There is no other time of year when there is more focus on the romance in a personal and intimate relationship than that of Valentine’s Day! The usual candy and flowers have become a ho-hum way of saying to one’s lover that he or she is loved and cherished. It’s predictable and stale. Keeping a relationship fresh and alive is critical to keeping a marriage or long-term relationship ever-new and thriving. Many marriages fail because a couple is not implementing change, instead they are sticking to the same old routines and that is quite evident when it comes to gift-giving. With that in mind, I strongly suggest each of us get creative in how we can make our significant other feel truly special on that designated day in February.
For those who are not all that creative, or better yet, who have no budget for lavishing expensive gifts on their lover, I offer the following 10 things you can do to make this year’s Valentine’s Day the most memorable one to date. All you need is an active imagination!
1. Cook a romantic dinner and eat by candlelight: Cook whatever you can find in the kitchen, but dress it up! Make it look fancy. Put the food on your special occasions-only china, for instance. Maybe you’re not the best cook, but there are many supermarkets that have fully prepared meals that are tasty. Whatever you are spending on groceries for the week, forego a few items to accommodate the payment for this ready-to-eat meal.
2. Do something around the house he or she has been asking you to do: Clean out that over-stuffed closet, straighten up that junk drawer, wash the windows or the car; give him/her a coupon good for a month that declares you, instead of him or her, will take out the trash. Every lover has asked for some small improvement around the house. Do it, with a big smile on your face, and on February 14, yell “Surprise!”
3. Make Your Own Valentine’s Card: All you need is a piece of paper; pen or pencil (borrow some crayons from the kids or grandkids) and write your own (very personal) greeting. You can make this card by writing one-word or one-phrase messages all over it—messages that capture some of the most treasured moments you’ve enjoyed together. It is one of those cards your lover will never toss out.
4. Make Your Own “Lovers” Photo Album: Rather than letting some of those romantic photos sit in a box, basket of chest of drawers, pull them out and neatly arrange them in a notebook. Most of us have an old binder around the house to put something like in which to put something like that. Paste them onto letter size copy paper; punch the holes, and voila!...you have the perfect gift.
5. Recruit Your Friends and Family and ask them to Write Valentine Messages to Your Lover: Shoot an email to a handful or a long list of friends and family with a request that asks them to write a short message about what they most cherish about your significant other Ask them to mail (post office) it to you. Decorate an old shoe box, put the messages in it; wrap it colorfully and hand it to your lover on February 14.
6. Write a poem or a song: And perform it for them on Valentine’s Day. You don’t have to be a musician or a poet to pull this off. It can be comedic or dramatic. Either (or both) will clearly say “I love you” because your composition was just for him/her.
7. And old fashion foot or back massage: Is always a special treat for any of us. You can take the original card you just made and stick a coupon in it for a 30 to 60-minute massage. Either one will be a very special and relaxing gift.
8. Make a gift basket: from items you find around the house that have not yet been opened, e.g., a bar of soap, a notepad, that unopened bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, a can of nuts…top it off with your TV remote control with a Post It that reads: “Your choice every day for a week.” This gift might require some scavenging around the house, and creativity, but it is well worth the effort! Then cover the basket with some colored cellophane paper and slap a bow on the top. Fill it with all the things he/she loves.
9. Send your lover on a scavenger hunt around the house: This is where your imagination and organizational skills intersect. What “things” might your lover discover on this “expedition.?” How about a laundry basket full of clean and folded clothes? How about going through his/her sock drawer and finding mates to all those missing socks? How about a lemon meringue pie in the oven? How about a completely organized closet that is usually in disarray? There are so many choices for this hunt, all which make for very caring statements to your lover as to how you much you really care—about the little things that mean something to him or her.
10. Last but not least, venture out into your yard (if you have one): and gather up a collection of flowers and plant or tree branches and make your own bouquet. Nothing is more personal than making your own Valentine floral arrangement, one that may turn out to be humorous. If you don’t have a yard (maybe you live in a condo) draw one. It may be a bizarre piece of art, but it is yours.
Each of these aforementioned gift suggestions will likely elicit a pleasing response from your Valentine because any one of them require effort and a deeply personal touch. Each of us likes to feel special. And, anyone can buy flowers and candy or a dinner at a nice restaurant, but when you choose to craft a gift and offer one that would not be meaningful to anyone other than your love, that says “I really love you.” If you are super ambitious, you can give all 10 of these. If not, even one of them will make for a very memorable and touching gift.