Valentine's Day can be a time of stress as we scramble to think of the ideal gift for the perfect way of telling the one we love that he or she is the best thing that has ever happened to us.

It is easy to be clichéd with flowers and chocolates. And, certainly, there's nothing wrong with candy and spa treatments if those are things your partner likes. The key is finding a personal connection with your sweetheart.

Here are some experiential gift ideas that might help you turn a normal Valentine's into something more lasting and memorable. Because, ultimately, the day is about the time you spend together. She probably won't remember the type of flower you bought her as much as the evening you made for each other. And while he may always have that watch engraved with a beautiful inscription from your hand, hopefully he'll prefer to cherish the days and nights by your side.

Love is in the stars:

There's nothing quite as romantic as a moonlit walk along the beach or a picnic featuring tasty aphrodisiacs like oysters or chocolate-covered strawberries, washed down with a proper bottle of bubbly. So why not combine the two and punctuate the evening with an added bonus, a star named in your Valentine's honor? It's time to picnic under the night sky.

If you're not the next Julia Child or Bobby Flay, you might want to think about catering the picnic by hiring a personal chef. Personal chefs can plan the menu if you like, and they can do so around those special foods that your significant other just can't get enough of. They'll even take care of the grocery shopping and then can cook at your house or in their own kitchen, whichever is more appropriate for you. To locate a personal chef in your area, try the

American Personal & Private Chef Association

or the

U.S. Personal Chef Association


Of course, while you're dining, you'll be seated under the starlit majesty of the night sky, and, as dinner winds down, you may find that conversation moves to the beauty of the universe. You'll lie back on the blanket, and point out constellations like Orion and the Big Dipper and maybe Scorpio. But then, as the evening draws to a close, punctuate the proceedings by pointing out one star in particular, a star named after your companion.

There are plenty of star-naming services out there, and while science won't ever be beholden to the moniker you bestow on a certain celestial body, good organizations will offer a certificate, a set of coordinates and a chart so you can locate it. Try

Name a Star

or the

International Star Registry

, and personalize the inscription on the certificate with a proper Valentine's Day message.

Too cold for a picnic in your neck of the woods? A nice, piping-hot thermos of hot cocoa or apple cider, those chocolate-covered strawberries and a bundled-up stroll under those night stars ain't a bad way to end any Valentine's Day.

Love will most certainly be in the stars.

Nate Herpich is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor and Sports