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His And Hers: A Gift-Giving Guide For Men

Vera Gibbons,|Special to CNBC.com
Monday, 8 Feb 2010 | 9:52 AM ET

Valentine's Day is just days away, and while it is embraced as a day for all, the reality is that it has always been—and will continue to be—a day specifically for women.

Guys, the pressure’s on.

What you give her—or don't give her—can make or break a relationship, says etiquette expert, Lizzie Post, of The Emily Post Institute.

“You really have to make it personal and show that you put some thought and effort into it.”

Americans are expected to spend almost $15 billion on gifts and merchandise this year, making it the second biggest spending holiday after Christmas, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

Love & Money - A CNBC Special Report
Love & Money - A CNBC Special Report

What's more, nine out of ten people will spend the most money on their spouse (or partner.)

Though spending is expected to be down this year because of the economy, that's no excuse for most people, if you're still employed and are likely to keep your job.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions to get the creative juices flowing.

Lingerie

Lingerie

Since lingerie is as much for her as it is for you, we're suggesting items that are both comfy and sexy, including this Bed of Roses’ Mesh Chemise (pictured far right).

New from Honeydew Intimates, it’s slightly sheer, trimmed in floral lace, and is available in either a black or cream print. (shopnordstrom.com; $38)

We also like these Mary Green-designed silk knit boyshorts. Each lace-trimmed pair says “I Love You” in a different language, and the set of 7 comes uniquely packaged in a silk satin sachet (hipundies.com; $115.)

Last but not least, this perennial crowd-pleaser: the “Long Stem Lovin' Original Rise Thong Bouquet.” It's a dozen long stem silk roses wrapped with the top-selling Hanky Panky thongs, neatly arranged in a flower box with a sheer red bow. (barenecessities.com; $250)

Roses

Roses

Think red, don't procrastinate (prices rise 30 percent or more in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day), and order locally: roses from your neighborhood florist are typically the best around.

If buying online is easier and more convenient, keep in mind that what you see on the web isn't necessarily what you get, and the quality of your order is only as good as the florist fulfilling it.

Our top pick, in terms of meeting our expectations, as well as overall quality and price, is fromyouflowers.com.

A dozen long-stem red roses—in a clear glass vase—costs $59.99.

Chocolate

Chocolate

To make a lasting impression, chocolates must be deliciously decadent, hand-crafted, and beautifully packaged.

This fits the bill: A 19-piece box of French truffles—appropriately called “Terribly Addictive”—from world renowned online chocolatier, zchocolat.com.

These dark chocolate delights, covered in bitter-sweet cocoa powder and filled with a creamy hazelnut praline center, are $57. They come in a unique signature wooden box, and with a customized gift card.

Closer to home, trycocoamichelle.com.

Get the Signature Collectionbox of heart-shaped truffles. They’re hand-painted, air brushed, and filled with decadent ganaches. Prices start at $12 for a box of 6 to $58 for a box of 32.

Jewelry

Jewelry

Sure, you can never go wrong with a little blue box, and while we like the new Crown of Hearts stainess steel watchby Paloma Picasso (tiffany.com; $995), if you’re looking for more of a statement piece consider something from Tom Binns—he’s coveted among the fashion set, with celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and First Lady Michelle Obama sporting his designs.

Our suggestion: this 24-karat gold plated brass Tangled Hearts Bracelet (CallTom Binns Megastore, NYC; 917-475-1412; $675) from his Faith in Fate Collection.

Even louder: this Hot Lips ring—apuckered kiss in bright, fire-engine-red lacquered sterling silver. It’s crafted, with wit, by iconic British jewelry designer, Solange Azagury-Partridge (net-a-porter.com; $1500.)

Too edgy? Not her style? If she likes the more refined look, nobody does dainty better than designer, Alex Woo. The Little Luck Key, her newest addition to her Little Luck Collection, is sure to lock her in. It’s solid 14-karat white gold, encrusted with pave diamonds. Personally signed by Woo, this hand-sculpted pendant arrives packaged in a custom wooden gift box(alexwoo.com; $848.)

Beauty And Fragrance

Beauty and Fragrance

Everyone likes Jo Malone, and the Bath Oil Collection (jomalone.com; $85), which includes refined scents such as Orange Blossom and Pomegranate Noir, comes beautifully presented in miniature glass decanters, and packaged in Joe Malone’s signature gift box.

As for perfume, that can be tricky. So, if you’re not sure which scent will strike the right note with her, get Les Rouges Collection Box by highly respected aromatherapist, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. It contains a miniature (one dram) bottle of four natural, RED-inspired fragrances—some passionate; some sensual; some downright lusty. The sampler comes gift-wrapped in red, and adorned with a gold seal (dshperfumes.com; $55.)

Experience

Experiences

Reach new heights, romantically, with a private trip for two in the basket of a hot air balloon. Morning and evening flights available in any number of US cities; 3 hours total, with approximately one hour in the air (excitations.com; Prices start at $550.)

To hang your love in the clouds, literally, contact National Sky Ads (nationalskyads.com.) They’ll put your personal message—“I Love You;”“Will You Marry Me?”—on a banner made of 7-foot red letters, and drag it across the sky for everyone to see. Available anywhere in the USA; Prices start at $400/hour.

Spa

Spa

Here’s a new, thoughtful way to give the gift of relaxation: the Spa Massage Vivabox (vivaboxusa.com; $160). It’s one of 16 gift boxes that Vivabox, a leading European gift company that debuted in the US in 2008, currently offers.

Inside the box: organic body products (including body lotions, shower gel and bath salts), as well as a gift card for a massage or facial—tip included—that can be redeemed at at one of more than 4,000 participating day spas in SpaFinder.com’s network.