Not Another Valentine’s Day: Gifts Outside the Box


Janell Tuttle, Sara Rasmussen, Martha O’Brien and Mary Gleason are singers in the Capital Swing quartet, one of six groups that serenade lovers as part of the Potomac Harmony Chorus Valentine’s Day service. The quartets can visit offices and homes in the capital area. For servicing information visit: potomacharmony.org.

— Flowers, chocolates and Hallmark Cards are standard Valentine’s Day fare. Unique gifts with a personalized element, however, are all the more significant for impressing that special someone.

Love songs, for instance, make for unexpected moments of affection. For the vocally challenged, the Potomac Harmony Chorus offers a cappella quartets who can visit the home or office and serenade a friend or lover.

"When wives or girlfriends send quartets to sing at the work place, we find they make sure to notify the secretary so the whole office listens," said Janell Tuttle, a member of the Capital Quartet and assistant director of the Potomac Harmony Chorus. "Men can be surprised and embarrassed, they don’t know quite what to do."

In the 22 years the project has taken place, Tuttle has seen her share of tender moments. "One time a boyfriend proposed in the middle of a song and in front of a crowd. We also sang to a worker at a doggy daycare center and at least one dog sang along."

The gift of words can also take a poetic bent. A well thought love poem could seal the deal on the Feb. 14 day of love.

According to Linda Pashtan, Maryland’s former poet laureate who lives in Potomac, would-be scribes should consider hand written poetry rather than typed work for a greater personal connection. The key to poetry, however, is to consider the masters before writing from the heart.

"As long as the poem doesn’t begin with Roses are Red you’ll be fine."

— Linda Pashtan, Maryland’s former poet laureate

"Buy or borrow a book of poems, read an assortment of sonnets, free verse poetry, then close the book and forget what you’ve read. Think of the one you love, and write," said Pashtan. "As long as the poem doesn’t begin with Roses are Red you’ll be fine."

Nonetheless, nothing says "red roses" like red roses. According to Barbara Potzick, president of the Potomac Village Garden Club, red flowers are a must for impressing that special someone.

"Roses are it," said Potzick. "Red flowers represent passion, energy, and the red heart of cupid’s arrow."