifts from Survey Findings

As a little cherry on top, we’re uncovering the weirdest gifts Americans have ever received as well. Below we’ve categorized the strangest gifts with the top responses.

Edible and Food-Related: 18%

Boxes of produce

Clothing and Accessories: 17%

Edible underwear

Artistic and Handmade: 11%

Poorly done hand-drawn portraits

Entertainment and Media: 10%

Unwanted DVD’s

Tech and Gadgets: 7%

Backscratchers

Plants and Animals: 18%

Venus flytraps

Miscellaneous: 12%

Ties, guns, toothbrushes, Trump merch

Although these were the top answers, we’re tipping our hats to those poor souls who received a bundle of hair (!!) from their partners, Cheech and Chong figurines, a toilet plunger, and…Chex Mix. Roses are so mainstream, right?

The romance rundown

Remember when love is in the air, you better hope there’s at least $51.32 in your wallet, as that’s the expected Valentine’s Day budget for Americans. Who says you can’t put a price on love? With dinner, chocolates, and jewelry coming into the top places for gifts, we would argue otherwise. If all else fails, just remember that 42% of Americans are okay with homemade gifts. So you might just get away with that handwritten note instead of a Michelin-star dinner. Maybe. 

Methodology

We surveyed over 4,000 Americans in January 2024 to discover the gift-giving habits and sentiment surrounding Valentine’s Day. The age range was between 18-65 with all participants residing in the United States. Over half — 56% — were female, 42% were male, 1% identified as trans or non-binary, and 1% listed “other”.

Fair Use

Feel free to use the data or visuals on this page for non-commercial purposes. Please be sure to include proper attribution linking back to this page to give credit to the authors.

For any press questions, please contact riley.clark[at]casino.org

Author: Nathan Sanchez