The quiver of Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and tied to it by a red ribbon is the added stress of being original for your loved one on our official day of romance. Let's face it: After a week, the bouquet of flowers you bought will have wilted, the box of chocolates consumed and discarded along with them will be the memory of a day that had the potential to be something Hugh Grant might want to reenact in a movie someday. So to keep from falling into a romantic limbo, here are a few gift ideas and scenarios that will help make this Valentine's Day something adorable rather than snorable.
Gifts For Women
1. Name a Star After Your Sweetie
In what is advertised as a "gift that will last a lifetime," the International Star Registry has been naming the universe's celestial spheres for loved ones since 1979. After choosing a star and bestowing it with the name of your sweetie, you'll be supplied with a certificate that includes the date of it's naming along with telescopic coordinates to help you locate your newly purchased ball of luminous plasma. To ensure sole ownership, your star's name and coordinates will hold a copyright in the book of "Your Place In The Cosmos", just in case future generations are feeling cheeky and want to sneak a peak at your sweetie through a high-powered lens and claim her as their own. So plan for clear skies, borrow a friend's telescope, pop the cork on a bottle of wine, and take turns in between kisses to look up at your newly aquired piece of the romantic night sky. (Important note: purchasing a dying star is not recommended.)
2. Customized M&M's
Chocolate giving is never a bad idea on Valentine's Day, but thanks to the M&M company, you can now customize your candies with everything from a word to a photo of a memorable experience you and your lover shared. Relive these beautiful moments bite by bite, or get creative and brand each candy with your own personal touch.
3. Anything Ryan Gosling
It's been well documented over the past year that actor Ryan Gosling has captured the hearts of America's women. So embracing this sad (but true) fact, it seems that anything Ryan Gosling as a gift will be sure to pull at your lover's heartstrings. A few recommendations include t-shirts with Ryan Gosling's face, a life-size cardboard cut-out of Gosling wearing a wet, transparent tank top, or the epitome of Gosling-giving, a reenacted scene in your lover's living room from the film The Notebook. Sure, there may be tears, but bonus points will be awarded to those who go full-Gosling and dries them with kisses.
4. Big Hunka Love Bear
There's nothing quite like having a cuddle session on Valentine's Day while watching a romantic movie. But for those looking for added warmth without the aid of a fireplace or a Snuggie, try out the Vermont Teddy Bear company's Big Hunka Love Bear. Equal parts adorable blanket and substitute cuddle partner for future nights when you and your lover are apart, this 4 ½ foot plush teddy bear will be the cuddly pet you never have to feed or give rabies shots to. The product's infomercial also alludes through strange, sexual undertones that the bear has other uses, but we'll just let you discover those for yourself.
5. Serenade your sweetie with a romantic air guitar performance
Wish you could serenade your lover with a song on Valentine's Day but lack the guitar or musical talent to pull it off? Don't worry, the new air guitars from Urban Outfitters will turn even the most musically daft into guitar heroes. Now I know what you're thinking: Why buy something that, when accurately portrayed, is invisible? And my answer is that a slight visual aid will only add to the richness of the performance. Try this link to my favorite 90's romance song and start rehearsing for what will either make your lover cry or (more than likely) laugh until she cries.
Gifts For Men
1. Beer Making Kits
What says "I love you" to a Wisconsin male more than supplying him with a kit to make his own 2-gallon batch of beer? Including beer ingredients and mixture containers along with a case of bottles and caps for storage, you and your man can spend a romantic night experimenting with flavors and potency while everyone else in Madison are out at the bars waiting impatiently to be served a drink.
2. Redeemable Service Coupons
Maybe the most underrated gift for any holiday season, hand-made, redeemable service coupons are truly the gift that keeps on giving. While the card's contents can vary depending on your lover's personality, standard coupons for the impromptu completion of an unwanted chore or a back massage will remind your lover even weeks after Valentine's Day that he holds a special place in your heart. Just make sure you count how many coupons you made before giving them to your partner on Valentine's Day. Nothing will ruin the mood more than catching your man huddled in a dark corner of the basement trying to forge a new batch with construction paper and colored markers.
3. Driving Gloves from the movie Drive
I hate to admit it, but the previously mentioned "Gosling Craze" has also infiltrated the hearts of men. Even guys who thought Drive was too artsy or slow would be lying if they didn't fess up to secretly wanting the signature scorpion jacket and driving gloves Gosling's character wears in the film. But while the jacket may be a little pricey and hard to find, the gloves designed by Dorothy Gaspar are available for purchase at the artist's website. Imagine the look on your boyfriend's face when he slips on the pair of brown-leather gloves and takes you to pull 40 mph donuts in a Barnes and Noble parking lot. Tell me that's not the making of a memorable Valentine's Day.
4. Ice Fishing Picnic on Lake Monona
Late at night, a frozen Lake Monona in all its quiet clarity has an astral beauty to it, as if you were walking on the surface of the moon and not a body of water. Finding a safe patch of ice away from the sounds of the city, a picnic in an ice fishing hut on Lake Monona will be a private and unique affair, unlike a normal Valentine's Day night spent in a house or apartment. Keep each other warm with wine, music and blankets, and if you have the proper equipment, dip your lures in the water and see if you can't end the night by catching a celebratory bluegill for the following night's dinner.
5. Make Ganache Bars together
Customized chocolates is one thing, but spending the night with your lover making delicious treats is more personal and romantic than simply handing over a box of mass-produced goodies. Add an element of alcohol into the mix, and you'll have a recipe for a fun, post-dinner treat that even the most masculine boyfriend can get behind. One recommendation are Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars, whose recipe is performed by Melissa Clark over at the New York Times website. Depending on the amount of booze you decide to infuse your bars with, you'll be love-drunk off of chocolate in no time--literally.