Alison Cork: Turn your home into a Valentine’s haven

Like it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day comes once a year. It’s a dream for marketeers and retailers everywhere, and even though I am a retailer myself on one level, I have to say that I don’t particularly enjoy the relentless consumerism and inflated prices that mark the occasion.Instead, I like to think of Valentine’s Day in terms of little gestures as opposed to giant gifts, and the very best place to demonstrate those gestures is at home. I also like to inject a bit of levity if I can – there’s nothing as attractive as humour!My top tips for Valentine’s Day are to start with subtle messaging and build up to the grand finale. Here’s what I’d do…*Invest a few pounds in a Valentines stamp for your toast or an egg mould – and deliver an amorous piece of toast, or a heart shaped fried egg.*Make small changes to the décor and see if he or she notices – swap out one or two cushions on the sofa for something red – a bolster, cushion or throw will do the trick.*Replace your pet’s collar with a red ribbon.*Buy scented candles in your loved one’s favourite scent, especially if there is a particular scent that evokes a memory.*Run up something a bit different for supper-  two really simple but visual ideas are as follows: mix some cooked prawns in a little melted butter and cooked parsley, then pour into clean and empty oyster shells. Allow to set and pile onto a plate covered in ice. Very dramatic and tastes lovely with thin pieces of toast. Alternatively, buy a simple Victoria sponge, then lay out a sheet of pre rolled white icing. Buy some red icing (these can be bought in small sheets from supermarkets), cut out small hearts with a cookie cutter, lay them on the sheet of white icing and then roll them into the icing with a rolling pin. Cover the cake with the sheet of white/heart decorated icing in the normal way, and then finish off with a red ribbon for a really professional looking cake.*Crack open a bottle of Prosecco but add an edible Hibiscus flower into the bottom of the champagne flute (you can buy jars of Hibiscus flowers from Lakeland).*Buy a new set of crisp white bedlinen.*And if you really want to push the boat out, use the day to repaint the bedroom a distinctly unsubtle shade of red. Just be prepared to repaint it the next day…