The most special Valentine's Day gifts are from the heart
JOANNE RICHARD, QMI Agency
A memorable Valentine's Day present doesn't have to break the bank. Think outside the box, and remember, most women love roses. (Fotolia)
Is your relationship coming up roses?
Well, you'll soon find out - Valentine gifts speak volumes.
But they don't have to cost volumes. According to New York frugalista and author Vicky Oliver, some of the most memorable and meaningful gifts cost nothing at all - just think outside of the box.
But giving nothing at all and totally ignoring this Hallmark holiday is a sign of things to come - and it isn't good.
"Not giving a gift shows callousness. It's a sign that the relationship is on death's door," says Oliver, adding that you'd have to be living in a cave to forget that Feb. 14 is Valentine's Day. "Skipping Valentine's Day is a much worse sin than forgetting an anniversary."
According to Oliver, author of The Millionaire's Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You're Not (Skyhorse), Valentine's Day is like New Year's Eve for relationships.
"A chance for both partners to sit back, take stock of the relationship, sometimes resolve to try harder, and show gratitude and appreciation for the connection."
And it may sound cliché, but it is the thought that counts -- and it goes a lot further than money.
"No Valentine's Day gift should ever be practical. Forgo the toasters, blenders, cocktail mixers, power saws, hammers and snow blowers."
Oliver suggests gifts that show a lot of thought without needless extravagance.
"I.O.U.s for back rubs, a home-cooked meal, or a romantic drive for two are always delicious. A CD compilation of his or her favourite songs is a gift that will be cherished forever."
Toronto therapist Deborah Mecklinger says to "think outside the Tiffany box. How about decorating their car? Imagine waking up to a red and pink balloon-filled car and driving to work or carpool feeling like the most loved on the road."
Give from your emotional and physical bank account, suggests Mecklinger, including "your time, your attention, your body, a kiss, patience and tenderness."
Other gifts that won't break the bank: Come home from work early, take the day off, prepare a meal together or even have breakfast in bed for dinner, adds Meckliner, of walkthetalkcoaching.com.
Oliver suggests considering passing on something that is yours that you feel may have a special significance to your sweetheart.
"If your girlfriend is always stealing your navy blue cashmere sweater and then you take the item and gift wrap it with a cute note that says, 'Thought you might want this for keeps,' she will love you forever."
Whatever you give should come from the heart, says Oliver. Be sincere. And write a note with the gift that expresses your feelings.
"For married guys, one fail-safe sentiment is, 'I think you're more beautiful today than the day we first met.' Attach that note to a wine bottle with a vintage from the year that you met for the ultimate romantic gesture."
And get creative with the packaging, adds Oliver. For example, if your sweetie's nickname is Honey Bear, then cover the package with cute bear pictures.
Make it a gift-free Valentine! Actually, dump the whole Cupid crap altogether, says relationship coach Jay Cataldo.
He hates Valentine's Day.
"Valentine's Day does not lead to increased romance or intimacy and actually does more harm than good!"
Besides paying out the ying-yang for overpriced dinners and roses, it's a thorn for many single women, leaving them feeling undervalued, unappreciated and unloved, says the New York therapist, of jaycataldo.com
If you absolutely must buy something to mark Feb. 14, at least stay away from the trite trinkets she's used to, says Cataldo.
"Flowers, chocolate and jewelry have been done to death so inject some creativity into the mix and surprise her with a non-traditional approach.
"A theatre show, wine-tasting event or a couple's massage class have been used by my clients with great results. One guy purchased art supplies so he and his sweetie could paint each other.
"Think outside the heart-shaped box so your girl can boast and brag about your creative magnificence and reward you handsomely with lots of sexy-time."
Give Feb. 14 the big heave-ho altogether, advises Cataldo, and make up your own brand spanking new holiday for just the two of you, and celebrate with romance and love.
Empty wallets, big gestures
Got a heart of gold but an empty wallet? Think outside the chocolate box.
Go for a grand gesture - it's inexpensive and thoughtful, says Vicky Oliver, author of The Millionaire's Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire Even If You're Not.
-- Invent a signature drink. Is he of Russian descent? Make it with Russian vodka. Does she hail from Florida? Make it with fresh-squeezed oranges instead. Print up the recipe and put some personality into it. Call the elixir by your honey's name.
-- Get inventive with the I.O.U.s in order to save a small fortune or even a large one. Design a pretty I.O.U. certificate on your computer for a home-cooked meal or backrub. Add his/her name, print out the document, wrap it with a ribbon
-- Name a star. It can add a real bright spot to your relationship. Call a star after a girlfriend, boyfriend or even just a friend for under $15 at starnamer.net
-- Shop your closet. Pass on something you cherish, and be sure to include an explanation of why you are giving it to your loved one.
-- A message in a bottle. Get poetic and send your love in a bottle. Timelessmessage.com offers an array of creative gifts, including a limited-edition antique bottle. At a loss for words? They'll even craft the bottled message for you.