02/09/2013 06:59 am ET Updated Apr 11, 2013

You Can Do Better Than a Dozen Red Roses

Are you buying your loved one red roses....again? It's what we do, right? Everyone knows that a man is supposed to give his women red roses on Valentine's Day in order to show his love for her.

Red roses stand for love and romance. They also signify a clichéd tradition of surprising a loved one on Valentine's Day. It's a cop-out to rush to the grocery store or neighborhood florist and grab a dozen roses on your way home from work.

It's easy, predictable and makes you feel like you've done your job. But, doesn't that make you just like all the other guys (or women) who bought red roses?

I'd like to suggest that we rethink Valentine's Day this year.

One can celebrate a loved one and send offerings of love 365 days a year. Unfortunately many of us don't -- waiting until February the 14th to rush out for flowers, make reservations for romantic dinners and indulge in once-a-year manifestations of love and dedication. An act that may leave both of you feeling a little hollow and manipulated.

Why not do something different this year? You can still surprise your loved one on that special day, but there is no reason to follow the traditional route. Be spontaneous, think creatively. Ask your loved one what he or she might like as a gift or do some creative thinking to figure it out.

We each express our love in different ways. And, we have different expectations of what we want from a loved one. Think about your partner and what he or she might like -- then surprise them with a unique expression of your love and affection.

1. Valentine's Day is on a Thursday this year. Why not send your loved one a card a few days early, inviting her/him to take a special trip on Saturday -- and spend a whole day celebrating your relationship? Ask her or him what they'd like to do and make plans together. An afternoon of antiquing, or wine tasting. Maybe a couple's massage or a trip to the local museum.
2. Invite her/him to your place for a home-cooked meal. A dinner at home is more relaxed and potentially more romantic than fighting the crowds at a restaurant.
3. Give your loved one a special evening of intimacy. Write a suggestive note describing your 'gift'. You might buy something fun to enhance your lovemaking -- a silk scarf, a sex toy or prepare some sensuous foods to enhance the mood. Add candles and a bottle of wine to complete the special moment.
4. Be practical. Know that yard job she's been begging you to do -- do it early, pin a red bow on it, and tell her it was a labor of love.
5. If gift giving is the norm for you then do something extra special. Buy some artisan chocolates or give him a book by his favorite author. A CD of his/her favorite new artist, a pair of earrings she's been wanting, the newest tool he's been admiring at the hardware store.

The act of giving a gift is a genuine indicator of love, friendship or appreciation. The more special the relationship the more important it is that the gift have meaning -- the thought is more important than the amount of money you spend.

So, bypass the roses. Go for something that shouts, "I'm paying attention. I care about you."

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