I used to hate Valentine's Day. I hated it when I was single. I hated it when I wasn't. Let's just say the over-commercialization of this holiday (much like Christmas) irked me.
If you haven't said it yourself, you've probably heard it from someone else. We should show our love every day of the year! Yes! We should! I'm right there with you! But so are two kids, four loads of laundry, and a pile of bills. I wish I could show my love to my mom, my husband, my daughters, and my girlfriends in extra special ways every day. But I just can't. If you've figured out the secret, let me in on it!
So as much as it pains me to admit, Valentine's Day is an opportunity to show the ones we love just how much we love them in out-of-the-ordinary ways. But honestly, with pink hearts, chocolate boxes, roses, and deals on dinners-for-two bombarding us from all angles, it can be hard to figure out a gift that really shows how much you care. We want to make the maximum impact with our expressions of love. Need a bit of help? To know if a person prefers a candlelit dinner in or a dressy dinner out, look no further than the five love languages.
Dr. Gary Chapman, a renowned marriage counselor and author of The Five Love Languages, discovered after years of counseling and research, that everyone "speaks" a primary love language. A love language is a way to express and experience love emotionally, explains Chapman.
We feel best loved when our loved ones know how to speak our love language. We feel frustrated when they don't. For example, my husband's love language is quality time. Mine? Acts of service. He feels neglected when I pay more attention to Instagram than to him even if he isn't talking to me. And I feel personally injured when he leaves dirty dishes in the sink. We don't mean to hurt each other; we just speak different love languages. But when I go out of my way to engage him in conversation at the end of a long day and when he vacuums the living room for me, we're not only giving, we're giving better.
So if you want to give better this Valentine's Day (or really any day), here's our guide to pick the perfect present for your loved one that they'll "hear" loud and clear this holiday.
Words of Affirmation
It's important for Words of Affirmation lovers to not only hear "I love you," but also "why." A handwritten love letter in detail makes them feel cherished and most of all, known. Whether from a friend or a boyfriend, Valentine's Day is the perfect time to let them know why you keep loving them!
01. Tell the person what you appreciate about them in a letter, poem, or song.
02. Plan a scavenger hunt with little notes of what you like about them in each place.
03. A homemade anagram card or Post-it notes with words of appreciation will fill their heart!
04. A specially made mix CD, with either your favorite songs or new songs that express why you love the person. The lyrics can be words of affirmation, and knowing that you put it together just for them will make them feel especially loved.
05. To make your words more tangible, take a vintage wood box and write on the inside cover "I love..." then fill it with little bits of paper written with all the things you love about them.
When it comes to quality time, this person appreciates someone who plans to spend the day with him or her. You don't have to schedule anything or figure out logistics. Knowing you've set aside the day to hang out together will say plenty!
06. Go on a "wander," whether it be in the city or through a dense forest.
07. Take a road trip with your loved one—good tunes paired with beautiful views are a great backdrop for one-on-one time.
08. Tickets to a show such as a movie, theater production, or live music—performances allow for shared quality time.
09. A meal at a tasty new restaurant also guarantees some time well-spent together.
10. Take a class together whether dance, cooking, calligraphy, wood shop, you name it. Hands-on activities and learning something completely new next to the person you love is a total love bucket filler for the person who speaks in quality time. In a sense, it pushes you to discover more about the other.
"Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift," says Dr. Chapman. This person isn't interested in you breaking the bank; they're interested in your intentionality. A stream of small gifts showing them they're on your mind and worth your time are physical reminders of an emotional truth—how much you love them! Be on the lookout for small gifts that align with his or her particular likes and dislikes, whether it's their favorite cup of coffee or their favorite gum. A creative card and pretty packaging are bonuses. And a special delivery method will make them feel extra loved since they'll know you had to put effort into finding the gift and delivering it.
11. Surprise them with their favorite beverage in the morning, or give her a gift card with a note telling her she can choose something for herself.
12. Sneak a small meaningful gift into their lunch bag.
13. Deliver or drop off a special Valentine's Day package at their workplace.
14. Purchase a book or album they've been wanting.
15. Compile a journal of inspirational quotes or a collage of your favorite photos and memories together and leave it somewhere they'll find it unexpectedly.
Acts of Service
The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Ask yourself what you can do to make his or her life a little easier.
16. Take over a project they've been meaning to do, like cleaning out the garage unexpectedly.
17. Handle the kids and get them to do their chores while mom sleeps in. Or offer to babysit for a night.
18. Research things to do for an upcoming trip you know they're going to take.
19. A gift certificate to a car wash, house cleaning service, or mani/pedi will speak volumes to a loved one whose primary language is acts of service.
20. When in doubt, a homemade breakfast in bed is always lovely. Give them an excuse to lay around in their jammies until 2 p.m. on a Sunday and they'll love you forever.
Luckily, quality time and physical touch are two love languages that are easy to combine. Highlight opportunities to greet them with a great bear hug, hold their hand, or simply snuggle on the couch in front of a movie.
21. Whiling away the hours linking arms or holding hands and reveling in the beauty of mother nature while hiking or wandering through the city is pretty much as good as it gets.
22. A good therapeutic massage goes a long way in making this person feel cozy and loved. A gift certificate for a long, relaxing massage session, from a professional or from a willing friend would be a huge treat.
23. Gift a soothing bath fizz or prepare an aromatherapy soak to relax the muscles.
24. Go out dancing!
25. Learn a new physical activity like rock climbing or take a self-defense class together.