Before I get into what you should and shouldn’t bring as a first-date gift, I want to make it clear that you haven’t missed something. You weren’t absent from school the day some guest speaker came in to give an etiquette lesson.

No, it’s pretty much understood that there’s no necessity to giving a gift on a first date and no one is going to be insulted if you turn up empty handed. But a gift is a nice touch! Because your date isn’t expecting it, they’ll be extra pleased and you’ll get an awful lot of points for being so thoughtful.

Of course, that’s if you turn up with the right sort of gift! It’s very easy to get a first date gift wrong – read on if you want to avoid this pitfall, and for some great first date gift ideas.

Should You Give A Gift On A First Date?

My answer to this question is obviously going to be yes, you should give a gift on a first date. Otherwise, why would I be writing this damn article?

Of course, gifts for first dates can be tricky, because you often don’t know your date very well. In fact, if you connected on a dating app this is almost certainly the first time the two of you are actually meeting IRL!

Related: 11 First Tinder Date Ideas To Make Her Remember You 2021

Not only is it hard to choose a gift for a practical stranger, but it’s also very easy to swing and miss. And the bigger the swing, the more embarrassing the miss! That’s one of the reasons it’s a good idea to keep first dates small, light and low-cost.

First Date Gifts - Couple on a date

The other reason? It’s a lot to give someone jewelry or a super expensive bouquet or whatever on a first date. Like, it’s kind of creepy. It reeks of …I don’t know …” this is the first date I’ve ever been on”, or “the only thing impressive about me is my money.”

Neither of which is the impression you want to make on a first date. Or a second date. Or ever, actually.

So, we’ll stick to little gifts for her, little gifts for him, and little gifts for them in this article. You can go bigger if you like, but I really cannot imagine it working out well!

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First Date Gifts Besides Flowers

Here are a few date gift ideas that should be suitable for guys, gals, and anyone in between.

The key to a first dating gift is to be thoughtful or fun without spending a scary amount of money or being creepily romantic!

These gift ideas are guaranteed to impress rather than intimidate, which is definitely what you want to achieve.

A Book

It’s always nice to give books as gifts – both to friends and dates.

Maybe you have a favorite book that you would love your date to read, so you guys can discuss it, or perhaps they mentioned a dream of going to Istanbul while you were chatting online and it reminded you of Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence so you grabbed them a copy!

Either way, a book is a gift that ticks the ‘thoughtful’ and ‘inexpensive’ boxes nicely. Unless you gift all your dates Gravity’s Rainbow or some David Foster Wallace, of course. If you do that, you might have to be banned from dating for life…

First Date Gifts - woman reading book

A Record/Tape

It obviously used to be a lot easier to give one another music as a gift!

But these days, if you know your date has a record player or a busted old car with a tape deck, and that they’re into music, giving them a record or tape of one of your favorite bands can be a great first date gift.

Maybe it’s a small band they won’t know from where you grew up, a hard-to-find EP, or a stone-cold classic you picked up at a thrift store.

Whatever the music is, sharing it with your date should bring you closer together.

Fancy Candy or Chocolate

Some people would put this in the ‘for her’ section, but you know what, guys like fancy chocolates too!

Chocolates have always been a good gift when your mind has gone kind of blank and you can’t think of something perfect and personal, but fancy chocolates elevate things.

And it’s super easy to get a box – Amazon stocks Godiva, which is like, brand-name fancy stuff!

Wine (or other booze)

I unapologetically love First Leaf wine club, and more than once I have managed to appear much more thoughtful than I actually am by grabbing one of the unique-seeming, award-winning bottles of wine I had in the house anyway because of my regular box and presenting it as a gift!

Find out if your date likes red or white with a little sleuthing, and bring them a bottle they’ll love.

Equally, you can take them a bottle of whisky, gin, vodka, whatever they drink! Or some fancy craft beers. Hopefully, you’ll end up sharing them.

Something They Mentioned Liking

Yeah okay, this one is general. Basically what I’m saying is listen to your date when you’re chit-chatting online before you meet.

If they say they like, say, fun socks, then get them a pair of fun socks. If they’re always cooking Mexican food and like to try new kinds of dried chilies, then get them the most exciting dried chilies you can find!

A Game

A card game or board game is a great shout, especially if you’re going for a drink, a coffee, or a picnic.

If it’s a game that can be played by two (which it should be) then you can get it out immediately and have a game, which should well and truly break the ice and lead to a great date.

First Date Gifts - couple playing game

A card game or board game is a great shout, especially if you’re going for a drink, a coffee, or a picnic.

If it’s a game that can be played by two (which it should be) then you can get it out immediately and have a game, which should well and truly break the ice and lead to a great date.

A Dog Toy

This obviously works best if you go on a dog-walking date, or anything else that involves your date bringing their dog.

But if they have a dog (or cat, or rat) then I can pretty much guarantee that you guys have chatted about pets, you’ve seen pictures and videos, and maybe met Fido, Felix, or Cheeze-Its (yeah, that’s the imaginary rat’s name) on a video call, so you should be able to choose a toy that’s the right size for them.

People love their pets, so they’ll always be pleased with something that acknowledges that. Plus dog and cat toys are cute, and there are plenty available online.

If you don’t know much about dog toys, I recommend Kong as a starting point. All their toys are high-quality and durable – my dog loves all his Kong stuff.

A Plant

I said not flowers, but I didn’t rule out plants! If you’re giving a plant as a gift make sure it’s something hardy – a succulent or a cactus for example.

The last thing you want to do is burden your date with keeping something difficult alive, but some extra greenery in the house is always welcome in my opinion.

Plants are also a good alternative to flowers because they’re not overtly romantic, while flowers can be.

Tickets to Something

This is kind of a broad one. Sure, you could pick up the movie tickets on the date but that’s not really a gift is it?

A nicer gesture would be getting concert tickets from somewhere like Ticket Network (so they’re not blindingly expensive, because as discussed, expensive = creepy!) and giving one of them to your date at the end of the evening, thus inviting them on a second date.

It’s a very low-risk strategy because if the date doesn’t go well you just keep the tickets and go with someone else!

Tickets to Somewhere

This works on the same principle as tickets to something! You can propose the second date using your tickets.

Another very fun idea is getting something like a Sightseeing Pass for the two of you (in your own city) and spending date number two buzzing around pretending to be tourists!

It’s a fun idea, and something to enjoy together, so although it’s not a super cheap gift it’s definitely more than acceptable for a first date.

First Date Gifts - couple travel date

First Date Gifts For Her

Firstly, if you’re thinking ‘what gifts do girls like’ you’re doing it wrong. Sure, I’ve made a list of gifts to get a girl, but you should be thinking specifically about what your date will like.

Sure, you might not have met her yet but you’ve chatted. You’ve seen her pictures. You know enough about her to get her a gift that she will like rather than a gift that, generically, is a good present for the ladies.

Ask what should I gift her on a first date – this exact her!

Flowers

As discussed, you’ve got to be a little careful with flowers. A dozen red roses, or a huge bouquet that clearly cost multiple hundreds of dollars?

Those are both a hard no. But a nice medium-sized bouquet, something simple, can be a great first-date gift.

It can also be a great follow-up gift – you can send flowers anywhere in the country from most flower shops, including to your date’s house the day after you meet up, with a note saying how much fun you had!

First Date Gifts - date with flowers

Simple or Vintage Jewellery

Same as with flowers, jewelry can be kind of intense as a first-date gift. If it’s clearly expensive, stay away from it, and if you don’t feel like you know this date very well also steer clear.

But if you’re going on a date with someone you’ve known for a while or even someone you’ve been talking to online for quite some time, then affordable everyday jewelry or quirky vintage or crafted bangles or broaches can be a great gift.

Only do this if you really know the sort of thing your date likes, though! Or they might feel compelled to wear the silver charm bracelet you got them even though they only like gold jewelry and hate things dangling around their wrist.

A Cute Card (Handmade if you’re crafty!)

This could go along with a small gift – a card on its own might seem a little strange. You can choose something cheeky, cute, or silly in a premade greetings card, Central 23 has a huge range to choose from.

Some are downright rude, while others are cute and silly. For a first date, I’d err on the silly side, unless this is the sort of the first date that comes after spending a night together!

You could also make a card if you’re decent with glitter and gel pens. And of course, you should always add a message inside! Go for funny and cute for the message too – no professions of undying devotion on date number one!

A Flash Drive Full of Faves

A flash drive full of your favorite movies, TV shows, musicals, or obscure albums, is a really easy gift that keeps on giving.

The fact that you spent time making it will make your date feel good, they can enjoy consuming all that media, and then you guys can talk about what they loved, hated, or were straight-up confused by!

You’re basically giving yourself great future conversation topics. Unless they never watch your stuff, then you’re setting up for future arguments…

First Date Gifts - couple watching movie on computer

You can get a really decent flash drive that will hold a bunch of movies at a great price these days.

Or you could buy a few (they often come in packs) and make swapping flash drives a regular thing with your new beau!

Bath Bombs

Bath stuff can feel like a really generic gift, and a whole bath set (with bubbles and pearls and creams) is very “Christmas present from your aunty who has no idea who you are as an adult”, but one or two really nice, fun bath bombs or fancy-ass soaps with bits and bobs in (you know, petals and things) is a great low-cost gift.

I mean, who doesn’t love lounging in the bath? Witches. Witches melt when water touches them. That is literally it.

A Journal or Notebook

Maybe this should be unisex – I know I’m partial to a Moleskine and would be pleased to get one on a date – but there are quite a few cute, feminine designs for notebooks, journals and sketchpads that make them more of a statement gift for her (or anyone who likes femme stuff).

If she’s into drawing or writing, this is a particularly great gift idea, plus you can add a little message on the first page if you’re feeling brave and/or sentimental.

First Date Gifts For Him

I suspect in reality this has something to do with capitalism, marketing, and traditional gender roles, but men are harder to buy for! This is especially true if it’s the first date and you don’t know this exact guy super well.

Here are a few ideas that should impress a man on a first date without seeming over the top – but remember, you should always tailor the gift you give to the person you’re giving it to!

It’s as true when buying gifts for him as it is when buying gifts for her. So, think back to all those late-night messages you guys sent and try to work out what your date is going to most enjoy.

A Print

Art can be a bit of a swing, sure, but if you’ve seen his apartment and had a squint at what he has on the walls, or if you know he loves a particular artist or style then a print is a really lovely gift.

It’s thoughtful, art lasts, and it’s usually not particularly ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’. Check out local artists if you want something original and small run, or else look for reprints of vintage posters or film and TV-inspired art on Etsy or Amazon.

A Keyring or Magnet

This one sounds a little silly, but it’s cute! It works best if you’ve just been away somewhere and can semi-ironically hand over a mad magnet covered in shells and googly eyes that you bought at a stall by the beach, but I’ve also found some pretty hilarious keyrings, magnets, bottle openers, and mugs at gas stations that I’ve given as silly little gifts.

The thing about something tiny and weird and kitsch like a keyring or magnet is, it’s very cheap and low-stakes when you give it as a gift but, as your relationship grows it gains significance.

If you eventually end up living together, for example, that magnet that holds a photo on the fridge will be a really sentimental reminder of your first date.

A Mix CD

Similar to a flash drive full of favorite movies on TV, a mix CD is touching because you took the time to make it.

It’s also a classic first-move of a romance, so although it is quite personal and took you time it doesn’t seem too intense.

First Date Gifts - woman listening to music

It’s a definite sign you like someone, and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t find a well-put-together sweet, fun, and even kind of cool?

The only issue might be somewhere to play it – you should save the playlist on Spotify and share it there too unless you know your date’s weird ‘90s minivan has a CD player!

A Scented Candle

Guys like scented candles. It’s 2021. We can admit it. They smell good. They make you feel like you’re making an effort with your home.

And if you take the time to pick a really nice one they’re a great mid-priced, mid-effort gift.

There is a whole load of candles designed and marketed for men available, like this classy number from Kanobi, but there are loads of scent options that almost everyone will respond to available from a whole bunch of different candle brands.

Hot Sauce

So, you should check if he likes spicy stuff first, which should be as easy as initiating a conversation about food (who doesn’t love talking about food?) and steering it towards heat.

In fact, it’s a good idea if you also like hot sauce, because that way you can try it together, discuss its notes, etc. But hot sauce here is really a stand-in for various modern artisanal products that you’ll find at farmers’ markets and smaller stores wherever you live.

If he likes kombucha or cold brew, then you could sub those in for hot sauce. You can also find kits to make hot sauce, which could be a fun date idea in itself.

Home Baking

Bake him some cookies! Or brownies! Or an impressive pie! As long as you’re a moderately decent baker, you’ll be able to produce a treat that’ll make your date smile.

And you probably get to eat some too. Just check in on what he likes by bringing the chat around to baked goods or favorite desserts (like a highly trained spy) and use that info to your advantage, making him something he won’t be able to resist.

Obviously, guys can bake for girls too, but home baking is a good little gift for anyone who’s hard to buy for which, as discussed, often applies to men.

Fun Conversation Starters

These seem a bit like card games, but they’re more like prompts for fun, meaningful conversations.

Sure, some people might roll their eyes at needing cards to spark conversation, but it’s not so much needing them as using them because they’re fun.

There are a few different companies that make first-date-suitable conversation starters, including Topix, which inspire weird flights of fancy, and the more down to Earth (and potentially intense) Holstee.

These seem a bit like card games, but they’re more like prompts for fun, meaningful conversations.

Sure, some people might roll their eyes at needing cards to spark conversation, but it’s not so much needing them as using them because they’re fun.

There are a few different companies that make first-date-suitable conversation starters, including Topix, which inspire weird flights of fancy, and the more down to Earth (and potentially intense) Holstee.

What Should You Not Bring On A First Date?

If you’ve been reading carefully you’ve probably picked up on a few of the major first date no-nos. Essentially, you don’t want to go too big, and you don’t want to go too sentimental. So flowers are okay, roses aren’t.

A silly card is a nice gesture, a card covered in love hearts is creepy. In fact, generally stay away from hearts, roses, diamonds, traditional romances in general.

The same kind of moderation is needed when it comes to researching what someone will like. Getting your date socks with a picture of their dog printed on them is cute if they sent you the picture of their dog, it’s stalkerish if they never mentioned their dog and you dug through their Insta and found a picture from years ago and used that.

First Date Gifts - couple on their first date

You should be careful about how much you spend on a first date present. Think the opposite of Oprah – don’t give away cars or beach holidays! In fact, keep it under about fifty bucks as a general rule.

The exact amount will differ of course, depending on your finances and your date’s. I’m sure Elon Musk gave Grimes some very very expensive gifts early on in their relationship, but it’s different if you’re both million or billionaires, isn’t it.

Finally, nothing too intimate! Sex toys and frilly underwear are great gifts once you’re comfortable in bed together but they are – I cannot stress this enough – a downright scary thing to give to someone you have just met! This holds true in almost all cases, including if you’ve got a little risque online already.

Final Thoughts

A gift on a first date is a great way to show enthusiasm early on, and I really do encourage you to think of something appropriate. But the key parts of that sentence? ‘Appropriate’ and ‘think’.

It doesn’t have to be a big gift, but it should seem thoughtful, hopefully, spark conversation and put a smile on both of your faces.

Remember, you don’t have to bring a gift to a first date, so if you don’t have any good ideas then just bring your best self! Or a plant. A plant is always a nice gift.

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