BOSTON (CBS) – Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate. My idea of the perfect Valentine gift is a big Reese’s peanut butter heart.

Chocolate is big business. There was over $20 billion in retail sales of chocolate candy in the U.S. last year.

So if your sweetie has a sweet tooth, how about making something from scratch instead of buying that box of chocolates?

Think outside the box here (you know which box!) and bake some gourmet brownies or a chocolate cake from scratch. You can now buy Ghirardelli chocolate, sitting right next to the Hershey chocolate in the grocery store. Both Ghirardelli and Hershey have great recipes on their websites.

A homemade candy that impresses is Ghirardelli’s chocolate peanut butter bars. All you do is melt chocolate and peanut butter to create your own candy. Another good easy candy recipe is for fudge and it is on the back of the Marshmallow Fluff jar.

If you want to impress your date or guests try the Ghirardelli soft center cakes. They did not take much time and everyone at my house thought they were great.

If the kitchen is not where you want to be, consider one of those heart shaped boxes of candy. About 40 million will be sold this Valentine’s day. Not very original but will do in a pinch and you can buy them at the drugstore, grocery store and the discount store!

I thought I should include some of the fancy candies in my research; Lindt, Godiva and Ghirardelli and indeed the more money you spend the creamier the product. I like buying the Lindt chocolate for a special occasion because they are produced in Stratham, New Hampshire. There also is an outlet store there.

A bag of chocolate kisses works well also; find something nice to put them in, like a basket or a vase. It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. When packing lunches on Valentine’s Day stick a few kisses in each lunch, maybe with a note or a card.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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