If the thought of Valentine's Day fills you with a sense of weariness, something's amiss. Whether you're celebrating alone or with a significant other, or even following singer Miriam Yeung's example and spending time with friends and family, the key to a perfect date is incorporating an element of surprise.
"There are so many more ways to say 'I love you' than the traditional card and box of chocolates," says Susanna Lee, vice-president and general manager at Card Services of American Express Hong Kong, which has a concierge that can help card members organise extraordinary experiences for their loved ones. Lee has seen everything from traditional romance to over-the-top indulgence. Of the former, she cites a marriage proposal by a member who spared no expense in securing a "yes". "[He] arranged dinner at a hotel in Thailand where the couple enjoyed a romantic dinner in the beach area and fireworks showing 'Marry Me'."
Then there are those who are not shy about spending big money, and what better time than Valentine's Day to go all out on spoiling your loved one? Hong Kong magnate Stephen Hung, for example, spent more than HK$10 million on the first pink Rolls-Royce Phantom EWB for his wife Deborah Hung who has an affinity for the colour.
It's not always about expensive gestures, however. If you'd rather see happy tears than huge bills, Lee suggests going the extra mile for a memorable personal touch. "You don't need to be a millionaire to impress your loved ones. The secret is showing that you have put some thought and effort into the gift."
By this, we mean truly aiming for the unexpected. Look for inspiration in common interests or shared hobbies. The idea is to create a memory that belongs purely tothe couple.
Kitty Lam, head of Members Services and Training of Quintessentially Lifestyle Hong Kong, has a few good stories. Lam and her team once helped a member surprise his wife with the dramatic transformation of their home into an indoor garden, with flowers blossoming in her favourite colour.
Then there are those who really go the extra mile - air miles that is. Lam shares a story of an adventurer who secretly learned to operate a helicopter for more than six months in order to take his loved one for a romantic ride on Valentine's Day.
Granted, getting a pilot's licence may take some doing, but there are a plethora of choices out there that one can choose to show their appreciation on this romantic day.
Lam and Lee have plenty of recommendations that are easy to arrange but no less memorable. For food lovers, inviting a chef into your home for a private dinner is a risk-free way to ensure a top quality meal and cosy ambience. Alternatively, you can request a cooking lesson and be the chef yourself.
Don't forget to document your special day. Lee recalls helping a husband arrange a wedding anniversary celebration for his wife in Nagoya, which involved customising a surprise photo shoot of the couple wearing kimonos.
These displays of love and affection shouldn't be limited to couples either. "Valentine's Day is not only a day for your partner, but a day to show your love and care to the important people around you," says Lam, who has fond memories of a doting on a family man who ordered five bouquets for his mother, his wife and three lovely daughters.
Above all, remember to leave yourself with sufficient time to fix mistakes or make reservations, in turn allowing for more choices and options. It's always better safe than sorry.
As for the rest, leave your comfort zone and you may find that the sky is the limit.