Spice it up on Valentine's Day

According to The National Retail Federation's 2010 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, couples will spend an average of $63.34 on gifts for their significant other or spouse, compared to $67.22 last year. The average person will shell out $103.00 on traditional Valentine's Day merchandise this year, similar to last year's $102.50. Total holiday spending is expected to reach $14.1 billion.


Although spending on family members will remain the same ($20.94 vs. $20.95 last year), family pets will also feel the love this year with the average person spending $3.27 on their furry friends, up from $2.17 last year.


As in previous years, men will spend nearly twice the amount women spend on the holiday. The average man plans to shell out $135.35 to impress the people in his life while women only expect to spend $72.28.


Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday to show your sweetie your romantic side with aphrodisiac foods- almonds, asparagus, artichokes, avocados, bananas, berries, caviar, Champagne, chili peppers, chocolates, figs, foie gras, garlic, honey, oysters, truffles and wine-purported to spice things up. And they are also healthy.  And don't forget saffron, mint and vanilla for flavor.

This year, it may be more of a milk chocolate year than a time for dark chocolate, despite the antioxidant health benefits in the dark product (which has more cocoa content), reports the Lempert Report. The reason: cocoa prices are at a 30-year peak of $3,510 per ton, according to Reuters. Three other possible shifts to cope with the price rise, say experts: smaller packages, aerated chocolate, and more fruit fillings, which cost less to produce.


If you want to prepare a special treat for your honey (and show your affection for your children), check out the recipes at www.McCormick.com

Make Valentine's Day a Red Letter Day. They will, no doubt, appreciate your special efforts.


And, if you haven't purchased a card for your love bug, it's not too late. Free e-cards are available at www.ValentinesCardsCentral.com