Forget the chocolates! Make Valentine's Day special with a little thought.
The holiday for lovers all too often ends up being the day that creativity forgot, especially when it comes to choosing a great Valentine's Day gift. Whether it's a reliance on the mass-produced commercialism of the holiday or the stale standbys (flowers, champagne, a box of chocolates -- all of these things have been done ad infinitum), many well-intentioned husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends are at a loss for a way to express their devotion in memorable, heartfelt and genuine ways. Read on for some gift ideas that break the been-there-done-that mold and yet need not break the bank.
The good words: Greeting-card makers are good at what they do, but when it comes to expressing love and devotion, they can only make their best guess at what is in the heart and mind of the card purchaser. A homemade Valentine's Day card, made by one's own hands and filled with one's own words, can make for a memorable Valentine's Day gift, particularly when given as part of the overall Valentine's Day date.
The gift that keeps on giving: An investment in a few blank index cards and a ball point pen can give a woman a gift that will pay off throughout the year. The index cards should carry an assortment of messages, such as redeemable for one back rub, redeemable for one weeknight out and redeemable for a weekend away, etc., that will promise a year full of adventure and let the woman decide how to plot the course.
Music of the heart: With the easy availability of all sorts of music online, giving a woman a mix CD full of the love songs that have defined the relationship over its course costs only a few dollars and is very easy to create.
Back to the first date: By recreating the details of the first date -- the restaurant, the movie, the sporting event and even the car -- a couple can bask in memories of their relationship and reflect together on how far they have come.
The random getaway: A few scribbled pieces of paper in a hat can make for an exciting and unexpected weekend. The woman asked to pick a piece of paper won't know what's coming -- a flight to Vegas or a relaxing weekend at a bed-and-breakfast right there in town.
A few good brews: Many of the ubiquitous microbreweries have either a brew-of-the-month club or specialty serving sizes, such as growlers or mini-kegs. A man who likes beer will appreciate such a gift.
For the devoted dad: A T-shirt emblazoned with a slogan like "World's Best Coach" or "The Rad Dad" will be a big hit. For one thing, it will reinforce the man's sense of self. For another, it will give him yet another casual shirt in which to pad around the house.
Keeping it clean: The man who lives alone quite likely will not object to some help in cleaning the house. According to CostHelper.com, the cost of cleaning a house starts at about $75. A nice card waiting for him in his newly cleaned house adds a nice touch to the gift.
Collage of memories: A well-presented collection of photographs from a couple's time together, carefully chosen to recall fond memories, can brighten a man's walls and his mood whenever he sees it.
Indulging his love of sports: Many professional athletes are receptive to signing items (memorabilia cards, ticket stubs, etc.) that are sent to the team's headquarters with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. A short note to the athlete describing why the man is such a fan can go a long way toward persuading him to sign the items. Two bits of advice: It's good to give the athlete plenty of time to get the item back in the mail, and the sender should have a back-up plan for a gift in case this one does not come about. According to AnswerBag.com, some autograph seekers have received their items up to years later.