This Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to give in to the urge and just block out all the mushy, heart-shaped noise generated in honor of an event that has less to do with romance or affection. Unfortunately, it’s now become a bit of a mockery, with stuffed bears, cheap candy, and red roses dominating a largely red and pink landscape. Ignore the avalanche of products and services being hailed as 'the perfect gift' for your precious Valentine and instead, think of ways in which you can really tug at the heartstrings of your loved ones.
We give you meaningful ways in which you can brighten up their day, make them realize how much they mean to you, and give them a memory to cherish.
1. Partners: They’ve vowed to be with you through thick and thin whether they declared the same in a legal setting or not. Let them know they’re not taken for granted. Instead of a boring and predictable dinner or bottle of champagne, surprise them with an experience, not just plain old ‘stuff’.
- Find a movie they’ve loved in their childhood, and watch it with them even if it’s cheesy, in another language or from a genre that makes your eyes bleed.
- Cook them a meal that reminds them of when you two first met. It doesn’t matter even if that meal was fish and chips at the local dive bar, or instant noodles cooked in your dorm room.
- Round up their besties or fave mentors and make a quick video or audio compilation of them quoting what they love about your beloved. Add yours at the end or just sigh and stick with, “I’m so damn lucky.”
2. Dates: It may not be serious, it’s brand new and moreover, you don’t want to scare them off by drowning them in heavy, hardcore commitment-laced sentiment when you two are still getting to know each other. But you do want them to get a hint of what kind of romantic you are or aren’t and this may be the best time to say it without actually saying anything at all.
- Channel your silly side and be unafraid of letting them know how goofy you can get with a secret rendezvous in a clown school where you both have to be dressed as, well, clowns. Or sign up to compete against each other in a pie-eating contest.
- Find a struggling musician and hire their services for the evening; they’re supposed to play every single request your date can possibly ask for, and not break a sweat or crack a grin if either of you sing along while looking into each other’s eyes.
- Play the poet because lord knows there’s never enough occasion for poetry to beautify our lives. If you can’t come up with a small, heartfelt, preferably non-rhyming verse about why you’re attracted to them, just whisk out anything penned by Browning, Shelley or Rilke, for example.
3. Kids: You love them to bits but that may get lost in the daily battle to board the school bus, to ensure they’re well-fed and healthy, and to inculcate discipline and morals. It’s easy to forget that our parents want only the best for us even if they act like the worst in their attempt to raise us right. Don’t let that happen to your kids.
Suggestion: Pinpoint that one thing they know you kind of disapprove of, but which will not really do any harm if indulged in occasionally. This could either be letting them stay up late and watch cartoons with you in bed, or allowing them to have the junk food they crave the loudest.
4. Seniors: Parents and grandparents play a crucial role in our existence but don’t get even a fraction of the accolades they truly deserve. Change all that with a simple but genuine gesture of love to remind them of how much they continue to mean to you.
- Home videos from the past where they were younger can be a great way to celebrate how far they’ve come and a nice nostalgia ride for the whole family. Watch them with the kids if possible.
- Have an artist paint an oil portrait of you with your parents or grandparents. Or get a professional photographer or videographer to capture this special relationship in a way that can be preserved for posterity. The next generation will never be able to forget the loving legacy they’ve inherited.
5. Besties: They’ve been there for you at your best and your worst; know almost every dark and dirty secret but also rally around whenever you need to be reminded of your exquisite uniqueness. There are friends and then there are these shining beacons who call you out on your BS and still stick around to listen to more of it.
- Make a day trip to someplace that only the two of you find special. No spouses or partners, kids or any other stragglers, and just kick back and go through old photos. Recall the crazy things you’ve pulled off together and reminisce about past crises you conquered together. Then take fresh pictures to commemorate the moment.
- Those tacky friendship bracelets had their own charm when you were children, so why not get a grown-up version in silver or some other pretty material? Or get identical watches engraved at the back with your and your friend’s names so only the two of you have a secret souvenir of your extraordinary connection.
6. Community: Your friendly neighbor has always looked out for you, welcoming you when you were new in the building and easing your adjustment period, maybe even babysitting your cat when you went out of town. Your local grocer who always saves the freshest produce for you. Your family doctor has been looking out for everyone you love since ages. These relationships also require acknowledging and nurturing.
- Bake them a batch of cookies, put it in a box and add a note thanking them for their kindness.
- You could also give them a coffee mug with the words My Fave Neighbor, World’s Kindest Grocer, Most Popular Doctor so everyone discovers that they’re as awesome as you know they are.
It doesn't matter if the people you love are closely related to you or not, don't hesitate to show them you care for and value them. And while Valentine's Day is a great occasion to fulfill this duty, don't let it be the only one every year.