5 Valentine's Day Rut Busters

Bust out of the flowers-and-chocolate rut this year with one of these creative V-Day ideas.

Old: Dinner at a fancy restaurant
New: Take a cooking class together -- an interactive approach that will fill you up without the stuffy ambience.
The plan: Check local colleges and adult education centers for classes, and try to find a class that teaches one of your mate's fave meals. Hey, if you can learn to cook this again, this is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Heads up: To get a Valentine's reservation, book this ASAP.

Old: Red roses
New: A chic orchid -- give her a flower that's as stylish and sophisticated as she is. You'll spend as much as you would on roses, but it will look like some major thought went into the idea.
The plan: Yes, you still have to send the arrangement to work -- the whole idea is for your wife to get oohs and aahs from her coworkers. Ask your local florist or an online retailer. You can even get an orchid in red or pink!
Bonus: These won't die quickly like roses, but they still need some TLC.

Old: Chocolates
New: Homemade sweets -- they don't have to be from your home, but they need to be delivered to the office to get the most appreciation.
The plan: Call your local bakery and order a batch of that indulgence your mate craves. More of a DIY baker? Whip up a batch of these chocolate peanut butter crisps and sneak them into your mate's bag.

Old: Lingerie
New: Red string bikini -- best paired with two tickets to someplace warm, this sexy number will be worn more than once.
The plan: Shop at a department store or an online retailer (like J.Crew) for red bathing suits.
Heads up: If your girl doesn't normally bare her tummy, get something with a little more coverage.

Old: Perfume
New: Photo book -- get more personal and chronicle the last year of your relationship with pictures. Your mate will know it's not the same gift you gave your mother.
The plan: Check a site like Shutterfly.com or Snapfish.com where you can drag-and-drop your fave photos into a virtual book. Personalize with captions or a title that shows your soft and sensitive side.
Heads up: This can often take a few weeks to process, so plan ahead.