Thinking outside the heart-shaped box

  • COST OF LOVEWondering how much people will spend nationwide on gifts this year? Here's an estimated breakdown:

    Jewelry: $3.5 billion

    Dining out: $3.4 billion

    Flowers: $1.7 billion

    Clothing: $1.6 billion

    Candy: $1.5 billion

    Greeting cards: $1.1 billion

    Source: National ...

  • SHOW ALL »
  • COST OF LOVEWondering how much people will spend nationwide on gifts this year? Here's an estimated breakdown:

    Jewelry: $3.5 billion

    Dining out: $3.4 billion

    Flowers: $1.7 billion

    Clothing: $1.6 billion

    Candy: $1.5 billion

    Greeting cards: $1.1 billion

    Source: National Retail Federation news release

Rules are good most of the time, but sometimes - such as when it comes to Valentine's Day - they're meant to be broken.

Just ask Victoria resident Kyle Scott, who found himself second guessing his girlfriend's advice.

"I was told not to get anything," said Scott, who works at Spherion. "But I'm going to anyway. It made me wonder if that was some sort of test."

Cupid's holiday is just around the corner and, on average, people will spend $116.21 on merchandise, according to a National Retail Federation news release. Overall spending on Valentine's Day is predicted to reach $15.7 billion nationwide.

And, while traditional flowers and candy might remain heavy hitters, they aren't the only ways to show that special someone just what they mean to you. There are other options, too.

Jewelry is always an possibility, said Sandra Ondreas, who co-owns Port Lavaca's Ondreas Custom Jewelry & Gifts with her husband, Kenneth Ondreas. Women typically buy wildlife pendants, such as fish, ducks and hogs, for their boyfriends or husbands, she said, while men opt for bracelets, pendants, necklaces and more.

White gold tends to be more popular than yellow gold, she said, but silver is a way to get nearly the same look for less money.

"The first question I ask people when they come in is whether the person they're buying for prefers yellow or white gold," Ondreas said. "Most men are pretty clueless when it comes to what girlfriends or wives like, and we've even had some people go home to check the jewelry boxes."

Heart-shaped trinket boxes, keychains and the like are big seasonal sellers at Hudson's Engraving and Gifts, said Janie Fitzgerald, the store's general manager. Such items can be used year-round, she said, instead of just once a year.

Fitzgerald suggested engraving a person's name, a Bible verse or a personal message on the gift for that added touch.

"It makes it personal," she said. "Something just for that loved one."

Designer clothing, purses and accessories are the main seasonal draws at Texas Traditions, said Mark Herchek, who co-owns the Victoria boutique with his wife, Tammy Herchek. Such gifts usually have pink or red design accents to fit with the holiday, he said.

He advised shoppers who feel somewhat lost to take a step back and really think about the person they're buying for.

"I usually ask them about the person, what they wear, that sort of thing," he said. "It helps."

As for Scott, he said he hasn't completed his shopping, but he at least knows what he's going for. He wants his gift to be something his girlfriend likes, he said, as well as something that shows he put thought into it.

"I want to do something romantic, but I just need to get all the pieces together," he said. "I'm not worried."