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Tokens of Affection

Martha Stewart Living, February 2006

It was once common for people to put a good deal of effort into crafting a singular love token to be given on Valentine's Day or whenever Cupid's dart struck them. In the seventeenth century, a Welsh suitor might have whittled a wooden spoon to symbolize his commitment to his betrothed, who would wear it on a ribbon around her neck. Sailors in the 1700s carved elaborate designs into whalebone or wood -- a practice known as scrimshaw -- and presented them to loved ones when they returned home. During the nineteenth century, sweethearts swapped love notes printed from copperplates; small enamel boxes also were inscribed with adoring sentiments.

The ideas below descend from this tradition of bestowing truly heartfelt gifts. From hand-stamped soaps to lovingly baked cakes and cookies, they imply an old-world degree of thoughtfulness and devotion. That's not to say they will take days to create or cost a small fortune. Our attractive knotted bracelets, for example, can be made in an afternoon for only a few dollars. So this Valentine's Day, whether it's a beloved spouse or best friend you're thinking of, let that person know he or she is one in a billion.

Sacher Torte Heart With Truffle Top
Chocolate Wrapper
Affectionate Seed Cards
Pillowy Meringue Hearts
Rosemary Oatmeal Tea Breads
Rosemary Walnut Shortbread Cookies
Monogrammed Napkins
Heart-Shape Soap
Knot Bracelet