Valentine's Day Gifts

By Sara Hodon

Choosing the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a little more stressful than it seems. Sure, it’s not like Christmas where you feel compelled to buy something for everyone in your family (including the great-aunt you haven’t seen since you were 12). And it’s not like Halloween, where you have to come up with the perfect costume and put it all together. Valentine’s Day brings a different kind of stress—namely, choosing an ideal gift for the one you love most. It’s not easy to decide on a gift that’s creative, personal, and meaningful. Breaking out in a cold sweat yet? Below are a few pointers to keep your Valentine’s Day shopping experience as stress-free as possible.

Know their likes and dislikes.

If you have an idea of your special someone’s tastes, you’re already well ahead of the game. If you’re buying for someone you’ve been seeing for a relatively short time, pay attention if they mention any particular likes or dislikes. “Make sure they really want [the gift],” says Antoinette Little of Antoinette Chocolatier, Phillipsburg, NJ. If choosing chocolates, Little says, “Make sure they don’t have any nut or wheat allergies, and be sure you know of anything that might cause a problem.” Many people are allergic to certain types of flowers, as well, so try to find this out before purchasing a bouquet that might cause them to break out in hives.

Choose something age-and relationship-appropriate.

This is key, according to Jacqueline Bodor of Pondelek’s Florist and Gifts, Hellertown. “Keep in mind the age of the person you’re buying for,” she says. “Obviously if you’re buying for your 80-year-old mother, she doesn’t want another glass vase. Older folks tend to like things like lotions, hand soaps, and creams. If you’re buying for someone younger—say a 6-to-12-year-old daughter—you can purchase a stuffed animal attached to a bud vase, or something more youthful-looking.” She says the standard gift for a wife or girlfriend is the classic dozen red roses, but says “If we get a guy looking for someone he’s just met, we’ll suggest a single pink or yellow rose.”

For a woman shopping for the men in her life, food is almost always a safe choice, assuming he’s the type of guy who is not big on receiving flowers (although Bodor says that a green plant is a good alternative to flowers for a man). As far as food, does he like salty or sweet snacks?  Or forget gifts this year and make reservations at a favorite restaurant. Better yet, find a creative new recipe and show off your culinary skills—a gift that is sure to win major points with your sweetheart.

It’s not about spending a fortune.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about buying things—it’s about spending some quality time together, and that doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money.  Plan a road trip or overnight getaway. If you’re on a tight budget, spend the day together and find some romantic things to do here in the Valley.

Blair Vineyards in Kutztown holds a Chocolate and Wine Event around Valentine’s Day every year. Both the Lehigh Valley and Berks County Wine Trails hold special holiday wine tastings, which allow couples to visit a number of their wineries and sample a few varieties. If you’re planning a wine-themed gift this Valentine’s Day, Missy Blair of Blair Vineyards suggests adding a special twist: “You could do an all-inclusive gift and put the wine with chocolate or cookies and pair them so that everything goes together, rather than enjoying each item separately,” she says. “If the person likes darker or bittersweet chocolate, try a dark red. Bittersweet dark chocolate and red wine pair really well together—you can open the wine and enjoy the whole experience.”

For the couple who just wants to relax and unwind together, something like a couples’ massage could be ideal. Diane Rizzetto, owner of Bellezza Hair and Body Café in Allentown, says that this is a  popular gift, and her staff adds some special touches. “If the massage is from the customer’s significant other, we’ll put a rose on their pillow or have the significant other write them a note,” she says. “If the couple comes in together, he might want a massage while she gets a manicure/pedicure, and they’ll meet up afterward for a drink or a meal.” If one half of the couple is a bit nervous about getting a massage, Rizzetto suggests they try an upper-body massage first. “Once they do that they’ll understand that it’s not just for relaxation, but it’s beneficial to get the knots out,” she says.

Be creative.

And if a “traditional” gift just isn’t your style, by all means, use your creativity to find or make the perfect gift for the one you love. “Safe” isn’t always best. A gift should be selected according to the recipient’s tastes, but it can have some of the giver’s personality, too. Sarah Schaffer, owner and president of Northampton Coin and Jewelry, Northampton, cautions that if you are thinking jewelry, don’t go with a heart just because it’s Valentine’s Day. “If you want to give them a meaningful gift, it can be something that has a meaning between the two of you, like a birthstone or something personal from your relationship, such as the stone from the month you started dating.” Schaffer says that if you want to stay with the spirit of Valentine’s Day, choose a piece with a subtle ruby rather than going with a standard heart-shaped item.

But as Rizzetto says, the day is not just about material gifts, but giving the gift of love.  “When you’re thinking of your sweetheart, if you can spend the whole day doing something together and take it into the night, that’s more important than spending a whole lot of money. If you’ve got the money, spend it, but if not, just spend time together.”

Antoinette Chocolatier
87 S. Main St.
Phillipsburg, NJ

Bellezza Hair & Body Café
2000 Oxford Drive
Allentown, PA

Blair Vineyards
99 Dietrich Valley Road
Kutztown, PA

Northampton Coin & Jewelry
1918 Center St.
Northampton, PA

Pondelek’s Florist & Gifts
1310 Main St.
Hellertown, PA

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