Men: V-Day Gift Do's and Don't's

Television commercials make Valentine's Day look so simple-all we guys have to do is line up a sappy card, a shiny bauble and a little soft lighting, and any woman will melt in our arms. But in reality, of course, things are trickier. Every gift sends a message, and while you may not want yours to say, "Will you have my children?" you also need to steer clear of, "I cared enough to stop by the drugstore on the way here." So let us give you a little lesson in the do's and don'ts of gift-giving for this February 14th, so you don't unwittingly send the wrong signal to the woman you're seeing. Here are five not-so-smooth gifts that guys often mistakenly fall for… plus improved options that are sure to make her smile-and quite possibly plant one on ya!

Don't: Heart-shaped box of chocolates. Sure, candy is a classic gift-and a good one for a woman you haven't been dating that long. But offering up the classic nut-and-soft-center assortment will appear cute… until your gal realizes that the last time she got a gift like this, she was in the fifth grade.

Do: Show her you're a sophisticated guy: Chocolate can be a sweet Valentine's Day treat, provided you make the effort to find some unique treats, like these decorated cupcakes.

Don't: Lingerie. Sure, you want to let her know she's hot, but how well do you know this woman? If you're going to be buying her a wispy little under thing, the answer better be "very." And while a hot pink pleather bustier and thong may seem like an inspired choice (a gift for both of you!), an outfit of questionable taste can kill an enchanted evening fast.

Do: If you'd like to purchase sexy under things, it's better to ease into the process with something angled toward her comfort. This cute and comfy sleepwear shows you can think about her in bed without envisioning a scene from Showgirls.

Don't: Jewelry meant to look like the real (major) bling. Before you try to slip that fake gold necklace past her, consider the fact that women spend a heck of a lot more time thinking of, talking about, and looking at jewelry than men do. If it was on special at the 99-cent store, she's gonna figure it out.

Do: Am I saying you ought to go wild and buy her gold, diamonds-and deal with the credit-card bill later? No way. Instead, get her something stylin'. Consider these shiny options.

Don't: Bath soaps. Sure, just about every woman loves to pamper herself in the shower. But along with being unoriginal, those soap/bubble bath/lotion combo baskets run the risk of reminding your girl what her little bro used to give Mom for Christmas.

Do: To really help her relax, you've got to put the pampering duties in the hands of competent professionals. Enter the Spa Finder gift certificate to save the day.

Don't: Crockpot. While you may see this as a sweet way to augment her domestic skills, she'll get the impression that a) you don't like her cooking and/or b) you think of her as cook first, girlfriend second. Neither is a good thing. Same goes for just about any other utilitarian kitchen product.

Do: If your feelings for her are matched only by your feelings for food, go for a gift that says, "Let's relax and let someone else handle the cooking." A personal chef for the evening is one very thoughtful way to go.

With these suggestions, you'll be all set to give your girl something a little more creative than the old standbys… and a lot more impressive. Well done!Steve Mazzucchi writes for Men's Health, Men's Journal, Cosmopolitan and Maxim. Come Valentine's Day, he loves those little message-bearing candy hearts.

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