Oddball Valentine's Day gifts show you care

Think outside the box of chocolates with these unique gift ideas

COASTERS

Cost: Four for $39 or $13 each.

Where you can find it: Taste, 416 Church St., Decatur. 404-370-1863.

What you get: Taste, a gift and houseware shop in downtown Decatur, has a bundle of unique Valentine's gifts on its holiday roster. Its stone drink coasters each feature a respective image of a popular Atlanta or Georgia landmark. Sift through the stacks and you'll find the Big Chicken, Mary Mac's Tea Room, Clermont Lounge, The Varsity, Oakland Cemetery and more. A special selection of Valentine's Day coasters include images of heart candies, retro Valentine's Day cards and an image of artist Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss." You can have a custom photo of your sweetheart put on a coaster at no extra charge. Turnaround time on custom coasters is typically two days.

Other Valentine's Day goodies at Taste include Vosges' Flying Pig Chocolate ($12.95). This pig-shaped chocolate wrapped in pink ribbon and housed in a pink box is made of applewood smoked bacon, milk chocolate and other ingredients. A pair of pink rubber gloves by Gloveables ($14.95), featuring heart prints on the bottom of the sleeves, can be used for both gardening or doing the dishes after a V-Day meal.

Bottom line: Thoughtful Valentine's Day gifts don't necessarily cost a mint.

MR. POTATO HEAD SWEETHEART SPUD

Cost: $7.99, Hasbro

Where you can find it: www.toysrus.com.

What you get: The classic toy gets a Valentine's Day makeover. The Mr. Potato Head concept is still the same. You plug in different toy body parts into a plastic potato to make your own personalized creation. But the Mr. Potato Head Sweetheart Spud includes Cupid-style accessories like an arrow-through-the-head headpiece, an arm holding a bow, a pair of wings and more.

Bottom line: Perfect gift for the sweetie with a sense of humor.

"BON APPETIT, Y'ALL"

Cost: $32.50, Ten Speed Press

Where you can find it: Savor Gourmet, 2355 Peachtree Road, Peachtree Battle Shopping Center, Atlanta. 404-869-0070, www.savorgourmet.com.

What you get: Author and food guru Virginia Willis will be signing copies of her cookbook, "Bon Appetit, Y'all: Recipes and Stories From Three Generations of Southern Cooking", on Valentine's Day at Savor Gourmet. Within the pages, readers will find homestyle recipes with Southern flair. The book boasts 200 recipes including Coca-Cola-Glazed Baby Back Ribs, Vidalia Onion Quiche and more. And Savor Gourmet will be offering free samples of dishes straight out of Willis' tome.

Bottom line: For some, the quickest way to the heart is a bypass through the stomach.

VALENTINE'S DAY COCKTAIL

Cost: $10

Where you can find it: Market at the W Atlanta Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-523-3600, www.marketbuckhead.com.

What you get: The mixologists at Market are crafting a cocktail with literal holiday spirit. Its Cherry Yuzu begins in a mixing glass with ice. 'Tenders add 1 1/2 ounces each of Cruzan light rum, and a homemade cherry puree and yuzu juice base. It's given a good shake, and then the mix masters add 1 ounce of Moscato D'asti. The whole mess is then poured into a highball glass and garnished with a cherry and a lime wedge.

Bottom line: A sweet, refreshing alternative to a box of chocolates.

RENEW YOUR VOWS

Cost: Free

Where you can find it: Historic Dawson County Courthouse, Courthouse Square, Dawsonville. 706-344-3730.

What you get: This Friday, judges will be available from

9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the oldest working courthouse in Georgia. They will be lending their services free of charge for vow renewal or wedding ceremonies. Couples are invited to bring their own cameras and have a photo taken in a specially decorated designated area of the courthouse. Light appetizers will be served. Reservations must be made no later than Monday. New marriages require a marriage license from Probate Court.

Bottom line: A sweet, romantic way to ring in the holiday.

BURLESQUE DATE NIGHT

Cost: Tickets $10-$75

Where you can find it: www.damesaflame.com

What you get: There's arguably no better spot on the calendar to celebrate the art of burlesque than Valentine's Day. And this show is taking place that very eve. The Dames Aflame, known for performing alongside vocalist Mike Geier in his popular Elvis shows at Variety Playhouse, return for a show of their own. This time it's at Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce. The curvaceous cast features singers and dancers delving into the art of the tease. Geier is sure to croon a tune or two. And comedian Dana Snyder, the voice of MasterShake on Adult Swim's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," is set to tickle some ribs. Tickets include valet parking, appetizers and two drink tickets. Proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. $50; $75 VIP table seating. 7:30 and 10 p.m. Feb. 14. Le Maison Rouge at Paris on Ponce, 716 Ponce De Leon Place N.E., Atlanta. 404-249-9965, www.damesaflame.com.

The bottom line: A sexy way to spend V-Day. Surprise a significant other with tickets.

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