Is there someone you want to make feel cared about or loved this February 14th? If so, here are 7 tips to make their Valentine’s Day a little more special. Be sure to let #1 sink in immediately, as time is short. And pay particular attention to #7, my inexpensive Valentine’s Day ideas.
Plan ahead, it doesn’t matter how wonderful, exciting or desired your gift is, if it doesn’t arrive in time for Valentine’s Day. A late gift says, “I forgot about you” which really kills the romance of the holiday. Start thinking of what your significant other would really like well in advance. Amazon Prime can come to your rescue, but a truly meaningful gift should not be a last-minute dash. My wife’s all-time favorite gift from me was a relatively hard to find, collectable doll. Not so much for the doll itself, but for the fact that I had to take a bicycle, a train, and a bus to travel 50 miles to get to the store an hour before opening time so I could get in line to purchase one of the only four dolls in stock. I then arranged with the restaurant we planned to meet for lunch so our waitress could surprise her with it in a covered dessert dish after our meal. It was a huge hit, and very possibly, the main reason she married me.
If you’re a couple already, chances are you’ve created a budget for gifts and holidays, so stay within the agreed budget, or, exceed it by only a little bit. If the special day puts you and your special person into debt, it’s not a good long-term plan. Whatever you do or give, you want them to remember it fondly every time they think of it, and not how they’ll have to adjust the budget to pay for it. However, prudently and generously going a little over budget, especially if it means sacrificing from your own gift’s budget, is a very good idea!
Tip #3 Know What They Don’t Want
Set ground rules early in your relationship regarding gifts. After our first Christmas together, my wife very lovingly shared with me that she’d prefer not to receive gifts with power cords. No, I did not give her an iron. But I did give her something for the kitchen that she had wanted. It seemed like a wonderful twofer, something she wanted and needed. Ask for and adhere to gift giving rules, all exceptions to any interpersonal gift giving rules are to be avoided unless expressly requested. Avoid twofers if they are something you’ll need to buy anyway or something you want. In my defense, my mother’s all-time favorite Christmas gift from my father was a dishwasher, but it was when washers were rare, and my Dad knew she wanted one very badly.
Tip #4 Learn What They Do Want
Do your research by asking your loved one, their best friend or parent questions about what they want. And if you’re lucky to uncover the perfect gift within your budget, get the exact thing they want, not something that’s less expensive, easier to find, or because a salesperson told you it was “just as good”. Unless you want that salesperson to be the person you’re buying for next year.
Tip #5 Gift an Experience
When appropriate, consider gifting an experience instead of a traditional wrapped present. Ideally, at least for Valentine’s Day, it should be something the two of you can do together. An adventurous or romantic day trip or weekend may take a lot of planning, but it will be far more appreciated for the creativity and effort involved. Caution, the relationship must be well established before suggesting any trip involving an overnight stay. Also, avoid any activity you’re really into but they aren’t. DO NOT gift them an activity doing something only you enjoy doing. In fact, do the opposite, gift them an experience doing what they like, but you don’t. The more they know you have no interest in it, the more the gift will be appreciated for its sincerity. Experiences are a great way to deepen a relationship and can be more romantic than a store-bought gift.
Tip #6 Create traditions
When possible and appropriate, find some way to create an annual Valentine’s Day activity to be repeated every year. Traditions bind individuals and families together. It may be annually visiting the same place, participating in the same activity, game, movie or purposely doing a single completely -out- of -the- blue- spontaneous thing. I know a set of parents who randomly blast music from all the speakers in the house after all their kids have fallen asleep, and when they all straggle out of bed, pile them in the car and go out to an all- night breakfast place. Be creative.
Tip #7 Low Budget Options
More than any other holiday, St. Valentine’s Day lends itself to inexpensive ideas because it’s about love, commitment and romance, think the Beatles, “money can’t buy me love”. Some of my wife’s most treasured possessions are spontaneous love poems I have written to her on any scrap of paper I had at hand, including a paper tablecloth in a restaurant while waiting for our food. But please also consider the following inexpensive ideas:
• Write a song.
• Post why you love them on social media
• For your current or future children, write down how you met and fell in love.
• Draw a picture of what you hope to give them some day.
• A picnic somewhere beautiful but within driving distance.
• A PowerPoint slide show of all the places you hope to take them to some day.
• Or a slide show of all your favorite pictures of them on your cell or from anywhere.
• Ask their best friend or parents to tell you an amazing story about them and write it down.
• Make a video of yourself telling their parent’s, boss, best friend (or worst!), how much you love them and why.
• Make a video explaining how, in a perfect world, you would have proposed to them.
• Make a meme of the most romantic movie scene and Title it “You & Me” and send it to them.
The grammar doesn’t have to be correct, the poem doesn’t have to rhyme, the memes can be terrible quality, none of these things matter. It’s just a moment of reflection of how you feel about your MOST significant other in the world this Valentine’s day, and forever. And remember, if your loved one has a good Valentine’s Day because of you, yours will be better too.
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