Time to throw out the usual and think in a different realm. Now, that's not to say that your usual system is done for. No, it just means that maybe this year you can be a little bit more creative - quirky, even - in your Valentine's Day gift giving. Here are seven ideas to consider.

1. Have a "card shop date"

Plan ahead with your partner and set a date to meet at your local Hallmark card shop - or any other store with loads of valentines. Start looking for a special valentine for each other. No peaking. When you've both found one you like, don't show it. Buy it. Then, stop at the local ice cream parlor, write a message on the card and give your cards to each other over a shared banana split. This takes the pressure off and can be a lot of silly fun.

2. Put a gift in a box of Cracker Jacks

Remember finding prizes in the Cracker Jack box as a kid? Prizes were fun then, and they still are. Time to be a kid again. Write a note surrounded by tiny hearts that tells your spouse to look in a certain place. Then, bury the note inside the Cracker Jack box and hide a gift in the place you chose. Flowers, a necklace, a clever key chain, a favorite aftershave lotion - whatever you know your spouse would enjoy. Then, let your mate know there's a special surprise inside his or her Cracker Jacks.

3. Cut and paste from a magazine or online

If you're the wife, find a picture of a real "hunk" of a guy (you know, muscles galore, bulging on purpose). Cut it out, glue a picture of your husband's face into the picture, and paste it all on a clean white sheet of paper. Write "This is you! I would recognize you anywhere. Always my Valentine!" If you're the husband, find a picture of a beautiful woman, attractively dressed in a glamorous pose, and do the same.

4. Make heart-shaped pancakes - with a twist

Get up a little early on Valentine's Day and make pancakes - only this time, secretly cut one of them through lengthwise and insert a message inside the pancake. Any loving message will do: "I could eat you up!" or "You are delicious to me!" After your honey reads the message, plant a kiss on him or her that will be remembered all day.

5. Make a string of hearts with a special message

On each heart, write what it is you love about your mate. Tape each heart to a long ribbon with this note at the beginning: "The many reasons why I love you." Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Because you give the best back rubs ever

  • Because you are so beautiful/handsome

  • Because your kisses make me tingle

  • Because you are so cute with our kids

  • Because you would go to the moon and back for me

The list goes on. The longer and more specific, the better. Have the final heart say "Happy Valentine's Day! I love you!" Hang the string of hearts where you know your spouse will see it at just the right time.

6. Make a card out of candy bars

Buy several candy bars with names you can use in a sentence. Then, write a message on a poster board, gluing on candy bars in place of certain words. For example: "The day I married you was my best PAYDAY. Each day is like a beautiful SYMPHONY. No question about it, I SKORed big time when we said 'I do.' My heart's been all a-SKITTLES ever since. I'm BONKERS over you." For more ideas, click here.

7. Go on a blind date

Put a blindfold on your honey and take her or him out to a secret place for dinner. Leave the blindfold on until you are seated at the table. Make sure to pick the type of food your spouse loves - someplace you haven't been to for a while. When dinner is almost done, bring out a special gift or card to wish your partner a happy Valentine's Day.

Whatever you do to celebrate Valentine's Day, do something. Let this be a fun time to give some special attention to your spouse. Whether you do something quirky or go with the usual, have fun. These little things spark up a marriage, making it better than ever.

Together, Gary and Joy Lundberg author books on relationships. See their new e-book, "Wake-Up Call - What Every Wife Needs to Know."

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