Sweetheart etiquette

(Fotolia.com)

(Fotolia.com)

CAROLYN McTIGHE, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:15 PM ET

You and your sweetie have just started dating - and now it's Valentine's Day and you don't know what to buy her. Do you just go for it and hand her a bouquet of long stemmed roses and an enormous pink, fuzzy gorilla with a heart on its chest that reads: "I'm bananas about you?" Or do you play it safe and go for just a box of chocolates? Knowing proper V-Day etiquette can be as challenging as sorting through the hundreds of sappy cards at your local department store.

"Any Valentine gift should be reflective of the level of your relationship with that person," says Louise Fox, owner of The Etiquette Ladies and director of Toronto's Protocol Solutions business etiquette. "If it's a new relationship, a card will suffice - but not too romantic"

Though new relationships can be exciting and fun, they can also lead to uncomfortable and awkward gift exchanges. Something that may seem appropriate to you may offend your partner, which is why it's always best to keep gift buying simple and go with your gut.

"If you are wondering or worried about the gift you are considering for your new boyfriend or girlfriend, then it's probably not right," Fox says. "If a gift makes someone uncomfortable, then it isn't appropriate. And always be careful when buying a funny card. You have to be sure that the person shares your sense of humour. There is a huge potential to offend sending a funny card to someone you don't know very well."

For couples in a long-term relationship gift buying can be easier, but should still be considered carefully. Keeping a budget in mind and the personality of the person you're buying for is a sure fire way to ensure that the gift is well received.

"If you have a long-standing romantic relationship, you can consider a gift that will reflect that- but no need to go overboard if you can't afford it," says Fox. "Think of doing something nice, thoughtful or surprising for your partner instead of purchasing an expensive gift. If you have plenty of disposable income, feel free to go all out, but put a little thought into it. Take a look at your relationship because especially on Valentine's Day, it's the thought that counts."

TOP FIVE GIFT IDEAS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

1. A romantic card and bouquet of her favourite flowers. Forget the roses and instead go for something like tulips, daisies, or sunflowers.

2. Personalize a gift box of chocolates. Many candy stores offer this sweet addition to your regular chocolates. Have a special messages printed in white chocolate or just tell someone how much you love them.

3. For those with a little extra money to spend, an iPod is a great gift idea. Pre-load the tune player with your loved one's favourite songs and a few special love songs too.

4. Have a customized photo book made of your relationship or a special trip you made together last year. Online stores like Shutterfly.com are great for this and offer quick service for last minute gifts.

5. A special evening together. Treat your loved one to a delicious meal and a night out.


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