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Valentine's Gifts They Won't See Coming

Want to give your sweetie a real surprise? Give one of these unique presents.

There's more to Valentine's Day gift possibilities than chocolate or flowers.

True, these are among the top categories when it comes to gift giving on Feb. 14. But now, the holiday has turned into an excuse to buy just about anything. Kitchen appliance makers promote red-colored gadgets, while hoteliers hawk all sorts of lovey-dovey getaways and pizza chains sell heart-shaped pies.

With that in mind, we decided to assemble a grab-bag category of Valentine's Day gifts that go beyond the obvious. Here are some alternative ways to make your romantic mark.

The Gift of ... Beauty (All Year Long)

It's one thing to buy a bottle of perfume. It's another to keep your beloved in cosmetics all year long. But that's the idea behind

Yellow Box Beauty, which bills itself as the "premier Makeup of the Month Club." Each month, a yellow box arrives at your recipient's doorstep. As the club explains: "One month you may get nail polish, another month eye shadow and lip gloss, or even an amazing fizzy bath bomb." A yearlong membership runs $29.95 per month, available through Yellow Box's Web site; shorter-term memberships are also offered.

The Gift of ... Poetic Jewelry

San Francisco jewelry designer Nicole Kidd puts a poetic spin on the pendant. Hers are inscribed with snippets from John Donne's sonnet, "Love's Growth." Priced starting at $118 and available through

Nicole Kidd's Web site or by phone at (510) 522-4722.

The Gift of ... Love (Seat)

High-end furniture manufacturer Heller has just brought out an updated version of its classic Kiss Sofas from the '70s -- yes, a pair of lips masquerading as a couch. You can opt for the full-scale version ($975) or a "love seat" for one ($625). Available through contemporary furniture retailer

The Gift of ... the Perfect Spa Robe

That's what we call the robes in Telegraph Hill's line, which are favored by prestigious spas throughout the world. Choices range from a kimono-style robe to a steam-velour one. The latest offering is a cabana robe -- "a flirty, sheer chiffon robe designed to be worn around the pool, cabana or Jacuzzi," the company says. Adult robes start at $69 and are available through

Telegraph Hill's Web site.

The Gift of ... PJs With a Heart

Fashion designer Karen Neuburger offers nightwear in the name of a cause. Partial proceeds from the sales of her Heart Health Women's Pajamas go to support WomenHeart, an organization whose goal is to raise awareness of heart disease. In keeping with the theme, the comfy, cotton PJs are decorated with "a colorful sprinkling of tiny red and pink hearts and flowers." Available for $64 through

Karen Neuburger's online store.

The Gift of ... Lobster

It's not chocolate, but it's one of the most special foodstuffs we know. And no one packages it better than Lobster Gram, which has built its reputation on delivering -- overnight -- the freshest live lobsters from New England (yes, they're still crawling when you get the package). But the company has upped the ante in recent years with creative "grams" that combine lobster with steak, clam chowder, even cheesecake -- all in the name of a romantic dinner. Try the Lobster-licious Gram for a solid assortment of goodies. Priced starting at $129.95 (cost varies depending on weight and quantity of lobsters); available through

Lobster Gram's Web site.

The Gift of ... the Secret (Collar) Message

Try the Stayclip Secrets Series: These are collar stays, designed to keep the collar of a man's shirt straight for a clean, no-nonsense look, but they are inscribed with such messages as "Hug me tight" or "My handsome prince." If you want to take things to the next level, you can have your own message inscribed -- and make it as R (or X)-rated as you want. Priced starting at $45 and available through

Stay Clip's Web site.

The Gift of ... Massage

But in this case, you won't have to do the work. Nor will you have to buy your beloved one of those super-pricey massage chairs. HoMedics has introduced its fully adjustable Therapist Select Massaging Cushion with Heat -- a pad that essentially turns any chair into a massage chair, with "hands" that do all the kneading automatically. Priced at $249.99 and available through

HoMedics' Web site or at select retailers.

The Gift of ... Mush


MushABelly is an incredibly soft and squish-able breed of stuffed animal (more like a pillow, actually). They make for a nice twist on the usual Valentine's Day teddy bear. Available in five different sizes, priced starting at around $10. Available at such major retailers as

J.C. Penney

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The Gift of ... J-Lo

No, you can't make Jennifer Lopez your Valentine. But you can live the J-Lo romance-filled lifestyle. The Hotel SAX Chicago is offering what it bills as the "J-Lo-inspired Celebrity Rider Package." Which means your one-bedroom suite is decked out with all the amenities J-Lo demands as part of her contract rider, such as white lilies, rose petals and ... apple pie. (We're not so sure what's so seductive about the latter, but don't question a diva, we figure.) The hotel's regular room rates start at around $130, but suites and packages can go for $600 and up. For more information, visit

the hotel's Web site.

Charles Passy is a Florida-based writer who covers food, travel, entertainment and consumer culture and products.