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Beyond Chocolates and Flowers, What to Get Your Girl for Valentine's Day

Sometimes it just takes asking yourself a couple easy questions about the woman you love to give you some good ideas about what to buy her for Valentine's Day. Here are those questions and some great gift ideas in Studio City.

There is an art to giving the perfect gift.

What all women know, but not all men realize, is that a is so much more than just a gift—it’s a message you send to the woman you love that tells her how you feel about her.

And that’s the problem. It’s challenging to put together a gift that hits all the right notes and says what you’re feeling. Which is why most men fall back on flowers, that are pretty, and chocolate, which is yummy.

But for the biggest return on investment, a Valentine’s Day gift shouldn’t bank on flowers and candy.

Before you panic, go with me on this and ask yourself two simple questions:

Who are you giving this gift to? And what are you hoping to say?

That’s all you need to know to put together the perfect gift for the woman you love.

I’ll walk you through it:

Start by asking yourself what’s most important to the woman in your life. What’s her favorite way to spend her time? What pastimes fill her with joy? Maybe she lights up at spending time with your kids or whipping up oatmeal cookies in the kitchen.

Perhaps she’s happiest sprawled out in savasana on her ordown a rocky trail. It could be that she has an artist’s soul that’s awakened when she sits down to paint or it may be that her passion is in her work. Once you start thinking about your special someone, you’ll find that discovering the things that delight her isn’t all that hard.

When you’ve figured out what makes your partner tick, it’s time to ask yourself what you’re hoping to say to her this.

The best way to say “I love you” is to convey:

I support you. I’m excited to join you in doing the things you love. I’m happiest sharing intimate experiences with you. I want to share the love we’ve found by supporting a cause that’s personal to you.

Easy enough, right? This Valentine’s Day just support her, join her, make it intimate and share the love.

Here are some easy ideas for gifts you can pick up right in Studio City that will do just that!

Don’t panic. You’re already well on your way to giving the perfect


For The Woman Who Loves To Cook

Join her–Sign up for a cooking class together at. Show her you genuinely want to share this experience with her by selecting and paying for the class. Owner Liz Alexanian recommends the gourmet pizza class or a new “simply healthy cooking” class featured this spring. Present the gift by printing out information about the class and ., then roll up the paper and tie a pretty ribbon around it.

Make it intimate—Can you think of a favorite meal you shared with the woman in your life? Maybe it was an unforgettable dessert on a trip to Italy, a bowl of piping hot and spicy Tom Ka Gai soup in Thailand, or perhaps it’s a dish from your favorite restaurant. Make it intimate by hitting up www.foodnetwork.com for a recipe, then pick up all the ingredients from Present it all in a basket or a bag along with , matches, and a for a romantic, meaningful meal together. Be sure you are there to assist with the preparation and clean-up—that’s part of the fun.

Share the love—Make a donation in her name to UNICEF to provide kids all over the world with healthy nutritious food. UNICEF began after World War II to supply milk and food to starving children. Today, UNICEF is active in more than 150 countries around the world, helping to develop community- based programs to promote health and immunization programs, basic education, nutrition, safe water supply and sanitation services, and emergency relief. For more information, see www.unicefusa.org. Print out all the information about the organization to present the gift to her.


For The Woman Who Loves Her Yoga (or Pilates, dance, spinning)

Support her—Be brave and stop by the shop at to buy her a workout outfit you think would look great on her. Even if she ends up needing to exchange it, it will be touching – and impressive – that you took the time to pick out something you thought would look great on her.

Join her—While you’re at the studio, why not schedule a private lesson with her favorite teacher for both of you? Even the most experienced yogini benefits from a private lesson and having you with her will make her feel like you’re willing to explore what’s important to her.

Make it intimate—Be even braver and sign the two of you up for a meditation class at . You’ll be surprised at how getting intimate with your own hearts and minds through meditation will enhance the intimacy between the two of you.

Share the love—Order a copy of Yoga: A Path for Healing and Recovery and the proceeds will benefit the Prison Yoga Project. Active in San Quentin Prison and beyond, the Prison Yoga Project has a track record of providing the rehabilitative benefits of yoga and other mindfulness practices to both youth and adult at-risk populations. Print out all the information about the organization and your order confirmation to present the gift to her.


For The Woman Who Loves Adventure

Support her—Help her discover under-the-radar local hot-spots for adventure by swinging by the Local Interest section of and picking up a guide book on adventurous things to do in Southern California. They have books for women who love hiking, biking, surfing, even running the stairs!

Join her—Book a trip for two to the hiker, biker, climber mecca of Joshua Tree National Forest. Show her the trip is more than a gesture – it’s a plan – by locking in the dates, booking the campsite (or hotel or RV), and printing out all the information. Contact the Visitors Center at Joshua Tree for help planning your trip. If you want some extra special help finding the right adventurous outing if your girl is a skier, stop by . Owner Claude Swonger says they’re the guys to go to for help arranging a trip “anywhere that has to do with snow,” whether it’s a local trip you’re after or a destination as far away as Antarctica or Costa Rica!

Make it intimate—Help her recuperate from all her adventures with a personal reiki treatment by Amanda Stratt at. You can buy a voucher for treatments online at their website and make arrangements with Stratt to pick up a gift- wrapped gift certificate or, if you’re running short on time, simply print out the purchase confirmation and the “Written Reviews” page of the L.A. Reiki website to let your honey know what reiki is all about.

Share the love—Sign both of you up to participate in this March’s 5K walk/run put on by the LA Marathon. Make sure to select a charity you’d like to run for when you register. To register go to the Marathon website. Print out all the information about the walk and the charity you selected to present the gift to her.


For The Woman Who Loves Her Job

Support her—Literally. You can alleviate some of the aches and pains she incurs working so hard by setting her up with Joy Boese at E3 Consulting. Boese is a local ergonomic office-space consultant who will come to your sweetheart’s office (or home office) and work with her one-on-one to set up her working environment ergonomically, making sure it’s comfortable, productive, and not-strenuous. Boese will make sure she’s still sitting pretty (and comfy) 30 days after the consultation with a follow-up. Virtual consultations are also available.

Join her—Plan a little mid-day get-away for the two of you by making lunch reservations at a fancy restaurant near her workplace (Patch can help you find the perfect place with lists and see the links below.) Set the reservation for a day you know she’ll be able to make it and print out information about the restaurant you chose. It’ll be a great way to put some romance into her workday and she’ll have a brighter afternoon after spending some quality time with you.

Make it intimate—Pop into for a beautiful desk-frame. Fill it with a sentimental wedding picture or a lighthearted photo of the two of you on your favorite vacation together—make it something that, even in the midst of a stressful day at work, will always transport her to a happy, relaxed time with you.

Share the love—Make a donation in her name to the Advancement Via Individual Determination Center to help other kids reach their career goals. AVID is an educational program that helps low-performing underprivileged students improve their chances of getting into college, beginning as early as the fourth grade. They work with specially trained teachers and tutors to learn organizational and study skills and develop critical thinking abilities. Overall, 95 percent of AVID graduates go to college, and 85 percent remain enrolled in college after two years. For more information, visit www.avidonline.org. Print out all the information about the organization to present the gift to her.


For The Woman Who Loves Being A Mommy

Join her—Visit www.weelicious.com for some “fast, easy, and fresh” recipes you think your kids will enjoy. Print them out along with information about your and plan on joining her Sunday morning to shop for ingredients. Then spend the afternoon helping her fix up some yummy food for the kiddos from all the fresh goodies you buy. Present this gift by printing out the recipes, rolling them up, and tying a pretty ribbon around them.

Make it intimate—Ask both sets of your parents to scan and email you baby photos of each of you. Print out the photos then stop by   for side- by-side or complementary frames to hang in the nursery or kids’ room as a surprise.

Share the love—Consider making a donation in her name to CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) on behalf of children who need more support from caring adults. CASA trains community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court and now serves 243,000 abused and neglected children. For more information about CASA, visit www.nationalcasa.org. Print out all the information about the organization to present the gift to her.


For The Woman With An Artistic Soul

Support her—Pick up a bountiful selection of colorful and fun art supplies from . Focus on bright, happy colors and materials—supplies that will awaken her creativity and inspire a childlike sense of wonder and fun. (Don’t worry – the artists at the store can help you decide or you can just channel your inner raccoon and pick up everything shiny.)

Join her—Find your inner artist in a painting class you can do together. Susan Manders, owner of , offers ongoing painting classes and, for $50 each (which includes supplies), you and your honey can join her. Manders says her classes are a great fit for the experienced artist or for people who have just always wanted to give it a try.

And, don’t worry, if it’s your girl who’s the artist and not you, Manders is sure you’ll still have a great time. “People feel intimidated sometimes, but... everybody’s got some area they’re creative in.” Print out information about the studio and purchase the classes in advance to make the best presentation of the gift.

Make it intimate—Dash into   for a copy of the seductive and fascinating book  Body Painting: The Masterpieces of Joanne Gair which features celebrities dressed in nothing but paint. Deliver the gift with a camera and some body paint (which you can also pick up at ) and you’ll be painting together in no time.

Share the love—Make a donation in her name to the International Child Art Foundation to inspire up- and-coming artists. ICAF fosters children’s creativity by sponsoring art programs, exhibitions, and festivals. They also have a healing arts program that uses art to help children recover from disasters. For more information, visit www.icaf.org. Print out all the information about the organization to present the gift to her.


With Studio City's incredible shops at your fingertips and a clear idea of what you want to say to the woman you love this Valentine's Day, you'll be giving the perfect gift in no time.

... Oh, and feel free to throw in flowers and chocolate—we like those too.

Also, check out our other Valentine's Day features . . . 

* .  Stephanie Corzett has some ideas from the simple and easy, to the elaborate and expensive. There are links to the exact addresses, and they're all in the neighborhood.

*. Rachel Sulprizio knows that guys in general hate Valentine's Day anyway, so she has some couples ideas that could be palatable for guys, too. (Yeah, something other than going to see the latest Ashton Kutcher romance movie.)

*  No one knows better places to eat in Studio City than Karen young in her Shop & Dine column.

 The Patch Picks has a list of public and private romantic spots nearby.

*  The Get out ideas give you even more fun things to do with a special someone.

* Need a place to get away from it all? Check out this Great Escape suggestion.

*. Patch Picks has a great collection of ideas for the whole family.

* . The Frugal Family ideas can show how love can also be on the cheap.

Ben W February 12, 2011 at 08:27 PM
What a great aticle! All sorts of great well researched ideas. I am almost guaranteed not to get in trouble on Monday. Thanks!
Kathi February 12, 2011 at 11:06 PM
What an amazing article! So well-organized and easy to find the perfect gift for a loved one. Thank you for all of the great ideas! I can use these ideas for birthdays and Christmas as well.
nicole k February 13, 2011 at 02:24 AM
Amanda, this is such a great article! (Makes me "like" Valentine's Day!). Great job, Nicole :-)
Leah mattingly February 13, 2011 at 02:39 AM
I really like how this article breaks down the steps to make anyone happy. No excuses people! Now there really is a Valentine's handbook.


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