Get our app
Account Sign up Sign in

Start Your Contest Rules

Running a contest? Answer some questions. We'll make the rules.

Start Your Contest Rules

Get started

What are some good Valentine's Day promotions for small businesses?

What you plan for Valentine's Day will depend on your particular industry and how extensively you want to celebrate. Below are a few ideas to help you find some inspiration.

Consider discounts or special services

Valentine's Day has turned into a shopping holiday, so it is a great time to attract people to your business with special discounts, offers, or services. You might offer a certain percentage off, free shipping, or gift wrapping, for example. Two-for-one deals might attract couples.

You may also want to consider a "treat yourself" kind of promotion if your services or products are more tailored to individuals. For example, if you run a spa, you can incorporate a gift card for a recipient with a "treat yourself" promotion for the gift giver.

Consider passing out small gifts

Everyone loves freebies. For example, you could pass out Valentine's Day cards to everyone in your physical location. These cards might have discounts for later dates, a few pieces of candy, or even a second Valentine's Day card for the recipient to give to someone else. Keep in mind that the goal here is not really direct marketing. It is about showing your customers you care.

Run a contest

Contests can be a great way to get some social media buzz going, though you may want to check the laws in your area and make Contest Rules. Ideas might include:

  • Pet photos in their best Valentine's Day outfits.
  • Nominate your valentine to receive a prize.
  • Best love story.
  • Dance contest.
  • Cutest couple.

Get creative. Offer a prize that makes sense for the holiday, like a date-night package, flower delivery, or something similar. To increase engagement, you may want to pick your contest winner based on a random drawing, rather than merit. However, you may want to make honorable mention of those participants that went above and beyond.

Send physical Valentine's Day cards

Customers get a ton of emails. Having an actual Valentine's Day card might be a welcome change for your clients. You can include specials, discounts, or advertising if you want, but the main idea is to show your appreciation.

Give back to the community

You may want to support a local charity. You can get your team out of the office to volunteer at a local food bank or community garden, for example. You could also do a clothing or food drive, or ask your team members to collect donations for a worthwhile cause. Many service organizations have special programs for employers that support team building while performing community service.

The general rule is that you can give customers whatever you want for any occasion. However, there are a few restrictions you may want to be aware of. The following gifts do come with some legal restrictions:

  • Alcohol, or other age-restricted products.
  • Gifts worth over $25 in the financial sector.
  • Gifts worth over $20 to those who work in government positions.
  • Some requests for charitable donations.
  • Gifts to journalists who write about your company.

Additionally, the maximum allowable tax deduction for business gifts is $25 per year, per person. If your gift's value is above that limit, it may not be tax-deductible. That does not make it illegal. It just means that you cannot deduct it from your taxes.

In general, if you want to provide customers with gifts outside what is customary, consider checking with a lawyer first. A lawyer may help you figure out if your gift idea could lead to legal trouble.

What types of gifts should businesses give and avoid on Valentine's Day?

Businesses may want to consider what they give to customers for Valentine's Day carefully. As a general rule, you may want to stick to small, thoughtful gifts. Over-the-top or overly personal gifts can actually be off-putting and may have the opposite effect of what you intended. A simple showing of appreciation can go a long way. Some tried and true good examples of gifts for instore shoppers include:

  • Fresh chocolate dipped strawberries, or chocolate hearts.
  • Give all customers a single flower.
  • Hand out sweethearts.
  • Pass out Valentine's Day cards including a coupon. 

Businesses may want to avoid:

  • Anything edible that is not individually wrapped and professionally made.
  • Lavish gifts that are limited to select customers only.
  • Promotions that only focus on couples.

Making promotions targeted to couples, yet available to individuals as well, allows your promotion to be inclusive. Lavish gifts or expensive presents may be problematic or may end up looking more like a bribe than a gift.

Is it okay for staff to hand out Valentine's Day cards or candies to each other and customers?

Handing out cards, candies, or small presents to customers is an innocent business promotion. Businesses, however, may want to set some rules for appropriate Valentine's Day behavior. Employees who hand out Valentine's Day gifts to customers might require some training to make sure they are not making customers uncomfortable. After all, the underlying premise of Valentine's Day is about love, so handing out cards can lead to some tricky HR concerns. It is easy for someone to get the wrong message, even if no romantic gestures were intended.

Many companies have opted not to allow staff to hand out cards or candies to each other for Valentine's Day based on these concerns. If you want to make that type of policy in your office, it is a good idea to include it in your Employee Handbook.

If you are comfortable with your team members handing out cards, candies or other treats, it is still a good idea to set some ground rules. For example, you could make a rule that if employees want to pass out Valentine's Day treats, they need to bring enough treats for everyone. Setting rules may help prevent individuals from feeling excluded, or alleviate management's concerns about harassment.

Valentine's Day can be a great way to show appreciation to both customers and staff, but you should take the necessary steps to make sure that your celebration includes everyone.

If you have more questions about celebrating Valentine's Day at your business, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

Ask a lawyer

Our network attorneys are here for you.
Characters remaining: 600
Rocket Lawyer Network Attorneys

Try Rocket Lawyer FREE for 7 days

Start your membership now to get legal services you can trust at prices you can afford. You'll get:

All the legal documents you need—customize, share, print & more

Unlimited electronic signatures with RocketSign®

Ask a lawyer questions or have them review your document

Dispute protection on all your contracts with Document Defense®

30-minute phone call with a lawyer about any new issue

Discounts on business and attorney services