For years my husband tried to convince me that Valentine’s Day was one of those Hallmark holidays that were created to sell candy and flowers. Actually, Chaucer was the first one to associate St. Valentine’s day (yes, there really is a saint behind it) with romantic love in the 14th century. Eighteenth Century England was the first place to give hearts, candy and cards. However, it seems to have taken on a life of it’s own since the mid-twentieth century.
For some reason, men seem to stress out about Valentine’s Day. Apparently there have been enough men over the years who have forgotten the day entirely or missed the significance of it that we females have been forced to drill its importance into your heads. I mean, seriously, you have phones and computers that coordinate work, personal, and social schedules; you can operate your home security system from the office; you can pay all of your bills automatically. I find it hard to believe that you don’t understand the software that allows you to put important dates into your calendar program and give you a week’s warning.
Yes, you answer, but then we don’t know what to buy. So we put it off. Lucky for you, Valentine’s Day is not like Christmas. The stores don’t close early and they aren’t all jammed at the end of the day. There aren’t any “hot” toys to stand in line for.
One of the best gifts my husband gave me was the handmade card that he decorated with pictures of animals I liked and sweet sayings. I think I speak for most women when I say that what you buy isn’t as important as whether or not you have thought enough about it to buy something you know she will like.
For example, when I was in college a boyfriend sent a singing valentine to where I worked. I was 20 or 21, got embarrassed, but still thought it was sweet. If my husband did that this year, I’d want to kill him. It is not a good gift for an introvert or someone who works in a stuffy office.
If your love hates crowds, don’t plan to take her to the most popular spot in town. It will be a zoo, and she probably won’t enjoy herself as much as she would at a quieter spot. On the other hand, it might be the perfect gift for a more outgoing date. It also depends on whether you actually want to talk to her while you’re eating.
If she has been working really, really hard since the beginning of the year to lose weight or practice healthier eating, this is not the year for the pound of really expensive chocolates. More likely than not, she will wonder whether you’ve been paying any attention at all to the work she’s been doing. “I thought you deserved a treat” might work for dessert, but not for a box of candy that’s constantly calling her name. (My mother used to tell my dad to hide any candy he brought in the house while she was dieting – then complain that he wasn’t sharing.)
If you want to share a nice bottle of wine, make sure you know what type she likes. Dry red wines are very sophisticated, but they also are an acquired taste for a lot of people. Champagne gives some people a headache. Or your partner might be like the young woman I was helping at the store. She asked me to help her select a wine. I asked her what she was looking for, and she said she wanted something that tasted good and would make her drunk. She ended up with a passion-fruit blend of some sort.
Flowers are nice. Unless she’s allergic. Or prefers live plants. Jewelry works. Unless she doesn’t really wear it. Perfume is a good gift. If you know what she wears.
One final bit of advice. The gift is for her, not for you. Unless she has specifically asked for it at some point, do not buy something see-through with feathers or lace. Corsets, garters, and teddies all fall into this same classification. If she wants to look sexy for you, I’m sure she is capable of it by herself. And the odds are she has better taste and knows what looks good on her.
Happy hunting. And if you do put it off until Friday – do not send your assistant to pick out a gift.