The cynics will say that you do not need a special day on which to celebrate love. Love is something that is expressed each and everyday through actions, unspoken glimpses and knowing nods. I tend to agree, but women, like St. Thomas, feel that seeing is believing and subtlety be darned. So we are inundated by expensive Chinese grown roses, cheap Russell Stover’s “chocolate” and edible underwear starting with each New Year until February 14th (followed immediately by a bunny invasion). And there is no way that you can forget unless you really do live in the middle of nowhere (and there is always a mall in the vicinity of the middle of nowhere). Given the vindictive nature of the female species I would suggest you make a concerted effort to mark the occasion sincerely. Announcing that you are anti-establishment is just going to land you on the couch (which as Bill Cosby said may well be where you wanted to be in the first place) or worse get you the silent treatment. Go the traditional route, but do it like you mean it. There is still time. So here is my super short list and feel free, of course, to do your own thing.
A Tiffany key pendant – Not an original idea, but timeless and back in vogue so it would be perfect timing. It is elegant and affordable, if you stick to the silver ones. Few things will make a woman’s knees quiver more than that little powder blue box with a white bow (maybe only if their favorite actor was holding it).
A box of MarieBelle chocolates – There are so many good artisanal chocolatiers these days that if you search the web, you’ll probably find a great one nearby that delivers or overnights. Remember: dark chocolate and no fillings other than cognac, ganache or nuts. A box of ten will do and absolutely no heart shaped boxes.
A set of diptyque mini candles – If you’ve got kids your wife will probably get to use these twice a year and that’s why you should get the minis. She will, though, thank you for them when she locks herself in the bathroom and pretends for a few glorious minutes that you and the kids don’t exist while she soaks in the tub.
You cannot get more cliché than this, but it always comes down to presentation and quality. You do not have to sprinkle the bed with petals or go crazy getting a babysitter and a restaurant reservation (because frankly neither of you have the time or the energy), just wait until the kids are asleep and let the gesture do the rest.