Whether you are just starting to date someone special, in a committed relationship or have already walked down the aisle, Valentine's Day can seem a bit daunting. The amount of hype around making this single day perfect is enough to make even the most romantic of us a bit skittish. As the founder of Joy of Romance, Inc., I'm here to guide you to a happy ending, in six easy steps, when it comes to choosing the most perfect gift for your Valentine.
1) Don't Procrastinate
First step, don't wait till the last minute. To do this right it will take a little creativity. Usually the more thought you give to creating or choosing the gift, the better the outcome. However, there are some creative geniuses out there who may be able to pull off some romantic miracles with little or no time; especially if they take the following five steps to heart. For the rest of us, it's best to start thinking about it and begin doing some investigative work at least a week or two in advance.
2) Start With Your Valentine's Love Language
If you aren't already familiar with Gary Chapman's "The Five Love Languages" –words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, quality time and gifts. (For your relationship’s sake, put this book on the top of your reading list.) For now, to take a good guess at what your partner's love language is, ask yourself two questions: one: what have I done that really makes my love happy? Two: what do they complain about either not receiving from me or from their past partners? These two questions will give you insight as to what their primary and potentially secondary love languages are. Now anchor your Valentine's gift around what matters most to them by incorporating their love language.
For example, if their love language is "words of affirmation" make sure as part of your gift you write a really meaningful card that details why they are special to you. If "acts of service" makes them shine then incorporate "doing something" like making a meal or getting their car washed as a part of the gift. For "physical touch," make sure you are giving them lots of love via hugs, kisses, hand holding and some erotic touches to start or top off the night, or both. A love language you can incorporate into most any gift you will be giving this Valentine's Day is "quality time" as a majority of partners will enjoy having your undivided attention when you are together.
3) Be Creative And Original
Do, create or give your Valentine something they have never done or received before to ensure a memory to last a lifetime. This means forget the roses and chocolates, unless they are an accessory to a grander gift. Put your creative hat on and without being too specific, inquire with your love about their preferences to different ideas by asking good open-ended questions. Places to go to spur your creativity: local event calendars, concierges at your local hotels, online coupon companies like Groupon, Gilt or Goldstar, and fun online newsletters like UrbanDaddy will always offer inspiration. Think about their hobbies or something they have mentioned wanting to do; maybe it's flying, stunt car driving or cooking lessons.
4) Find Your Phermones
Give the gift that keeps on giving. Extend the effects of the love drugs boosted by your Valentine's Day gift beyond the day itself. You ask "what is meant by 'love drugs'?" When you first fall in love, both thinking of and being with your new love has chemical affects throughout your body that light up the same areas of the brain as someone high on cocaine. That initial chemical cocktail is designed to heighten your five senses, give you more energy and endurance, emblazon the details of time spent together into your memory, and give you focused attention on you love. So once you move from the attraction phase into the attachment phase — between four months to two years depending on the individuals and environment — your body chemistry shifts. The initial love rush is not meant to be sustained indefinitely. So, to strengthen your relationship in the attachment phase, you should find ways to bring those initial chemicals back into play. You can do that by thinking outside your comfort zone, finding ways to learn something new with your partner and by creating unique experiences together.
Two sure fire ways to get that extra chemical boost include using the elements of adventure, surprise and anticipation. First idea, a gift I call "Choose Your Own Adventure," similar to the book series we all read as kids. The basics on creating a "Choose Your Own Adventure” gift are 1) choose an overall theme (could be based on a particular book, movie, activity, food or wine), 2) the timeline could begin on Valentine's Day and then continue the following week, into the next weekend or possibly all year, 3) research different directions you could take with your date along the same theme accounting for rest stops along the journey which could include picnics, stays at hotels or getting pampered in any way, and 4) create the option cards printed out so at the end of each component of the adventure they can choose what direction to take next.
A second idea, is to create a personalized adventure for your love. Make a fun gift certificate and wrap it up. Include a mysterious title which gives a hint of what the adventure will entail, describe the following on the certificate: attire (what should they be wearing on this adventure or should they bring a variety of outfits?), preparation (what do they need to do to get ready for it?) and timeframe (does the adventure have specific dates and/or time of day?) A personalized adventure may center around pampering, eating, physical activities, a favorite book or movie, or pretending your international spies by doing some geocaching.
5) Appeal To Their Personal Tastes
"It's the thought that counts," is never an excuse to be cheap but a declaration to spend more time analyzing what matters most to the recipient. Creating a memorable experience doesn't always need to involve spending a lot of money, just know what your partner values before making a purchase. By paying attention to what is happening in their life at the moment you will be able to play to their specific needs, wants and desires. As my fellow new mothers can attest, receiving a gift that involves having some alone time would be more highly valued now than it was prior to having a child. If your love is stressed out, maybe it's time to either personally give them a long massage or buy a gift certificate for a professional massage. Keep reading...
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