By Margot C. Lester
You can recover from giving somebody a less-than-ideal birthday or Christmas present. But when it comes to Valentineâ€™s Day, loveâ€™s not only not blind, but it ainâ€™t unconditional either. During my seven years as a love advice columnist for Match.com, Iâ€™ve heard horror stories from men and women about inappropriate, unoriginal and down-right tacky gifts that have caused everything from giggles to get-out-of-my-lifes. Here is some of what Iâ€™ve learned:
Invest in each other. Surveys by Match.com and Jewelry.com found that a night of pampering, cuddling and being together with only simple gifts given is a perfectly acceptable way of spending Valentineâ€™s night. This doesnâ€™t give you carte blanche to cheap out though. Plan something that you both enjoy or that makes it clear to your sweetie that she or he is the object of your affection. (nudge, nudge)
CAUTION: If the thought of spending hours hanging out with your honey makes you wince, thatâ€™s a good sign that you shouldnâ€™t be together in the first place. It may be time to exit stage left.
Do it yourself. Remember those handmade Valentineâ€™s you created for your mama or daddy? They werenâ€™t destined for the Louvre, but your folks couldnâ€™t have been happier. You can bowl over your baby by making something by hand â€“ candy, cupcakes, jewelry, a slide show, a card or a full-on romantic dinner.
CAUTION: Donâ€™t wait till the last minute to throw something together. Without the thought, itâ€™s just a low-rent present that shrieks, â€œI guess Iâ€™m just not that into you.â€
Consider candy carefully. Those celo-wrapped heart-shaped boxes from the grocery or convenience store have turned a perfectly delicious treat into a clichÃ©. If you know your sugar has a sweet tooth, put forth some effort and buy hand-crafted fancy chocolates or candies, preferably from a local provider.
Youâ€™ll get all kinds of style points for creativity, and a little extra love for supporting the local economy.
CAUTION: Beware lite or sugar-free sweets. You may be trying to say, â€œI care about your health,â€ but your special someone is more likely to think something more along the lines of, â€œI knew he thought I was fat!â€ Sayonara!
Say it with flowers: I donâ€™t know many women whoâ€™d turn down a gorgeous bouquet of roses, but, despite the dramatic look, itâ€™s another tragic clichÃ©. On the upside, a lot of dudes dig getting flowers (nothing says â€œChicks dig meâ€ more â€“ at least nothing thatâ€™s acceptable for delivery in the office). So skip the obvious and send a mixed bouquet based on your flameâ€™s favorite color. And if your romantic partner really does relish roses, make sure theyâ€™re sustainably grown so you can show Mother Earth some love too.
CAUTION: The allergist down the street asks me to remind you to make sure your sweetheartâ€™s not allergic to certain flowering plants. Inducing an allergic reaction (or worse, anaphylactic shock) is no way to say â€œI love you.â€
Bag some bubbly. Champagne is another traditional V-Day item. I like mine bone dry, but why not buy a few splits and do a tasting flight to see which appeals to you and your sweet thang? If youâ€™re doing the chocolate thing, the right red wine would make a fine accompaniment too.
CAUTION: Cheap champagne (as opposed to reasonably priced good stuff) is another way of saying the bearer wants to have his or her way with you and doesnâ€™t care if you both have a headache in the morning. If your babe bestows this stuff on you, hand it back and give him or her the Heisman in return.
Thatâ€™s the low-down on Valentineâ€™s Day gifts. Hereâ€™s hoping Cupidâ€™s aim is true.