How To Have A Great Valentine's Day

Default-ffw-0211-coverBy Amber Kruth

St. Valentine’s Day — the day of devoted affection, flowers, candy and greeting cards. Some dance in delight at the thought of a whole day devoted to romance. Some cringe and quiver at another commercialized holiday. Whichever breed you are, here’s some insight to making it a memorable and meaningful day.

Do What Counts

Remember, the thought is really what matters. Your kids want cartoon valentines and boxes of candy. Your lover wants your attention. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a fortune. With this economy and with a holiday so close to the big winter spending fest, chances are she doesn’t want you to get further in debt. So, relax, you’ve got options. I’ll help you through it.

Rule No. 1: know your valentine. If her New Year’s resolution of losing weight hasn’t worn off yet, you may want to avoid the chocolate-covered cherries. Be forewarned — she may appreciate the traditional sweet gift, although secretly resent you for gifting it.

Rule No. 2: Put in the p. It shows when you take the time to put together a thoughtful day or gift. That could be your saving grace if what you plan doesn’t strike the heart bull’s-eye. Plus, it’s much more attractive to be ready, calm and collected, rather than running around trying to pull it together.

Which leads to rule No. 3: Don’t go overboard. If you can’t handle what you are planning, the other person certainly won’t be able to enjoy it. If you are planning to cook, stick with a well-practiced, well-loved meal. If you are the adventurous couple, go on and try a “sounds good” new meal, but have some backup ingredients on hand.

a special night out

Remember, Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, so chances are most restaurants will be packed like New Year’s Eve, maybe even all weekend. If you do eat out, don’t leave the house starving. Get a light snack before heading out for the special meal in case you have to wait for a table. A small plate of cheese, crackers and grapes paired with a glass of wine or cocktail isrfect gesture.

If you’re attending a restaurant that accepts reservations, call ahead — even that day if you’d forgotten — to see when you can get a table. Once you’ve arrived, talk with the server about specials, and let them know how much you wish to spend for the evening. Underestimate slightly to be safe.

Many restaurants have set meals for a set price. Being straightforward with your server will potentially get you the perfect evening you hope for. A good server will be able to help you plan your meal, with a little inquisition of what you like, providing you with superior choices that satisfy you, your guest and your wallet. Be sure to include 10 percent tax and 20 percent for tip in that allowance. Trust me, your server will.

If you have kids, take advantage of this weekend holiday and have a tradeoff sleepover with their friend’s parents. Offer for their kids to stay at your house one night, and have your kids stay at their house the next. A one-day date will hopefully be worth the exchange.

Take full advantage of the opportunity and rent a room at a local hotel. Go to the hotel and ask to see a room so all your expectations are met. You don’t have to go out of town for a getaway, a private room, especially with a hot tub, is considered a night away.

A few tips to make it special: bring your own towels — nothing like a scratchy dishtowel to try to dry off with after a soothing bath; massage lotion — not as greasy as oil; a bottle of wine and a corkscrew or beverage of choice; and have flowers waiting in the room.

make a gift

If going out isn’t your style or in your budget, fear not. There are options.

Make a piece of jewelry instead of buying one. Go a local bead boutique such as Dark Star Visuals where can make a bracelet of stones or beads that you handpick, for about $20. To make a perfect fit, offer her a hand massage and subtly loop your fingers around her wrist to get the measurements. Also pay attention to what style and colors she wears most often. Be sure to mention you made it yourseen you give it to her.

Give flowers that won’t wilt or die. Go to a local craft store and pick out a bundle or two of long-stem, fake flowers. Skip the gaudy, obviously fake look and seek out the lily, calla, iris or orchid. While you are there, ask where the crafting sand is and pick up two jars of complementary colors. Not sure what colors to pick? Envision the shades used in her bathroom, or the elemental tones in the artwork in her bedroom. Place the flowers in a vase first, then layer the sand, alternating colors every few inches, and you have a beautiful arrangement that will last. Use a vase larger than you normally would for real flowers and allow the sand to fill the space and hold the flowers in place.

Although the mix tape is nearly extinct, the concept is not. Creating a playlist for your love is one of the most thoughtful and eternal gifts. Of course, if you don’t have ready access to his iPod or mp3, just burn the CD and have him upload the music to his device. Remember this is a gs ears, so even though it will have your touch and your music, be sure it is crafted for his enjoyment.

Construct little notes to leave around the house. In the true fashion of Valentine’s Day, plant love notes for your loved one to find throughout the day. Don’t be scared if you are not poetic romantic. Just think of what he does to make you happy. Here are some phrases to get you started: “I’m grateful for you, everyday.” “Thank you for picking me!” “Today started off perfect, waking up next to you.” “I appreciate you so much.” “Thank you for the wonderful meals you make me.” If that’s not your style, then keep it simple. “Hello, beautiful!” “I love you” “You make me happy.” These can be used in multiples and placed on the bathroom mirror, the rearview mirror, the washing machine, the microwave, fridge, remote … you get the idea. Be creative in the locations and it takes the message to new levels.

If you think you can succeed at this, try role reversal. If he usually cooks, you do it. If he usns the bathroom, you do it. If she usually goes grocery shopping, does the laundry, bathes the kids or he walks the dog, gives the backrub, cleans the bedroom, shovels the walk, you do it. This is very important though: If you are uncertain of how to do it correctly, ask. Tell him you would like to treat him to taking care of that chore and ask if there’s anything special you need to know. Trust me, he will appreciate it. Sure you think, “I can clean the bathroom,” but if you don’t pull away that rug before you clean the shower, you may have reversed the intentions. Of course, there are many things you do know how to do well, but don’t usually do. You know, all of those things that you’re constantly reminded to do. Those are good actions to do today, too.

feed his hobby

Take a twist on the tradition and trick him. Get a box of candy, or a stuffed bear and unstuff it. Then fill the inside with something he will really enjoy, something that he can use: fishing lures, golf balls, a gift certificate to a restaurant near his work to cover lunch. Think simple and practical.

Does he like trivia? Let him impress you with his knowledge. Buy “The World’s Greatest Book of Useless Information” by Noel Botham.

Is he a fix-it guy? A construction guy? A man on the open road? Does he have a First Aid Kit in the car? This will not only show your protective side, but will come in use more times than you want to imagine. Find the 131-Piece All Purpose Construction First Aid Kit at Lowe’s for about $22.

Is he a beer drinker? Go to the local liquor store and browse through the mixed 12-packs. Many breweries carry one box with several different varieties. He may drink Coors Light at home because it’s affordable, but might really appreciate the treat of tasting new styles of hops and barley.

Does he have a favorite shirt that he wears so much you can see his skin through it? Buy a duplicate. Be extra considerate and put it in with your laundry and wash it a few times. Then when you give it to him, not onlo worn-in, but it will also smell a little like you.

plan together

Perhaps one of the best gifts you could give is to take the pressure off and discuss your plans and intentions. If one of you is the romantic, make the suggestions and ask the other to fill in where they are comfortable. You can set the mood and the menu, and ask that he cleans the dishes and keeps your wine glass full. Mention that while he cleans up the kitchen you can go get cleaned up and ready to relax with him. If you want flowers, tell him, and what kind you want. If you want a new travel coffee mug or CD, say so. And be listening to what your partner says. If he is giving clues, pay attention. Does he complain about being cold? Buy a pair of gloves, scarf, or fleece blanket. Perk up your ears and pick up on his clues. It’s most important that you find a gift suitable for your guy or gal. Believe it or not, not every girl wants perfume or guy wants cologne. Most people already have the fragrance they want so it’s a gamble getting a new scent they would actually wear. Not every guy wants gadgets and not every girl wants candy.

On the day of love be sure you are proclaiming your love and not your wealth. After just recovering from a tumultuous year, and the holiday spending month, you want to show compassion to your lover and your budget. So do what most everyone will appreciate most: Pay attention to them, compliment them, smile at them and take care of them. The gift of love is one that anyone can afford to splurge on — so go on, get crazy, and show that special someone you love them.

Categories: Features