January 30, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast. You and your sweetie may choose not to celebrate, preferring instead to show your love all year-round. I’m all for this. For the rest of you who know you’ll be in the doghouse if you don’t do something, I offer a few suggestions:

Skip the cheap plastic presents and chocolates from the drugstore. Please.

-consider skipping the bouquet of flowers.

As much as 70% of all cut flowers are actually imported to the US, most from South America. This means chemicals to keep the flowers looking fresh, as well as tons of petroleum to transport them. (I won’t even get into invasive species surviving the pesticides and hitching a ride along with the flowers.) Do you really want your sweetie to lean in and take a deep breath of DDT? Instead, bring home a potted plant. Plant bulbs in the yard for a set of surprise blooms. Start an herb garden. Or take a walk through your local public gardens.

-make something for your sweetie

Make a card. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or have a sugary-sweet Hallmark poem inside, just a short heartfelt note. Draw, cut pictures out of magazines, find clipart online. Make a big deal of presenting it, or “hide” it somewhere you know your sweetie will stumble across it.

Record a message on CD or cassette or MP3 – retell your side of the story of how you met, how your life has changed since your sweetie became part of it, what little things have changed. Read your sweetie’s favorite poem or story aloud. Make up a story your sweetie can listen to on the way to work or for when you’re out of town.

Make a present. Copy a special photo of you and your sweetie, paste it to a piece of cardboard (such as the back of a cereal box), and cut it up into puzzle pieces. Give the puzzle all as one present or leave the pieces around the house individually to be found over the course of the evening. Use a favorite old, beat-up shirt to make a small pillow or stuffed animal. Cut heart shapes out of junk mail and newspaper flyers, and scatter them across the floor or dinner table.

Make dinner. Make breakfast. Make a picnic on the living room floor. I did this one year for my then-boyfriend (now-husband!). The food was spread out on a blanket on the living room floor, the curtains were open so we could see the sunset, I set up my white noise machine to play waves in the background, I had a token jar of sand nearby, and I asked if he wanted to sit closer to or farther from the waves. “What? Um, closer to, I guess.” I picked up my spray bottle and spritzed water in his face. “Happy valentine’s beach trip!”

-do something nice for your sweetie

Instead of giving a present, do a chore or errand your sweetie hates doing or can’t do alone. Do something with your sweetie you wouldn’t normally do – even if you hate sports or fishing or quilting shows, go along anyway and share your sweetie’s joy.

Give each other foot rubs. It doesn’t matter if you don’t really know what you’re doing. The time and attention spent is always appreciated.

Donate to your sweetie’s favorite charity. What says love more than supporting an organization near to your dear one’s heart? Take toys & games to the local children’s hospital. Take clothing, coats, small containers of personal hygiene products to the local battered women’s shelter.

Sign up for a class to take together – cooking, bird-watching, weight-lifting, ballroom dancing, fly-fish lure tying, paint your own ceramic pot, Geology 101. It makes for great date nights.

Have a special movie night. Or declare a TV-free night. Play board games, read aloud to each other, play Truth-or-Dare.

It’s so not about buying stuff! It’s about the attention! We all love attention from our someone special. Time spent with your partner is better than any drugstore tchotchke.

Consider reading:
About.com – Valentine’s Day date ideas
Hubpages.com – Valentine’s Day Gifts to Make
Squidoo.com – Creative Valentine Dates
The Hidden Life of Cut Flowers - pesticide use by cut-flowers industry
The Ecologist.org – Behind the Label: Cut Flowers

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