Calling All Capital Cupids! PG Offers New Love Strategy for the Romantically Challenged

Published February 11th, 2010 by Katie Beck

Katie BeckKatie Beck is the Podesta Group’s senior PR event specialist, using her background in television and print journalism.

In anticipation of the year’s most romantic – or most reviled – holiday, I asked some of my fellow Podesta females: “What is the worst Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever received?”  Their answers were…enlightening.

“I mean, I am sentimental, but a garage sale stuffed animal just doesn’t do it for me.”  - Cathy Rought

“Sneakers…bad choice.”  - Cristina Antelo

“Dead roses…he sent them through Congressional mail and House security wouldn’t let them through until the 22nd.”  - Christa Lanning

“I had a college boyfriend take out a very public ad in a campus-wide newspaper proclaiming his very personal feelings…TMI.”  -Anonymous PG Principal

“I hate Valentine’s Day.”  - Lauren Parks

If these Podesta nightmares are any indication, there is clearly an epidemic of Valentine’s Day fatigue gripping the men of our nation’s capital. Boys, it’s time to tune up your love IQ and embrace this lovely, though admittedly overrated, holiday. Here are some easy tips to help turn these horror stories into love stories:

Flowers: Though some women like them, red roses can be so predictable and so played out. Tap your inner green thumb and try to mix it up this year. Go with her favorite flower (to me, nothing says romance like the peony), or perhaps a monochromatic arrangement of something in her favorite color. If you’re a stickler for tradition, try a different twist on a classic, like an oversized bundle of multi-colored spray roses.

Chocolates: Little, heart-shaped, cardboard calorie containers…you know them, you assume we love them and you cannot avoid them, as they seem to be assaulting us on store shelves earlier and earlier each year. Whether it’s milky or dark, almond-sprinkled or caramel-filled, I am staging a cocovention. To satisfy her sweet tooth this year, it’s time to start thinking outside the “box.” Try filling a pretty new vase with her favorite candy or chocolates, pick up some to-die-for cupcakes from a new bakery, or bake your own cookies (bonus: she might even think it’s cute if you burn them). And never underestimate the power of the written word – forego sugar altogether and opt for a simple card with a sweet, personal note.

Date night: Why fight the crowds and marked up prix-fixe menus when you can have all the fine dining you want at home? Surprise, or I guess in many cases, shock her by cooking dinner yourself. Download a recipe for her favorite dish from or from her favorite TV chef at and set up a living room picnic for two. For those who are far too culinarily challenged (and I hear you), just grab some take out from a neighborhood restaurant and load her favorite chick flick into the DVD player. It is the smallest gestures that often reap the biggest “rewards.”

Gifts: There are few things more uncomfortable to watch than the inevitably desperate haze of men fumbling around mall-chain lingerie stores on February 13 each year. Resist the urge to default to this old cliché, and in the name of mystery, leave that particular area of shopping to your lady. Instead of a tacky teddy, how about getting her a fabulous frock she can rock at your next business event, or that saucy top she’s been admiring to pair with your favorite pair of her jeans on date night? Consider a gift certificate for an afternoon at her favorite spa or a class where she can cultivate a hobby she never finds the time for anymore. And for a more recession-friendly option, try creating a personalized coupon book good for running errands and taking on her least favorite chores, or construct an album of your favorite pics. These are all gifts that are sure to keep on giving.

Some advice for the ladies: Historically, we gals tend to be more enthusiastic about this holiday than our male counterparts (hard to imagine, I know). Why not flip the switch this year and make this oft-dreaded day a surprisingly fun day? Lose the pink ties and heart-patterned boxers and really think about something your guy might enjoy. It could be a golf lesson to improve his game, tickets to see his favorite band or team play, or even a clever calendar marking “hall pass” weekends with the boys.

Still need help? Here are some local spots that might aid in your quest for romantic success. But remember, when it comes to victory on V-Day, thoughtfulness reigns supreme.

Fab floral design: Ultra Violet Flowers

Yummy sweet treats: Red Velvet Bakery

Great neighborhood bite: Montmartre Restaurant Française

Hot wears for her: Urban Chic, Blue Mercury, Mia Gemma

Cool fun for him: 9:30 Club, Sport Rock, Capital City Golf

And for the really hopeless: Date Night DC

For more information about this article or to provide feedback to the author, please contact Katie Beck at