Romance outside the Box: 5 Alternatives to Generic Gift-Giving

While we all love giving and getting (fess up '- especially getting) gifts, a gal can only own so many silk scarves and diamond rings. (Just threw in the last part to make sure you were paying attention.) And how many shirts and golf clubs can you lay on your guy?

Maybe the spirit of the season shouldn't be about spending hours and hours in crowded, noisy stores, competing with hoards of increasingly desperate shoppers ready to mow down anyone reaching for the same Movado. After all, no one wants her relationship bogged down by the twin perils of obligation and lack of imagination.

Regina Evans, a 28-year-old accountant in Florida recalls, "It was so freeing last year when my fiancé and I decided not to exchange Christmas presents. We're the type who give little presents throughout the year, so being pressured into buying some elaborate gift neither of us needed wasn't appealing. We put the money toward a romantic weekend in the Caribbean."

It's much more meaningful to truly give of yourself, rather than feeling forced into it. Unconventional holiday gifting can actually bring you closer (and that's the whole idea anyway, isn't it?).

Destination: Memory Lane

Give a gift that reminds him why the two of you got together in the first place. You can "transform tucked-away keepsakes, like movie posters from your first date, [into works of art] by having them professionally framed," suggests Deborah Lotz, owner of Jewel Box Frames in Los Angeles.

Marilyn Paige, a Philadelphia-based community relations director for Barnes & Noble, recommends letting him participate in the sentimental fun by inviting him to help you fill a scrapbook that chronicles your relationship history. Each of you digs up your individual mementos (e.g., his first love letter to you); then you have a memory-fest as you paste in the items together.

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