Once again, Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching. In past angsty years as a singleton, I often resented this annual reminder that I was going to spend February 14th with no boyfriend or potential suitors in sight. Coping with this reminder in high school was especially trying, especially when my female classmates would go around practically clutching or waving their red roses or stuffed animals like trophies, squealing, “Oh my God, you guys, my boyfriend just did the SWEETEST THING!!!”
I, in turn, would attempt to console myself by eating copious amounts of chocolates and reminding myself and anyone else who would listen with great snark that it probably wasn’t a coincidence that the initials for Valentine’s Day are V.D. (Get it? Jajaja…)
Now that I have been in a loving, stable relationship for more than seven years (with the same man, no less!) I have lightened up. Why not? Especially in these troubling times, love is something beautiful, something worth celebrating and appreciating.
I am the type of person who loves to go all-out when it comes to gifts when I can afford it (and admittedly, even when I can’t sometimes!). But even if money weren’t a factor, sometimes some of the most valuable gifts are ones that money can’t buy. Cliche, but true.
They say that the best ideas come when you run out of them. I have been able to come up with some pretty impressive ideas to show my beloved how much he matters to me, what’s more, on a tight budget.
While I am not tech-savvy by any means, I would like to think that romantic, imaginative writing is something that is right up my alley, as are good old-fashioned arts and crafts.
Feel free to borrow/steal any of these, here are some brilliant ideas for gifts (Valentine’s Day or otherwise) that I have gifted my darling husband in the past:
- An “Exploding” Love Box
To be fair, I think I originally saw this idea on Pintrest or from some other website first, but it was something unique that I had never seen before. What is an exploding love box? It’s essentially creating three cubes, each one smaller than the last, out of poster paper. The tricky part was making the lid and getting it to fit over the other four sides of the largest cube. The plus side was that since I had a multitude of surfaces to write, draw, and paste on, I could allow my imagination to fly and quickly filled them up with little images and messages and memories of love.
Here is one of the better links on Youtube instructing how to make these nifty little boxes:
- A Mix CD
Yes, it’s a little dated, as CDs are pretty much obsolete, but I promise you that when I did it all those years ago, it was cool! Pretty self-explanatory. Some of the hits that I included on my CD (that I remember) were John Lennon’s “Love” and Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.”
I am very fortunate, I believe that I have a gift for the written word. Moreover, when I feel inspired, I write with greater happiness and ease. Fede is my muse, what can I say? Even if you don’t feel like poetry is your forte, you don’t have to be Alfred Tennyson or Shakespeare, it really is the thought that counts! As the great Plato once said, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”
Though I have written him a number of poems over the course of our relationship (some of which are found in the “Poetry Corner” of my blog, or here and here), I feel like I could write poems for years and years on end and never come close to expressing how much he means to me, how much I love him (Awwwwwww….. Blech! Jajaja)
- Love Coupons
These personal coupons (expiration date optional) can be for anything and everything (from the XXX-rated to me allowing him to choose a movie to watch together and not fall asleep or complain). I’ve also promised a strawberries and creme Starbucks Frappuccino, a homecooked meal of his choice, and a “?????” miscellaneous one. I also made one promising not to wake him up at the crack of dawn when I wake up (though now that we have a small child, the matter is no longer up to us!).
- Post-Its… Post-Its EVERYWHERE!
I bought a package of Post-Its and wrote cute little messages on them when Fede was still sound asleep. Some of them were “I Love You” in different languages, some of them were important dates (like our wedding anniversary, the day we met, etc.) and some were thoughtful quotations. It’s up to you. I posted them by the dozen on the bathroom mirror, on the base of our TV, in his jeans pockets, all over the wall, and so on. Cute to wake up to, especially when you are on a VERY tight budget!
- A collage
Another great idea when you feel artsy and inspired. You could do the paper and glue thing, or you could also create a collage on a box and fill it with little trinkets (see below). Once again, self-explanatory, but here are a couple of personal examples of items that I have created over the years…
- Scrap Album
For our second full year as a couple and our first year as newlyweds, I created “The Book of Lauren and Fede: A Love Story.” In it, I put a hodge-podge of special memories from the time we first met over Match.com (and our corresponding emails in Spanish) to old baby pictures and other pictures of us from the “Before Time,” as well as a crossword puzzle, pictures of foods that I cook that we like to eat together… you get the idea. Which leads me to my next Valentine’s Day idea…
- Cooking – Heart shaped EVERYTHING
It could be a sweet and thoughtful breakfast in bed, or a romantic, candlelight dinner. The important thing is that it is made with love (… and subsequently eaten with love!).
Now, if you really want to outdo yourself, you can create heart-shaped dishes as well. To make the salami and cheese hearts, I used a cookie cutter and a sharp knife (same for the “I Love You” toast, though I recommend making extra slices (and eating the mistakes), because sometimes it takes a while to get the hang of cutting out the letter shapes. Once again, I have to admit that the toast idea wasn’t completely original, I had seen it on “The Simpsons” before (Simpsons = Life).
For the red and white heart pancakes, I divided the batter in two, and added red food coloring to one of the bowls. After I had an even number of “normal” round pancakes, I took a heart-shaped cookie cutter and made a heart-shaped hole in each one, and then replaced the red hearts with the ones from the white pancakes, and vice versa.
So these are just SOME ideas for a romantic Valentine’s Day on a budget. Money does NOT necessarily need to be a factor, it really is the intention and the thought that counts. Now just one question remains… How will I outdo myself this year?
Happy Valentine’s Day (V.D.), y’all!