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Surprise! Men gain by being unpredictable

Throughout the ages, pleasant surprises have been one of life's greatest gifts. To understand this, remember the special joy of having been the guest of honor at a well-planned, secret surprise party: the feeling evoked when receiving an unexpected letter from an old, dear friend; or the wonder elicited when coming across an unanticipated and particularly beautiful view during a walk in an unfamiliar place. All of these things, though greatly appreciated had they been foreseen, surely wouldnt have caused quite the same sense of joy.

Although this fact holds true for both sexes, women particularly like to be surprised. Especially by the men in their lives.

Floral consultant and trend spotter for the Society of American Florists (SAF), Denise Lee, agrees saying that although most men primarily buy flowers and other gifts for traditional romantic reasons such as anniversaries and Valentine's Day, it is the gifts given 'for no reason at all' that are the most memorable.

Survey findings confirm this

A nationwide (U.S.A.) survey shows that almost all women give an unexpected gift of flowers high marks for emotional impact. In the survey, conducted by Sruskin/Goldring Research for SAF, more than nine out of 10 women (94 percent) say that flowers mean the most when they receive them as a surprise.

What's more, the female respondents are loud and clear on the point that men do not need to be madly in love to send a woman a spontaneous gin of flowers-- any form of fondness, including friendship and fraternal, is appropriate. While the greatest number of women (83 percent) say they wish for surprise flowers from a spouse or sweetheart, one in three assert that they'd be delighted to receive an unexpected arrangement from a son. One in four say the same about a father, brother or male friend.

Lee notes that 'Flowers say so many things to women. They express friendship, gratitude, congratulations, celebration, and romance. That's why flowers are always the ideal gift for every woman in a man's life, whether she's his wife, sweetheart, mother, daughter, sister or female friend.

For those men hesitant to surprise a woman with flowers, we say take the plunge.' To a man, giving flowers 'just because 'may feel a bit strange at first' says Lee 'but a woman's reaction will make him feel like a hero.'

Experiment with the range of flowers available- a strategy that men are sure to find popular with the women in their lives. Testifying to a women's appetite for floral variety: two-thirds of the respondents say they would most like to receive an arrangement of mixed flowers as a surprise gift.

Roses are popular

A testament to their popularity, roses top the list of desired flowers for one-third of the women surveyed. Lee says that men used to buying roses only on Feb. 14, when demand is at it's highest, are in for a pleasant surprise during warm weather Roses are a great value in summer, when the post-Valentine's Day crop comes in.

While red is the favorite rose color for most of the women surveyed (38 percent), pastel colors including yellow, pink and peach are also popular with the ladies. For a woman who's a rose lover, Lee suggests mixing it up by giving her brightly colored roses onetime and pastel colors the next. Feel free to ask the florist if he has any unusual roses in, special varieties like fire and ice roses, or Matisse roses are sure to delight

A specialist is the key

With so many choices--and so many women to please--buying flowers covertly can be daunting. That's why Lee counsels bringing your local florist in on the secret. 'You dont need a botany degree to order flowers. Just as most men depend on their mechanics to provide automobile advice, they can become just as comfortable relying on their local florist to help them choose a gift that's sure to please.'

Lee further encourages men to give it a try: 'They'll be surprised at what a huge and lasting reaction this thoughtful gesture will elicit.' 'Especially,' she continues, 'when it's totally unexpected.'

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