The awesome Valentine’s Day gift disguised as an uncreative one

A few years ago, one of my colleagues wanted to surprise his wife with a new laptop for Valentine's Day. (As a bonus, he set the wallpaper to one of their wedding pictures.) Now, he could just give her a neatly wrapped laptop, but he wanted this one to be a super-surprise.

First, he bought a large box of chocolates. He then carefully opened the box (preserving the bow and other wrapping), removed the chocolates and put the laptop inside, using a smaller box of chocolates to act as packing material. He then put the cover back on the box of chocolates and restored the box to its original unopened appearance.

As a final step, he took the completed package to a local grocery store, explained what he was doing to the deli manager, and asked if they would be so kind as to re-wrap the box in shrink wrap to complete the deception. The manager was suitably touched by his story and was happy to help.

On Valentine's Day morning, he put the large box of chocolates on his wife's chair. She woke up, wandered groggily into the room, saw the box, and said, "Whoa, that's a lot of chocolate." It took some encouragement to get her to open the box (seeing as she hadn't had her morning cup of coffee yet), but when she did and saw the laptop, she just stared at it in shock, saying, "What? ... No, what?"

In case you couldn't figure it out, his wife was taken totally by surprise and was completely thrilled.

And that's how my colleague surprised his wife with a new laptop for Valentine's Day. He makes the rest of us look bad.

Related: iPad frozen into slab of chocolate, delivered to unsuspecting wife.

Bonus: The story from his wife's point of view.

Comments (37)
  1. Jim says:

    But the laptop ran Vista and after a few months of that the divorced.

  2. Dan Bugglin says:

    The obvious question is, of course, what happened to the chocolates originally inside the large box?

    Obvious answer, too.

  3. Jim says:

    Jim, a laptop from the chocolate factory wouldn't be running any version of Windows, surely?

  4. @Jim

    Considering the couple in question had the intellectual capacity to get married, remember Valentine's Day, and recognize a laptop by sight, they probably weren't in the demographic that bashed Vista.

    That's a very cute story; I probably wouldn't have gone all the way to shrink-wrapping the box.

  5. Forrest, Forrest Gu-ump says:

    Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get

  6. Jaanus says:

    A laptop for Valentine’s day? Seriously? That's just… sad. Was his anniversary gift an external monitor to go with that?

  7. Alternative ending: "… so where's the chocolate?"

  8. ChuckOp says:

    While reading, I was half-expecting that the wife would "re-gift" the box of chocolates, not realizing the actual contents.

  9. Dave says:

    Two years ago I did something similar for my girlfriend (not as cool as the laptop though). I got her the chocolate molecule shirt from thinkgeek and put it in an empty box from Godiva's (I had to explain what I was doing to get the box). I folded up the shirt, wrapped the box, and put it on the table. I said "I know you like chocolate so…" and let her open the box :)

    (So she didn't feel slighted, I did get her actual chocolates :P)

  10. DonBoy says:

    I admit to being completely devoid of the gene that gets this.  The difference between this, and giving her a laptop in a laptop box (or whatever), is that for 30 seconds she thinks he's given her chocolate.  But no!  It's a laptop!  So he's tricked her for 30 seconds.  So what?

    And yet, clearly, plenty of people like this kind of thing, so I'm obviously defective.

  11. RobIII says:

    I was waiting for a punchline like "she didn't notice the box on the chair and sat on it" or "she handled the box like a box of chocolates, not knowing the laptop inside bounced into pieces" or…

  12. John says:

    Good old Valentine's Day, the fakest of the fake holidays.

  13. Pony says:

    As the wife in question, I thought it was much more fun being surprised the way he did it than just opening a wrapped box with the laptop in it. He loves to trick me like that when giving me gifts. And as for the chocolate- he actually bought that extra-large box empty from a chocolate shop, but enclosed a smaller box of chocolate in with the laptop as a bonus.

  14. Silverhalide says:

    This is similar to how I proposed to my now-wife.

    We were going away for a few days at new years, and I needed a place to hide the ring until I gave it to her. A friend of ours makes great chocolate-coconut treats, so I gave the friend the ring box a few days before we went away. A day or so later, the friend gave my wife a nicely wrapped box of her chocolates, and told us to save it until the new year.

    When we arrived at our destination, my wife dutifully put the box in the fridge so that it wouldn't melt. Every day or so, she'd ask if we could open the box and just have one; and I'd have to remind her that the friend gave specific instructions not to open it early.

    Eventually when the new year came, she opened it, and seemed puzzled for a few moments, but figured it out when I took the ring out of the box and got down on one knee.

    I'm happy to report that we've been married for over 8 years now. As for the friend, it took my wife only a short time to get over her role in the events.

  15. AK says:

    @DonBoy, it's called "romance". Girls dig it.

  16. chentiangemalc says:

    If only my wife would think of that…

  17. Bob says:

    @DonBoy: they also get an interesting story to tell.

  18. Pony says:

    @Jaanus: You're joking, right? What's your idea of a good Valentine's day gift? Because I was thrilled to get this laptop. It was something I'd been wanting for a long time. I'd much rather get something I will use every day for years than some giant flower arrangement that will be dead in three days. And all my girlfriends went bonkers with envy, so I think maybe you're the one who doesn't get it…

  19. enclosed a smaller box of chocolate in with the laptop as a bonus.

    … ah, there it is.

  20. XD says:

    Was she not satisfied with his own laptop?

  21. cheong00 says:

    @XD: I have the same question. It's rather strange(?) that most girl I know of would like to use the desktop/laptop of their boyfriend/husband more than their own one. (Although I suspect they treat it as an advanture to take a look at what is stored inside.

  22. Drak says:

    The bonus link doesn't actually move down the page for me on Chrome (so I was wondering why the article linked back to itself…)

  23. Pony says:

    @XD and @cheong00: I'm going to have to guess that neither of you live in the United States, and that you have no idea that those comments would pretty much offend the entire American female population. Wow.

    And now I'm going to butt out, as I don't want to stir up trouble. I just came in because I heard my husband's awesome Valentine's  surprise had been blogged about. Thanks, Mr. Chen. :)

  24. cheong00 says:

    @Pony: Yes, I'm not from United States. But I guess that statement aren't likely to offend others because the observation is based on my limited view, and they confirmed that to me for one reason or another. (Coincidentally, I've posted what my ex-colleague done to the iPhone she bought to her boyfriend in Scott Hanselman's blog last week.)

  25. My mother did something similar with an iPad for my brother's Christmas present – though without going to the lengths of shrink-wrapping it, just disguising it in a plain box. (I got a little model aeroplane – sitting on top of a voucher for an hour in a flight simulator. Nice presentation!)

    After seeing "but where's the chocolate?" I was reminded of my old high-school math teacher. One hot summer day, he was out mowing the grass. Hard, hot work, but he had a can of beer sitting waiting in the fridge for when he finished. The snag was, that particular beer company had a promotion running: a few thousand cans had cash inside instead – and were filled with water rather than beer. He came up, pulled the ring pull – and out popped a five pound note (about $7-8) and some water. Living out in the countryside, miles from the nearest shop, he would far, far rather have had the beer he expected!

  26. Burak KALAYCI says:

    @Jim and @Aaron Eshbach Remember Microsoft offered free downgrade (actually upgrade) from Vista to XP. So the argument is mute.

    Vista never needed any bashing from anyone – it was so bad, pirates made a loss on it. This sounds like a joke but it isn't. Vista was not a finished OS, and it was too bloated for its time.

  27. Neil says:

    @jas88: If he really got a five pound note in his beer can, then he would probably be disappointed to be called a high school math teacher…

  28. kinokijuf says:

    @Burak KALAYCI: Vista was perceived as bad because OEMs tended to add *** ad crap at the time. When installed from the original MS CD, it’s actually a lot stabler than XP.

  29. Neil says:

    @Drak: Because it's an absolute link rather than just an anchor, the link didn't work after I posted a comment, but it does work for me if I click it a second time.

    [I would like to have used an anchor, but the anchor doesn't work if you're viewing the article from the home page. -Raymond]
  30. GWO says:

    @jas88 : I've had a very similar experience with a vending machine. After a hard workout at the gym I put my last pound into a machine to get a can of Lucozade (Americans: that's basically Gatorade), and instead I got – a free can-shaped promotional FM radio.  

    I was bloody furious, because I really needed that drink.  Fortunately before I left I noticed they'd taped a pound coin to the bottom so I could get my drink anyway.

  31. henke37 says:

    And it was a happy end! Just imagine the mess if there had been a mix up.

  32. dave says:

    re XD: Was she not satisfied with his own laptop?

    I assumed this was a joke rather than a man-owns-the-computer comment.  You know, because 'lap' primarily refers to a part of the body…  and the subject of the thread is romance.

    (Not necessarily a good joke; just sayin')

  33. Jack B Nimble says:

    I thought this story was going to end with the manager having given him the wrong box back. The man would have ended up giving his wife an actual box of chocolates and someone somewhere ended up with a laptop.

  34. Joshua Ganes says:

    I would never try the method from your related story. I'd be too afraid of ruining the device. I wonder how difficult it was to remove every last speck of chocolate.

  35. cheong00 says:

    @Joshua: Noone's telling you to put chocolate directly on the iPad without covering it with plastic wrap.

    I'd think covering the iPad with starch paper, then with frozen chocolate blocks and use chocolate syrup to fill the gaps may do if weather is cold enough, but a bit risky.

  36. Someone You Know says:


    Similar thing happened to my college roommate. He pushed the Coke button on a vending machine only to receive a dry Coke bottle with a highly compressed t-shirt stuffed inside somehow. First I heard of it was when he came up to our room and asked the rather bizarre question: "Do you have some scissors? I need to get my shirt out of this Coke bottle."

  37. Mercator says:

    @Neil: there is no difference between how browsers handle an absolute URL with an anchor and a relative link that is just an anchor. The problem instead is that the comments are loaded dynamically. If you come from a different page, at the time the page loads the comment the anchor links to doesn't exist yet, so there is nowhere to jump to. If you're already on the page, the comments have already loaded by the time you click on the link.

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