There are all kinds of ways to show someone you care on Valentine’s Day. A lot of those ways involve giving tokens of love.
Americans spent $21.8 billion on gifts to mark this annual celebration in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation, and most of that money went toward the classics — candy and flowers. But to express your appreciation, desire and adoration, you might want to get more creative.
If you’re after some serious swooning, put an unconventional spin on the holiday’s most popular gifts.
That means skipping “the traditional red roses or heart-shaped boxes of chocolate,” says John Wheaton, 61, from Hudson, Ohio. “You need to listen to cues, take a risk, and get something new.” Here are a few suggestions:
Chocolates and candy
A Whitman’s Sampler may be what its manufacturer Russell Stover calls “a timeless tradition,” but chocolate lovers will be in for a literal treat with novel takes on the V-Day staple.
Find a local chocolatier — or shop online — to have distinctive delights delivered from anywhere. In Boston, for example, Beacon Hill Chocolates works with artisan chocolate masters from Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil and the United States to offer small-batch, hand-painted chocolates.
Truffle collections include lavender, bacon, chai and other surprising flavors. Valentine Keepsake Boxes come with vintage cover images that have been decoupaged, hand-painted and sparkled. And for those who want their dessert tinged with the taste of booze, shop founder and owner Paula Barth, 59, developed a 12-piece collection of liquor-flavored truffles.
Presentation is important, so pay attention to the aesthetics of the box itself, says Barth: “The ‘wow factor’ is equally important as what you’re tasting.”
At Kate Weiser Chocolate in Dallas, meanwhile, you can build your own box of hand-painted bonbons — each of which takes six days to make — that have cute names such as “Cookie Monster” (vanilla bean ganache with cookie butter crunch) and “Ninja Turtle” (smooth, buttery caramel with ground, toasted pecans).
For candy lovers, consider putting together a package of favorite confections, and take it up a notch by adding a bit of trivia. A note accompanying a package of M&Ms, for instance, could explain how the candies were stamped with a black “m” in 1950 — to help consumers distinguish the real thing from imitators — before changing to the now-used white “m” in 1954.