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Better than a dozen roses : 12 unique ways to impress your mate on Valentine’s Day

Vavoom Pinups 724 W. Hubbard Chicago. Visit vavoompinups.com

Vavoom Pinups, 724 W. Hubbard, Chicago. Visit vavoompinups.com

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Updated: February 14, 2014 8:32AM



A pre-packaged bouquet from the grocery store and the accompanying generic Valentine’s Day card may show effort, but it’s just not going to cut it this year. Instead, here are 12 alternatives — ranging from romantic to risque — that are sure to make the right impression.

PINUP POSES

If you’re looking to spice things up with your mate, a vintage pinup-style photo shoot at Vavoom Pinups is sure to do the trick with Valentine’s Day packages that include hair, makeup, wardrobe, props, furniture and more. Choose from “Glamour Kitten” or “Crafty Kitten” themes. $250.

724 W. Hubbard. Visit vavoompinups.com; (773) 726-1109

CARDIAC CUISINE

Atwood Executive Chef Derek Simcik will take the expression “eat your heart out” to a whole new level with a Valentine’s Day evening menu inspired by that much-loved organ. From artichoke hearts with scallops and cauliflower (pictured) to pig heart tenderloin with sausage, love will be in the air and hearts will be on the plate.
Atwood, 1 W. Washington. Visit atwoodrestaurant.com; (312) 368-1900

BOSOM BUDDIES
There is just something so wonderfully naughty about burlesque, and Valentine’s Day gives it added nuance. Get inspired by the talented performers at the Kiss Kiss Cabaret, who are offering a Valentine’s Day Delight ticket package that features two show tickets and dinner.
Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln.
Visit kisskisscabaret.com; (773) 404-7336

COUNTRY CROONING
It was a match made in reality television. ABC “Bachelor” Sean Lowe married his love Catherine Giudici live on TV. And what was the music of their first dance? “One Woman” by the Randy Rogers Band, who will play Joe’s Bar on Feb.14. Heck, if it works for the bachelor, it just might work for you.
Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed. Visit joesbar.com; (312) 337-3486

NON-STOP NUPTIALS
Sure, a trip to Las Vegas to finally put a ring on it would be nice … but so cliche. Instead, check out Entertainment Cruises and Mystic Blue’s Valentine’s Day Las Vegas-Themed Wedding Extravaganza where you get hitched in just 30 minutes. (You must present a valid marriage license.) A two-hour dinner cruise follows. Reservations are required (deadline is Feb. 14).
Mystic Blue Cruises, 600 E. Grand. Visit mysticbluecruises.com for reservations and prices; (888) 333-9150.

LOVE NEVER DIES
Nothing screams “I Love You” like killing zombies, right? You and your zombie-hunting pals can spend Feb. 15 at “Zombie Winter of 2014 — The Winter That Just Won’t Die.” From 7 p.m. to midnight enjoy music, dancing, a cash bar and laser-tag zombie games at the Fear Chicago Haunted House.
8240 N. Austin, Morton Grove. Tickets $18 (online at fearcitychicago.com) or $20 (at the door); (224) 888-1031

COMEDIC CUPIDS
If you can’t laugh about love, you might cry, right? Keep you and your date laughing by checking out The Cupid Players of Stage 773 Valentine’s Day performance of “Cupid in your Pants.” Get extra points with the accompanying special “Goodie V-Bag” and Champagne toast to conclude the night.
The Cupid Players of Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont. Visit stage773.com; (773) 327-5252

ORCHID OVERLOAD
That teeny bouquet you plan to hand to your true love won’t be able to compete with the chance to be surrounded by more than 10,000 orchids at Chicago Botanic Garden’s gala Orchid Show preview, “Escape to Paradise,” on Valentine’s Day evening (5:30-7:30 p.m.). Sip tropical cocktails and nosh on Hawaiian-inspired bites.

Tickets $125.
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe. Visit chicagobotanic.org; (847) 835-5440. NOTE: The orchid show opens to the general public Feb. 15 (regular admission prices apply) and runs through March 16.

SIZZLING SKETCHES
Combine sketch comedy with live music and you not only have a date night that won’t require a whole lot of awkward small talk, but you have “More Bang for your Buck.” Running Feb. 15 at the Park West, the variety show will feature the talents of comedy groups and bands alike.
Park West, 322 W. Armitage. Visit etix.com, (773) 929-1322

VINTAGE
VALENTINES
Kick it old school with an evening that Ricky Ricardo would adore. With “I Love Lucy” episodes and distant bongos playing in the background, Barbakoa will feature a feast of gourmet modern Latin cuisine inspired by the television Latin lover himself.
Barbakoa, 1341 Butterfield Rd., Downers Grove. Visit barbakoa.com; (630) 852-2333.

SOOTHING SPAS
Sometimes, just one night in a luxurious hotel is all you need to, um, rekindle the fire. Add a trip to the spa during that overnight stay, and that fire can become an inferno real quick. Blue Chip Casino’s Spa Blu offers 50-minute side-by-side couples massage for only $80 on weekdays throughout the month of February.
Blue Chip Casino Spa Blu, 777 Blue Chip Dr., Michigan City, Ind. Visit bluechipcasino.com; (219) 861-4812

SWEET SWEETS
Once you have your romantic dinner out of the way on Feb. 14, spend the next day visiting the Village of Homewood’s 12th Annual Chocolate Fest. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 15 in the H-F Park District Auditorium, let the whole dang family enjoy live music, baking demonstrations and a ton of sweets.
H-F Park District Auditorium, 2010 Chestnut Road, Homewood. Visit home sweethome wood.com; (708) 798-3000.



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