Valentine's Day is the day to show the important people in your life how much they mean to you. You can love the earth and love them, too! Here are some sweet ideas from across the creative web.
Make a Card
Don't let the big card companies steal your thunder. There is simply no better valentine than the traditional hand-made card. If you are not artistic, focus on a heart-felt message. Glue on a piece of nature to the front, or find a photograph.
Make Homemade Treats
It may be the second-most traditional valentine and is a favorite. Cookies, candies, and treats of all kinds are always a lovely gesture. Get creative with something like a 'love potion' kit of drink mixes. Consider any special dietary needs, and wrap it up in a pretty and sustainable way. It's easier than you think to fold up an adorable box from extra wrapping paper, craft paper, or even calendars with gorgeous photographs.
Do Something Special Together
The right time and place can create just the right space for romance, friendship, or a special moment with someone you care about. Take a romantic walk along a lake or river, find a special place to watch the sunrise or sunset, visit a beautiful grove of trees, or a park with a conservatory or other unique features.
Make a Meal
Feeding someone you love is as ancient as human history. You take a meal to the next level by bringing out something from your valentine's childhood, favorites menu, that is a reminder of an important meal you shared, or part of their (or your) family tradition. Pair it up with candles, fancy (or family) dishes, a heartfelt centerpiece, music...let your imagination be the limit. You can feed each other, too. It is the perfect activity to do with children or as a loving exchange between friends, family, and partners.
Give something that will last. A potted plant can be enjoyed for months or years and be a reminder of your special relationship. Consider also sharing a start from a plant that you have - a cutting from the same plant is a symbol of connection and ongoing affection.
Create Upcycled Crafts
Pinterest is awash in fun ideas for the crafty and even not-so-crafty givers. Make 'poppers' from toilet paper tubes, seed bombs, paper heart garland, can candles, decorative hearts, and a million other ideas.
Candles can be many things - romantic, relaxing, pampering, fun. Support a local business or, if you have access to local beeswax, you can even make a candle. Whether heart-shaped, candles in a seashell, or in a mold or a repurposed glass jar, and something to melt the wax in - a larger tin can works well, placed inside a pan of water. For the wick, you can try using a broken shoelace, or even a wood wick. There are lots of great tutorials and videos.
Sometimes the people who care most for others, take the least time for themselves. Give the gift of a little pampering and self-care with a DIY sugar exfoliating body scrub, foot scrub, or other luxurious and eco-friendly indulgence.
Acts of Love
Take time for a visit and to help a loved one tackle extra stuff. If clutter is stress and waste, Decluttering is a Gift of Love and rejuvenation. Do a project together - organize a room, organize old photos, take time to listen to stories surrounding memorabilia. It can be one of the most eye-opening, nurturing, kind, memorable activities you can do.
Donate Something Beautiful
Valentine's can go beyond people close to you, or even people you know directly. Do a random act of kindness and donate something meaningful. When you find a really special, beautiful, precious, or valuable item to donate, it becomes an even deeper act of caring. Make sure the item or items are in sparkling condition. Consider how you deliver the donation - carefully organize and place things so they look beautiful. Use a gift bag or a nice bin or box. Arrange things as if you were giving a gift to a friend.
For the person who has everything and wants nothing, a donation in their name is a way to honor them. It can also be a thoughtful way to remember and honor a loved one who has passed away.
Giving the gift of seeds can be a symbol of a budding friendship or relationship, of hope for the future, of possibility. If you have a garden, or access to one, consider seed-saving and sharing the seeds. Upcycle a pot by giving it a disinfecting clean and adding a cute coat of red paint. Make it a little herb garden collection, flowers, or veggies. It's a fun gift anytime, but especially as we are starting to approach spring. It is an easy gift you can mail to someone who may be far away.
Support a Local (&/or) Nonprofit Bakery
You can give a delicious gift while supporting a local business or nonprofit, like Cookie Cart in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Give teens the opportunity to develop foundational skills and tools to be successful in education and career and enjoy delicious cookies. It's a win-win. Remember to order early!
If you've never attempted the silent but powerful large-sign-card reveal a la Love Actually, this might be the time. Pen a few words on each of a few large cards. Reuse large paper, or even better, the backs of some beautiful upcycled cards or special photos that will become part of the gift.
Knit, Sew, or Crochet
Even a small gift made by you is infinitely more special than some kitschy socks from a store.
Wrap it Sustainably
There is no denying it is fun to open up a surprise. It can be even more wonderful when the wrapping itself is a gift! Treehugger has a bunch of cool ways to wrap gifts including scarves, konmari, old maps and newspapers, baskets, kid's art, jars, tins, and boxes, and even a shiny inside-out chip bag.
Author: Jennifer Victor-Larsen
Jennifer is the founder and Executive Director of Donate Good Stuff