You don’t do things the ordinary way. You may rock an early adopter/cutting-edge/outlier device. Or you might beta-test features that would intimidate other users. Or perhaps even hack or tweak your own hardware or software. So then why, for Valentine’s Day, would you go with the typical routine of flowers, candy and restaurant reservations?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there are other ways to thrill that significant other using a few simple apps.

For a Date That Wows:
If there’s one thing geeks understand, it’s data. And so it should make sense for an app to ask you for data about your girlfriend or boyfriend before it can offer personalized suggestions for date night. Helpful Romantic is a good resource for unique ideas based on your significant other’s personality. It catalogs things like special dates, favorite things and unique traits, and lets you schedule out romantic dates on the calendar, and more. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further.

The Way Into The Heart IS Through The Stomach
Cooking isn’t all that different from programming or building a custom rig. Certain things just go together in a certain order. And if you’re good at one, you could be good at the other, so why not grill, stew or bake your way into greatness? This is an extremely romantic gesture, especially if you know your guy or gal’s favorite dishes or desserts. has a huge following, and it’s one of my favorites. Most of the recipes are supplied by and intended for home cooks, and the reviews system can tell you at first glance if it was a success for most people. The best part is the comments — the other users often have great or unusual tweaks for the stock recipe. Hit it up online, on your smartphone, Kindle or iPad.


Awesome Retro Gift: The Mixtape
Sure, it’s from a bygone era, but the old mixtape is still a legendary token of affection. And there are ways to give it a new twist — load up your recipient’s play list with songs that remind you of your relationship, burn it onto a CD or load it up on a swanky thumb drive. Speaking of USB drives, you could up the ante by actually putting it on a USB decked out in vintage-cassette style, like this $23 one (above). Not sure what to put on there? You could try Pandora, Spotify, GrooveShark, Slacker or other apps to check out different songs or artists. Personally, I like 8tracks (iOS, Android), since the playlists are sourced by real-live human beings and not algorithms.

Cross Something Off That Wish List
Lots of people shop on Amazon, so it’s not exactly the most creative approach to take. But oddly enough, people tend to forget about those wish lists that the retailer graciously provides. If your recipient has one on Amazon, then this is a no-brainer. Nothing’s better than giving a gift that is guaranteed to please, so just plug in the name or email address and see if any lists pop up. No wish list? Well, if you know something has been long admired, go ahead and pull the trigger on that item. You can find the gift, buy it, have it gift-wrapped and shipped right from your iOS, Android, Windows phone, tablet or laptop. And depending on what you pick, expedited shipping doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Bonus.

Inspire Waterworks With a Video Slideshow of Your Relationship. (It’s Easy!)
In the old days, couples used to take their portraits and have them framed. But we have other ways of bringing on the schmaltz today, don’t we? Why not grab some pics from your camera phone and upload them to Animoto? On the website, you can choose from stylized transitions, music and backgrounds to create a slideshow video featuring you two as the happy couple. Or do it from your mobile device, for an easier process. Animoto offers an iPhone app, and just last fall, it came out with an Android version. All you do is choose your pics and the service takes care of the rest, using the basic setting. I did it  — yes, that’s actually me in a wedding photo above — and it took less than a few minutes, from uploading images to getting the email that the video was done processing and was ready to share. Of course, that was only a 30-second streaming clip, which is what you get for a free account. An annual subscription of $30 gives you unlimited full-length videos and download options, and you can even upgrade that, if you want HD vids. That’s a bargain, considering the time saved and the guaranteed cries of happiness this will incite. Best part? Your guy/gal will think you spent hours on this. 

Have you got a Valentine’s Day surprise up your sleeve? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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