Saturday, February 13, 2010

2 It's The Thought That Counts: Healthy, Thoughtful Gestures For Valentine's Day

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Happy Almost-Valentine's Day, Everybody! :-D

This post is partly about food & partly about other, unrelated topics.  Their one common denominator is -- you guessed it -- Valentine's Day. :)

First, a word about Valentine's Day gifts:  Most women I know like flowers (unless they are allergic to them! LOL!). Of course, a person doesn't have to wait until Valentine's Day to give them to a loved one.  In fact, the best time to give flowers is NOT on Valentine's Day, because it's such a predictable & clichéd thing to do, but rather on a random day of the year, which shows that you were being intentionally thoughtful, versus doing it out of obligation, just because it's Valentine's Day.  We all know how that works. :)

However, if you want to do something really special, here's an idea: Get your loved one a living, flowering plant that they can put in their house or greenhouse, or eventually plant outside. The nice thing about this gesture is that a living plant stays with a person for a longer period of time than cut flowers would, & it's also much better for the environment. This way, when they look at it, they'll be reminded of you for the remaining 364 days of the year & beyond. :)

Also, a word of caution about another very obvious gift idea -- chocolates: It might be a good idea to rethink the idea of giving chocolates to your loved ones on Valentine's Day.  It's a well-established fact that there are many people (especially women!) who don't look kindly upon that idea.  :-D  In general, those of us who are trying to watch our figures don't want a gigantic box of chocolate-covered temptation. I know I sure as heck don't.  My first thought is that the bestowers might very well be involved in a secret conspiracy to fatten me up ever-so-quickly like a corn-fed cow. :) OK, I'm only kidding about that. But seriously, aside from being the equivalent of nutritional sabotage, this idea is again another stale & uncreative Valentine's Day stand-by. There are, quite honestly, better & more sincere ways to reach someone's heart. When it comes to Valentine's Day, some fresh ideas & a little thoughtfulness can go a long way. I know there are many of you know who exactly what I'm talking about.  In fact, right now I bet that there are several people nodding their heads up & down in acknowledgement, because we are all on the same page. :)

 Show that you care about a person & their health by doing something helpful for them that's truly in their best interest.  Pay close attention to the details of a person & their behaviors -- Observe the things they do & say; that alone can tell you worlds about what gift they'll appreciate most. And of course, look for the little hints that a person might drop throughout the year.  The more perceptive & sensitive you are to the dreams & needs of your loved ones, the more likely your gifts will be appreciated.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should give gifts which could be interpreted as insensitive or as an outright insult just because you are trying to do something that's good for them but isn't wanted or won't be appreciated in the particular context in which it is given. :) Again, tread lightly & use your best judgment. Some people might really appreciate the gift of a year's membership to a gym, while others might be extremely offended by it. It depends on the person, their interests, your relationship to them, how well you know them & what they'd want for a gift, as well as the situation itself.  It's a case-by-case thing.

Of course, it's perfectly fine if someone has already expressed or indicated to you that they want the gym membership. However, in general, I would advise caution & awareness with regard to the messages you send with your gifts. :) I find it's best to give a gift that expresses your appreciation for a person's inner qualities & shows how well you understand them -- their goals, dreams, & aspirations, versus giving them a gift that sends intentional or unintentional signals that you don't accept them as is, for who they really are.

The best kind of gift is one that shows you understand & appreciate a person.  And that's not a gift you buy for others that you'd secretly or not-so-secretly want for yourself, but rather a completely unselfish gesture that communicates your love for another person. Thoughtful gifts. Unique gifts. It could be something you make or buy, or something that doesn't cost anything at all, except some effort &/or sweat equity.  Or it could be a gesture, an activity, or an experience. It doesn't have to be a material thing. A love letter or poem isn't something you buy, but nonetheless, is something that could very well be appreciated by the giftee.  Think of the Valentine's Day cards & letters that little kids make/write for their parents; they don't cost a penny & yet Mom & Dad happily post them on the refrigerator door or on the wall in their office.

So, in that spirit, I'd like to propose some more creative ideas that are likely to get a better response from your sweetie than the stock-and-trade candies & flowers route. Some of these ideas are gender-neutral & others are not-so-much.  I'll let you be the judge of which is which.

(1) Instead of going out for Valentine's Day, stay in & surprise your significant other with a romantic, home-cooked meal.  You don't have to go the obvious, dinner-by-candlelight route either. The point is to create an atmosphere that transports both of you in some way -- emotionally, spiritually, or even physically. :) Something that sets the mood & creates excitement by incorporating unexpected elements, creating a memorable experience that can be shared & cherished by both of you. Perhaps the atmosphere you create will make you think of exotic locales. Or perhaps it will rekindle fond, shared memories of some of your most enjoyable experiences.

As a suggestion, here are some ideas you could try: Pick a cuisine & set the atmosphere accordingly. Really let your mind go wild with ideas, & let yourself think in limitless, creative ways. Think of ways to make it an out-of-ordinary experience for both of you. Have some fun with it.

Example: You can cook a Japanese meal, sit on the floor with the food placed on tatami mats; just for fun, you & your sweetie could dress in traditional garb (i.e., kimonos & the like). Maybe you'd like to try your hand at Japanese cuisine. Maybe it's your squeeze's favorite. Maybe you're in an adventurous mood to try something new. Either way, it's all about atmosphere & connection with others via a memorable dining experience.

If you want to get elaborate, you could even make a picnic under a Moroccan canopy with pillows. Of course, if you live someplace that's cold in the wintertime (it's been snowing buckets here as of late!), that might not be ideal. You would have to build a fire, or bring blankets to keep from freezing your tail off. LOL!

(2) Or, alternatively, spend the evening cooking together. Pick a recipe you've both always wanted to try & go for it. :)

(3) If both of you enjoy being active & playing sports, find a Valentine's Day road race or some other athletic event, & enter it together. There are usually several to choose from & if they're not located nearby, then reserve a bed-&-breakfast for the two of you, & make a romantic weekend out of it.

(4) Rent a movie & drink hot tea or cocoa, snuggling together next to a warm fire.  If you like, relive your childhood & roast marshmallows over an open "camp fire." :) Make s'mores if you like. It's fun doing some of the things you used to do when you were a kid. Heck, even going to the playground & swinging on the swings can be very relaxing & fun. Do something that liberates your senses & makes you feel alive. The sky's the limit.

(5) Make homemade Valentine's Day cards. And if you like, you can borrow an idea I did one year:  I cut out red hearts & on each heart I wrote a good memory we shared or quality that I loved about my squeeze, leaving a trail of heart for him to read & follow. They eventually lead to the kitchen, where a candlelit dinner was waiting for him. :)

The above ideas center around spending time with people, & creating experiences, versus a store-bought gift that might be forgotten or used up tomorrow. People often say that they don't have the time to create experiences like the above, but all it takes is a little forethought & some advance planning. Some of the above ideas can be planned far in advance, &/or realized over a length of time.

If the above ideas aren't your cup of tea & you still can't think of an idea on your own, there are plenty of websites offering Valentine's Day ideas. All it takes is a few minutes to peruse them & pick an idea.

Have a great Valentine's Day!


Melissa said...


You have thought of everything :)

Hope your Valentine's Day was great. What did you end up cooking?


Cyberpenguin said...

LOL. Thanks, Melissa! Hope you had a nice Valentine's Day as well.

To answer your question: Due to the several feet of snow we got, we weren't sure about our plans until the last minute. Thankfully, the snow started to melt just in time for Valentine's Day, so we ended up going out for our meal this year. :) What about you? Did you cook or go out?

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