Ditch the clichés and do something unexpected

by Kristen MacBride

It’s Valentine’s Day. Stores are full of the classic yet conventional heart-shaped chocolate boxes, stuffed animals and flowers. Although these gifts may be the standard offerings, there are other, more meaningful ways to show affection. Investing in some ingenuity and originality will create a more genuine, memorable holiday.

Skipping the Valentine’s Day aisle involves tapping the creative and thoughtful well. Meaningful presents involve extra effort, and they always show how much a person cares.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate a handmade, personalized touch into a gift is creating a homemade card. Cards can be made simply from colored paper or more elaborately with fabric and lace, but either way a homemade effort signifies the thoughtfulness in making a personalized card. Take the time to gush or list all the favorite things loved and appreciated about each other inside. Creating a scrapbook or collage including any tokens of past dates or experiences together is a memorable present that rivals the excitement of a bouquet of roses.

Playful, unexpected gifts will add spunk to this often tacky holiday. Create a scavenger hunt with notes and small presents or chocolates hidden around the house that lead to a final present or date ahead, or find a jar and fill it with memories and sweet notes.

Displaying love and appreciation through cooking and food is a perfect way to engender romance and creativity on Valentine’s Day. Stepping out of the usual dining routine by planning a menu of favorite foods, being welcomed home with a romantic dinner spread, trying exotic foods or making chocolate fondue can inspire a new, alluring atmosphere to be shared and remembered. If an extravagant cooking session is too intimidating, simply packaging homemade treats in a pastry box decorated with some personal touches creates the same thoughtful display.

Spending time together is the most valuable part of celebrating a meaningful Valentine’s Day. Enjoy a picnic or day trip in the sand sheltered by the cliffs at the picturesque La Jolla Cove. Bundle up and lay beneath the stars in a playground or park. From on top of Mount Soledad, watch the sunset together and marvel from a bird’s-eye view at a 360-degree scope of San Diego.

Instead of the rather cliché dinner and movie date, bring snacks to the drive-in theaters of Santee or South Bay. Take advantage of San Diego’s scenery, water and sunset to cruise around Mission Bay on The Bahia Belle boat for only $10. A special Valentine’s Day cruise and dinner is also available for those with a bigger budget.
Break away from the stereotypical gifts. Do something unique and give a gift that will be remembered for many Valentine’s Days to come.