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XOXO: Your Monmouth County Valentine's Gift Guide

Warning: this story contains jewelry, chocolate, smokes and some adult content.

Let's just say it. No one over the age of 9 wants a teddy bear and a heart-shaped balloon for Valentine's Day. If you are looking to convey devotion and passion, you're going to need to get creative. So to help you out we've pulled together a few gift ideas sure to make your love's heart skip a beat.

For the couple...

  • Every couple needs to get away together once in a while, but for new parents, especially, heading far out of town can be nerve racking. Book your weekend (or mid-week) escape at Cedars and Beeches in Long Branch and you can stay within a mom's long reach of your babies, while still getting reacquainted with the person you forgot you married. The Victorian mansion on Cedar Avenue is just four blocks from the beach, perfect for quiet winter walks when the crowds are few and the shells are plentiful. The romance package includes: king room accommodations, couple's massage, bottle of wine, sweet treat, breakfast and a 25 percent discount at the . Rates start at $400 per couple.
  • In general we feel that if you can give a gift to the one you love and yourself simultaneously, it's a win-win. So why not try something you both could use - some relaxation. The Spa at the Commons (next to Raven and the Peach) offers a Twice as Nice couples package for $375. The 2 1/2 hour gift includes: couples massage, express facial, pedicure and spa treats.
  • If your sweetheart is a foodie and you are on a budget, head down to the Windows Restaurant at the Culinary Education Center in Asbury Park, home of  and the  culinary schools. Here you can watch through kitchen windows as students do all the cooking and serving, without the snooty attitude of haute cuisine or the yelling of open kitchens on reality shows. Click here to see the Valentine's Day menu, which includes an entree of crispy sea bass, vinaigrette de noix, grilled hen of the woods mushrooms, salad of frissee and fried parsnip hay. We don't even know what that is, but it sounds delicious, and even better with a per person price of $35, from appetizer to dessert.
  • If dining in is more your speed, Rumson Market with provide you with a surf and turf special. Available on on Feb. 13 and 14 only, two filet steaks at $25 and two Brazilian seven ounce lobster tails $12 each. Pre-ordering is suggested. Call 732-383-8966.

For the ladies...

  •  We're generally suspicious when someone wants to swap out our chocolate for rocks, but in this case, we'll make an exception. Assistant Manager Janet Clegg says that for Valentine's Day, "We always have chocolate available in the store and in order to complete the holiday and create the ultimate surprise we offer to remove a piece of candy and replace it with a stunning piece." And if the usual white diamonds aren't your love's taste, the jeweler offers chocolate pearls, chocolate gold and chocolate diamonds.
  • , a no contract gym in Eatontown is offering a Valentine's Day promotion all this month. You and your BFF (or your mom or daughter) can join together and share all the fees. Monthly membership before the sale is about $48 and the one time enrollment fee is about $53. Your gift to yourselves will be 50 percent off.
  • Jersey Shore Apparel (located inside the Firehouse Specialty Shop) in Red Bank has a pretty in pink collection that will get your lady ready for her winter getaway. And if you aren't springing for a week in Antigua, at the very least you will be giving her some sweet summer thoughts to sustain her through the winter gloom. Check out our gallery of photos for a look at the collection: Gretchen Scotch beach tunic, $88; Fornash beaded necklace, $56; and Echo beach reading terry cloth iPad case, $25.
  • just happens to have an "I heart you" themed handbag in stock this month. According to owner Jennifer Maddalena, The Chanel Valentine Flap bag is highly collectible. Her shop sells the pre-owned bag for a steeply discounted $1,499. But until Valentine's Day, every non-sale item in the store is an additional 20 percent off. Holla! You can see the Chanel in our photo gallery.

For the gents...

  • So your man is not a couple's massage kind of guy. Neither is ours. Here's what we do: Call up Steve Simon at the  Order up your husband or boyfriend his favorite cigar and then call him at work and tell him to stop on his way home and enjoy his smoke in the Cigar Stop's lounge, complete with leather couches and an enormous flat screen. If he's not an aficionado, Simon suggests the Ashton San Cristobal. If he likes a strong full bodied smoke, we say go for the Ashton in the virgin sun grown wrapper, between $12-$18, depending on the size.

For the adults only...

  • At Ye Olde Pie Shoppe in Little Silver, all of the treats are sweet, but not some of the sentiments behind them are a bit salty. Up high on the counter, out of the way of curious little fingers of the 18 and under set, is a tray of cookies covered in brown paper. "If you're curious, you can look, at your own risk," says owner Thomas Caruso. That's because the heart shaped cookies inside have some with adult themes, pet names and sentiments to get you in the mood for more than confectioneries. The cookies, which are priced at $2.50 can be made to order with any saying. Caruso was too shy to tell us the most outrageous words he's ever piped in icing, but he did give us a sneak peak at some of the more risque cookies, which you can see in our gallery of photos. And for those who just want to give a sweet to their sweetie, the shop has a wide array of G-rated heart shaped cookies, cakes and tortes which can be personalized too.
Shannon K. Winning February 10, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Someone please tell my husband that for Valentine's Day I would like eight hours of sleep and to be committed to one of those ranches where they make you drink wheat grass and hike mountains all day.

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