To get some gift-giving inspiration, we sought help from Ottawa's romance experts to compile the ultimate list of gift ideas aimed at showing your significant other how much you care. The result was a list of classic Valentine's Day traditions with a twist worthy of the patron saint of love himself.
1. Sexy splurge
While men are the ones who usually turn to sexy lingerie on Feb. 14, you might want to consider doing the same. "Most men are still in the habit of buying a three-pack of cotton boxers every six months. A stylish new pair of boxer briefs goes a long way," says Robert Conley, who works at Harry Rosen. Any designer store will carry Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Burberry and other designer brands. "Splurge on a pair," says Conley. "Everybody wins."
2. Sweet treats
Think like a kid again and buy something sweet for Valentine's Day. "I would say our most popular Valentine's candies are the classic conversation hearts with the messages on them, and cinnamon hearts," says Hayley Sherman, clerk at The Candy Store in Ottawa's Westboro Village.
She suggests creating a personalized treat bag for your partner. Start with a cone-shaped cellophane bag, select three or four varieties of Valentine's bulk candy in complementary colours, layer them by size and tie with a tasteful ribbon. "Dropping in your own letter or attaching a tag with a personal message is a nice custom touch," she adds.
3. Hidden message
Chocolate might be a tried-and-true Valentine's Day gift, but you can take it up a notch. If you insist on traditional chocolate, Sherman suggests getting imported varieties. "Our most popular flavours of chocolate are the exotic," she says. Opt for Belgian chocolate (dark and milk) with hazelnuts or pralines.
To make the gift more thoughtful, get personal. Leave a special message under each piece, listing the things you love about your partner, such as his laugh, his eyes or his smile -- and just to guarantee yourself a bite -- his generosity.
Page 1 of 2 -- From handwritted inscriptions, special flowers to handmade cards, find more unique Valentine's Day gift ideas on page 2
4. Made in Canada
Shop local to really find something distinctive for your loved one. "Buying Canadian-made things always gives an extra-special element to the gift, and it's also a great way to keep the gift really unique," suggests Katie Frappier, co-owner of Victoire Boutique.
"Work your way down to a boutique in your town or city that specializes in Canadian-made," she says. If you're not sure where to start, go online. "Most boutiques now also run web stores and blogs that you can buy through. And Etsy is another great spot to discover new designers," she says.
5. Book lover
If you're stumped about what to get your partner, think about giving him a book he's been dying to read, a novel you read and loved or something hot off the presses that's garnering lots of buzz. "Books can be very romantic," says Trish Slater of Collected Works, an independent bookstore.
"For Valentine's Day, I would suggest Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown and Company, 2011) by Stacy Schiff. It says, ‘I think you're sexy and exotic, and I would conquer worlds for you.'" Make your book of choice even more special by personalizing it. A heartfelt inscription on the inside cover makes your gift more thoughtful.
6. Rite of spring
No celebration of love would be complete without flowers, but stay away from the overdone red roses. Kat Kosk, owner of Blumen Studio, suggests looking ahead to spring for inspiration and getting a little more creative at the florist's. "You can do almost anything in a bouquet, so why not try spring flowers in a heart shape for something unexpected?"
7. Exotic elegance
Elizabeth Young, owner of Flowers Talk, suggests choosing blossoms that suit your loved one, or that veer away from the usual bouquets you might find at the grocery store. "Get something out of the ordinary with that special person in mind. Orchids are beautiful, exotic and they flower for about six months," she says.
8. Paper heart
Keep in mind that it's not just about the flowers themselves. The tiny card accompanying your blooms has big significance, says Young. "The first thing someone looks at when they receive flowers is the card." If you're not feeling clever, ask the florist for suggestions, or use a poem or a line from a book that has significance to you. "Put real thought into it. This is the one day of the year when corny and cheesy is good."
There won't be any doubt how much your significant other means to you with these inspired, meaningful and original variations on classic Valentine's Day gifts.
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