This is the week of love. The week that people around the world will collectively spend millions of dollars to show others how truly special they are. It wasn’t always that way, however. One of the legends surrounding St. Valentine is that he wrote a simple note to the woman he loved and signed it, “From Your Valentine.” Thus, the first “Valentine” was born. Valentine greetings appeared throughout the Middle ages, but they didn’t gain popularity until the 1400s. And it wasn’t until the 1840s that the “Mother of the Valentine” (yes, that is what they call her!) mass-produced the first Valentine. Today, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday (right after Christmas), bringing in over $1 billion for the card and gift industry!
Whether you pay a pretty penny for your Valentine or keep things simple, I’m sure we would all agree the spirit of Valentine’s Day is more about showing love and kindness toward others than the price tag attached to the gesture. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with lavishing your Valentine with expensive tokens of your affection. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can spread a little Valentine’s Day love to everyone around you without breaking the bank, and here’s how:
I’m sure you smile often at your Valentine (hopefully at least daily!) But consider this…Valentine’s Day travels through every day of the week over the course of a few years. That means we continue our regular routines–work, errands, appointments, etc.–in the midst of this Day of Love. The cashier at the store, the package delivery guy, the teacher in the drop off line…they’re all working instead of spending time with their Valentine. I’m sure they could use a sincere smile and “hello.” It doesn’t cost you anything to spread a little kindness through a simple smile.
2. Be spontaneous
Interject some spontaneity into your regular routine and bring along someone you know and love. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant, just out-of-the-ordinary. Whisk your kids off for ice cream on a whim. Deliver treats to a neighbor or coffee to your coworker. Spring for the decorated cupcakes at the grocery store. Pile your family in the car for a special hot cocoa run…skip the closest drive thru and head across town (or to the next town!).
3. Give a little kindness
Show some Valentine’s Day love to a complete stranger with a Random Act of Kindness. No one said Valentine’s Day kindness is only limited to those you know and love. Step outside yourself and your circle to pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru line. Or leave an encouraging note for a restaurant server. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, purchase a $5 gift card from a coffee shop and pass it along to that exhausted mom in the store with the three whiny preschoolers in tow. I guarantee you will make her day!
4. Put others first
This step takes little effort and absolutely no preparation: Think of someone other than yourself. That’s it. Nothing could be easier…or more difficult, I’m not sure which. Here’s the key…set aside your needs, your tasks, your to-do list and look for ways to make someone else’s day easier. Let someone go ahead of you in line. Help an elderly person with their groceries. Stop and actually talk to that neighbor who lives alone. For one day, make it a point to consider others first.
5. Speak life
All those nice things you think in your head? Say them out loud (but keep the not-so-nice things to yourself!) I really like her necklace. That was a brilliant idea. She’s such a great mom. He works so hard for our family. Whether it’s someone close to you, or a complete stranger, take the time to put those thoughts into words, either spoken or written. Give the compliment, send the note, make the phone call. I promise, no one has ever died from giving a compliment.
6. Orchestrate a grand overture
If you have the resources and you really want to, by all means, go all out for your Valentine. Buy the most expensive gift. Whisk them away on an adventure. Spring for the expensive restaurant. Buy the jewelry. Go big or go home. There’s nothing wrong with a colossal-size expression of love that fits your budget and your style. (Make sure it’s your Valentine’s style as well or your effort may not be fully appreciated!)
7. Indulge simple pleasures
So the big getaway weekend is not within your means. Renting the 20-piece orchestra is just not your (or your Valentine’s) style. That’s fine, too. Do something small to show your Valentine they mean the world to you. What tells them you’re thinking of them? What makes them feel loved? A favorite meal or treat? A playlist of favorite songs? A movie? A special outing or adventure? What simple way can you express to the special people in your life that it’s not about what you’re doing, it’s just about doing it with them?
8. Go the extra mile
Choose one, ordinary, everyday thing and take to a whole new level. Instead of your usual lunch out with your spouse, plan a picnic at a special spot. Instead of putting your kids on the bus, offer to drive them to school (or pick them up) and make a stop for donuts on the way. Dust off the fancy dishes and light some candles for dinner, even if dinner is just takeout! Just one moment of creative indulgence in an otherwise normal routine.
9. Make a special treat
If you’re handy in the kitchen, whip up a favorite treat to share with your Valentine, a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, or your child’s teacher. For those of you who are not Martha Stewart…well, that’s why God invented bakeries. Take donuts into work. Order cookies to deliver to a friend. Purchase a special dessert for family dinner or your spouse’s favorite chocolates. It’s not cliche, it’s classic. 🙂 Nothing spreads joy and kindness like a little chocolate!
10. Say it in person
Drop in on someone just to say “Hi! Happy Valentine’s Day!” Surprise your spouse at work (as long as it won’t get him in trouble.) Join your child at school for lunch. Take coffee to a friend. Meet a friend for lunch. Visit an elderly relative who may not have a Valentine this year. If Valentine’s Day is about showing love to those we care about, what better way to do that than in person.
So, there you have it. Ten ways to show you care in the simple spirit of St. Valentine himself. Of course, this is far from a comprehensive list. But hopefully it’s enough to get your ideas flowing.
Valentine’s Day started with a simple note and grew into a $1 billion business. Imagine what your simple act of kindness or gracious demonstration of selfless love could do!