Don’t worry, you are not the only one racking your brain for what to give your loved one for the Valentine’s Day. And you are not the one who is going (and willing) to spend some of that paycheck on your valentine.
February 14 is The Valentine’s Day, and not only in U.S.A., but all around the world people are set to make this day very special. Some put this day on the same level with the New Year’s shopping and celebration chaos in regards to searching for right presents, preparing homemade dinners or choosing a restaurant, going through cloths (especially for the ones that go under one's dress and suit) and making calls to arrange for all those deliveries of flowers and teddy bears.
Most popular Valentine's Day gifts exchanged between loved ones across the globe are cards, fresh flowers and chocolates, but some couples take an extra step and seek out more unique gifts to give and places to take their Valentine to.
And while you are contemplating the idea of what to give your Valentine on February 14, you might not be the only one who has started to think about it weeks in advance. Neither you are the only one in this country, or around the world, who has been racking your brain out on how to make it unique and special and avoid the situation of shopping at CVS the night before for a box of heart-shaped chocolates with caramel filling.
This year, estimated, that it will cost a Moskovite (a resident of Moscow, Russia) 5,000 Rubles on average (or $136.70), that is when the average wage in Russia is only 17,900 Rubles (or $500.) And you thought your Valentine’s Day is costly.
However, we must be proud with our own spending this year, despite the sluggish U.S. economy, this year lovebirds still plan to shell out an average of $123 each on Valentine’s Day, up from $120 last year and eclipsing the $101 of 2006. Total outlay for the U.S.: $17 billion, estimates the National Retail Federation's 2008 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by market research company BIGresearch.
This is a total of cool $17 billion to be spent on the Valentine’s alone, the cupid must be a total capitalist that does not believe in 401K, health insurance and savings, but what can we do – it’s still very optimistic to know that so many people take this “lovers” day seriously and still believe in spending lots of ‘greens’ on a loved one.
Do you know what it means? That regardless of what’s happening around us – we are still hopeless romantics who value love above all – economy, work, global issues, ecology. Because love is what is going to save us all at the end (“Make Love, not War,” remember that one?)
A bit of International history of the Valentine’s Day celebration
At the end of the XVII century, Samuel Pepys, an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament, who is most famous for his diary, made an entry in the court’s documents that on February 14 those in love could exchange the gifts such as gloves, rings and candy. In the beginning of the last century, Americans began to send marzipans to their fiancés, which were later ornamented with caramel-made greetings and wishes for a loved one. Those caramel were then not only used as a material for “candy inscriptions”, but also as its own candy and they were made red and white: red meant passion and white – pure love. In the 1950s, they started to put the candies in boxes in a form of a heart (which you can now find at any store in the country, of all shapes and colors.)
So, over the years it became a custom to always give something sweet on the Valentine’s Day and, preferably, in the form of a heart (be it a cake, candies, cookies, or chocolate.)
Moreover, flowers are also a must (and it’s never boring, believe me – speaking like a true romantic myself!) And always remember, the essence and “value” of a Valentine’s Day gift depends on how close and well you know each other, and it should symbolize the “level” of your feelings towards that person. Typical gifts won’t do alone, come up with something unique and special, besides flowers and chocolates.
Here are a few tips from your International Valentine counterparts
1. What’s more important is not the gift – it’s the attention:
So present your Valentine with « a holiday of attention ». Begin it with a breakfast in bed. Help her/him to get ready for work, advise what wear, how to smell. Throughout the day, send him/her emails (little nice, cute, loving words matter!), send SMS, ICQ letters – whatever you have, use it: Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, AOL AIM. Use it, but don’t abuse it – you still want to have a job at the end of the day. The point is – send love letters via various means to remind how you feel about him/her. Also, if your Valentine is a big radio listener, call in and place a song for her/him (think of Ross in “Friends,” when he asked for a song to play for Rachel on the radio.)
And in the evening, prepare a romantic candlelight dinner (or call-in for a take out for the cuisine he/she loves the most.) Play some slow music, set up a bottle of cooled wine, and don’t forget to turn off the phones! It’s the night to spend it alone, just in the company of each other.
2. The best gifts - the necessary gifts:
This is another thing that those, overseas, believe would make a romantic gift. And it’s the time to strain your brain and remember the last time you were at a shopping center together, and what attracted her/his attention when he/she murmured of “what a charming thing” it is. Go and get it for her/him. Yes-yes, that's it, buy it as a gift and most likely you end up giving the gift she/he really wanted, but could not afford it him/herself.
In the case you don’t recall such an occasion, you can just ask her/him what they would want to have as a gift. And ask him/her give you a few options, so that whatever you decide to choose would still be a surprise gift. It might be less romantic than unexpected gifts, but at least it would be something that they would definitely like. (No headache to search for a receipt next day.)
3. “Frozen money:”
Or what they, the foreigners, call “coupons” and “gift-certificates” in slang abroad. Our foreign brothers and sisters believe there is nether too much of make-up and perfume to have; there is still something one always needs. But how to guess a favorite tone of a lipstick or consistency of a hair mask? In this case, our foreign comrades suggest you get your Valentine a gift certificate to a place, like Sephora, where one can get all kinds of cosmetic, beauty and perfume products. Same would go with a lingerie store (works best for a girl’s gift, though.)
The foreigners also believe that there is nether enough care of your loved one’s health and overall well-being, so a spa/beauty salon certificate. Believe it or not, it’s a very charming and caring gifts that works for both, men and women. As much as men would deny (and refuse it), some of them could definitely use a pedicure, as well as a facial, body wrap and a massage.
What’s even better – get a “couple’s” certificate and lounge side by side, while the specialists take care of your skin and sore body parts. Moroever, depending on your comfort level, and personal traits, perhaps a gift certificate to a gym and/or a training class (of something he/she wanted to try or enjoys doing, like yoga or boot camp aerobics class) would be a perfect gift that says a lot about your care. (Besides, there is nothing is like a compensation for all that chocolate over-indulgence with a sport activity after.)
4. We all know that "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," and our International Valentines are on the same page:
Surprise, or not, but our foreign friends also know that a real bling goes a long way, and Marilyn Monroe only reiterated the common knowledge of what diamonds are for both men and women and today, one can find many things with a diamond that won’t break your wallet.
5. Sexy Valentine Photo Session:
For certain you have the general photos made with a usual camera by someone from friends, but how about to make professional photos of just two of you at a studio, which you can then frame and/or blow up for your wall art? See if you can make “role” photos – or photos with a theme, if this is your kind of thing. Be it a retro or a period piece.
The Valentine’s Day is a day to recognize, show and declare the love that might have been concealed in your heart. Around the world women and men would propose to their loved ones on that day. For example, ladies in Japan never miss such an opportunity. It’s a common custom of a Japanese woman to ask her man to marry her (and not the other way around,) and if he is not ready yet to move forward with an marriage, he has to gratitude a woman for making such a respectful offer and present her with a silk dress as a “thank you” for the honor she granted to him by asking him to marry her.
While most of these ideas are not strange to us in America, it’s good to know that Valentines around the world are on the same page.