If you happen to be a procrastinator (like myself!), or you've had a hard time finding something just right that fits into your time or budget, or maybe Valentine's day just snuck up on you.....I've got some great last minute ideas for you!
There's so much pressure that goes along with this holiday - "they" tell us we need to make some over the top grand gesture and spend oodles of money on expensive jewelry or the best restaurant in town to show we care. Not true. Something small and intentional (and even free!) can mean so much more! Here are a few ideas to show your love - good for Valentine's day or anyday!
Be Thoughtful - you know your loved one best. Just think for a minute about what makes them tick.....would a cozy evening at home make them feel loved, or a fun evening out to show your love to the world (or at least whoever's around, lol)? Does a gift make them swoon, or would taking over dinner duty or a nice foot rub be more their style? Everyone feels loved in different ways, and if you find out what your loved one really wants, it's so much easier to show your love in a way that they can receive (The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman is a tremendous book that helps you understand how people give and receive love best - vital for any marriage or relationship!).
Also show that you're listening to what they want or need - if my husband has been telling me for weeks that his back has been aching that should give me a clue that he might really appreciate a back massage - it could be free if I do it myself or I could spring for a gift certificate. If I've mentioned that I'd love our wedding pictures to finally be put into an album or on a DVD instead of in a box in the basement (from 12 years ago!), he'd win big points by trying to make that happen and would show that he cared enough to really listen.
Write a Love Letter - While Hallmark can make some really touching cards, your own words are always so much sweeter. You don't have to be a poet or a wordsmith to write a love letter either - just write down what's in your heart. What do they mean to you? How do they make you feel? What about them makes you smile or makes you a better person?
(Here are some great tips for writing a love letter!)
Make a "Why I Love You" jar/box - This is similar to a love letter in that it shows them what you love about them, but may be less pressure than feeling like you have to compose a beautiful letter. A couple years ago I wrote down lots of things I love about my husband (what character qualities I admire, what he does that make me smile, how much I appreciate the wonderful dad he is.....) and typed them up on slips of paper and tucked them into a small box with the title "Why I'm Glad I Said Yes...." inside the lid. He said it was one of his favorite gifts he ever received and he still keeps it out.
Write a Love Poem - Make it serious and romantic if you'd like, or if your relationship is filled with humor make your rhymes silly and celebrate your love with laughter.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries - These are delicious, romantic, and even though they look amazing they're so easy to do! And strawberries are usually on sale around this time of year! I've made them before for my husband (and just might be making them today) ;) and they're always such a hit! I've brought them to get togethers with friends too and people always think they're store bought. If you've never made them before, check this out for easy directions (stems are not necessary, I just hold it by the leaves). The contrasting chocolate on top (milk on white, white on dark....white and milk on dark....) is what really makes them look gourmet!
Make a Personalized Puzzle - I found this website where you can make your own crossword, word search, cryptogram, etc. for free. I made a crossword for my husband with important words in our marriage (where we met, "friendship", "love", our childrens names, the name of "our" song.....things like that). It was so easy to do, but I think it will be fun for him to do and could be a sweet keepsake of what means the most to us.
Make a Coupon Book - This may be a common go-to, but it doesn't have to be boring! It can be as unique and fun as you want it to be. Handwritten or typed up on the computer - it can be silly or steamy, romantic or practical. Coupons for backrubs, dishes, a day with no diaper changes ;), or movies of their choosing (with no complaints!) extend the love throughout the year. You can make them usable at any time or valid at certain times (for example: a bubble bath or footrub once a month, a promise to plan a kid-free date every other week....). Make it special to the two of you by using some of your inside jokes or knowing what would be important to them ("I'll watch football with you/go shopping with you without complaining once"). ;)
Cuddle Up With a Romantic Movie - Staying home for a movie can be much sweeter than going to a theater and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg! Grab a cheap old favorite at the store (WalMart.com currently has DVD's like "Wedding Singer" and "Hope Floats" for $5) or check out your local library for a selection of old and new movies. Stop by a Redbox and pick out a movie that your significant other would like to see for $1 (or completely free today with the code "BEMINE").
Dine In - Making a yummy dinner and dessert can be a a really thoughtful way to show you care and doesn't have to be any more expensive than your normal meal! Make their favorite food and put a little effort into the table. It can be simple and sweet or go all out - it's up to you! Use nice dishes, set out a candle or two, make the presentation a bit nicer than normal (instead of using those plastic Taco Bell cups, drink out of wine glasses - even if it's only water!)
Just make sure you clean up too! ;)
Dine Out for Cheap - If you want to go out to eat, check out Restaurant.com first and get 80% off gift certificates for local restaurants when you use the code "LOVE" at checkout. So after the code a $25 gift certificate is only $2!! Each restaurant has their own restrictions, so just be sure to read the fine print.
(You can make this even better by going through Mr.Rebates or ShopAtHome for an extra 30% cashback from your purchase!! And if you're new to those cashback sites, you get a $5 credit in your account too! Ebates is only 15% back, but if you're new, it might make more sense to take advantage of the sign up bonus there!)
Happy Valentine's Day!!