Valentine’s Day shopping tips when you’re running behind

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Here it is, the second week of February. Have you purchased the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your special someone? Have you picked up something festive for the kids? If not, don’t panic; you have time. Check out these last-minute Valentine’s Day shopping tips that will keep your family from suspecting that you weren’t prepared weeks in advance.

#1 Skip the Convenience Store Clichés

If you’re considering stopping at 7-11 and picking up some cellophane-wrapped roses and generic chocolates, think again. Sure, roses and sweet treats are classic, but you need to either spend more for quality or put some more thought into it. Florists do a lot of business in the middle of February, but they can be pricey.

Khou.com offers some suggestions on getting more bang for your buck when it comes to flowers. First, consider pre-ordering; you don’t want to show up and find that the only flowers left are wilted carnations. Secondly, consider something other than the standard red roses. An orchid is elegant and a bit uncommon. Finally, tell your florist what you’re budget is. They will help you!

And as far as chocolate goes? Name brand only. But you knew that.

#2 Order Online With Caution

If you’re an online shopper, you probably know which virtual stores will have your order on your doorstep within a day or two. Do be advised that even when you use two-day shipping, a February blizzard can gum up the works, causing your Valentine’s Day gift to arrive a day or two after the holiday.

Also, keep in mind that many companies buy reviews and that not everyone reviewing a product is telling the truth. Gifthero.com has put together a guide on how to spot fake reviews. Take some time to look through it and to put the suggestions to work to avoid purchasing a lemon for your valentine.

#3 Give the Gift of Experience

Rather than putting yourself through the stress of trying to find the perfect gift, consider giving your family the gift of an experience. Be creative! How about packing up the kids, picking up hot chocolate, and spending the afternoon learning to ice skate at a nearby rink? Or you could buy seed packets and plan on starting a garden. You can check out the Farmer’s Almanac to find out when you should start seeds in your area; it depends on when the last frost occurs.

Another experience that is related to the holiday because it’s heart-healthy is a gym membership. Consider buying a membership to the local YMCA or another family-friendly gym if you have children. If it’s just you and your sweetheart, spring for a session with a trainer so the two of you can get started toward better heart health and, hopefully, many more Valentine’s Days to spend together.

#4 Make Dinner (Or Reservations)

Food is always a great gift, and the specifics will depend on the person or people who will be eating it. Because Valentine’s Day is in the middle of the week this year, you might still be able to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant; many people will save their big date for the weekend.

You could also cook at home. Check out this list of 25 romantic recipes to consider, from roasted shrimp risotto to citrus duck breast to grilled oysters. And don’t forget dessert: Stop by the grocery store on your way home and pick up a quart of strawberries and a bag of chocolate chips for delectable chocolate-covered strawberries.

#5 Go With a Delivery Service

You still have time to order flowers to be delivered to your sweetheart’s workplace or home—but why stop at that? There are many different types of home delivery options when it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts. How about a bouquet of cookies? You can also have a bouquet of flowers carved out of fruit for a diet-friendly sweet treat. If you’re ordering flowers, you can add a handful of balloons to the order to wish your children a happy Valentine’s Day, too.

Valentine’s Day will be here in just a few days, but there’s no need to panic: There are plenty of ways that you can make the day special for your loved ones without spending hours in the store or stressing yourself out. Take a deep breath, think about what your special someone likes, and know that they will appreciate the gift as a token of your love.

about the author…Cynthia is the assistant editor at Family Living Today. She reviews household products and writes about a variety of topics related to family and work-life balance.

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