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John Lamb, Published February 12 2013

Tell your special someone how special they are by skipping standard Valentine’s Day gifts

FARGO – Thursday is Valentine’s Day, which marketers would have us believe is the one day a year you should show your loved one how special they are with roses, chocolates and a big romantic dinner. You know, the same exact thing everyone else is doing.

Sure, there’s a reason all of these are standard go-to gifts for Feb. 14. Flowers, sweets and a nice meal all warm the heart. But everyone is a little different and likes to be treated in a special way, especially on a special day.

So set yourself up to win not only their heart but their mind with some creative alternative Valentine’s Day gifts.

War on the roses

Yes, roses are vibrantly colored, soft to the touch and overall gorgeous. They also cost a small fortune.

These plush petals aren’t exactly in season now, so growers are charging extra knowing there’s a high demand. Unfortunately the buck doesn’t stop until it leaves your wallet.

That doesn’t mean you forget the flowers, because they’re pretty, fragrant and remind that special someone of you even when you’re not there.

“Romance is with flowers,” says Alma Cater, owner of Moorhead’s Country Greenery.

While she says roses are the “most exciting,” there are other options.

Orchids are exotic and star gazer lilies pop with color and fragrance. Tulips hold up pretty well as do alstroemeria, which will also be the most cost-effective of the bunch if money is an issue.

If you want something that will really last, buy a cyclamen plant. The colors of the flowering rosettes are romantic shades of red and pink and should last longer than a vase of flowers.

Sugar, sugar

Let’s face it; it’s hard to beat chocolate now that its health benefits are so well touted. But the positive news makes it less of a special treat and more of an everyday occurrence.

So on this special day, try something different. Why not go with a natural sugar high and mix up some fruit. You may not get that sugar rush, but you also won’t get over-stuffed. No one ever says, “I ate too much fruit.”

If you still want a sugar kick, find or make fruit tarts, which are simple and elegant.

We could also point out that feeding your sweet fruits like strawberries or grapes may be extra arousing, but best to keep that at home, lest you be seen as too syrupy.

And if you want something on their lips you can both appreciate, consider a flavored lip gloss or her favorite lipstick.

Bowled over

When it comes to romantic dinners, Italian restaurants often come to mind. The food is warm, hearty, comforting and for many, nostalgic. Lady and the Tramp didn’t go out for surf and turf on their big date.

But a big plate of pasta can leave you feeling too full and lacking energy for the night.

Noodles may be mostly associated with Italians, but they were first discovered in China. No matter the country, Asian varieties offer a lighter, but still filling option. And no, we’re not talking ramen.

If you’re of the opinion that noodles need sauce, you may want to try Thai, where wide rice noodles topped with red curry sauce will hit the spot. If you want something lighter, go Vietnamese with its fish sauces or Japanese for udon noodles in broth.

Bubble over

Champagne is always the go-to celebratory drink, but if you don’t know what to look for and how much you should pay, you may suffer some sticker shock.

Take anxiety out of the equation with a nice, bubbly alternative like Prosecco, the Italian version of Champagne.

“You don’t have to pay as much for a good, quality bottle as you do for Champagne,” says Nikki Berglund, wine manager at Bernie’s Wines & Liquors. She says a good Prosecco, like a Caposaldo, goes for about $16, but other solid varieties can be as low as $12.

If your baby is a brew drinker, skip “The Champagne of beers” for a richer twist on dessert suds – chocolate stouts and porters. A 22-ounce bottle of something like Southern Tier’s Choklat or New Belgium’s Imperial Chocolate Stout will set you back about $7 or $9, or a six-pack of Rush River’s Nevermore chocolate oatmeal stout runs $8.99


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533