Replace Valentine’s Spending with Better Displays of Affection

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Replace Valentine’s Spending with Better Displays of Affection

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If this is the year you can afford to give your sweetheart a diamond necklace, a five-star night on the town, or a getaway to the Caribbean, more power to you. For the rest of us, though, let's pause to think about what Valentine's Day really means, and how we can express our love for our significant others without spending aReplace Valentine’s Spending with Better Displays of Affection bundle.

Before we get into it, a note: from everything I've seen, the burden is typically on the guy's shoulders to shower his lady with goodies at Valentine's Day. So my thoughts here are tilted mostly toward men in that situation.

But we're also living in the 21st century, so it certainly doesn't always work that way. Even more importantly, whoever's on the receiving end of the gifts can also do a lot to communicate clear expectations. So even if you're the one waiting for your partner to "surprise" you with a Valentine's treat, read on.

How Do You Say "I Love You"?

The advertisements and store displays want you to say "I love you" with jewelry, chocolates, a hundred roses, or something even bigger. But, especially if money is tight, what will your sweetheart actually care about? My guess is that they'll care about sharing some of these good feelings:

  • Affection
  • Togetherness
  • Closeness
  • Warmth
  • Humor
  • Attraction
  • Respect
  • Caring

Yeah, I know that those aren't as showy as new diamond earrings, a massive floral display, or, for that matter, a sleek new power tool. But the feelings on that list are the things that most couples really care about, down deep.

In fact, I'll take it a step further and say this: if what you or your significant other really cares about is the carat weight of the diamonds, or the headcount of the roses, you need to stop and take a sober look at your relationship. Sure, material things can be wonderful for their beauty and for the comforts they bring. But they make a terrible foundation for a relationship.

In my experience -- and I've been happily married for a long time now -- the best ways to say "I love you" are with words, actions, and tokens of affection that conveyReplace Valentine’s Spending with Better Displays of Affection how much you care about the other person, and how much it means to you to share affection, attraction, respect, and other good --intangible -- things with them.

"The Sweetest Gift You've Ever Given Me"

But okay, your sweetie is going to want something tangible that she (or he) can hold, admire, and maybe even display so that others can "Ooh" and "Aah" over it. Here are just a few ideas for inexpensive tokens of affection for your Valentine. While you're reading it, think of others that you could add in the comments.

  • Write a poem. It doesn't have to be long, it doesn't have to rhyme, and it doesn't have to be good enough to publish. It just needs to be from the heart. Maybe it's time that you walked down Memory Lane a little bit, or complimented your significant other in some deep way, or even just thanked them for putting up with you for all these years. Print the poem neatly, glue it inside a nice card, and hand it over on the big day.
  • Draw a picture. Represent something that means a lot to the two of you -- a heart as an icon of your love, or a big glowing "X" for your first kiss. Put it on that same card, if you like. Again, it doesn't have to be good enough to hang in a gallery -- it just needs to be genuine.
  • Make a collage. Maybe you're not a writer or an artist. No problem. Just get a big piece of construction paper or posterboard for the backing, and a big stack of old magazines or copies of family pictures for the raw material to put on it. Spend an hour with some scissors and glue, and you'll have a Valentine's image that your true love will never forget.
  • Make a playlist. When I was a teenager, sweethearts did this with mix tapes. The technology has moved on, but it's still a great idea. That album of shared favorites (the first song you ever danced to? music from your wedding?), plus a few surprise favorites of your own, makes for an irreplaceable gift.
  • Sing a song. Embrace your inner troubadour! Serenade your spouse by moonlight, or record yourself singing "I Only Have Eyes for You" or some other romantic classic. (No one's going to care if you can't hit the high note.) If you can't carry a tune, no worries -- play up the angle that you're willing to embarrass yourself, if that's what it takes to convey your love.
  • Make dinner. This is a great one for guys in households where the woman takes on most of the cooking. Find something simple and tasty that even you can fix, and then prepare it with gusto. (If you have kids, enlist them to serve as waiters.)
  • Bake cookies. What's better than a box of fancy chocolates? A batch of your favorite cookies -- made from scratch, fresh from the oven, and delivered by the love of your life.

What would you add to this list? And what are you doing to make Valentine's Day more about love and less about conspicuous consumption?

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 Tim WalkerTim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated CareOne Blogger

Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk or follow us by clicking here!

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  • So even though I liked her post, I'm going to suggest five reasons you should do your Christmas shopping early.

  • Maybe if we start the practice of giving thanks out loud here in November, we can carry it on well past the holiday season. It's certainly worth a try!

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