How much should you spend on Valentine’s Day flowers?

Showing that you care:

“It’s always about upping the ante,” says Meredith Waga Perez of Belle Fleur in the Flatiron District, who says clients drop as much as $5,000 for the big day.

Last year, Aleks Degtyarev spent $6,000 at Flower District-based rose-delivery service, Ode à la Rose, to propose to his girlfriend of three-plus years, Lulu.

“I wanted 1,114 roses,” says Degtyarev, a 33-year-old from Bay Ridge. “A rose for every day we knew each other.”

A friend helped him strew the thousand-plus loose stems across a Montauk bluff.

There are a variety of other anecdotes at the link.  You don’t have to be a proponent of romantic countersignaling, or a member of Kakuhidou, to think this is overall counterproductive.

For the pointer I thank D.


Happiness and shrewd utility maximization are at odds, although I for one would like to hear your economic theory of seduction.

It's more about "signaling", I guess

Like the peacock's feathers or a potlatch, it becomes more about competitive display and less about any material needs or wants of the recipient.


Should you model this as an auction ?
You only have to spend visibly more than all previous contenders ?
What if you get a cheap deal ? Should you you let that be known or pretend you paid full price ?

Towards an economic theory of seduction:.

Seduction has two components:
1) Demonstrating value- do you have money , power, intelligence , good genes? You have to show that with a display; wearing a Rolex, winning an election, displaying a sense of humor, having good looks.
2) Demonstrating the willingness to invest that value in that particular person- gestures of love, investing time, risking life ( like in the fairy tales), gifts that cost you more in time and money than you can really afford.

I would never spend "time and money in a gift that i can not really afford". I don't think this is utility maximizing...

Are you describing the actions/scharacteristics of the seducor or the seducee?

What you're describing doesn't strike me as much about seduction as it does about demonstrating ability to deliver what's demanded -- which is something different than seduction to me.

I guess we still have bankers, or poor schmucks who think they are true romantics.

Bankers don't live in Bay Ridge. This just sounds like Russians acting Russian.

regardless of his income, $6 a dozen roses can be had for $30; less than $3 a rose. When buying in bulk like that (and just throwing them on the ground, so presentation is no issue) it should be relatively easy to get a bulk discount approaching that of a florist.
So he is both a schmuck and a sucker - although for an engagement proposal, there is usually some higher cost involved in the presentation. I can see the rationality in buying that many roses for that specific event...just not at that price. Or even half that price.

This may be related to the engagement ring/wedding price VS marriage length. Poor guy :/

Marriage may save money because wives don't want their husbands to waste too much money trying to impress them. Unmarried women are less likely to think this way.

...but that's before they get half of your money through divorce :D

My answer: Spend $0. Don't be a cliche...

What's the point of these articles? What emotions are they trying to elicit? What's the target audience?

My answer: How much does a new vacuum cleaner cost?

Whoa, don't go and ruin Christmas! Get a Swiffer.

I got my wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, and we already have a Swiffer! You guys sound like you've got a good handle on these things. Any other suggestions?

Hmmmm .... A) a giant pile of roses or B) a trip to Hawaii ......

I made a big stink about spending arms races last week with the princess castles for children. Now I wish I had waited for this.

$0. Every dollar spent on Valentine's Day is a beta buck.

Get flowers at a random time. Prices are cheaper and there is genuine surprise.

Very good. Although spending nothing is dangerous, as it is easily confused with forgetting. The best compromise would be something inexpensive in financial terms but high in creative effort.

I tend to live by that credo, but you can't arrive completely empty-handed on V-Day.

It doesn't have to be six dozen roses, but something.

Not likely to beat Whole Foods' two dozen roses for $25 by that much.

Same. Also, signalling high status.

Sorry, it's "Prof. Dr." and it looks great in your credit card =)

Unless there are costs to not getting flowers on Valentines day...sometimes the decision not to invest can cause problems - or interparty frictions - down the line...

Ahhhh. One of the few unique pleasures of being Orthodox Jewish in a predominately Christian country. The schadenfreude of Valentine's day.

What does this mean? I suppose Valentine's Day is a celebration, sort of, of St. Valentine, but it's not really a "Christian holiday" like Easter or Christmas. Do Jews not celebrate it?

I gave schadenfreude once. It was worse than giving nothing. I'm back to giving a peck on the cheek, a slap on the behind, and offering to make a nice stay-at-home dinner.

That sounds like the man's perspective. Is that also the woman's perspective?

"How much should you spend on Valentine’s Day flowers?" -- If you are asking yourself this question, you are in a world of hurt. People are not widgets.

These guys are all cheeseballs.

Pretty pathetic to buy that many flowers. It is interesting though to consider the market effects of such a large (or larger) purchase. A billionaire, say, could decide to buy every mature rose in the world. It would compensate rose growers for their costs but not necessarily produce more supply in the market period or in the future.

How far does Valentine's Day spending on roses exceed spending on chocolate? (or does it? How many tons of chocolate sweeten Valentine's Day in the US each year?)
How much money are WOMEN spending on Valentine's Day gift-giving? on flowers? on chocolates?

Has anyone considered the Valentine's day gender gap?

Where are intrepid academics and enterprising journalists when you need 'em?

It may be time for MR readers to revisit Roissy.

Hint: giving too much on V day makes you a chump in a woman's eyes and groin.

Actually that guy is just a sexist and very offensive. What you're saying about women is not really true and its really no different than those Japanese guys from the previous post.

Right on!

How much of this trend is fuelled by signaling to third parties, rather than within the relationship, particularly in a world of social media? The flower recipient may have suggested her interest in the grand gesture of such a large gift of flowers (many of the couples in the link are in long-term relationships). Alternatively, or concurrently, the conspicuous consumption on display in a photo of such an extravagant may serve as a boast by the man of his wealth to third parties (perhaps to friends of the couple seeing a photo of the flower gift).

Apparently, there is a trend of posing on instagram with lots of flowers (led by the wives, girlfriends, etc. of Russian oligarchs):

From that story:
"Receiving flowers means that you are loved. The tacit caption of each 'flowergram' is 'I am loved [x] amount,' where [x] is the number of flowers multiplied by the cost of flowers divided by the number of days elapsed since the last flower delivery. The species of flower should also factor into the equation somehow. Roses are the most covetable, followed by peonies, tulips, and Gerbera daisies, in that order."

Goodness gracious, 40 comments on a subject involving romantic love, and nothing meaner than T. Shaw being his usual self. You guys sure got soft in this amorous atmosphere.

As to how much to spend, that's the wrong question. Shop based on her idiosyncratic preferences to show you know them. If her taste in flowers is generic or all-encompassing, get her something exotic that requires time and effort to obtain. You may be pragmatically chosen as a partner based on your disposable income if your woman fears she may one day need a provider, but the heroic feat of spending cash is not going to score you any love, as in actual feelings as opposed to a consent to participate in mating rituals, and neither will she jump from "he took five minutes out of his day to buy me roses" to "he must be crazy about me."

NIce response -- but as a gy with a short attention span 5 minutes is a lot from me! ;-)

I'm not getting it, could you model that? Although as an economist, love as in actual feelings and consent to participate in mating rituals are pretty close substitutes, so it probably doesn't matter much. Besides, applying Tyler's seminal insights into restaurant meal quality vs signaling effort and market demand, I'm guessing that the human females offering maximum value are plain janes with bland personalities not in high demand on the market and probably don't require such a complicated model to understand.

Seduction is a 2-step process:

1) Be attractive. 2) Don't be unattractive.

That includes clothes and hygiene, people. Everything that is not on this list consists of secondary details.

If you cannot be bothered to follow these simple steps, you have two options. [A] You can wait for someone with low standards, or [B] you can wait for someone to come along and use you for your money and/or influence. Neither of these come anywhere near "seduction." Many people spend considerable time showing off their money/influence trying to get the best possible companion for option B. These people are dopes, and they will soon be blaming their lives on the people they attract. It's best to ignore them.

Get off your ass, stop buying things, and stop telling people how cool you are because of your job. And Happy Valentine's Day!

Flowers are just amputated plant genitals. Nothing romantic about that.

I recommend buying a treadmill and a picture frame to hold a picture of the two of you at the beach on your honeymoon.

That way you can show her that you care about her physical well being.

There are two kinds of 40 year old men:

1> Divorced.
2> Wish they were divorced.

Perhaps I shall ask for a divorce this year.

I spent $3.22 on a pair of primrose plants at a local nursery. I delivered one each to my wife and daughter while they were at work. They were delighted. If I had spent $1500 they would have focused on lost opportunities.

Comments for this post are closed