My first episode of Valentine's Day anxiety was in the sixth grade. Having just made the move from elementary to middle school, I expected to celebrate the holiday with an inclusive stay-at-home-mom-hosted party similar to those of my K-through-five years. Instead, rather than the afternoon of lukewarm soda and Funfetti cake I'd hoped for, student council hosted a carnation sale. While billed as a fundraiser, everyone knew it was a popularity contest with very high stakes. Flowers cost $1 each, and were delivered during the last class period of February 14—if nobody loved you, everyone saw. Terrified of public humiliation, I spent the days leading up to the carnation swap wondering if I should secretly order some for myself (hey, it worked for Cher Horowitz!) just in case no one else did.
Thanks to my loyal group of friends, I pulled through with a respectable bouquet, only to learn that V-Day gifting stress never really ends. Because even if you have a special someone or are in a relationship, there's the whole matter of finding the perfect caring-but-not-cheesy, available-but-not-needy, romantic-but-not-clichéd present for the person you love/like/are-hoping-to-get-lucky-with-later-that-night. And frankly, carnations don't cut it for couples over 13 years of age.
Above, I've included some ideas that have been tested and approved by either me or people I trust. Click through to get shopping now, while you still have time—you do don't want to be that person rushing bum-rushing Hallmark on February 13, do you?