First, instead of a an armful of roses, think one perfect flower. Or maybe two.
There’s no rule about how many flowers it takes to make a gift feel special. One or two wisely chosen stems can be just as cool a gift as two dozen -- if your presentation is charming. Here’s the secret to this approach:
1) Choose a flower with character (a lily, a tulip, a rose).
2) Think up a nifty way to display or present it.
3) Add a sweet note.
4) Have some fun with it. Be confident and enthusiastic.
She’ll be thrilled if you are. Don’t spoil things by saying, “I couldn’t’ afford a dozen.” Remember: One perfect flower is symbolic. (It shows you’re deep, get it?) If one perfect flower’s symbolic, two are mythic!
Go with what you've got
Using containers you already have is another good way to stretch a gift budget. By not spending money on a new container, you can put more moola into flowers or dinner.
Look around your place (or head straight to mom or grandma, as they’re invaluable sources of outstanding castoffs).
Anything that holds water can serve as a vase. Actual vases, of course, are superb in this role. A pitcher is also perfect. So are coffee mugs, drinking glasses, steins, and broad-based glass or plastic containers of all sorts (check out pickle jars, especially those glass ones with pressed-in patterns).
Or, look for big painted tin cans. Remove the top of a can of crushed tomatoes, olives, or even baked beans, and voilà, you have a colorful vase.
Also, consider more unusual inexpensive containers. The best finds are found cruising the aisles of hardware stores, vintage shops, junk shops, thrift stores, flea markets, and import shops.
Great-looking but cheap vases are perfect, of course.To convert other non-watertight items into vases, simply slip a vial, jar, can, or thick plastic bag inside.
What style works for your gal pal -- elegant, eclectic, ethnic, fun, funky, or maybe just really practical? Consider small glittery evening purses, silver tea sets, old-fashioned creamers, cloth or leather satchels, any funky glass or glazed art pot, old glasses, flour or tea bins, anything enameled (buckets, pitchers, teapots).
Painted wooden boxes and baskets are intriguing, as are old boots and high-heeled shoes. (Not many girls can say, “My guy gave me an old boot and I loved it!”)
Choose your container, then fill it with flowers – how many is up to you: one, two, four, 15, or 40 stems.
Hearts and Flowers
OK, so it’s obvious! What can we say except girls go for this. Hearts and flowers are classics with history to back them up (worked for Shakespeare, or somebody, right?).
Get red tulips, add heart-shaped red paper cut-outs or candies. Or get a bright red vase and any color flower will convey that Valentine’s mood.
Best yet, snap up any heart-shaped vases or containers you come across (a really romantic guy would refill these for his Valentine each year, assuming you’re still a couple.)
Make the presentation special: decorate your gift with stuff like ribbons, colored tissue, foils, and those bendy-wires with doo-dads on them.
You may be wondering where a guy would find such thematic things. You’d be surprised how often you’ve walked right past them while looking for aftershave.
Most drugstores and supermarkets have what you need. For broader arrays, check out dollar stores and vendors for crafts, art supplies, and office goods.
Maybe it's time to go nuts – get a whole lotta flowers and fill a whole lotta jars or vases. (Think abundance, not expensive.)
Now sneak around and put your floral arrangements in a variety of unexpected places. Two or three surprises are not enough. Make some easy to find, some not. (Tip: Don’t put flowers anywhere she might throw stuff without looking – like inside a washing machine or dirty clothes hamper, both hugely unromantic in any case).
Put them in the bedroom, by the tub, on the stairs, next to the towels, in a coffee mug, on windowsills, in closets, or the refrigerator (but not the freezer!).
This gift isn’t about pricey floral arrangements. You’re doing surprise and excitement starring your hand-made floral vignettes. (Learn to love the power of colored tissue paper for building excitement, chum!)
You’ll need a few tricky last-find zingers to make the treasure hunt last longer. Like, inside the microwave, maybe.
If you’re headed out again that night, sneak in a grand finale for her by leaving a boxed corsage on the dashboard of the car. (You need the box so it won’t freeze out there.) Or slip your corsage next to her plate at dinner.
For more ideas and information, see the Saved by the Bud website.