Thinking of Valentine's dinner at Chez Expensif, a box of chocolate-infused seaweed and a Tiffany mood ring for your sweetheart?
Or treating your guy to a "home-cooked" meal by candlelight, courtesy of Whole Foods' prepared-foods counter, while you don a lacy red negligee under a slinky black dress ("surprise")?
Sure, this year's take on the trite-yet-trendy Valentine's staples have their appeal, but the thing that will most win your honey's heart is a personal valentine, written from your heart to his (or hers). It will make that dinner extra special and memorable.
Dr. Randy Kamen, author of Behind the Therapy Door, says, "Personal notes and letters have become more and more a rarity in today's world of technology. There is nothing quite as special or meaningful as a handwritten card and a sincere expression of gratitude to a loved one. Research repeatedly shows that such acts of appreciation benefit both the giver and the receiver physically and mentally."
You won't have to think long or hard, either: I've taken last year's 18 minute valentine-creation-process and whittled it down to 6 minutes and 59 seconds -- with fresh ideas and an all-new fill-in-the-blank system that will result in a personal, authentic and melt-the-heart message.
Step 1: Close Your Eyes and Breathe Deeply -- 30 seconds -- If it's going to come from your heart, it's important to take a minute to connect with what's "down there" -- below your clavicle, that is.
Step 2: Get in the Mood -- 30 seconds -- Picture your partner, or even imagine his scent or her voice. Getting in touch helps your creativity flow.
Step 3: Start Simply With Your Honey's Name, "Dear ________," -- 2 seconds -- Sure you can get fancy or cutesy with nicknames if you want to take that risk, but I like to keep it simple.
Step 4: Make a List -- 5 minutes -- Lists are fun and easy; they take off the pressure you may feel to write something profound and they tend to flow with ease. You can list your partner's attributes or special memories you share. Following, you will find a juicy lists of lists to get you started.
Step 5: Enhance -- 55 seconds -- Look it over, using the 3 tips below.
Step 6: Sign Your Name -- 2 seconds -- With love, or simply sign your name -- whatever feels comfortable and right for this stage of your relationship.
A List of Lists: 4 List Ideas to Get You Started
- "My 3 favorite memories" -- These can be little things -- an act of kindness, something that made you grow closer, something that turned you on.
- "3 of the best days of my life" -- Are there days together that stand out? Be specific about what made them so special.
- "10 Things I love about you" -- Include physical characteristics, quirky expressions or habits, talents and personality traits.
- "5 Things I'd like to do after dinner with you" -- Here's your invitation to get sexy, steamy or sassy.
Or skip the list and start with one of these:
- "I fell in love with you when..."
- "I'm better when I'm with you, because..."
- "You changed my life for the better when you..."
- "My valentine's fantasy begins with..."
- "I knew you were the one when..."
A few tips:
Tip #1: Be specific and quirky: If you keep your remarks general, it won't feel personalized. Write about something very specific to your honey.
Tip #2: Feel free to infuse humor: Dr. Craig Malkin, a relationship expert and Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School says, "Humor's a known aphrodisiac. It lights up the pleasure and reward centers of the brain: Funny is sexy."
Tip #3: Use all your senses: Remember the first rule of good writing? 'Show vs. Tell.' When you use more than just the visual sense, the writing will come alive for your reader. It will feel more real and authentic -- and have more impact.
Extra Credit: Make a Homemade Valentine Card
You can purchase a blank card with a beautiful photo or image at your local gift shop or bookstore but if you have the time and inclination, why not demonstrate your devotion by taking an extra 10 or 15 minutes to make a homemade valentine?
Supplies needed: Construction paper, glue, scissors
Optional supplies: newsprint, recycled magazines, photos of you and your beloved, lacy doily, ribbon, watercolor paper and paints, or anything else you care to play with
- Take a piece of construction paper. Pink or red is traditional but don't feel boxed in. Any color can work. Fold the paper in half to make the card.
- Cut out a heart shape from another color construction paper, a colorful page from a magazine or even a page from a newspaper. If you want, you can glue it to a doily (a paper lace in the shape of a circle).
- Glue the doily or the heart to the front of the card.
- Optional: add a photo of you and your honey and glue that to the middle of the heart.
- Cut out several smaller hearts and glue them around and/or on top of the first heart.
- Add additional bling such as sparkle glue, rhinestone stickers, ribbon or lace.
- Let it dry.
- Once dry, open the card and write your valentine message.
- Paint postcard-sized watercolor paper with a light wash of watercolor paints, varying each card.
- Punch 2 or 3 holes along the vertical or horizontal edge in the same position on each card.
- Write one item of your list or one memory on each card.
- Put a title on the top card "Things I love about you" or "I remember when..."
- Tie the cards together with a satin ribbon. Ta-da!
Happy Valentine's Day. Share your tips or ideas as a comment below. What's the loveliest valentine you ever received?