WHAT'S Reagan-red, heart-shaped and smothered in cupids?Clue: you give it to your favorite person(s) on Feb. 14.
A Valentine's Day gift, for hopeless romantics anyway, has to have at least one of the traditional attributes of the day -- otherwise how will they know you're asking them to "Be Mine?"
You can never go wrong with the candy-champagne-flowers tradition. However, a little more thought and your gift can be something to treasure.
Heart-shaped pillows come in homespun plaids or are pieced together from antique quilts, some with the added treat of a stuffing of potpourri for $5-$15 at Liberty (1513 Wisconsin Ave. NW). Dolly Kay (5232 44th St. NW) has beautiful beribboned Victorian-inspired heart pillows with antique lace trims, perfect for a frilly boudoir-($40). Georgetown Printworks (3301 M St. NW) has heart-printed heart sachets ($7). Printworks also has lots of heart print fabric in different colors ($15 per yard) if you want to stitch up your own pillows, or make aprons, napkins or placemats for two. If it's a man you're shopping for, he might get a laugh out of some satin lips ($3) or a tiny, chubby cherub with sunglasses ($6.50) from Smull's (1606 20th St. NW).
Smull's also has some interesting heart-inspired porcelain that takes the heart a step beyond. The vase is $12, sugar and creamer $16 and a bowl $10.
If you can stand not being there when your Valentines open their gift, secretly leave the most outrageously wrapped big red package glued all over with hearts outside their door to greet them Valentine morning.
There are also some fabulous gift boxes of thick glossy cardboard festooned with charming cherubs that are a gift in themselves. They can be filled full of Valentine treats like a heart-shaped cake that you've baked or a red hat that you've knitted. Later reuse them to store love letters or recycle as gift boxes for others. The set of four cherub boxes (3 cubes and one oblong) sells for $9.50 at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Shops (1600 H St. NW and Woodlawn Plantation).
If you haven't sent Valentine cards since second grade, it could be the reason why you haven't received any recently. Making your own cards is lots fun, especially when you have all the right ingredients like gold doillies, lots of colorful stickers, feathers, ribbons, pink cherub and heart stickers. A terrific kit from Nicely Nicely (1710 Connecticut Ave. NW) is $5 with lots of these things to inspire you. Also, at John Davy Toys (301 Cameron St. in Alexandria, Va.) you can get pages of English-made scrap releifs that come in the shape of flowers, cherubs, children and animals for twenty cents a page and can be glued on anything. For more inspiration, visit the "Won't You Be My Valentine" exhibit at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History (through March 15), which shows examples of cards made in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
For sweets to the sweet, run to Bloomingdale's for a card ($5) that turns out to be a solid chocolate "I love you." If your loved ones are already shaped like chubby cherubs, give tham a card (90 cents) from Georgetown Coffee Tea and Spice (1328 Wisconsin Ave NW) that shows a photo of Godiva chocolates in a velvet box.