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Connor Alderman enjoys a sweet Valentine's treat at Holy Cow Cupcakes.

Valentine’s Days is a holiday that divides people into one of three categories: hopeless romantics who go all out, cynical skeptics who refuse to participate in a “greeting card holiday,” and people who just like chocolate and flowers regardless of the occasion. Even if you fall into the second category, chances are someone in your life falls into one of the other two and forces you to celebrate Valentine’s Day. So if you’re going play nice and indulge your sweetie with some sweetness, then why not skip the old dinner and a movie standby and use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to try something different?

Everyone has heard the old expression, Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. For this Valentine’s Day you could take that expression literally and learn to give your honey a massage. La Dolce Salon (1119 S Rangeline Road) offers a “Massage Your Mate” package that teaches you and your partner massage techniques to help each other achieve total relaxation. If the do-it-yourself approach is not for you, then maybe you’re better suited for a couples massage where the two of you will be treated to the massage of your choice in the same room with two massage therapists. Prices start at $75. And if spas are just not your thing at all, then consider gifting your sweetheart with a trip to La Dolce’s new “Makeover Mondays.” On the third Monday of each month each of the departments in La Dolce (hair, nails, etc) will host workshops where the pros will instruct clients on how to achieve salon looks at home. Contact the salon (317-848-0294) for more information or to make reservations.

Maybe you & your lovey are more “foodies” than “spa people” and you would like to splurge a bit on some culinary treats, but dinner at a fancy restaurant is still out of your price range? Consider putting together a basket of goodies from Vine & Table (313 East Carmel Drive). For less than $100, you could assemble a gorgeous basket with a fine wine, delicious cheese, and yummy chocolates. For wine lovers, Neil Charles of Vine & Table recommends Rosa Regale, a romantic sparkling red from Northern Italy ($22.95). For a nice splurge, Charles suggests a bottle of Chartogne Taillet Le Rose Brut ($61.95). Chartogne Taillet is unique in that they grow their own grapes for their champagnes. If your Valentine isn’t a oenophile, Charles suggests a nice bottle of bourbon, for example Black Maple Hill from Kentucky. Pair these with Sottocenere cheese ($25.49/lb), a decadent cheese infused with black truffles, or Delice De Bourgogne ($14.49/lb), a creamy French triple similar to brie. Top off your basket with a box of Ghyslain chocolates (starting at $12.99), which are made in Indiana. Each chocolate is hand painted and each design has an individual flavor. No reservations, no dress code to observe (you guys could even stay in PJs!), and if you wait until after bedtime no babysitter.

So you have some ideas for your special someone, but what about the rest of the gang? Kids definitely fall into the “people who like chocolate regardless of the occasion” category and there’s no reason to leave them out of the Valentine’s Day fun. At Holy Cow Cupcakes (61 W. City Center Drive) you can load up on special Valentine treats such as heart shaped cupcakes, cookies and cinnamon rolls. The bakery will also be playing off the idea of the traditional box of chocolates by creating special chocolate cupcakes with filled with an assortment of flavors such as raspberry or peanut butter. Holy Cow will even deliver a dozen of their Valentine cupcakes right to your door (starting at $24 per dozen with $5 delivery fee). Says Karen Vonkamecke Sutton, owner of Holy Cow, “Our cupcakes delivered are cheaper than flowers and much tastier!”

To help everyone work off their sugar you can take the family over to Carmel Ice Skadium (1040 3rd Avenue Southwest). On Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11 from 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., the rink offers Cosmic Skating. The rink plays dance music and turns on the funky lights for a little disco party on ice. If you have younger folks who find that disco skating interferes with their bedtime, Carmel Ice Skadium also offers public skating from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. most weekend days. Admission is $5 for 10 yrs and younger, $6.50 for 11 and up, $8 for Cosmic Skate and $3 for skate rental.

Whether you are of the opinion that Valentine’s Day is a trumped up holiday to boost winter flower sales or whether you believe that Valentine’s Day is the single most romantic day of the year and must be celebrated, there are plenty of local options to satisfy your needs. Wine, cupcakes, and massages are tokens of affection that even the most hardcore Valentine grump will appreciate.

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