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Gifts from the heart (of cyberspace)
Once again, it's time to start thinking about what to give that special somebody for Valentine's Day. Your gift needs to express your true feelings. You need to be original and meaningful. The only message flowers and chocolate sends is that you're unimaginative and old school. Get fresh by turning to the Web for some new options in gift giving. Go ahead, give outside of the heart-shaped box.
For a truly breathtaking gift that will make his/her heart soar, check out www.800soaring.com to obtain an appointment for a hot air balloon ride, a glider ride for one or two, or tandem skydiving. Prices range from $139 to $159 per person. Knock that down a bit with special Valentine's Day sales and you could find yourself sharing a spectacular afternoon with your significant other. For information about local trips, call 410-781-7050 or 800-762-7464.
If you're more grounded, but still enjoy spending time with your partner, get your snuggling and cuddling in with Exotic Hammocks. The site offers colorful Mayan Hammocks from Central America for $25. A wide range of other woven hammocks and swings are also available, all for less than $100.
After a day curled up together, extend the mellow mood with a luxurious bath from Uncommon Goods' Tub Tea for Two. For $22, you get five oversized tea sachets made from lavender herbs, flowers and citrus peels. Each sachet is good for two baths.
If you're not sure how open to innovation your Valentine may be, try a variation on a familiar theme. Instead of a box of chocolates, go to Netique for chocolate bars that double as Impressionist paintings. Each bar is made of milk chocolate and painted with edible food coloring. Unwrap each package to find either Van Gogh's "Irises" or Monet's "Water Lilies" for $34.
Keep with the sweets, but scale-down the price at Lollies.com. Packages of gourmet lollipops are available for $6.99 for 10. You'll wow your lover with caffeinated flavors (he/she will need the energy later) such as mocha, hazelnut and Irish cream or unusual options such as marshmallow, licorice and key lime pie.
Another traditional Valentine's Day gift is a big, huggable teddy bear. Show off your sensitive side by making one yourself at Teddy Bears Den. Bear kits range from $15 for a standard brown bear to $95 for a more elaborately dressed, but equally cuddly bear.
Some like it sappy on Valentine's Day -- and that's OK. If sappy is up your or your Valentine's alley, go to Personal Creations for a $14.95 Message in a Bottle to be delivered to your significant other's doorstep. Online you'll create a personalized message, which will be tucked into a sand-filled bottle. (This gift does beg the question: Why not just do something similar and cheaper on your own?)
For another gushy, yet artistic option, order a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss." For $39.95 at Quincy Shop -- it's fun, beautiful and something else you can do together.
Don't get too bogged down in emotion on the 14th and opt for laughs with a nod to the doctor who first explained the birds and the bees. Purchase a pair of Freudian slippers at The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild for $24.95.
If no earthly gift is good enough for your significant other, how about giving him/her a star. The International Star Registry allows you to name a star for the center of your own universe. For a mere $48 your celestial sweetie gets a certificate, a sky chart locating the star, an astronomy booklet and a letter of congratulations.
Regardless of what you think will get your honey swooning on Valentine's Day, remember to shop early when ordering on the Internet. Popular items can sell out or be delayed in shipping, which leaves you empty-handed and scrambling when you should be getting smooches of thanks on the most romantic day of the year.