The 50 Best; Fifty ways to drive your lover wild

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The Independent Culture
The path to true love ne'er did run smooth, and chances are you're flummoxed over a last-minute way to prove your passion. Cue The Information's very own team of Cupids, with 50 romantic ideas to ensure your arrow hits the spot. From classic floral tributes to hot-air ballooning and precious gems, your Valentine will be left in no doubt that your heart's in the right place. Guide compiled by Rhiannon Batten, with additional research by Beatrice Hodgkin and Muriel Desaulles

5 BEST FLOWER GIFTS

5 BEST CHOCOLATE GIFTS

5 BEST CLASSIC GIFTS

5 BEST APHRODISIACS

5 BEST SEXY GIFTS

5 BEST ROMANTIC GIFTS

5 BEST ACTIVE GIFTS

5 BEST CARING GIFTS

5 BEST EXTRAVAGANT GIFTS

5 BEST FRIVOLOUS GIFTS

NOTE: WHILE EVERY EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO CHECK DETAILS OF OPENING HOURS AND AVAILABILITY, READERS ARE ADVISED ALWAYS TO PHONE AHEAD BEFORE SETTING OUT

NEXT WEEK: THE 50 BEST WAYS TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR WARDROBE - PART 1: WOMEN

1

A DOZEN RED ROSES

White roses are typically associated with spiritual love, yellow tulips with hopeless love, and forget-me- nots with loyalty in love. But if it's sensual love and passion you're after, you can't beat an extravagant bunch of red roses - splash out on as many dozens as you can manage.

How much: pounds 32.50 per dozen, plus a pounds 3 charge for Sunday delivery.

Where from: Marks & Spencer Direct (0345 704704).

Last chance to buy: for delivery tomorrow, orders must be made before 2pm today.

2

DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Little Red Barn's individual heart-shaped double-chocolate brownies come in boxes of four and make an indulgent and extremely satisfying gift. The secret to this perfect amuse-bouche is that the company echews additives or preservatives and only uses the best-quality ingredients. All very admirable, but, more importantly, they taste scrumptious, too.

How much: from pounds 7.96 for four. Where from: Fifth Floor Foodmarket, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (0171-235 5000). Last chance to buy: today 10am to 7pm, tomorrow 12noon to 6pm.

3

ENGAGEMENT RING

If you're preparing to pop that question, make sure you do it in style with a sparkling (and supremely covetable) brilliant-cut solitaire diamond ring. Simplicity is the key with engagement rings, particularly if the lucky lady will not be choosing it herself. These, set in pure platinum or gold, are the essence of sophistication. After all, you do want a positive response don't you?

How much: from pounds 795 (for 0.25 carat).

Where from: Mappin & Webb, 170 Regent Street, London W1 (0171-734 3801). Last chance to buy: today 9:30am to 6pm.

4

JUICY GOSSIP

Filled to the brim with a plethora of aphrodisiacs, this fruity love juice contains angelica (particularly effective on women, and apparently used in the 18th century to overcome fridgidity), ginseng (a powerful hormonal stimulant that supposedly slows down the ageing process), jasmine (a particularly fast-acting aphrodisiac) and passion fruit (with a name like that, who cares what it does?). Let your cup runneth over...

How much: 69p per litre. Where from: Asda (0500 100055 for nearest store). Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

5

SILKEN BEDSPREAD

Ventures into bedroom territory should only be undertaken once the second party has unwrapped this silk organza bedspread from Nicole Farhi. Made from 100 per cent silk and available in wine, steel blue, pale stone and granite, this voluptuous textile has a fairly heavy texture that makes it perfect as a bedspread on cold winter nights or as a sheet in balmier months.

How much: single pounds 95, medium pounds 110, large pounds 150.

Where from: Nicole Farhi Home, 17 Clifford Street, London W1 (0171-494 9051).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6pm.

6

AROMATHERAPY LOVE KIT

Legend has it that Cleopatra bathed in rose oil and carpeted her floors with rose petals before seducing Mark Antony, so anything featuring this special ingredient would seem an ideal gift for Valentine's Day. The limited- edition Aromathology Love Kit, containing rose oil, advises you to apply its pulse-point balm throughout the day, to scent your room with "Romance" essential oil, and then to tend to your partner with the massage oil. How much: pounds 14.95. Where from: Crabtree & Evelyn (call 0171-603 1611 for nearest shop). Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

7

LOVE IS IN THE AIR

Offering a bird's-eye view of the lunar landscape, cave dwellings and apricot orchards of Turkey's Cappadocia region, this is one of the most impressive balloon rides on earth. The sunrise trip takes around four hours, and includes a champagne send-off.

How much: one week (incl car hire) costs from pounds 665 per person; balloon rides are an extra $210 a head, bookable locally. Where from: Brief Encounters (0181-987 6108) can arrange trips at short notice and fax over the details.

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 5pm.

8

FEET FIRST

This "Happy Feet" massage roller should put a smile on anyone's face with its suggestion of one of two things: either you're about to whisk them away for a night of frenzied tangoing; or you're willing to get intimate with their weary tootsies and treat them to a rather more personal kind of workout.

How much: pounds 6.50.

Where from: Bath and Body Works (0171-580 0707 for nearest shop).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

9

KEYS TO THE HEART

Should you find yourself locked out of someone's heart this Valentine's Day, one of these little gems should help. Theo Fennell keys come in different sizes and designs, and are available in a huge variety of precious and semi-precious stones, but you'd better hurry, because Harpers & Queen tipped these keys to be the most sought-after Valentine's present this year. How much: pounds 585 to pounds 7,950. Where from: Theo Fennell, 169 Fulham Road, London SW3 (0171-591 5000). Last chance to buy: today 10am to 5pm.

10

GOOD, CLEAN FUN

A freshly cut slice of handmade Cherish soap not only smells irresistible - of juicy berries smothered in gooey vanilla cream - it's also good-looking and moisturising (thanks to vegetable glycerine). Primal Elements' products are kind to the environment, too: no animal testing or animal ingredients are involved in the making of this soap (but plenty of pure essential oils and natural botanicals), and the packaging is recyclable.

How much: from pounds 4.95 for a one-inch slice. Where from: Primal Elements (call 0181-699 0332 for nearest stockist). Last chance to buy: opening hours today vary, so phone for details. 11

SINGLE RED ROSE

Single red roses from Running Wild come vacuum-packed in clear-plastic containers of various designs (some shaped like vases) that fit easily through a letter box. Matching tags are attached, if anonymity is not what you're after, but the idea is that the rose lasts as long as your love, so choose well.

How much: pounds 9.99.

Where from: Running Wild, 1A Kempford Road, London SE11 (0171-793 9544).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 2pm; for delivery tomorrow, orders should be made by 12noon today.

12

BOX CLEVER

If you want to make sure that hearts are melting wherever you go this Valentine's Day, the best step to invest in a box of fine chocolates. These reasonably priced heart-shaped ones by Lindor come nestled in a bright-red, heart-shaped box, and each is filled with a creamy milk- chocolate truffle centre.

How much: pounds 4.99 for 200g.

Where from: Lindor (call 01895 445821 for nearest stockist). Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

13

AGENT PROVOCATEUR LINGERIE

For lingerie that is sexy, feminine and elegant all at the same time, the Layla collection, new in at Agent Provocateur shops, should cover all the necessary areas. The basic fabric is champagne satin, which is overlaid with lavender lace and black satin straps.

How much: bras pounds 75, suspenders pounds 60, string pounds 35, babydoll pounds 125 and brief pounds 40.

Where from: Agent Provocateur, 6 Broadwick Street, London W1 (0171-439 0229), and 6 Pont Street, London SW1 (0171-235 0229); or mail order on 01483 204469. Last chance to buy: Pont Street store 10am to 6pm, Broadwick Street store 11am to 7pm.

14

CREAM OF THE CROP

Made from the fermented fruit of the murula tree, also known as the elephant tree - which is indigenous to southwest Africa - this cream- based tipple is rather like Baileys. The difference between the two is that the murula fruit is said to be an aphrodisiac, so it might be wise to start with a few gentle sips.

How much: pounds 11.99.

Where from: Oddbins (customer enquiries: 0181 944 4400).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details

15

PICTURE PERFECT

Ellen Von Unwerth's Couples makes a perfect companion on long journeys when you want to daydream of that special person. Her glamorous colour photographs show lovers engaging in various amorous encounters, but pictures are sensual rather than overtly raunchy, and, thankfully, bear no resemblance to a copy of Razzle.

How much: pounds 24 (Art Data).

Where from: The Photographers' Gallery Bookshop, 5-8 Great Newport Street, London WC2 (0171-831 1772).

Last chance to buy: today 11am to 6pm, tomorrow 12noon to 6pm.

16

WAX LYRICAL

Create a warm, romantic glow with this sweet-smelling vanilla candle, which comes in a silver-plated, heart-shaped dish. The best thing is that, once the candle has melted - along with your hearts, of course - the dish can be used time and again for storing bits and bobs, holding pot-pourri or cradling bars of soap.

How much: pounds 14.95.

Where from: The Chelsea Gardener, 123 Sydney Street, London SW3 (0171-352 5656).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6pm, tomorrow 12noon to 6pm.

17

VENETIAN CLASS

Waltz off into the Venetian sunset with your sweetheart for a classically romantic break. Brief Encounters is adept at sorting out last-minute travel. Not only will they arrange your four-star hotel, but will also throw in a travel pack (including a guide book and city map) to help you make the most of the visit.

How much: from pounds 422 per person for flights, two nights' accommodation and breakfast.

Where from: Brief Encounters (0181-987 6108).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 5pm.

18

HEAVEN SCENT

This russet-coloured, heart-shaped cushion is designed to be heated up in the microwave and then left to loll on your pillow. Apparently, the scent it releases is completely intoxicating, so be prepared to send your partner either wild with passion or straight to sleep - both potentially appealing options depending on your other half.

How much: pounds 19.95.

Where from: Out of the Earth, 83 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 (0181- 563 9991).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6pm.

19

CALL THE SHOTS

If you can't bear the thought of being out-done, the silver-plated Nokia DB2000 real platinum mobile phone by NEC makes the ideal gift. Bar purchasing a small island or a private helicopter, the price tag alone pretty much excludes your other half from lavishing a better gift on you - but do make sure you get the insurance to go with it.

How much: pounds 10,000.

Where from: exclusively at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (0171-730 1234).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6pm.

20

THE WAY TO THE HEART...

Scrummy cake, oodles of fresh cream and a dainty dollop of jam, all neatly presented in an appropriately heart-shaped fashion - what more could a romantic soul desire? For added value, slip in a diamond ring; your beloved might just say "I do" - if, of course, they don't accidentally swallow the ring first.

How much: 59p.

Where from: Asda (call 0500 100055 for nearest store).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

21

BED OF ROSES

For a bouquet to suit all tastes, try Bed of Roses' "Mixed Red Rose". The Berlin, Grand Prix, Ecstasy, Tamango and Black Beauty strains included come in every shade you can think of, from bright scarlet to almost black, and the voluptuous velvety petals give off a wonderful scent. For a more contemporary offering, the "Red, Hot and Exotic" bouquet should prove most acceptable.

How much: "Mixed Red Rose" from pounds 25, "Red Hot and Exotic" from pounds 30. Where from: Bed of Roses florists, 28 Parliament Square, Hertford (01992 500390). Last chance to buy: today 8am-8pm, last orders for next-day delivery 6pm; tomorrow 8am-5pm.

22

CHOCOLATE CHIC

Rococo really is the finest of chocolate shops. Every item is made from the highest-quality ingredients and is beautifully presented - an important consideration for special-occasion gifts. Practically anything in the shop would get you in your loved one's good books, but a selection of chocolate hearts made from the rarest cocoa bean in the world, the majari, would show how much you value them.

How much: from pounds 3 to more than pounds 40. Where from: Rococo, 321 King's Road, London SW3 (0171-352 5857).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6.30pm, tomorrow 12noon to 5pm. 23

BOTTLE UP YOUR EMOTIONS

What would Valentine's Day be without a French kiss? The one thing you really should allow to titillate your lips this Valentine's Day is Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut, the standard-bearer for rose champagnes. Produced by the saignee method to create the delicate amber-pink colour and full pinot-noir aroma, this is the ultimate stylish weapon in the art of seduction.

How much: pounds 26.99 a bottle.

Where from: call 01628 475404 for stockists.

Last chance to buy: opening hours vary, so phone for details.

24

SHELLS SUIT

It's not really surprising that eating oysters is supposed to be an aphrodisiac: the whole idea is so unpleasant that it had to acquire some attractive connotation. If you think your loved one's a slippery customer, then nip down to Bluebird to stock up on some fresh specimens. The fishmonger will open them for you and place them in your very own takeaway oyster box.

How much: 65p each.

Where from: Bluebird Store, 350 Kings Road, London SW3 (0171-559 1140).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 9pm, tomorrow 12noon to 6pm.

25

LOVE POTIONS

At last, Penhaligon's Love Potion No 9 is a "his and hers" product that you'll actually want to buy - and the packaging is fantastic. The women's fragrance, which is bright pink, includes vanilla, coriander and lemon, and comes in a pink bag with a black heart and tie. The contrasting men's fragrance is new this year and includes lemon, aniseed, clove, cinnamon and sandalwood. It comes in a sexy black bag emblazoned with a provocatively pink heart.

How much: pounds 15 each for 15ml.

Where from: Penhaligons (call 0800 716108 for mail order and nearest store).

Last chance to buy: opening hours vary, so phone for details.

26

CLEAR INTENTIONS

What could possibly be more romantic than a room full of softly flickering candles? Whether your budget stretches to one or one hundred, Anthony Stern will have the candlestick to suit. Available from his studio (open to the public) in all shapes and sizes, candlesticks bought direct from here will probably be around 20 per cent cheaper than from other stockists.

How much: pounds 20-pounds 70.

Where from: Anthony Stern Glass, Unit 205, Avro House, Havelock Terrace, London SW8 (0171-622 9463).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 5pm; if possible, phone before visiting.

27

THE AMERICAN DREAM

For a flight of fancy this weekend, you might want to visit Romance, a one-horse town in Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas; get there in a rental car from Little Rock (change planes at Dallas Fort Worth). Or, if you simply want to land at an amorous airport, take the Southwest shuttle from Houston to Love Field in Dallas (the place from which JFK began his fatal motorcade). And then there's always Intercourse, Pennsylvania...

How much: a return flight to Houston departing tomorrow for a week costs pounds 246 (incl taxes) on Continental Airlines; American Airlines has return flights to Little Rock from pounds 326 (incl taxes).

Where from: Flightbookers (0171-757 3000).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 5:30pm.

28

FOR THE BODY BEAUTIFUL

These pampering products come in three different fragrances - "Energy", "Desire" and "Temptation" - so you can choose the precise mood you want to create. Just leave your loved one to soak in a cleansing bath, pamper them with products to soften and smooth the skin, then spritz them with a kissably enticing scent. Anyone for a bit of Temptation?

How much: Bubble Wrap bath soak pounds 1.99, Body Polish pounds 1.99 and Bath Bomb pounds 1.29.

Where from: Superdrug (0181-684 7000 for nearest store).

Last chance to buy: opening times today vary, so phone for details.

29

WORTH THEIR WEIGHT

If you want a champion lover, don't beat around the bush: make them sweat with a pair of these 2.5kg (each) silver dumbbells. On the off-chance that it all goes horribly wrong, you'll be able to console yourself by pinching them back and melting them down into something more wearable.

How much: pounds 3,600 for two.

Where from: Asprey & Garrard, 167 New Bond Street, London W1 (0171-493 6767).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 5pm.

30

NAUGHTY BUT NICE

Imagine the perfect seduction scene: clean sheets, a carefully chosen bottle of wine, soft lighting, raunchy music - and a pile of cigarette ash. If your loved one has a filthy habit, indulge their weakness and scatter some pastel-hued Ines de la Fressange ashtrays around the bedchamber prior to retiring.

How much: pounds 46.95.

Where from: Green & Pleasant, 129 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 (0181-741 1539).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 6pm.

31

HORNY DEVILS

If you see yourself - and your partner - more as "saucy devils" than "tortured romantics", forget lavish bouquets of flowers. Instead, try sending guzmania, a spiky species for horny types. A sensual alternative is an elegant box full of highly scented loose petals from the Ecstasy rose - these must be used on the same day, so sprinkle them over your sheets or scatter them in the bath. Or try The Flower Store's single-stem offering: a Grand Prix rose that makes a stark and stylish statement.

How much: from around pounds 10.

Where from: The Flower Store, 282 Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, London N4 (0171-561 9287).

Last chance to buy: today 8am to 8pm, tomorrow 8am to 2pm.

32

FEAST FOR THE SENSES

Anyone planning a marathon love-in this weekend would be very much advised to hurry down to the nearest Ann Summers shop. Deck yourself out in their latest line of chocolate- and strawberry-flavoured underwear, and you won't have to run the risk of flagging energy levels once the fun gets going.

How much: knickers pounds 4.99, bra pounds 4.99.

Where from: Ann Summers (call 0181-645 8320 for nearest branch).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

33

ROOM SERVICE

Your attempts at cooking ruin a delicious menu, and you can't get a table at any of the restaurants you want. If this happens tomorrow, don't despair. Room Service Deliveries serves the whole of the London area - even on this, the busiest day of their year - and will dispatch a bow-tied driver to bring a meal to your door within the hour. For an extra pounds 1.50, the driver will pick up anything else you might need - cigarettes, alcohol, etc - along the way.

How much: restaurant prices plus pounds 4 for delivery. Where from: Room Service Deliveries (0171-431 5555) or www.roomservice.co.uk.

Last chance to buy: last orders at 1am.

34

PASSION FILLER

Rumpy-pumpy Mexican style is how this novel bubbles along; family intrigue, political drama and a dash of erotic cookery on the side. Read this book and you'll soon be dreaming of ways to conjure up a dish of quail in rose-petal sauce for your beloved - either that or nipping down to Blockbusters for the video.

How much: pounds 6.99. Where from: any good bookshop - try Books etc (call 0171-379 7313 for nearest store); or hire the video from Blockbuster for pounds 3.50 (0845 6060 999).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details 35

FINGER ON THE PULSE

Remedies to Roll is a range of essential oils ready-blended in an organic base oil for direct application to the skin. Each blend comes conveniently packaged in a handy, ready-to-use roller-ball: just apply to pulse points and relax - or, in this case, respond. The blend contains organic sunflower oil, plus sandalwood, ylang ylang, cedarwood, orange, olibatum and vetiver essential oils.

How much: pounds 2.95.

Where from: Neals Yard Remedies, 15 Neals Yard, Covent Garden, London WC2 (0171-370 7222, or call call 0171-627 1949 for other shops).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 5.30pm.

36

STYLISH THREADS

Cushions are no longer the preserve of the female boudoir. Both men and women will swoon for these little French numbers available in a tastefully subdued blue and embroidered with simple cream hearts. To reinforce the message, buy the matching throw, too, for a seductive ensemble.

How much: cushions pounds 37.95, throws pounds 150.

Where from: Green & Pleasant, 129 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 (0181- 741 1539).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 6pm.

37

CUPID ON CALL

Disbelievers, be warned, Cupid does exist, and he will attempt to make any Valentine dream you have come true. Meet Sean Shelley, who runs Shelley Ashman International, a company that specialises in organising amorous adventures. Whether you require a special table reservation, a royal box at the Italian Opera, a helicopter journey to a remote island, or a yacht trip around St Tropez (above) at sunset, this is the man to contact.

How much: price on application.

Where from: Shaun Shelley (01189 714714).

Last chance to buy: personal and discreet service 24 hours a day.

38

INDULGE YOUR PASSION

Who could possibly reject your advances after you've lavished them with a Fraisier? Comprising yummy layers of vanilla sponge lightly soaked in Kirsch and decorated with fresh vanilla cream and strawberries, the cake comes topped with delicious pink almond paste, delicate swirls of chocolate icing and a juicy array of the prettiest fruits around.

How much: heart-shaped cakes cost from pounds 10.95 to pounds 14.95, and round cakes between pounds 9.95 and pounds 21.75.

Where from: Maison Blanc (call

0181-838 0848 for nearest branch).

Last chance to buy: opening times today and tomorrow vary, so phone for details.

39

WATCH THIS SPACE

Flash lotharios should put their money where their mouth is and invest in a Patek Philippe 5059G, winner of Austria's 1998 Watch of the Year award in the "Complicated Watches" category. If the recipient isn't captivated by the self-winding, perpetual-calendar mechanisms and retrograde date hand, they can't fail to be seduced by the extravagance.

How much: yellow-gold version pounds 29,335, platinum version pounds 34,845.

Where from: call 01753 891348 for stockists.

Last chance to buy: opening hours today vary, so call for details.

40

CUTTING EDGE

If you're having trouble thinking what to say "it" with - flowers, chocolates, saucy underwear or anything else - here's a recipe for success. Plump straight for the heart with this set of five different-sized heart-shaped biscuit cutters. Prettily tied up with a shiny red ribbon, this is a practical gift that's good-looking enough for non-cooks to decorate their kitchen with.

How much: from pounds 3.50 for a set of five.

Where from: The Dining Warehouse, Stonegate, York (01904 620736).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 5.30pm.

41

FLORAL TRIBUTE

The trouble with flowers is that eventually they wilt and die, and it's all very distressing. If your loved one deserves longer term investment - or has an allergy to flowers - Lulu Guinness's black-satin bag is the perfect solution, topped as it is with exquisite red-velvet flowers.

How much: small bag pounds 284, large bag pounds 311.

Where from: Lulu Guinness, 66 Ledbury Road, London W11 (0171-221 9686), and 3 Ellis Street, London SW1 (0171-727 2896).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6pm.

42

A RECORD HIT

Fastidious lovers should ensure that they have all the romantic musical essentials, and Hot Chocolate's Greatest Hits is definitely one of these. The softly tinkling accompaniment to "It Started With a Kiss" and the unadulterated smoothness of Errol Brown's vocals should get you in the mood for love; before you know it you'll be up there bumping and grinding and wriggling out of those clothes to "You Sexy Thing".

How much: pounds 16.99.

Where from: HMV (call 0171-432 2000 for nearest store).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

43

SMOKE WITH FIRE

For anyone who hasn't yet noticed, cigars are the hot accessory of the moment. So, if you want to impress your amour, splash out on a sophisticated sterling-silver single cigar tube, all beautifully wrapped up. If you really want to go for style Brownie points, finish the whole gift off with a single Montecristo A - or an air ticket to Cuba.

How much: pounds 130.

Where from: Mappin & Webb, 413 Oxford Street, London W1 (0171-409 3377).

Last chance to buy: today 9.30am to 6pm.

44

TABLE TALK

When it comes to romance, why stick to the same old recipes? Asparagus dipped in a simple Hollandaise sauce and eaten with the fingers has long been a lovers' favourite, but, for a change, serve your spears on a graphic asparagus tablemat by Ella Doran. That way, your beau can take the tablemats home as a memento of the good times.

How much: pounds 39.95 for a set of 6.

Where from: Aria, 133 Upper Street, London N1 (0171-226 1021).

Last chance to buy: today 10am to 6:30pm, tomorrow 12pm to 5pm.

45

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART

Vodka-lovers are ardent, dedicated and passionate - and all the more alluring for it - but, most of all, they're fussy about their drink. No complicated cocktails for them, they like their vodka sophisticated, clean and potent. Chances are that this one will have passed them by, so splash out on a bottle. If what they say about roses is true, a tipple will ensure your heart-throb transfers their affections directly to you.

How much: pounds 15.95 per bottle.

Where from: Gerry's, 74 Old Compton Street, London W1 (0171-734 4215).

Last chance to buy: today 9am to 5.30pm.

46

SHOW YOUR METAL

No self-respecting Valentine's gift guide should be without cufflinks. Our favourites are these crisp and shiny silver squares with impossibly neat miniature blue shirts glinting in the centre of them. Best of all, they're the right size and design to suit both men and women. So, dare to be different, and splash out on these rather than a little lacy number.

How much: pounds 30.

Where from: Thomas Pink (0171-498 2202 for stockists).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

47

TOKEN OF AFFECTION

For a last-minute present, these tokens are ideal. They are easy to buy, accepted at nearly 200 theatres nationwide, have no expiry date, and allow the recipient to dictate the choice of performance. There are also various gift packages to choose from, such as pounds 20 worth of theatre tokens and a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge champagne for pounds 43.95.

How much: tokens in denominations of pounds 1, pounds 5, pounds 10 and pounds 20.

Where from: WH Smith, John Menzies, Hammicks Bookshops, Books etc., Apollo Theatres, Ticketmaster and Tokenline (0171-240 8800).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so call for details.

48

TEA FOR TWO

For those whose partners have a penchant for steamy business, the Loving Cup is your chance to demonstrate just how fond of them you really are. These special blends of tea and coffee have been selected to encourage passions to flow on Valentine's Day, and even come smartly wrapped in red and silver packets.

How much: coffee pounds 2.50, tea pounds 2.75.

Where from: Whittard of Chelsea (call 0800 525092 for nearest shop).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

49

FEELING FRISKIE?

For those who'd rather lavish their affection on a canine chum, the only present is a Rasco silver dog bowl emblazoned with hearts, and a bag of heart- shaped dog biscuits from Friskies to put in it.

How much: bowl from pounds 39.95, biscuits pounds 1.19.

Where from: bowl from Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (0171-730 1234); biscuits from major supermarkets (call 0800 738 2273 for stockists).

Last chance to buy: Harrods 10am to 6pm today; supermarket opening hours vary, so phone for details.

50

MAKE HEARTS RACE

Drive action men and women wild with this racy little number from Asda. The cute wooden car will give puerile partners hours of pleasure - well, at least until one of you dives in and pinches the chocolate that is perched recklessly - without so much as a seatbelt - on top.

How much: pounds 1.49.

Where from: Asda (call 0500 100055 for nearest store).

Last chance to buy: opening hours this weekend vary, so phone for details.

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