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."