When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think chocolate-covered everything, big and bright balloons, and grand, costly gestures. But these presents might not precisely express your true appreciation and love for the special people in your life.
Below, you’ll find nine creative and unique Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your partner, kids, best friend, mom, dad, and anyone else on your list. These ideas range from presents you can make to meaningful activities you can do together.
- Leave little notes. This could be anything from a Post-It note on your partner’s car window to a lengthy love letter that reflects on your relationship, said Christine Scott-Hudson, MFT, ATR, a marriage and family therapist and art therapist. It could be slipping a sweet card into your child’s lunchbox or your spouse’s briefcase. It could be mailing your best friend a letter thanking them for their unconditional support.
- Create a vision board together. A vision board helps you identify what you want your relationship to look and feel like—and what you’d like to build as a team. You could create your board on Valentine’s Day or any date night. According to Scott-Hudson, you’ll need scissors, glue, magazines, and poster board. She suggested this process: First find images separately. “Choose images of things you do want for your relationship, as well as images of things you do not want for your relationship.” Next do the same for words and phrases. Then, work on your collage together, using words and imagery that resonate with both of you, and give it a title. When you’re done, talk about the process of creating your vision board. What feelings did it trigger? How does the final board make you feel? If you have kids, create a vision board as a family.
- Keep an appreciations notebook. Years ago, KJ Landis and her husband kept a small pad by their house phone for the entire month of February. “We wrote something each day about what we admired in the other’s character. It was eye-opening to see what we saw in each other’s greatness,” said Landis, a life coach and author of four books, including Happy Healthy You: Your Total Wellness Toolkit for Renewing Body, Soul, and Mind.
- Make a timeline of memories. “It’s fun to look back at some of the best moments of your relationship,” said Ana Sokolovic, MS, a psychotherapist and life coach at Parenting Pod. She suggested adding anything you think illustrates these meaningful times, such as photos, concert tickets, restaurant receipts, or a screenshot of an email.
- Gift a special song. Most couples, best friends, and family members have a song that’s meaningful to them. This might be your wedding song, a song with inside jokes, or a song that encapsulates your relationship. Tracy Pendergast, who pens the lifestyle blog Hey-Tracy.com, suggested framing sheet music (from a site like MusicNotes.com). “Sign, date, and frame it—and you have a beautiful and inexpensive gift that means more than a box of chocolates.” Or, “if you really want to go the extra mile, have a local musician or artist on Etsy handwrite your song.”
- Support their hobby. What does your loved one love to do? What do they want to try? For example, Sokolovic suggested giving a class or seminar they’d like to attend, an instrument, or other equipment that supports their hobby.
- Be beginners together. “Novelty is good for couples,” said Scott-Hudson, author of the book I Love Myself: Affirmations for a Happy Life. In the beginning of our romantic relationships, she said, we typically sample all sorts of new adventures and activities, which helps to build and bolster our bond. “As we grow older, sometimes things can feel safe but also predictable and routine.” Try something new together—which can be super simple. For example, Scott-Hudson suggested following a how-to YouTube video for a creative project.
- Create a self-care box. According to Sokolovic, a self-care box sends this important message: “Allow yourself to enjoy the moments.” Your box, she said, might include: a gift card to your loved one’s favorite store, a book written by their favorite author, scented candles, a cozy blanket, a box of homemade tea, lavender essential oil, a sketchbook, colored pencils, new recipes, or a yoga mat.
- Pen a love list. This is “simply a list of specific reasons we love someone,” said Sherry Richert Belul, author of the book Say it Now: 33 Creative Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life. “I believe that what everyone wants most in the world is to be loved for exactly who they are,” and the love list expresses all these reasons, she said. This could be a literal list. For instance, Scott-Hudson suggested sharing 100 reasons why you love the person. Or, Belul said, you could put scraps of paper into a jar or fortune cookies, or attach them to flower stems.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to show our appreciation to the special people in our lives—and the above ideas can absolutely help. And they can help us to cultivate our connection with our loved ones on a regular basis. After all, it’s the way we express our love and gratitude every day that really counts.