Let me call you sweet art

Artist Kit Carson created this bracelet for the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Enough with the chocolates and flowers already. Enough with holidays that tell us when, where and how to express our love. Enough with token gifts fraught with misgivings rather than meaning.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day if you must, but get your heart on with gifts that truly matter — enriching experiences and choices that enhance our communities — instead of mere bon bons or bling.

Choosing Valentine’s Day gifts for children? Support our local hospitals and medical centers by hitting their gift shops for playful presents like games, stuffed animals and craft kits.

I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Phoenix Children’s Hospital gift shop in their stunning 11-story tower, but I’m enjoying hunting in the meantime for treasures in the east building’s gift shop.

There’s plenty to choose from in all price ranges — including jewelry, clothing with an artsy feel, art activities and board games you might not find in your typical toy store.

Museum gift shops offer lots of fun finds for children and adults. Think the Heard Museum for gifts with an American Indian theme. The Musical Instrument Museum for all things music-related. The Phoenix Art Museum for sweethearts who appreciate art in every nook and cranny, even the kitchen.

Plenty of performing arts venues have gift shops full of unique fare with an artistic flair. Think Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Mesa Arts Center, Tempe Center for the Arts and more.

Watch for gift boutiques when you attend performances by Valley arts organizations. I often encounter fun goodies when seeing the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Opera or Ballet Arizona perform at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.

Some arts organizations, including the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, have their own on-site gift shops — and invite folks to stop and shop even when they’re not there for a performance.

There are plenty of options for those of you still rushing to put together that perfect Valentine’s Day experience. No need to panic with those pesky pajama grams.

Instead of dinner and a movie, treat your beloved to a film festival (perhaps a romantic trip to the Sedona International Film Festival) or a night out to enjoy art, dance, music or theater. (Better yet: Pop for season tickets.)

I suppose I won’t reject any bon bons or bling that might come my way this year, but I’ll have to fight the urge to turn everything over and search for evidence it came from one of the community causes I so love to support — even in small ways.

— Lynn

Note: Don’t forget the charm of homemade gifts of art with heart — your local bead shop or pottery painting store can help with ideas, materials and even execution of your project

Coming up: The fine art of daily blogging

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