Valentines gifts for him and her

Whether you see it as a commercial rip off or a chance to show your loved one just how much you care, Valentine's Day comes but once a year - and knowing what to buy (should you choose to take part) doesn't get easier each year. So here are a few ideas...

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Take a look in any shop in the run up to Valentine's Day and you can't help but notice that it all tends to be geared towards to buying gifts for women, meaning that the girls have to do a little more thinking themselves if they want to buy something for their menfolk.

Of course the safe option is to treat him to some nice scent (don't call it perfume to his face) or perhaps some luxury grooming products - just make sure you don't go to the pet shop for the latter!

Men can have a sweet tooth too of course, so he might appreciate a nice box of choccies just as much as many women do - and if he's got more savoury tastebuds then what about a nice gourmet pie or some other foodie treat you know he loves?

Alternatively how about getting him tickets to "that thing he likes" (copyright Old Spice advert). The theatres will be rammed on Valentine's night, but it's a good date to hit a comedy club or catch a gig.

We hate to fall back on gender stereotypes, but we suspect a lot of men would be quite happy for you to spend your Valentine's budget on some slinky new underwear for yourself - so long as you give it a fitting debut after dinner (or during if you're feeling brave).

Finding a Valentine's present for the woman in your life may seem easy, but it's best to avoid the shops that are chock-a-block with shiny red tat at this time of year. And if you're going to buy flowers, make sure they are her favourites - which are unlikely to be a sorry-looking bunch of chrysanthemums from the local garage.

The real challenge is showing her that you've spent more than 30 seconds thinking about what to buy.

The nice-looking man in the picture above looks delighted with his big red balloon andred roses, and we're sure his lady was happy to receive them - but you don't have to go to the florist or Clinton Cards to prove your love!

Perfume is always a safe bet, although the difficult thing is selecting the right fragrance. Do your research by asking her friends what she likes - or even smelling them yourself and using your knowledge of her to choose one that she'll love.

So long as she likes chocolates, she's unlikely to turn her nose up at a box of fancy confectionary - but you might also consider other foods you know she loves, particularly if there is something that has a special significance in your relationship.

Champagne and oysters could provide a bit of "wow factor" at home, and will give you the chance to mutilate your hands in a manly fashion while trying to open the molluscs.

If you want to be a bit more original, how about booking tickets to an event you know she'll love and keeping it secret until you get there?

Romantic table for two
Eating out on Valentine's night can be an absurd experience with loads of couples all trying to have a special romantic evening at the same time, so what about cooking a special meal for her at home?

If cooking isn't your thing, take advantage of the many meal offers from supermarkets, such as Marks & Spencers, who will no doubt want to sell you a bottle of pink sparkly wine to go with it.

If you do decide to cook up a feast at home, learn from the mistakes of so many Masterchef contestants and make sure it's something you already know how to cook - and whatever you do, don't try chocolate fondants for the first time!

If you're determined to try the chocolate fondants, maybe put an engagement ring inside to make up for any disappointment. Probably best to think carefully about that one first though.

What will you buy your other half for Valentine's Day? Or is it all a big swindle? Comment below...