My family of origin always made Valentine’s Day about celebrating family, our history and our friendships, too… making it an inclusive time for encouraging one another. I like this idea and have kept it going in my own family because I want my kids to learn that love worth celebrating isn’t just about gushy feelings shared between couples but it’s about helping each other through life and being accessible to one another.
Even in times of economic stress, there are so many simple things we can do to make Valentine’s Day an unforgettable reminder that love and kindness are essential for maintaining sanity in this crazy world! With that in mind, here is a list of 20 ideas to start you thinking about how to make this Valentine’s Day especially meaningful for you and those you love.
1. Don’t fight the cupid. Sure, to some, Valentine’s is corny and overly sentimental, so they’re tempted to ignore the whole thing. I once dated a guy who refused to acknowledge Valentine’s Day because he was convinced it would mean he had given in to society’s heightened expectations on this holiday. Well, I didn’t marry him. I married the guy who didn’t care what anyone thought and just expressed his feelings for me on Valentines Day and every other day. No one is going to teach society a lesson by refusing to express love and kindness, especially if it makes your loved ones feel like you don’t want to celebrate them on a day set aside for exactly that.
2. Get some heart-shaped doilies. They’re a classic Valentine staple! Those things are super cheap and they don’t bite. (Dollar Tree usually has a dozen of them for a buck.) You can write messages on them, tape treats to the center of them, decorate your front door with them or toss a few in the middle of the dinner table with a candle for a timeless reminder that it’s a special day to be celebrated. How easy is that?
3. Yikes. Number 1 & 2 were long. So this one is short. Give out lots of hugs, smiles and positive compliments.
4. Decorate a little! Balloons or streamers offer a cheerful respite from mid-winter’s gray & white landscape. Spruce up the house, office, classroom, hospital or nursing home room with simple touches as a visual reminder of how much more beautiful everything becomes when we choose to love.
5. Plan a meal featuring a family favorite or prepare something that triggers a special memory for your loved ones or friends. (Or? Just make something involving the colors red & white – think pasta w/ red peppers and strawberries w/ whipped cream for something festive and yummy.)
6. Write a simple, honest note expressing what you most appreciate about your friend, family member, neighbor or special someone. It’s SO simple, but it takes guts. Follow-through and do it… and you’ll be glad you did.
7. Make cards or create e-greetings using photos that recall a favorite memory or even a favorite childhood photo.
8. Write an acrostic for your favorite people; for every letter of their name write a quality you admire about them or a reason you love them. (Example: “SCOTT… You are Sincere. Compassionate. Open-hearted. Trustworthy. Twenty-million times better now than when I first met you.” — There! Mine’s done!)
9. Give away something heart-shaped and edible. Something as simple as heart-shaped lollipops or cookies is a sweet and thoughtful way to spread cheer. (FYI, a box of heart-shaped Little Debbie Valentine Cakes is just $1.60 at Target.) As an afternoon snack for the kids or thoughtful treat in the break room at the office, a plate of heart-shaped treats will trigger smiles and gratitude, I promise!
10. Involve fire. A fire in the fireplace and candles around the house or on the dinner table makes everything more beautiful and serves as another visual reminder of how brightly love shines in a cold, dark world.
11. Start thinking about what you will do for Valentines before February 14!.
12. If you disregarded #11, still make the effort to reach out and do something thoughtful for the ones you love.
13. Call your far-away relatives. They love hearing from you on any day, but they’ll especially appreciate you reaching out on Valentine’s Day. Trust me.
14. Sing a song to someone you care about. Even if you can’t sing. It doesn’t even have to be a whole song… maybe just your favorite verse.
15. Write a poem. Why not? It’s a timeless art that has, for centuries, expressed things that often go unsaid in everyday life.
16. If you really just can’t write your own poem, unearth a classic poem or quote written by someone else that expresses something you want to say. Here’s a hint: Countless classic poems and quotes can be found using a quick Google search. Just find one you like, copy it down and/or read it outloud (and giving credit to the poet will probably earn you the added bonus of being considered a super-well-cultured person).
17. Do something practical, such as shoveling your single neighbor’s walk, doing the dinner clean-up for your family or running your loved one’s car through the car wash unexpectedly. Little acts of kindness are bigger than you think.
18. Find a song that communicates your heart to your loved ones and friends and play it for them (or email them an mp3 if they’re far away).
19. You can give flowers without breaking your budget. One rose is better than nothing! One year I made a little bouquet of tissue flowers that I still use as a decoration this time of year, and my daughter always comments on how beautiful they are when I set them out. (They’re really not THAT great, but they represent a classic Valentine indulgence that never fails to generate good vibes.)
20. Wrap up something special such as an old photo in a new frame, a special book, or a treasured keepsake that serves as a milestone or recalls an important memory. Focus on the journey rather than the destination!
A day doesn’t automatically become special just because it’s called a holiday. YOU make it memorable in your own unique way.
Have other ideas? Share them in the comments.