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It's true, we girls like to get flowers on Valentine's Day. The sad part is, they die within about a week, and if we get chocolates, well, we only feel worse after eating them. It's time to ditch the "traditional" demonstrations of love this Valentine's Day and do something that will last forever (and won't break your budget).

1. Make it an experience. Sure, we might not all be able to go out of town or go on a romantic cruise, that doesn't mean around town can't be a fun evening, or weekend. If your sweetie likes the outdoors, dedicate a full day to activities with Mother Nature. Start out with a breakfast in the patio, follow it by a "love" walk with the dog. Take a road trip to your favorite hiking trail and pack a picnic lunch. You could end the night with enjoying some glasses of wine by the fire pit, gazing at the stars and enjoying a romantic meal by candlelight.

2. Create something. A lot of us like special creations, personalization or simply things that mean a lot because someone we love made them. There are many places where you can make pottery together or try out sculpting, painting, glass blowing or wine making. Cooking classes are also a fun way to get to know someone you're just dating or to explore a new activity you haven't done. Those activities could become a ritual you do yearly or even more often, while building memories along the way.

3. Back to basics. A handmade card means so much more than one you buy at the store. A handwritten poem will be cherished more than one you get off the Internet. A homemade meal can be the most perfect love potion of all. A photo collage will recall memories of happy moments together every time you both look at it.

4. Family fun. A lot of couples feel celebrating Valentine's Day is a challenge when you have kids. Hassles of finding a babysitter or a pet sitter can often crush the hopes of a romantic night out or a magical getaway. If having some alone time is very much needed, recruit your friends or family to help step in to give you the night off. Offer to return the favor on another holiday in exchange. Or, including your little ones into the love equation can also be fun. Creating a special handcrafted cart of a macaroni hearts will guarantee tears and smiles from a happy mom. Special heart cookies baked by the most adorable member of the house will also surely be enjoyed.

5. Gift something else. Jewelry, gift cards and candy have all been done before, millions of times over. Chances are, you've gotten all three or a variation of them from multiple people over the years. To stand out, find something unique that truly identifies with your sweetheart. Go to small, trendy shops where you'll only find one-of-a-kind items. Or, browse antiques shops that can bring a touch of the past to your future.

These are all simple ways to tell the person you love it's about you and your story together more than it's about the necklace you got for Valentine's Day.

Martha Maurer, News Editor

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