Gifts don't have the be complicated or cheesy.

Boy Reading Valentines Day Card
Credit: Lambert/Getty Images

Buying a Valentine's gift for a man can be hard. I know because I've heard my wife complain about it for years, but it really doesn't have to be that difficult. I don't need any more ties or belts or socks or shaving kits, and I definitely don't need any boxer shorts with hearts on them. All I want is something simple and meaningful.

Here are a few things on my short list:

A Framed Photograph. As a species men are not big framers of photographs, so we really appreciate someone who has taken the time to do it for us. Maybe it's a picture of the family, or maybe it's just a picture of the two of you, but a well-framed photo is a gift that can last for years. Vintage photographs of family are even better.

A Good Book. Is he a reader? A book is one of those thoughtful gifts that mean something on a lot of levels. Every time he picks it up, he'll think of you, especially if there's an inscription in the front. If you want to splurge, make it a first edition of a classic, which will only increase in value over the years.

A Piece of Art. Some of my favorite gifts from my wife have been pieces of art—photographs, paintings, sketches, prints. These things don't have to be terribly expensive. Susan once gave me a wooden Chinese screen that hangs in our living room, and I think it cost about $100.

A Dinner at Home. Judging by how hard it is to get a reservation, the whole world goes out to dinner on Valentine's Day. But why not make him a special dinner at home? Ideally, something savory with a kick like this Sizzling Flank Steak with Lime-Wasabi Sauce or these Rosemary Lamb Chops. There's nothing more meaningful than cooking for someone, especially if you throw in some candles and a nice bottle of wine.

A Coupon for a Free Saturday. If you're a busy Dad like me, it can be almost impossible to get any down time on the weekend. There's always a kid's game to go to, and then there are countless unfinished projects in the yard, the garden, or the basement. Why not give him a coupon for a free Saturday when he can play golf or fish or do absolutely nothing? It's the cheapest gift ever, but priceless.