Do the words "Valentine's Day" leave you trembling? Does Feb. 14 find you scouring the drugstore in a mad attempt to find something for your sweetheart? Is there someone you secretly admire but don't know how to tell him or her how you feel?
Well, have no fear, Cupid's emissary is here. With a little help, you'll be armed to tackle Valentine's Day in all its pink-and-red-doily infamy. Not only will you be able to move beyond the usual box of chocolates or SpongeBob valentines, you will be able to show your sweetheart just how much you care in a personalized, thoughtful way.
In "1001 Ways to be Romantic," Gregory Godek offers readers a variety of ideas on how to show the one you love you care. Though primarily aimed at married couples, many of Godek's suggestions apply to teenagers and offer welcome alternatives to the typical Valentine's Day.
He encourages readers to move beyond generic presents. Instead, he offers some suggestions:
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If you're going to give your loved one flowers this Valentine's Day, think outside the predictable bouquet of roses. Give a daisy, but "give it with flair," Godek suggests. Pick a single daisy and attach a note saying, "She/He loves me, she/he loves me not." Don't leave anything to chance, though. Trim the daisy so there is an odd number of petals.
Move beyond flowers altogether. Give your sweetheart a potted cactus with a note saying, "I'm stuck on you."
If your beloved really does prefer roses, give them with a little twist. Buy 11 red roses and one white rose. Attach a note reading, "In every bunch, there's one who stands out -- and you're that one." For that special guy in your life, send a single rose with a note saying, "This bud's for you."
For those who prefer edible gifts, Godek recommends being a little creative. Make heart-shaped cookies or Rice Krispies treats for your special someone. Buy fortune cookies from a Chinese restaurant or grocery store. Using tweezers, remove the fortune and replace it with your own little love note.
Trouble finding cards that express you feelings? Make your own. Craft a giant greeting card out of poster paper or a cardboard box to tell your loved one how you feel in a big way.
If you're looking for something a little more substantial, Godek has still more suggestions. Create a custom CD for your sweetheart with songs that describe how you feel about him or her. "Kidnap" your sweetheart and take him or her to someplace unexpected. Leave a note on your special someone's car (if it's raining, simply put the note in a zip-lock bag).
Valentine's Day ideas not mentioned in Godek's book include taping dozens of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses to your sweetheart's locker or planning a "treasure hunt" for him or her.
Want to tell your secret crush how you feel about them this Valentine's Day but not sure how? Try this relatively painless approach. Buy a plain cotton shirt from a craft or department store. Ask your girl friends (if you're a girl) or guy friends (if you're a guy) to sign their names on the shirt using washable markers, then sign your own name on the shirt using a permanent marker. Have one of your friends deliver the signed shirt with a note reading, "Wash this shirt to uncover your secret admirer." One rinse cycle later, your work is done.
Valentine's Day is one of the most commercialized holidays. But with creativity and preparation, you can easily transform your Valentine's Day from generic and hollow to personalized and sincere.
And remember, there are 365 days in the year, but 1,001 ways to be romantic.
Michelle Vecchio is a senior at Whitmore Charter High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.