10 Unique Gifts for College Valentines

Roses. Chocolate. Sappy cards. These old Valentine's Day standbys are cute, but they're unlikely to score you points for creativity. If you want to make a statement this year, it's time to think outside of the kitschy heart-shaped box. These 10 unique gifts for college valentines are an excellent place to start. Some are geared toward creative or tech-savvy types, others for the fashion-conscious, but all are undeniably unique and romantic. As an added bonus, most fit a college-size budget.

Gifts for college valentines

10 V-Day gifts for college sweethearts, from sweet/free to OMG!

  • Avocado App, Avocado Software -- Free for basic version: If you want to stay connected with your valentine emotionally and digitally, consider gifting the Avocado app currently available for iPhone, Android, and the web. Avocado lets you touch base quickly and privately with free messaging, send virtual hugs and kisses, and even share lists of anything from common goals to quirky date ideas.

  • Over HD App, Potluck -- $1.99: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but beautiful, custom typography never goes out of style. Why not impress your budding photographer with this app that delivers just that? Snap a shot on your iPhone, add custom typography with Over, and then share it with the world via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr. In the words of blogger Tim Sweetman, "Simple. Intuitive. Innovative. And downright fun."

  • Hey Girl Flexi Journal, Chronicle Books -- $9.95: For the couple who can appreciate a good Ryan Gosling meme, we present the Hey Girl Flexi Journal. This 5x7-inch journal includes a selection of "Hey Girl" sayings along with blank voice bubbles that allow valentines to write their own memes. The journal is currently available for pre-order and will not be shipped until a few days after Valentine's Day -- but that's a small price to pay for the true Ryan Gosling lover.

  • Ready Player One: A Novel, by Ernest Cline -- $10.99 for paperback on Amazon: Nothing says "I love you" like an epic, geeky narrative about a dystopian future where virtual reality is the only form of escape. This "part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera" defies all genres, but with a 4.5-star rating on Amazon from nearly 1,500 reviews, it pulls it off. Send an audiobook or Kindle version, or for those who appreciate the nostalgia and romanticism of a book in-hand, a hardcover or paperback copy.
  • Hardcover Journal, Alder & Co. -- $12: Inspiration can strike at any moment. Help your valentine capture it in this small, hardcover notebook. This 5x7-inch lined journal is easy to stash in a purse or book bag and even has a snazzy drawing of Bohemia on the cover.

  • Kiva Card, Kiva.org -- $25 minimum: Give the gift of good karma with a Kiva Card. Kiva.org allows charitable souls to lend money to people in financial need. Borrowers then use those funds to transform their lives -- say, by buying a sheep and selling its wool for a profit. The lender gets updates from Kiva throughout the process and is eventually repaid in full. A Kiva Card lets your partner choose a cause to support and then reap the warm fuzzies that follow.

  • Red Canvas Shoes, TOMS -- $44: For the boyfriend or girlfriend with a sense of style and compassion. Do not let the name of these comfy and durable slip-ons fool you -- they come in a wide array of colors, both neutral and vibrant. The humanitarian twist: For every pair purchased, TOMS will donate a pair of new shoes to a child in need.

  • The One, Fitbit -- $99.95: Is your valentine a fitness fanatic? What better way to say "you may be the one" than by giving him or her the One by Fitbit. Just clip this little device on and begin tracking a myriad of health data online or through a compatible smartphone. During the day, the One tracks how many steps you take, how far you've gone, and how many calories you've burned. At night, it even measures your sleep cycles. It even wakes you in the morning. With the One, your partner may get the insight (and motivation) necessary to set and achieve his or her fitness goals.

  • urBeats, Beats by Dr. Dre -- $99.95: Music obsessed couples: Now you can share a heart and a beat with these durable and sweet-sounding earphones from rapper Dr. Dre. Featuring a solid metal housing designed to prevent vibrations and unwanted sound, urBeats were "made to take a beating." They even feature a built-in mic, so you can field incoming calls without shuffling gear.

  • Live Succulent Garden, Pottery Barn -- $149: Why buy your valentine a bouquet of roses that will probably wilt before the week is out when you could buy an eye-catching array of hardy succulents? This 12-square-inch redwood box contains a meticulously placed assortment of live succulent plants, including the Pottery Barn-exclusive, Perle von Nürnberg. Plants range from pale blues and greens to rich reds and deep oranges, and they require minimal watering and fertilizing.

This year, get a little personal

There is a gift on this list to suit any budget (or relationship status), but any can be immediately upgraded by adding a personal touch. Think: a handwritten note, printed photograph, or memento that holds special meaning for you. In the end, your personal investment will likely outshine anything you can buy in a store, even when that something seems to suit your partner perfectly.

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