Valentine's Day is a zero-sum game. And I say that as someone who loves Valentine's Day, as someone who knows terms like "Hallmark holiday" and "Singles Awareness Day" are just the protests of the unhappy and the bitter.
The entire day is a big, wonderfully schmoopy cliché. But all these "What to Give" gifts are trying to make the opposite happen. Now flowers are unimaginative, jewelry is a risk, clothing is an insult and candy means you're breaking up.
There are very few gifts left to give that mean "I love you." But if you're trying to say just the opposite, there is a bounty of candy that universally says "Let's be friends." Just know that if you break up with someone on Valentine's Day, neither the Pope nor your mother will pardon you.
1. Candy advertising a movie
I have a friend who spent his teens working in a drugstore. He swears all the Indiana Jones M&Ms and Shrek Snickers sat on the shelf for years. The treats eventually became stale and marked down to pennies. So this option will only cost you what you can scrounge out of your cup holders. And unless your recipient has a green nougat kink, it will get the message across.
2. That cheap chocolate with the flavored goo
My first boyfriend broke up with me a week before our high school's winter ball. A year later, he drew my name for our English class's Valentine Secret Santa and gave me a box of chocolates that were filled with orange and raspberry filling. The message was clear: I had to get you this, but I still don't like you and I don't regret not being friends. Right back at you, dude.
3. Insect candy
One year, my brother's girlfriend gave him an empty Krispy Crème cup and a hunk of candy with a roach or something equally horrifying suspended inside. Their relationship didn't last. Crunch factor and protein aside, dead insects encapsulated in sugar passes "Let's be friends" and goes straight to "Don't ever touch my knee again. Also, I'm leaving town."
4. Pez dispenser
The kink exception applies here. Otherwise, nobody will love you if you give them a Chuck Norris Pez dispenser for Valentine's Day.
5. Period candy
Bags of Dove chocolates or those single-serving bowls of chocolate cake are more like a plea for mercy than a display of affection. These may come in red and pink wrappers, but they're not even moderately expensive and don't come in a heart box. Dove chocolates may be heart-shaped, but don't let the disguise fool you.
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