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Transcript: Tuesday, February 8, 2 p.m. ET

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Shopping for Valentine's Day

Janet Bennett
washingtonpost.com fashion and beauty editor
Tuesday, February 8, 2005; 2:00 PM

Get great gift ideas for your sweetie on Valentine's Day from washingtonpost.com fashion and beauty editor Janet Bennett.

Read her recent story on local Sales & Bargains (washingtonpost.com, Feb. 1) to get a jumpstart on shopping for the big red day.

The transcript follows.


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Janet Bennett: Hi, everyone!
Good afternoon, and what a nice one it is. Thanks for joining in and sharing your ideas about what to give your significant other or your mother or anyone else you want to show your love to on Valentine's Day next Monday. So, let's begin!

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Washington, D.C.: Help! What can I get my boyfriend for V-Day? He's a macho Republican who won't respond well to anything too sappy or romantic. My guy friend keeps telling me I should give him (or myself, actually) lingerie... is that really what guys want?

Janet Bennett: Wasn't there a movie on that subject; no it was what do women want. In any case, don't get your knickers in a twist about figuring it out. If you want to get him something he'd like, you can't fail with tix to some sports event or how about a book?

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Maryland: Typically my boyfriend treats V-Day as "my holiday," but I want to do/get something really special for him this year. Other than the obvious like cologne or something of that nature... what are some good "guy" gifts?

Janet Bennett: Hi, there, Maryland,
Lovely that your boyfriend treats it as your holiday and also lovely that you want to return the favor. How about cooking something for him? The old adage about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is true!! How about something a bit exotic -- roast duck?? Have a happy.

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RE: Champagne Shopping: Where can I go to find a good selection of vintage champagnes?

Janet Bennett: Try MacArthur Beverages and Best Cellars. There also happens to be a tasting this Saturday at the Arts Club in Washington where they'll taste all sorts of wonderful champagnes (and chocolates). For more on that event (it is kind of pricey), click on Winetasting.

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Washington, D.C.: I was thinking about getting my husband a nice bottle of liquor for Valentine's. Maybe scotch or brandy? I have no idea what to buy though. Any store recommendations with a knowledgeable staff who could guide me?

Janet Bennett: The staff at Calvert-Woodley are helpful; I'd try there or the aforementioned MacArthur Beverages.

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Bethesda, Md.: This is a great idea for a discussion. I'm thinking of getting tickets -- maybe a concert or theater. Do you think that's a good idea? Anything you'd recommend? Thanks.

Janet Bennett: I love the idea of getting tix to a concert or a play. Romeo & Juliet is playing at the Folger, by the way, but you certainly don't have to stick to romantic themes. There's Member of the Wedding playing at Ford's and Contact's (lots of great dancing) at the Warner. Check our theater listings for what's coming up. Don't know what's at the Wolf Trap Barns, but it's a lovely small venue for concerts and it's a kind of romantic place to go in the middle of winter.

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Glasgow, Delaware: Every year my honey and I go bowling on Valentine's
Day... cost-effective, and the loser buys the drinks. This
year, I got him some good-looking bowling shoes, so
when he bellies up to the bar to get my beer, at least he'll
be bellying up in style!

Janet Bennett: Right on, Glasgow. I like your style!

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Chapel Hill, N.C.: Hi- I have a question about sending flowers to international places. I want to send my girlfriend flowers. She lives in Paris, but I do not speak French and have no idea how to go about arranging flowers to be delivered there. I noticed that certain domestic services don't do international deliveries. Any ideas?

Janet Bennett: You may or may not like Martha Stewart but you can get the most beautiful flowers through her Website (marthasflowers.com), and the good news is that they will ship to Paris!

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Washington, D.C.: I had the idea of doing a couples massage at a spa for my boyfriend. Any suggestions on good spas that offer couples massages would be very appreciated!

Janet Bennett: I know that Serenity Spas do that and perhaps Sugar House Day Spa as well.

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Centreville, Va.: I have no idea what to get my wife. Chocolates and flowers are a waste. We have a baby... so a romantic night out ain't happening (no sitter available). She hasn't hinted at anything she might want. Is there anything utilitarian that all ladies appreciate? (I'm not talking about scope or tampons either!)

Janet Bennett: Great lingerie may not be the most utilitarian, but it can sure make a woman feel special. Also, how about a charm bracelet with a heart on it engraved with your new baby's name???

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Washington, D.C.: Instead of showering your loved one with gifts on one day out of the year (4 if you include- birthday, X-mas, and anniversary), why don't you show your love and appreciation for your loved one every day? I have always hated the notion of Valentine's Day - not because I've had a horrible past Valentine's Day or no one to share it with... I just think it's a commercialized holiday that's just simply a waste. The people I love in my life know I love them year round, and that type of love can't be substituted by some cheesy card.

Janet Bennett: Thanks for your opinion.

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Virginia: What kind of expectations does the girl have for V-day if we've only been going out for a couple of weeks? Gift? Dinner? Both? Would it be okay to not do anything yet, until "relationship" gets off the ground?

Janet Bennett: If I were you, I would certainly wait until the relationship takes, so to speak, to give her any kind of meaningful gift. But if you like her, why not take her to dinner, nothing momentous.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi.
For the past few years I've tried to send my mom a bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day, but have a tough time with the two major Internet flower delivery services. Either they are delivered very late (one year it was a week late) and last year they never got there at all and I spent two weeks trying to get a refund. And I ordered up to two weeks in advance.
Any suggestions on either how to get them to deliver on time or other companies that have a better track record?
Do any local florists have Web sites where you can order from them directly rather than going thru these third-party sites?

Janet Bennett: I have had personal luck with marthasflowers.com. You don't have to be a fan of Martha to use this service; her flowers are first-rate and not only that they come packaged soooo beautifully.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi, Janet! Tell us what the best Valentine's gift you received was? We're curious!

Janet Bennett: Hi, Arlington,
No secrets here. I'm a chocoholic and a picky one at that, so when I get Teuscher chocolate truffles for Valentine's Day I'm in heaven.

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Washington, D.C.: My boyfriend is a military reservist and is scheduled to leave for Iraq in less than a month. I want to send him a small Valentine's Day gift, but at Christmas he told me that he doesn't want any presents before he goes. It's his way of "detaching" himself for the trip. Is there anything I can get him that won't be hard for him but will show him that I care?

Janet Bennett: Mmm. A tough one. How about a nice send-off then -- dinner and dancing, a romantic walk around the monuments, an ice skating date, something along those lines ...

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Washington, D.C.: I want to send my boyfriend who's currently stationed in the Middle East something special for Valentine's Day. Can you make any good suggestions? I'm running out of time! Thanks!

Janet Bennett: Does he have a great framed picture of you???

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Arlington, Va.: What to get for the man who has everything if you've just started dating a few weeks ago? He likes wine, fine dining, and travels a lot for work -- if that helps. He just took me to a mini-getaway to Virginia wine country this weekend. Thanks for any ideas.

Janet Bennett: How about a gift certificate to a restaurant or a great bottle of wine that he may not know about already? Try MacArthur Beverage or Calvert Woodley for suggestions.

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RE: Virginia: The best way to ensure that the relationship "takes" is to give. Just kidding -- most guys put too much pressure on themselves. No woman in her right mind would expect anything significant after a few dates. In fact, some women, me included, dislike the relationship pressure days like V-Day puts on both parties (too much DTR).

Janet Bennett: Couldn't agree more.

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Boston, Mass.: To the husband with the kid... getting lingerie makes me feel objectified and worthless. Why not pay for someone to clean up the house or get some great takeout and have a bottle of champagne?

Janet Bennett: There's this coffee mug that's a particular favorite of mine that says on it "I dreamed my whole house was clean." So, what a good idea to pay someone to do that as a present to your wife -- and yourself.

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Odenton, Md.: For the guy who's looking to send flowers to his mother -- try www.hallmark.com

Believe it or not, their flowers are beautiful and less expensive than our friend Martha....

Janet Bennett: Who knew? Thanks for that good suggestion, Odenton. We'll have to try it out.

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RE: Husband with NO wants: My husband SWEARS there is nothing that he wants for V-day, but I still would like to get him something. We don't spend a lot, but would still like to celebrate the day. I'm already planning to cook dinner. He has already purchased for himself the things that he likes and supports his hobbies. I am at a loss!

Janet Bennett: If that's the case, why not just go with your idea of cooking dinner and make that extra special and romantic. Pick up a bottle of champagne or a wine that you both like and treat yourself and your husband to that gift.

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RE: New "relationship" and V-day: For the person who was wondering what to get a person who they had only been seeing recently - this happened to my husband and I when we first started dating. He brought me flowers (nothing over the top) when he took me out to dinner, and I got him my favorite book and made a pecan pie for dessert (I am from Georgia). It worked out well for us!

Janet Bennett: Thanks for sending your own experience with the problem of what to do for Valentine's when you've just started dating someone. It can be a thorny question.

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RE: Couples massages: Thanks for the suggestions. I've heard Serenity spas can be less than relaxing, due to their proximity to the sports/gym clubs. I was just told that the Ritz in G-town offers couples massages. Do you know if this is a nice spa? Thanks so much.

Janet Bennett: Is that the Sports Club/L.A.? I have no doubt it's a nice spa. Don't be surprised if you run into some celebs while you're there.

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Herndon, Va.: So here's my dilemma: I want to get my boyfriend something good for V-day (it's our first). But so far all I can think of is a Marriott promo that involves champagne at check-in and room service breakfast the next morning. Fine. But which do I go with... the hotel that offers chocolate-covered strawberries (he loves), or the one that offers chocolates (he likes sometimes) but is close to his favorite restaurant in case he wants to go out for dinner? Thanks!

Janet Bennett: Hi, Herndon!
I think it's a win-win situation whichever choice you decide to go with. Enjoy yourself.

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RE: Searching for a Florist: For the person searching for an "on-time" florist for mom's V-day flowers... do you know anyone in the town that can recommend someone? And yes, local florists do have websites -- you can often look on a web based yellow pages service and they will direct you to the site.

Janet Bennett: Here's a suggestion for the person searching for a local florist to send flowers to his girlfriend in Paris.

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Arlington, Va.: To the responder to the man and the wife and the kid... getting lingerie makes me feel special and sexy and that you are still attracted to me after all these years.

Janet Bennett: Another reaction to lingerie!

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Washington, D.C.: How about ideas for an early 30s guy who has never really been exposed to the finer/cultured things in life. He is happiest with steak & potatoes meal, wearing jeans, and watching sports. The relationship is three months old.

Janet Bennett: Let him meat then!

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Silver Spring, Md.: My husband and I will be in Costa Rica this Valentine's Day.

Just wanted to show off!

Janet Bennett: You succeeded. Lucky you.

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RE: Nice send off: Thanks, I love the idea, but since he is already away training to leave, I am not sure I'll see him before he leaves. Any other thoughts?

Janet Bennett: Does he have a great framed picture of you??

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Washington, D.C.: I have a gift that I want to give my beau. Problem is, the item is not returnable. The item requires picking the right color & size online, and won't get here for 3 weeks. Other than printing out the picture from the web site (less than exciting) how would you suggest I present the gift to him?

Janet Bennett: I think it's a good idea to print the picture from the Web site but then why not wrap it up in some fun way with a pretty card.

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RE: Nice send off: Maybe this is over the top, but you could put together some kind of photo/memory box filled with things from home -- stones from the garden, coffee mug, little notes from his friends, pocket book of your favorite poetry...

Janet Bennett: Here's another suggestion on a sendoff that doesn't require the person whose boyfriend is going to Iraq to be there.

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Washington, D.C.: Help! I'm running out of time for V-Day. My girlfriend and I will celebrate our one-year anniversary two weeks after Valentine's Day, so I don't know what to get her. I'll also be asking her to marry me soon, so it just seems like overkill. But I want to get/do something special. Any ideas?

Janet Bennett: Since you'll likely be giving her a big present very soon, how about just one beautiful rose or any flower of your/her choice? That's very romantic and also quite simple.

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Janet Bennett: Alas. That's all the questions we have time for. I wish you all a very happy and healthy Valentine's Day!

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