Great Valentine’s Day gifts for under $50


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There are many wonderful ways to celebrate your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, and you don’t have to dig deep into your pockets to do it! Of course, you don’t have to buy a gift at all if it’s not in the budget. Making a card or taking care of the kids while your partner relaxes are free ways to say, “I love you.” But if you’d like to get them a little something, I found a slew of gorgeous gifts that are under $50.

Beauty & Wellness

Ostrichpillow Eye Mask ($45)


Do you keep your sweetheart up at night while you’re reading or scrolling? This comfortable 3D eye mask is designed to adapt to any head and face shape. It delivers a 100% blackout experience, no matter how bright your light is.


Danessa Myricks Beauty Dewy Cheek & Lip Palette ($32)


If your love needs a dose of color, this palette is packed with four flattering shades of a creamy balm formula for lips and cheeks. They can apply lightly for a sheer glow or layer for a prominent pop of color. There are two options: Dew It Flirty, which is brighter, and Dew It Undercover, which has more depth and is better for darker skin tones.


Tocca Eau de Parfum Mini Discovery Set ($20)


She loves fragrance, but what fragrance to give? This mini set contains eight trial-size sprays so she can discover, mix and match. Notes include Florence, which contains bergamot, pear and gardenia; Giulietta, with green apple and pink tulips; and Gia, with pink peppercorn, tangerine and Turkish rose.

Go Gray Haircare ($13.97)


If your partner bit the bullet during the lockdown and embraced their natural gray, these products are an affordable way to support their journey. The are several products available to ease the tricky transition to gray and maintain glowing silver locks once they get there.


Spongelle’s Heart Collection ($14 each)


A fun gift for a loved one who loves pretty scents and soft skin, these heart-shaped buffers are infused with sumptuously scented body wash. There are four scents available: French Lavender, Freesia Pear, Sugar Dahlia and Bulgarian Rose.


Delicora I Heart You Hoops ($48) 


These 1-inch, hand-hammered hoops are hypoallergenic and 14k gold-filled. They are incredibly lightweight and comfortable, a joy to wear! For every piece sold, 20 meals are donated to fighting hunger through Feeding America.


Walk Your Way Calm by Jennifer Walsh ($24.95 at


This book was written by wellness expert Jennifer Walsh in collaboration with Prevention magazine and is a wonderful gift for your partner who needs/wants to get outside more. This book is all about walking, with over 100 purposeful walks and writing prompts. It teaches us how to make the most of walks on the beach, in the snow, in the park, and more, and it helps us to think differently about how we hold our bodies, how we breathe and how we can stay present in the moment. These walks are fun to do together or as solo trips for just your partner.

KNOG Blinder Mini Love Bike Light ($29.95 each)


These tiny front and rear bike lights have a cute heart graphic that will allow your love to ride safely at night and think of you at the same time! They are deceivingly bright for their size and have a number of different settings.  I like to attach mine to a backpack if I’m walking at night, too.


BestSelf Partner Appreciation Notes ($15 for a set of 2)


In a relationship rut?  These tiny little books are a great way to get un-stuck. For 20 weeks, you and your partner will respond to the gratitude prompts, which take as little as 30 seconds to do. After 20 weeks, exchange journals and read all about how much your partner appreciates you!

Drinks & Eats

Bake Me a Wish Heart-Shaped Cookie Tin ($38) 


This online gourmet gifting company is the #1 seller of birthday cakes online, according to the company. And they’ve knocked it out of the park with these delicious hand-decorated heart cookies in a festive reusable cookie tin. The cookies are individually wrapped, so you can take your time savoring them.


Venchi Large Valentine Heart Assorted Chocolate Tin ($30)


A box of chocolates is an old standby, but they are often a mixed bag of flavors, many of which go uneaten. If your partner is a chocolate-lover, you cannot go wrong with these high-quality, foil-wrapped hearts in dark chocolate and milk chocolate in a vintage-style reusable tin.

PoppyHancrafted Popcorn Valentine’s Favorites Bundle ($34) 


For something a bit different, this trio of flavored popcorn will satisfy their sweet tooth! The bundle includes cotton candy, salted caramel and dark chocolate cherry-flavored popcorn, and each flavor is scrumptious! The set comes gift-wrapped in a “Made with Love” mailer and tissue paper.

Blue Circle Foods Seafood Subscription ($39 per month and up)


Your seafood-loving sweetheart will be over the moon when they receive this box of delicious seafood.  From smoked salmon to fish fillets and Pacific White Shrimp flash-frozen at the source, Blue Circle’s non-GMO products are responsibly sourced and contain no antibiotics, growth hormones or synthetic pigments. You can even sign up for regular deliveries to treat them month after month.


Jelly Belly 10-Flavor Valentine’s Gift Box ($7.99 or $54.99 for 10)


A fun one for your sweet tooth sweetie or for the kids to give to their Valentine’s, this jelly bean tasting box is packed with 10 seasonal flavors, including jewel cherry, strawberry cheesecake and chocolate pudding.

Cozy at Home

Heather Donohue Crafts Felt Valentines ($22 on Etsy)


Give (or keep) a valentine that can be enjoyed year after year! These colorful felt hearts were created by the amazingly talented crafter Heather Donohue. They have a hanging loop, so you can hang them on a door, in a window, an indoor tree…wherever!  There are lots of sayings available, but I love “Bestie” for your favorite Galentine or “Yes Dear” or “UR Cute” for your partner.

Perry Boyce Fireside + Chill candle ($32)


From this Brooklyn-based, hand-poured candle company comes the Fireside + Chill candle, which is sure to set the mood if you’re spending Valentine’s Day at home. The package is chic black ceramic with two wicks, and the unisex fragrance is a cozy blend of fresh cracked peppercorn, smoke and wood with clove, amber, sandalwood and a dash of pomander citrus.


DAVIDsTEA Hearts Colour Changing Nordic Mug ($26)


With this cool ceramic mug, your Valentine will think of you every time they pour a cup of coffee or tea. Like magic, the hearts change to black to red with heat. The mug is sturdy and stylish, and the lid doubles as a saucer or a resting spot for their teabag.

Well Told Stemless Wine Glass ($19)


If your love is the sentimental sort, give them a glass with a custom-etched map of the city or town where you first met or perhaps their home city. I’m partial to the stemless wine glasses, but there are lots of options, including whisky glasses, travel tumblers and more. This gift is handmade, so order soon!




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12 things you should never, ever do in a restaurant


We all manage a faux pas or a slip of our manners from time-to-time. But there are some things people do that are just plain rude. If you do them, you could wind up making a bad impression with your dining companions, especially in a restaurant. And no, we’re not talking about the basics like talking with food in your mouth, gesturing with cutlery in your hands, or putting your elbows on the table.

Here are 12 things you should try to avoid doing when dining out. Stick to these etiquette rules and chances are you’ll end up having better dining experiences. And so will your friends.


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Nobody likes to waste time waiting for someone to show up, and that’s especially true when it comes to restaurant reservations. Many restaurants employ a 15-minute rule. If you’re later than that for a reservation, you may forfeit your table. Others that don’t have such a rule may bump you to a less desirable table or make you wait.

So, don’t be late (your friends will thank you, too!), but if you can’t avoid it, call and let them know (your friends and/or the restaurant). They may be able to make a special accommodation and they’ll appreciate your good manners.


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Dinner and a show is great,  but not when you’re rushed for time. And that goes for both you and the restaurant employees who are serving you. So give yourself ample time so you’re relaxed and can enjoy the experience. If you find yourself with extra time between dinner and the show, you can always take a stroll, stop for coffee (or have a second round at the restaurant).


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While it’s good to be relaxed, be aware of second-seating times or that large group of patrons at the bar waiting for a table. If your table is cleared, you’re no longer eating or drinking anything and are just talking with your companions, consider moving the evening to a nearby bar, park or even someone’s home.

It can help to think of your table as a taxi. You’re paying for the ride to your final destination, but if you sit in the car for 30 minutes after arriving, the driver isn’t going to let you do so for free. The meter will keep running.

While the restaurant doesn’t have a meter running like a taxi would, you are costing them money by occupying a table that could otherwise be serving other guests. So, if you want to linger, order another bottle of wine or some coffee and dessert. Of course, if the restaurant isn’t busy or you know you’re the last seating, tarry away until closing, but do leave a nice tip.



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There’s a rhythm to dining out, and that rhythm is typically orchestrated in large part by your server. In higher-end restaurants especially, they balance your needs as a customer with the abilities of the kitchen based on sheer volume of orders. So, if you insist on ordering your entire meal at the moment they greet you (instead of just your drinks, for example) you could end up disrupting the rhythm. It’s often most enjoyable if you just sit back, relax and let your server be your guide.


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This is especially important these days. COVID-19 has left many restaurants short staffed. You may not be getting the best service, but it may not be your server’s fault. Try to be understanding if you see that the restaurant employees are scrambling to keep up.


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In most cases, eye contact and a simple nod should suffice. If your server has simply disappeared, get up and speak to the host or manager. Flailing your arm, snapping your fingers, holding up your credit card (or even laying it at the edge of the table) — especially in a nicer restaurant — only reflects poorly on you.



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Some people think they should tip only on the base cost of the meal, not the tax. Others think they should tip only on the food and not on their drinks. Some people think 10% is more than enough when it comes to gratuity. All of these people are wrong.

The majority of servers in the United States rely on tips for their income. Some make as little as $2 an hour as a base salary, so consider that cost before dining out. If you can’t leave at least 15% for good service, you may be better off going somewhere you don’t need to tip.


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We’ve all been there. There’s that one table in the restaurant with the loud talkers, the boisterous laughers or the folks who don’t mute their phones even amid multiple chirps and rings. Don’t be those people.


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Put your phone down and engage with your dining companions and the server. You’ll have a much better experience.

If you absolutely need to take a call or send a text, step outside or into the restroom.


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You probably just want to be generous and treat your dining companion(s), but everyone thrusting their credit cards at the waiter in a game of “pick me” as they deliver the bill is just an awful predicament for the server.

Arrange in advance for who will pay the bill. If that doesn’t work, just let your friend pay. You can make it up to them some other time.


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If you’re dining in-person and you have a bad experience, let the manager or another employee know. In most cases, restaurants want to know when something goes awry. They want you to be happy and fix any issues. You may even get a discount off your meal.

Likewise, not saying anything while you’re there and then leaving a bad review on Yelp or Google doesn’t help the restaurant get better in the moment. What if you’d said something and they went above and beyond to fix it? Give them the opportunity.


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Most kitchens can accommodate food allergies and other dietary restrictions, but a little notice helps them do so more efficiently. Some servers will ask you shortly after greeting you if you have any special dietary restrictions. But if they don’t ask and you do have a special need, go ahead and let them know as soon as possible. They can help make recommendations or plan with the kitchen to ensure your needs are met.



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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes,, Kiplinger, Marketwatch,, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.