By Triantafillia Memisaki
You’re counting down the days to that dreaded, but hopefully not dreadful, day, and realize they’re quickly running out. Your heart races as you try to think of a suitable gift worthy of your sweetheart, only to find that you ran out of decent ideas long ago. Sweat begins to trickle down your brow as you watch hour after hour of mind-numbing commercials that start to convince you the only way to keep your partner from being horribly disappointed this Valentine’s Day is to break the bank. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s important to realize the role the media and commercial businesses have played in brainwashing us to think it’s really the price tag of the gift that matters. It’s not enough that Valentine’s Day has been brutally taken advantage of – or worse, actually created – by these corporate behemoths as a cash cow, but they’ve actually managed to somehow trap us in the collective lie that the small, intangible things you actually put a lot of thought into don’t count for as much as their shiny plastic love.
What it all comes down to is essentially just to let your significant other know that you value them as an individual, pay attention to their voiced and unvoiced needs and desires, and above all respect them as a person. Ultimately, no matter what most people claim, we all yearn to be loved with the kind of fervor present in romantic movies. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take grand gestures to show that kind of fiery passion. Just remember these basic guidelines and be prepared to dazzle your darling.
1. Program (Make time for it)
2. Prepare (Put an effort into it)
3. Plan (Put some thought into it)
4. Personalize (Make it theirs)
“It’s the thought that counts”, goes the popular saying. And nothing shows you put some thought into a gift like taking time out of your personal schedule to show your special someone that they are your number one priority. What we deem most important in our lives is proven by how we spend most of our time. So the more time you spend with them or planning for them, the more they will appreciate it.
Now the aforementioned effort need not be months of planning and preparing a masterpiece. However, it does require that you pay attention to the little things. If at some point during the year they expressed to you, even vaguely, that they were in need of, or wanted, something in particular (tangible or intangible), having you fulfill that desire later down the road would prove to them that you care enough to listen and remember those seemingly unimportant details. And this is by no means gender specific. Ladies, don’t think guys don’t enjoy being taken care of as well. It means so much to them when their girl takes the time to plan a surprise for them. Especially since the burden of Valentine’s Day surprises tends to fall on them all the time.
Of course, the hardest part – and, incidentally, the most vital – in your attempt to astound your date is to pay attention to all the little details that will make the difference between a sweet gesture and a beautiful memory to be forever treasured. This doesn’t necessarily mean your gift has to be handcrafted (not everyone is artistic by nature), but the more personalized it is, the more obvious it will be that you cared enough to spend time on it. This could mean something as extravagant as getting him or her a particular brand of an item they always wanted but could never find, as they would know how hard and time-consuming it must have been for you to do so. Or something as simple as making sure whatever it is has their name on it. Another suggestion would be to accompany a less personalized gift with a poem or a song. It doesn’t have to be written by you either. Just make sure the message is relevant and has something to do with your date. The point is to make sure there is an evident connection between the gift and the thought, time and effort it took to consider, buy, make, personalize or wrap it.
Namely, the most important thing to remember is that the gift doesn’t have to necessarily be unique. It just has to feel that way, whether by presentation or personalization. The context in which you give the gift is also very important. You can’t just shove it in your date’s face and expect them to consider it romantic. It could be the most romantic gift in the universe, but if you handle it callously, it won’t be as graciously received.
And last but not least, whether your gift is perfectly individualized or incredibly cliché, you can never fail if you make sure you accompany it with the elegant and always popular intangibles. For example, in today’s day and age, where it’s quick and easy to put together a CD of different songs, there’s no excuse for not taking the time to pick out a few of your date’s favorites and using them as background noise to soften their mood. I can assure you it will make them more receptive to whatever your gift is. It doesn’t take a lot of money to put together a candle-lit dinner either. Candles are cheap and the type of meal doesn’t particularly matter as long as you make sure it looks neat and is escorted by a beverage in a tall glass. Of course, you’ll get extra points if the meal and drink are your partner’s favorites and were prepared by you.
Basically, the trick is to step out of the ordinary. Don’t make the day feel routine or bland. Don’t make the conversations about things you talk about every day. Make it about the other person or about your relationship. I can assure you that no matter what you say, as long as you say it politely and romantically, it will be properly accepted and very much appreciated. The point is to use Valentine’s Day to remind your loved one that they matter to you and to prove it with your actions. You can’t put a price tag on love, so why put one on the way you choose to express it?