Easter Egg Hunt Ideas For Kids, Tweens and Adults

I’ll leave it to others to explain the origins of the pagan and popular Easter activity known as the “Easter Egg Hunt”. Suffice it to say that it is enjoyed around the world by children of all ages. Almost every city, every town, and every county across the United States hosts an annual Easter Egg Hunt. Neighbors gather together in playgrounds and families congregate in back yards. Whether large and public such as the long-standing (since 1878) White House Easter Egg Roll, typically attended by Presidents and their families, or a smaller and more intimate event, the Easter holiday would not be complete without an Easter Egg Hunt.

Easter Egg Hunt events usually involve more than just scavenging for hidden eggs. Often there are other “egg-related” games and activities such as: Easter Egg Rolls, Easter Egg Toss, Egg and Spoon Race and Easter Egg Decorating. Larger events might include music and other entertainment, face painting, arts & crafts, balloon animals, petting zoos (with an emphasis on bunnies!), story-telling and perhaps a visit from the Easter Bunny him- (or her-) self!

Easter Egg Games for Kids
Younger children should be separated lest they be run over by the more aggressive older kids, and for the little ones, you can hide the Easter Eggs in more obvious and easy-to-get-to places. You could also make a trail of Easter Bunny foot prints for the youngest kids to hop-along to bring them directly to the Easter Egg’s secret hiding places. Children of all ages will prefer Easter Eggs that are not real, but are chocolate or plastic with treats inside (think small candies or coins).

When planning an Easter Egg Hunt for mixed age groups, be sure to include at least a few other activities that will be appropriate for different age groups. For example, competitive games, such as the ones listed above, are fun for most older kids, but not fitting for toddlers, who may enjoy face painting more. For Easter Egg decorating, keep it simple for the younger ones with a few dye baths already prepared and some stickers. For older children, you can supply paintbrushes and variety of items to glue on.

Easter Egg Hunts for Tweens
Older kids will be more interested in participating in an Easter Egg Hunt if the pursuit takes more effort, so hide the eggs in some harder to find, more out of the way places and vary the locations from ground level to eye level and above.

Tweens are better able to work as a group. Divide into teams and provide each with a different “map” to find the hidden eggs. Or hide Easter eggs of different colors and then give each team a color to collect. Provide prizes for the teams who find all of their hidden eggs, and/or a special grand prize for the one person who finds the unique egg (often the “Golden” Egg).

Another way to make an Easter Egg Hunt different and more fun for tweens is to make it at night. Organize it for the Saturday night before Easter Sunday. Have people bring their own flashlights (or cell phones!) and their own containers.

Adult Easter Egg Hunts
Adults can really enjoy with an Easter Egg party. Everything can be elevated! Easter Egg decorating can be an art form. Even so, I doubt just anyone could paint an Easter Egg like the ones we have in our Easter Baskets at Manhattan Fruitier! Christopher Paume hand-paints these praline filled chocolate eggs so that the uniquely blended colors shine like gemstones, and the speckling patterns are drawn from nature.

Photography by Emily Kabalkin.
You may have a hard time biting into these beauties!

Be sure to set up all the Easter Egg games. Adults love having the opportunity to act like kids. Everyone will want to participate. In between egg-related races, you can sip on mimosas — perfect for a Sunday brunch party — and other nibbles that are more substantial and more interesting than the fare you would find at a kids party. For dessert, perhaps a carrot cake is called for!

Kids love to get their hands dirty. So another fun activity for an adult Easter Egg party might be making chocolate Easter Eggs or chocolate Easter Bunnies. There are a plethora of recipes readily available on the internet. You’d have to be willing to give over your kitchen to the potential mess, but your guests will certainly remember the occasion.

If you aren’t up for a party this year, you can always celebrate the Easter holiday buy sending (or treating yourself to) one of our Easter baskets designed to please kids, tweens and adults alike! We offer adorable artisanal peeps made by Duane Park Patisserie, chocolate bunnies keeping warm in their charming “sweaters”, and the hand-painted Easter Eggs with fruit in two sizes: choose Hippity or Hoppity! Or you can order any of the Easter-themed items alone.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Food and Wine Pairing: A Match Made in Heaven

Famous author Clifton Fadiman once said, “If food is the body of good living, then wine is its soul.” And we at Manhattan Fruitier couldn’t agree more. We all have grown up hearing the basics “white wine with fish, and red wine with meat.” But there is so much more when you delve into what goes into pairing a meal with the perfect glass of wine. Over the next few posts, we hope to help you understand how to pair wine with food, and replace some of those worn out ideas about pairings.

Factor #1:  Texture

There are two main factors to consider when pairing food and wine. First, is the texture of the food, and by extension the texture of the wine. The four main categories we look at when breaking down texture is density, smoothness, heat, and effervescence (think when you eat popping candy). When deciding on a wine based on food texture, you want to have them complement one another. A useful guide is “light with light, and heavy with heavy.” A dense meal will often overpower and mute a lighter wine, and vice versa.  Champagne and sparkling wines bring the fizzy texture we all love, adding another dimension to the pairing. The bubbles and higher acidity can help clean the palate from oily foods. A unique pairing is a glass of champagne with a hot dog! The sharpness and bubbles cut down the fatness associated with the hot dog texture. At your next summer barbeque try a bottle of Veuve Clicquot brut NV.

 

Factor #2:  Taste

The second factor you want to consider when pairing food and wine is the interaction between tastes.

Sweetness: When thinking about sweetness, we’re talking about the residual sugar in both the food and wine. A sweet wine can moderate the acidity as well as the salt in food. When describing this combination, it’s best to look at examples like salted caramel popcorn and maple bacon. The saltiness binds with the sugar and they tend to balance each other out creating a harmonious blend of sweet and savory or acid. Further, the residual sugar in wine coats the tongue and protects it from some of the acidity in a dish, cutting down on a food’s sharpness. One of our favorite pairings is a sweet Riesling with Asian dishes.

Acidity: Acidity, present in both food and wine, brings freshness by cutting through oily and creamy textures. This tends to increase the perception of body or fullness in both the food and wine. This is why Beurre Blanc Sauces are so famous: the acidity in the white wine cuts through the fatness of the butter. Next time you are serving a creamy or fatty dish, we recommend pairing it with a more acidic wine to bring some freshness to the meal. The acidity in Maris Old School Blanc is high enough to cut through fattier dishes, and has enough citrus notes to complement rich dishes.

 

Saltiness:  Saltiness is most often present in the food where it acts to decrease the perception of astringency, bitterness, and acidity in a glass of wine. A bottle of wine with a high malic acid can mask some of the saltiness. Our Galil Mountain Kosher Sauvignon Blanc pairs fabulously with salty dishes. The salt makes the wine appear less acidic, fuller bodied and less tart.

 

Bitter:  Bitter or tart wines are a challenge for pairing. A wine such as a Sangiovese  may often have tart cherry like flavors. To complement this tartness, we recommend pairing it with a fatty food. This is what makes the red wine and steak pairing work so well together. The bitter tannins bind with the fatty protein in the meats to make the wine softer. Our Candialle Chianti Classico, with its tart cherry and raspberry notes, pairs wonderfully with a steak dinner.

 

Umami:  Umami is heralded as the “fifth flavor”. The term was coined in the 20th century by a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda, who identified the distinct flavor of dashi, a popular Japanese broth. Ikeda discovered the elusive chemical, glutamic acid, or as we now know it today MSG, and named the taste umami, from the Japanese word for delicious. Umami is described as brothy or meaty, but that doesn’t quite capture the full experience. You can taste umami in foods like Parmesan cheese, seaweed, miso, and mushrooms. When it comes to umami, the Japanese know it best. They pair umami foods with sake because sake possesses umami characteristics. Our Chiyonosono Sake has subtle earthy and sweet notes that won’t overpower the dish.

 

The wine mentioned in this article may be purchased on our website. Our wine & wine gifts can be delivered anywhere in New York State.

 

Traditions of Purim

The “Purim Story” is derived from the Book of Esther, or “Megillat Esther”. The dramatic events that form the basis of the Purim celebration are described in a prior blog on the History of Purim. Today, we wanted to focus on some of the customs surrounding this holiday, particularly those that entail the special foods eaten during the happy Purim feast and the Mishloach Manot (Hebrew) or Shalach Manot (Yiddish). This year, the Purim celebration begins on Wednesday, February 28th and ends on Thursday, March 1st.

Misloach Manot Ideas

Literally translated as “sending of portions”, the Misloach Manot is specifically mentioned in the Book of Esther: “…. Therefore do the Jews of the villages, that dwell in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions to one another. …” Thus, one of the traditions of Purim is to send gifts of food and drink to friends and family. Anyone above the age of Bat Mitzvah (12 years old for girls) or Bar Mitzvah (13 years old for boys) is expected to participate in the Shalach Manot.  The foods must be ready-to-eat and there must be at least 2 types of food included (that is, food that requires different blessings from each other). The obligation is to send to one person, but most people send gifts to many.

It is also customary to use a 3rd party messenger to give the gifts since Misloach or Shalach means “to send” rather than “to give”. That’s why we at Manhattan Fruitier offer a line of gifts for Purim that we can deliver for you! We have four Mishloach Manot ideas that should please anyone on your gift list.

Hamantashen

Each of our Purim baskets contains the essential food that most embodies the meaning of this holiday: hamantashen! Hamantashen is a three-cornered or triangular shaped pastry that is folded to disguise (not completely, but partially) the sweet fruit-based fillings inside. Most Misloach manot ideas would include hamantashen. Our baskets for Purim include both the traditional poppy seed hamantashen as well as apricot, and they are both Kosher.

If you already know the story of Purim (if not, you can refer to our blog on the History of Purim — see link above) you will know that Haman was the evil Prime Minister of the King of Persia, who was married to Esther. Haman plotted to massacre the Jews but was thwarted by Esther. Hamantashen (Yiddish) is literally translated as “Haman’s hat” or “Haman’s pocket”; in Hebrew it is called Oznei Haman meaning “Haman’s ears”, and these little pastries do resemble these items.

The word tash in Hebrew means “weaken”. It may be that eating hamantashen or “weakening Haman” symbolizes the many incidents described in the Megillah where the tables are turned on Haman. For example, Haman was once strong and in the king’s favor, then he was out of favor with the king and became weak; Haman wanted royal robes and to ride the streets on a royal horse, but Mordecai ends up being given that privilege; Haman was once the Prime Minister, then his nemesis Mordecai was given his position; Haman once owned property, then Queen Esther inherited it; Haman once plotted to kill the Jews, and then he and all his family were killed, etc.  Another interpretation is to show that something bad and evil can be turned into something sweet.

The way hamantashen is made also reflects one of the core themes of Purim. The sweet goodness of the filling is hidden inside the pastry, the same way that Esther’s true identity as  Jew was disguised, and the same way that it is said all the miracles of Purim directed by God were concealed.

Wine

It is also typical that ideas for Shalach Manot include wine! Since Purim is a joyous holiday it should come as no surprise. Wine always adds a celebratory note to any festive event. But there are several possible explanations that come from the Talmud and the Story of Purim itself. The Book of Esther distinctly states that the Jews rejoiced at Purim by drinking. The Talmud also says that on Purim, one is to drink to the point of not being able to distinguish between “cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai”! However, the Talmud also says that drinking should be moderate so as not to get so drunk as to break any of the commandments.

In accordance with tradition, then, we have paired each of our Purim baskets with a delicious wine. The wine in our Misloach Manot baskets are all Kosher and are imported from Galilee, Israel.

Purim Delight With Wine (wine can only be delivered in New York State and Washington, DC)

Purim Delight With Wine
(wine can only be delivered in New York State and Washington, DC)

We offer both a dry, full-bodied red wine (Alon, 2012 from several varietals) and a crisp and citrusy white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, 2016) from the Galil Mountain vineyard.

Other Traditions

When reading the Megilla or the story of Purim, it is common practice to use a noisemaker or stomp one’s feet every time the name of Haman is spoken, as if to expunge him the way he wanted to wipe out the Jewish race.

Dressing up in costumes and/or masks is another Purim tradition. While the entire Book of Esther does not mention “God” at all, it is believed that God was actually guiding the way at every point in the story. In other words, God’s miracles were hidden from Esther and Mordecai. And Esther hid the fact that she was Jewish from the king who wanted to marry her. Dressing up may also reflect the dressing up in royal garb as Esther did as Queen and as Mordecai did when he was honored by King Ahasuerus. So disguise is an underlying premise of Purim.

Finally, it is expected that one will give to charities during the Purim holiday. Matanot L’evyonim or “gifts to the poor” are usually in the form of money and typically it would be the amount that would be spent on a meal. Alternatively, one could also send a meal. It is required to give the Matanot L’evyonim to at least two people, but often people choose to give to many in need.

Chag Purim Sameach or “Happy Purim”!

Lunar New Year Traditions

Although the Western calendar has been adopted by most Asian cultures, Lunar New Year (also called the Spring Festival) remains a holiday of great cultural and historical meaning going back at least 2000 years! Like Thanksgiving in the United States, travelling home for a family reunion dinner is an imperative for people who celebrate. In fact, in China Lunar New Year counts as the biggest annual migration of people on Earth (even larger than the number of Muslims who visit Mecca every year), with just shy of 400 million expected to take to the railways to travel to their hometowns for the holiday this year. And in New York City, public schools are closed on the first day of the New Year holiday.

The Lunar New Year varies by date year-to-year. It occurs on the second New Moon after the December solstice. This year, the Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16th, although the New Year’s eve family dinner on the night of the 15th is the true beginning of the holiday. It lasts 15 days, and culminates this year on Saturday, March 3rd with the Lantern Festival: lanterns are lit at night and then let go into the sky en masse with wishes for prosperity and good luck in the coming year. It is truly magical to behold.

Lunar New Year is not just a holiday celebrated in Asian countries. With our sizable population of Asian immigrants, Lunar New Year and Lantern Festivals are celebrated in many towns and cities across the United States. Here in New York City, the Chinese New Year’s Day parade is a popular multi-cultural event. This is a fun, happy and lively holiday, vivid with colors, music, noise and special foods.

Origins of the Lunar New Year Holiday

Lunar New Year began in China with the fable of a horrible monster named “Nian”. The story roughly goes that Nian liked to eat people and it would come into the villages on New Year’s Day and gobble up the villagers, finding children a particular delicacy. The people of the village would flee from their homes every year before Nian was due to arrive. But one year, and old man stayed to try to fight the beast. The old man draped red papers all over the town and set off firecrackers all night long. Nian did not come and the village came to believe that Nian was afraid of the bright color red and the loud noises of the firecrackers.

This is why red is such a significant color for this holiday. Red repels bad luck and thus allows good fortune the opportunity to reign. People dress in red, decorate their homes in red, and give money in red envelopes. In Lunar New Year parades, Nian is depicted as the familiar dragon that winds his way through the streets and people on the sidelines set off firecrackers and use noisemakers to frighten the monster away and keep them safe.

Preparations for the Lunar New Year Celebration

People spend a lot of time preparing for the Lunar New Year. They clean their houses not just to be ready for family and guests at the New Year’s Eve dinner, but also because it symbolizes the washing away of any bad luck left over from the preceding year and allows room for the good luck in the new year to accumulate. Once the cleaning is done, the brooms and dust pans are put away so that any good luck that comes cannot be “swept away”. Homes are decorated in red paper and some people actually paint doors and window sills with a fresh coat of red paint. Some homes are also decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese phases that will bring good luck. People buy new clothes, often in red or other bright colors, again as a symbol of a new beginning. This is similar to what we see in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, where people wear new articles of clothing to signify a fresh start with the New Year.

Also analogous to the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is the attention paid to homonyms: words that are spelled alike or pronounced similarly even if they have a different meaning. Auspicious words that mean good fortune, wealth, health and prosperity are emphasized as are foods and other items and activities that sound like auspicious words when they are spoken. For example, the word “hair” in Chinese sounds like the word for “prosperity”. So if you need a “hair cut”, you are wise to get it done before the Lunar New Year otherwise you may “cut your prospects for wealth”. Similarly, you would wash your hair in preparation for the New Year, so as not to “wash away” your chances for good fortune. More on other superstitions under “Taboos” below.

In Asian cultures, business and personal debts, whether of money or of gratitude, are expected to be paid up before the New Year and this is not dissimilar to the thanks and apologies and amends made in Jewish cultures on Rosh Hashanah.

Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner

Family members will travel far and wide to return home for the traditional annual reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is customary for guests to bring gifts. If you are invited to such a dinner this week, you can bring or send ahead our “good fortune” gift basket of lucky fruit and Year of the Dog hand-iced cookies in the propitious colors of red and gold!

People will spend days preparing all the special foods customarily found in the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal, not unlike many cross-cultural holidays. Similar to the Jewish New Year, foods that are eaten on the Lunar New Year are homophones for words that convey good luck and prosperity.

Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but the way they are prepared, the way they are served and how and when they are eaten are also significant and will vary depending on local customs and individual family traditions. But a Chinese New Year meal almost always includes the 7 lucky foods: whole fish, dumplings, spring rolls, a rice-based cake called niangao, longevity noodles, certain fresh fruits, and sweet rice balls called tangyuan.

WHOLE FISH:

Certain fish when pronounced out loud sound like auspicious words and so these fish are usually served as the main dish at a Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner party. For example, carp (jee-yoo) sounds quite similar to the Chinese word for “good luck” (jee), and catfish (nyen-yoo) sounds almost exactly like the Chinese word for “year surplus”. And if you eat two fish, it means “surplus year after year”! So the belief is that if you eat these fish you will also literally absorb these good wishes and have much abundance in the New Year.

The fish is usually placed in the center of the table with the head facing the eldest or most important member of the dinner party. This positioning connotes respect to the chosen person, and he or she is to eat the fish first. Fish is generally the last dish eaten. Some fish is always left over to be eaten the next day in the New Year so that the “surplus” can be continued.

DUMPLINGS:

The making and eating of dumplings is also a traditional family activity at the Lunar New Year, especially in Northern China, where they are made after dinner and eaten around midnight at the very start of the New Year. Dumplings are boat-shaped like ancient coins of silver or gold, and thus they represent wealth. Eating lots of dumplings means making lots of money in New Year!

The most lucky dumplings are the ones that are made with many pleats, and some people conceal a white thread or a copper coin inside one of the dumplings: whoever bites into that one will get the gift of long life or wealth, respectively.

SPRING ROLLS:

Named because they are eaten at the Spring Festival, these treats are little dough rectangles filled with vegetables or meat, rolled into bars, and deep fried. The golden color and the shape make them look like “gold bars” and hence they symbolize wealth. Spring rolls are especially popular in Eastern China.

NIANGAO:

Niango (also called Eight Treasures Rice) is a special cake or pudding made primarily of a sticky, glutinous rice and sugar, layered in patterns with a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, seeds such as lotus and gingko, berries, and sometimes red bean paste. The literal translation of niango means “New Year cake” and when spoken sounds like “increasing prosperity year after year” or “getting higher and higher”. The suggestion is that you will gain a better position in your business and your bank account when you eat this traditional treat. In Southern China, niangao is given as gifts to family and friends through-out the 15 day New Year celebration.

LONGEVITY NOODLES:

Noodles are often a part of the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal. They are made especially long (up to 2 feet in length!) and are uncut to symbolize a long and healthy life. Longevity noodles can be prepared in numerous ways, and traditions will vary with the local cuisine.

FRESH FRUIT:

Citrus fruit are especially coveted on the Lunar New Year. The round shape is a symbol of fullness and the yellow, golden color denotes wealth. In keeping with the purpose of many other foods at the reunion dinner, the names of certain citrus are homophones for good luck. That’s why we include only the best citrus fruits in our Lunar New Year gift basket.

TANGYUAN:

These sweet rice balls are featured prominently during the Lantern Festival at the end of the 15 day Lunar New Year celebration, and in Southern China are eaten throughout the holiday. Again, the round shape signifies fullness and the sound tangyuan makes sounds similar to gathering together, like the family reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Lunar New Year’s  Day Celebrations

After staying up all night, or at least until after midnight to greet the New Year, daytime celebrations may be quieter, although in New York City, the annual “Chinese New Year parade” that snakes around Chinatown and little Italy is a lively and festive New Year’s Day celebration. Firecrackers and fireworks are set off to ward of evil in order to allow in all the good fortune. Giving gifts of money in brightly colored red envelopes is another holiday tradition and most people will receive a red envelope from someone. People will dress in new clothes, often red (the luckiest color) or other brightly hued colors to reflect their wishes for a good year and their happy mood.

Lunar New Year Taboos

The traditions of many cultural holidays arise from ancient myths and fables that are passed down over generations and while they may become diluted, they often persist and Lunar New Year is no exception. There are many superstitions surrounding this holiday in Asian cultures.  Following are some interesting examples of beliefs and taboos for the first day of the Lunar New Year:

  1. Don’t take medicine or you will be sick for the entire year.
  2. Don’t go to the hospital or you will bring sickness on yourself for the entire year…. unless it’s an emergency!!
  3. Don’t take out the garbage or you will be dumping out all the good luck that has accumulated in the house.
  4. Don’t use knives, scissors, needles or other sharp objects that you could hurt yourself on. Any accidental injury can bring bad luck and loss of security.
  5. Don’t break tools or equipment as it can cause a loss of wealth in the New Year.
  6. Don’t eat porridge for breakfast because it is what poor people generally have for breakfast and the New Year doesn’t want to start off “poor”.
  7. Don’t let children cry because it will bring bad luck to the family.
  8. Don’t wear white or black clothes because these colors are associated with death and mourning and you don’t want to bring that into your house.
  9. Don’t allow anyone to steal from you, especially don’t be pick-pocketed because it means that your entire accumulated wealth for the year will be stolen.
  10. Don’t owe any money lest your wealth will go to others.

Next year will be the Year of the Pig, representing the 12th and final cycle in the 12 year lunar calendar. Until then, wishing everyone a very lucky and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Unique Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated here in the United States for over 300 years. It’s a popular and happy holiday, particularly for couples who are romantically inclined. However, it can also be stressful. People often feel pressured on Valentine’s Day to find a way to adequately express the depth of the affection they feel. As a result, you may end up spending a lot of money searching for something unique to buy, something different to do, or something impressive enough to demonstrate just how much you love and appreciate your special person.

While I would certainly not recommend waiting to the last minute to think about the Valentine’s Day gift you want to give, nor would I recommend using your local supermarket for a store bought card and plastic wrapped roses, I can say with confidence that you can find small and sweet ways to acknowledge the subject of your adoration that will carry just as much meaning as a grand gesture.

There are two key guidelines to follow when looking for unique Valentine’s Day gift ideas for her:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Put in a little effort

When your gift reflects her individual tastes and preferences, you are telling her how intimately you know her. And when your gift shows that you had to put in time and thought, you are telling her how much you care. This is what romance is all about – it’s not about the money.

Classic Gifts With A Twist

Red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and sexy lingerie have become rather predictable gifts for Valentine’s Day and while they are sure bets, they are also fairly banal so don’t make the cut for unique Valentine’s Day gift ideas for her. Why not play a bit with the classic ideas?

FLOWERS: For example, instead of sending roses, get her favorite flowers instead. These days, our access to flowers is not confined to the seasons so that’s no excuse. Spring flowers such as tulips and hyacinths are readily available and can be the harbinger of warmer weather and bluer skies. Of course, if you don’t know her favorite flower…. well, you should!

CHOCOLATES: Sweets are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for her, but there’s no need to be restricted by the ubiquitous chocolate-covered strawberries. A little research on the web will reveal all kinds of fun and unusual chocolates to treat her with. When she opens our precious “jewelry box” of bonbons, she will behold an array of shiny “gemstones” that are as beautiful to look at as they are delectable to eat.

Our one-of-a-kind French bulldog chocolates are an adorable and unique Valentine’s Day gift for her and you can’t beat the charming packaging.

The old-fashioned “conversation” hearts can be a nostalgic Valentine’s Day sweet gift for her. Pair it with a Victorian-era Valentine’s Day card asking her to “Be Mine” and some tea roses that looked like you picked them from Grandma’s garden, and you have a very traditional gift with an old-time feel that makes it seem fresh again!

LINGERIE: Instead of lingerie, think about something else in a sexy, satiny fabric. How about a silk blouse in a bright ruby red, sapphire blue or emerald green? Be sure to get the size right! If you don’t want to splurge on satin sheets, satin pillowcases are a real treat and women like them because they help keep our hair in place while we sleep. Besides, they feel wonderful against the skin.

CHAMPAGNE: Champagne is very festive, but maybe it’s not her preferred drink. Think about gathering the ingredients to make her favorite specialty cocktail, or visit a local distillery where they are making artisanal gins and whiskeys and enjoy an afternoon of tastings. Remember, it’s not about giving a gift that the holiday dictates: it’s about giving a Valentine’s Day gift that is personal to her.

Surprises Big and Small

Organizing a surprise definitely takes time and effort and if your sweetheart likes spontaneity, then this could be the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Surprises can come in lots of packages. There is, of course, the grand display: tell her to pack a weekend bag, pick her up at work and go to the airport headed to Paris, Milan or Reykyavik! But there are many ways to surprise and delight that are more modest.

For example, what does she do every day? Let that guide your gifts. You could present her with a Starbucks card (or put the app on her phone and hook it to your account for a week or months worth of morning coffees), or get her a subscription to a wine of the month club. Gifts that give more than once are truly memorable.

Show her you love her by doing some of the chores she does every day: make the bed; clean the kitchen; take out the recycling; plan, shop and prepare a nice meal; walk the dog; pick the kids up from school, etc.  Gifts like these take effort on your part, and give her the precious gift of time. She can choose how she wants to spend it.

Leave little hand-written love notes where she will find them all day long on Valentine’s Day. Put one in her wallet, in her briefcase, on the bathroom mirror, in the fridge, in her lunch bag, in her underwear drawer, in the car, on the alarm clock in the morning, etc. Anywhere she will discover them through-out the day. You’ll be reminding her multiple times how much she means to you. And isn’t that the point of a Valentine’s Day gift?

Take it Public

Valentine’s Day gifts for her are often shared in private. Why not make a statement with a public display of your affection? Send a gift to her at work. This will surprise her and bring attention from her co-workers. Go to her work and take her out to lunch. Kiss her in public. Hold hands while you walk.

Do something she enjoys with her. Take her to her favorite store and participate in the shopping experience, whether it is testing perfumes, looking at jewelry, or trying on clothes for example. How about getting side-by-side pedicures and manicures? Sign the two of you up for a wine tasting class, or a cooking class, or a lecture at the museum, or a sporting event. One year, Jehv came to an exercise class of mine and it was hysterical watching him as he tried to keep up with the tough work out. He is very physically fit, mind you, and he never had much respect for what he perceived as the “girlie” gym classes I went to. But after taking this class with me he was rather chagrined and he let me know how much he admired my strength and stamina.

Tell her why you love her

Although the meaning of red roses and other Valentine’s Day gifts may be readily apparent don’t miss the opportunity to use your words! Make it personal if you can. If you do give her a card, take a little time to write something yourself. Although the card will hold the sentiment, to make it personal it needs your own touch. You can never go wrong if you simply tell her why you love her.

Note that while the focus of this post is on unique Valentine’s Day gifts for women, many if not most of my ideas can easily be translated into unique Valentine’s Day gifts for men. This holiday is traditionally about gifts for her, but why be mired in convention? Believe me, your guy will be thrilled to be acknowledged on Valentine’s Day. Remember, the same guidelines apply: make it personal, and put in a little effort. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!