Keeping Valentine’s gift-giving simple and thoughtful
By Laurie Fox
If you find your heart beating a little faster, that could be because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. But because the big day seems to take on heightened importance each year, those heart palpitations may be coming from mounting pressure to find the perfect gift rather than from thinking of your loved one.
Panicking over Valentine’s gift-giving often leads to the standard flowers-chocolate-dinner-out route. If your special someone loves that approach you’re set. But it doesn’t hurt to look beyond the rose-colored haze to practical gifts that, in their own way, can be just as romantic. Paying attention to what makes a person happy can bring more Valentine’s Day pay-off (and fewer calories) than all of those boxes of chocolate.
There really is no one-size-fits-all answer to Valentine’s Day, says Jessica Rogers, a Mansfield licensed professional counselor, because thoughtful gift-giving comes from spending time thinking about your loved one.
“It’s about ‘Did you really think about me?’” she says. “The presents don’t really have much meaning if you’re not putting the thought into it. It’s really about being involved, giving your undivided attention and having a well-thought out plan.”
She adds: “Too often we give what we want to receive and that’s not always what our significant other needs.”
Rogers says that she often recommends to her patients the book by Gary Chapman or that they take the book’s online quiz because it helps them learn more about themselves and their partners, a valuable skill come Valentine’s Day.
“The things that are the best in life - like time spent together - don’t cost a lot of money,” she says.
Time and a Token
A Valentine’s Day time out, even if just for an evening, also can help couples decompress and enjoy one another. Larry Auth, director of sales and marketing at Fort Worth’s Omni hotel, says spending an evening in a nice restaurant you don’t usually frequent and strolling through the city makes memories.
“You create moments when you really put time and thought into creating an event for a person,” he says. “I ask my kids ‘Do you remember what I bought you six years ago?’ And they can’t. You remember moments.”
As important as time spent together is, presenting your sweetheart with a token of affection is a traditional hallmark of Valentine’s Day. Armed with the ability to look at things from your loved one’s perspective, it just takes some detective work to determine what they really need.
Most harried women would love a day spent at the spa, a refreshing trip to the hair or nail salon or even a relaxation basket filled with bath salts, a candle, soft towels, sleep mask, lavender oil, a hair towel or instrumental CD. Do they collect a certain item? Many local gift shops can help you find just the right silver platter, figurine or charm bracelet pendant to round out a collection. Sports or college memorabilia also are good areas to mine for ideas to add to a loved one’s stash.
Sometimes giving gifts that clear out the clutter - a closet clean-out or a car detail - can have a powerful calming effect. And although couple time is important, setting aside time to spend with friends - a future gift of a girl’s night out or a guy’s golf outing - can be a thoughtful gesture.
When it comes to some men in particular, cigars and the tools that go with them can be a hit.
Keith Kline, who works at the Tobacco Lane store in Arlington Highlands, says women often flock to what he calls “the man’s candy store” to stock up on items that their guy might not buy for himself.
“We sell a lot of specialty cigars or a nicer version of what that person already smokes when people give gifts,” he says. “Or an entire box of what they already smoke. Accessories like lighters, cutters or specialty carrying cases also are popular.”
Cooking & Crafts
If your significant other is up for trying a new hobby, a gift of a jewelry-making, floral design or yoga class could be well received. Couples could work in time together by taking dance classes or learning a similar new skill like cooking.
Sarah Hooton, the cooking school manager for Central Market in Fort Worth, says the store has special Valentine’s-themed events planned for everything from couples to new cooks. Special food pairings like chocolate and wine or instructions for how to prepare a Valentine’s meal - such as an entrée like tenderloin - are available.
“It’s not something that our male population always thinks about as a gift or for them to do with their significant other,” she says. “But many times when they do, they really enjoy it.”
Hooton says gifting someone with a cooking class enables that recipient to step out and try something new. Some classes are demonstration-only while others get those who want to learn to cook involved in the process.
“We hear a lot of people who say ‘I’ve wanted to do that but never made time for it,’” she says. “It’s a really unique gift.”
If you’ve got a potential crafter, artist or cake decorator who’s just waiting to find guidance and inspiration, they might feel at home at Michael’s Stores. Valentine’s shoppers can either learn to make their own frame, scrapbook or other project to give or purchase a gift card for their sweetheart (along with a schedule of classes) to learn something new.
“Taking classes here gives people a new purpose and gets them out of the house,” says Ann-Marie Montou, who coordinates events at the Michael’s location in Mansfield. “It gives people confidence and a boost to both the giver and the receiver. These are skills that can last you a lifetime.”
Playing Cupid at Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to raise your blood pressure as long as you take the time to stop and think about the practical side of gift giving. It just might leave you in the pink long after the holiday.