K, it’s three days until Valentine’s Day, and you haven’t bought a gift for your spouse, life partner or significant other. There’s no shame in that. We know you’re a procrastinator. You live dangerously. You file your taxes on April 15.

And we understand you may not have a lot of money to spend on a holiday that’s ginned up by the candy/greeting card/flower industrial complex.

But you also don’t want to buy a gift that screams, “I picked this up 30 minutes ago at a gas station.”

You want to give something that shows you put some effort into the gift-buying process, something that shows your loved one means a lot to you.

So we’re here to help, with some guidelines on buying an inexpensive but still-appreciated Valentine’s gift.

General do’s and don’ts

Don’t buy anything that looks like it was displayed near the cash register of a drugstore.

Don’t buy plastic flowers (too cheap) or heart-shaped boxes of chocolate (too clichéd).

If your loved one is trying to eat healthier, don’t buy a big package of candy. (Unless it’s sugar-free.)

Conversely, no gym memberships, hair-removal treatments or other gifts that say “I love you, but here’s how you should improve yourself.”

Remember, the gift is for your loved one, not you. So no Center Ice cable package for someone who didn’t realize the NHL had a lockout or that the games are back on.

Hopefully, you’ve been listening to your partner over the past year. The best gifts show that you’re paying attention and you “get” them.

Online coupon deals

Online deal sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Seize the Deal, AmazonLocal Deals and Sweet Find (a Buffalo News product) offer daily discount deals that, this time of year, have a Valentine’s Day flavor.

Anyone can sign up for these and other daily deals, which over the past two weeks have included fudge candy, “flotation therapy” from the Silver Essence Floating Spa in Williamsville and 50 percent off flowers from

Web shopping

Searching Amazon for Valentine’s Day gifts last week brought up a silicone baking pan, from Wilton, that makes six heart-shaped desserts at a time and sells for $14.96. (

The Made in Buffalo website has a number of locally themed items, including a “Fridge Phrases: Buffalo Edition,” with 220 word magnets, which sells for $19.99. (www.

And our very own has a Valentine’s Gifts at a Glance Guide, including a deal for a $25 piercing from Floating Lotus Tattoo & Piercing in Williamsville when you schedule his-and-hers tattoos on Thursday. (

If you need to have something shipped to you, just make sure you have it sent overnight to ensure the gift arrives by Thursday. That won’t be cheap, but it’s better than being empty-handed.

Shop local

Gift shops, jewelry stores, florists and other local businesses have great gifts for the holiday.

For example, the gift shop at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has a display of items featuring Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE logo, including a $13 mug, a $12 note cube and a $10 tote bag.

“It is like a one-word poem,” said Tracey Levy, who manages the store at the gallery. “We’ve had people looking for Valentine’s gifts since Christmas.” (, 270-8232, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.)

The 464 Gallery on Amherst Street has handmade jewelry from a number of local artisans, including a $30 sterling-silver chain necklace with pendants of a bird and a nest filled with one, two, three or four eggs, suitable for a mother of one, two, three or four children, said owner Marcus Wise. The gallery also sells vintage neckties with felt pieces in the shape of dinosaurs, skulls or cat heads stitched to the front by artist Esther Neisen, for $22 to $25. (, 983-2112, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.)

And the items for sale in Room2, in the Hotel @ The Lafayette, include $20 plates with a black-and-white image from the Pan-American Exposition – similar to the images incorporated into the hotel – as well as $16 white bamboo body lotion and $12 Sicilian fig body wash, with signature scents also used in the hotel, said Michael Poczkalski, a partner and senior designer with the store and its cousin on Hertel Avenue. (391 Washington St., 931-9362, open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.)

And a gift of a used book – maybe a collection of love poems – has a certain elegance to it. Visit Rust Belt Books (202 Allen St., 885-9535) or the Second Reader Book Shop (1419 Hertel Ave., 862-0001) and ask an employee for a romantic recommendation.

Make, or do, something

Make dinner, instead of a dinner reservation.

Print out a few photos of the two of you and put them in a nice frame.

Or pay for the two of you to try a new experience, such as cooking lessons from Delish! (, ballroom dance lessons from Iacono Ballroom Center in Snyder ( or a private sailing lesson from Sail Buffalo Sailing School (

Outsource the gift-buying

If all else fails, maybe you can pay someone else to buy the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one.

As Patricia Marx wrote in the New Yorker magazine last month, a growing number of people are retaining “virtual personal assistants” to help them with unwanted tasks, and why can’t this be applied to Valentine’s Day shopping?

Visit a site such as Task Rabbit, Catch Friday or Tasks Everyday, put out your request, see whether anyone is willing to take on the job for you and negotiate a fair price for their services.

News Staff Reporter Michelle Kearns contributed to this report.