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CNN —  

If you’re still looking for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your special someone, here’s a word of advice – ditch the flowers.

A watch or jewelry might be nice, but material gifts may not be the best thing for your relationship in the long run. If you really want to feel closer to someone or show your appreciation, try an experiential gift.

Researchers Cindy Chan and Cassie Mogilner wanted to figure out which would be better at strengthening the relationship between two individuals – a material gift, defined as an object the recipient can keep, or an experiential gift, an event the recipient can experience.

No shocker here. According to their study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, experiential gifts produce greater improvements in the strength of a relationship. It didn’t even matter whether the gift was experienced by the gift recipient alone or by giver and recipient as a couple. The researchers attributed this to the intense emotions evoked when the gift was consumed.

So this Valentine’s Day, take it from the experts. Give your loved one an experience to remember for years to come. And don’t feel guilty about gifting an experience the two of you can enjoy together. The research suggests the shared emotions you’ll experience will work to strengthen your relationship.

We’ve gathered up some of the top Valentine’s Day package deals across the US. While we’ve focused on just a few cities, the sites we’ve highlighted allow you to easily search for similar experiences, no matter where you are in the country.


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A pottery class for two at Brooklyn Clay Industries, with complimentary wine ($78, originally $150;

Treat your loved one to a 45-minute salt cave session in the East Village ($25, originally $45;

Enjoy a helicopter tour together, featuring some of the most iconic New York City landmarks ($325, originally $420;

A painting class for two, with the option to enjoy wine or cocktails while you paint ($36.50, originally $80;


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Outdoor ice skating for two on the Boston Common Frog Pond ($18, originally $36;

A tasting package and tour of a cider taproom that uses locally sourced apples ($12, originally $23;

A six-week introductory salsa class for two ($101.50, originally $150;

A day of paintball for two, with safety gear and paint guns included ($9, originally $70;


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An hourlong massage at the Lincoln Park Massage Spa ($65, originally $110;

See ‘Love Me Tinder,’ a holiday-appropriate comedy show about the modern world of romance at Laugh Out Loud Chicago ($13.75, originally $20;

Enjoy drinks and vintage video games at an arcade bar ($14, originally $24;


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A BYOB cake decorating class for two ($77, originally $138;

A two-hour Creole cooking class for two – think braised short ribs and lemon meringue pie ($58, originally $110;

A totally immersive two-hour murder mystery dinner for two ($79, originally $180;


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An all-you-can-eat dinner for two at a Brazilian steakhouse ($65, originally $109;

Wine tasting for two at Oak Mountain Winery ($20, originally $40;

Enjoy a romantic sunset cruise of Newport Beach ($17, originally $50;

Tackle rock-climbing together with a belaying lesson and a full day of indoor climbing ($30, originally $60;

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.