The trick is knowing which is which.
To give a really good Valentine's gift, you have to come up with something that meets a certain undefined specialness threshold. This "specialness" can be achieved in a variety of ways: Surprise, extreme thoughtfulness, an impressive amount of advance planning, etc. However, the right level of specialness will not be achieved by showing up on Valentine's Day with any of the following gifts.
Last Minute Box of Chocolates: Generally speaking, any last-minute Valentine's gift you can buy at Walgreens 10 minutes before your date is a no-go. If it's candy, you better know what she likes, or she'll see right through your pathetic and impersonal attempt at last-minute thoughtfulness. Don't know what she likes? Ask her best friend. But not on your way to the date -- ask ahead. You'll be glad you did.
Tacky Lingerie: Once again, we're dealing with a nuanced Valentine's Day gift idea here. There's good lingerie and then there's bad lingerie. Anything that can be accurately described by the words "cheap," "novelty," "edible" or "crotchless" is likely to disappoint, rather than score you points. Keep in mind, too, that lingerie comes in various sizes; choosing the wrong size can be as big a deal-breaker as choosing the edible option. In fact, you might be better off with the edible panties, although we still don't advise that.
Household Appliances: No matter how much she's been talking about how badly she wants a new blender/vacuum/fill in the blank for around the house, she does not want it for a Valentine's Day gift. Think about it: An appliance is a tool for doing boring, monotonous housework. February 14th is not the day to be practical, no matter what your sweetheart says.
Quickie Lube and Brake Hut Coupons: While car care gifts are practical and thoughtful-ish (and $100 value for fabulous, one-time-only price of $49.99!), the problem is that there's nothing romantic about them -- which is really the whole point of a Valentine's Day gift. Where's the specialness? A better option is to bring home a romantic gift and then take her car for a check up on a different day; she'll think that's totally romantic if you do it on, say, February 20th. But not on Valentine's day.
Gift Cards: How many times must we go over this? Good Valentine's Day gifts are all about the here and now. If your gift involve any type of delayed gratification, it's gotta be more exciting than a plastic card. Airline tickets to the Bahamas = good. Department store gift card = lame. The bottom line is this: If it would be an appropriate gift for your boss or secretary, it's not a good gift for the woman you love.
Feel free to share some of the worst Valentine's Day gifts you've ever received in the comments section.