In our society, we typically equate great gifts with great cash. But you don’t need to splurge on a gift to spoil your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. In fact, it’s often the low or no-cost presents that are most meaningful anyway.
“To this day one of the most thoughtful gifts my husband has given me was a fishing tackle box he bought at a garage sale when we were first married,” said Christina Steinorth, MFT, a psychotherapist and author of Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.
Steinorth doesn’t even fish. But her husband bought the box to help her organize her jewelry, which she was regularly misplacing. She still uses it today.
If you’re stumped on what to do for your beloved, here are five gift ideas that cost little to no money but nonetheless make a sweet treat.
Use Your Senses
Just looking at old photos of our dates with our partner can make us re-experience those same fond feelings, according to Ashley Eder, LPC, a psychotherapist who works with couples in Boulder, Colo. “Not only do you trigger the memories, but you also call on the aptly-named mirror neurons in your brain to re-create the emotions you see in the pictures.”
Rekindle these giddy feelings by creating a photo collage. Or compile a playlist or CD of significant songs for you as a couple. “Pay attention to how you feel as you create the playlist and experiment with songs and song order until you find the emotional ambience you’re looking for.”
She also suggested re-creating a meal. Not only do favorite food experiences reside in our memories, but they also dwell in our bodies, Eder said. “Whether you went to a favorite restaurant together or made something together at home, the familiar blend of flavors and textures will remind you both of a shared experience.”
Pledge a Promise — and Keep It
This promise can be anything from thoughtful to sexual, Steinorth said. She gave the following examples:
I promise to:
- “Give you a massage once a week for the next year.
- Walk the dogs in the morning so you can sleep in.
- Do the laundry every other week, so you get a break too.
- Put my dishes in the dishwasher.
- Pick up my socks.
- Not leave my makeup all over the house.
- Hold your hand when we walk together.
- Hug and kiss you before I leave for work in the morning and when I come home at night (my favorite!).”
Show Your Love on the Web
Technology often takes us away from our partners. Use it to bring you together, instead. Today, you’ll find many resources that let you create Web pages for free. Steinorth suggested taking advantage of these services for Valentine’s Day.
“Write a poem, talk about your feelings, include pictures of the two of you—it can be romantic, sweet and fun.”
Count the Ways You Love Your Partner
“All of us like to hear why our partner loves us,” Steinorth said. Create a list of the top 10 reasons you love your partner.
“For a low-cost upgrade, have it framed after Valentine’s Day and hang it where your partner can see it every day.”
Watch a Sunrise or Sunset
If you’re interested in a simple but romantic date, surprise your partner by savoring a sunrise or sunset together.
“Bring a blanket, leave your electronic devices at home and just enjoy each other’s company,” Steinorth said.
As she said, “Valentine’s Day gifts don’t need to be expensive to be meaningful.” Often, it really is the thought that counts.