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It’s almost upon us. The day diabetics everywhere love to hate. The day for which chocolate companies have a giant tear-off countdown calendar posted on the wall.
I am, of course, talking about Valentine’s Day.
Now your opinion on Valentine’s Day could range anywhere from “it’s a scam perpetrated by the flower and card industry” to “oh I don’t know how I’m going to top the romantic shenanigans we got up to last year.” It’s kind of a mixed bag for whether people like the holiday or not.
However, I’d like to go out on a limb and say that us healthy-minded (or healthy-attempting) people out there are kind of sick of the implication that the only way to be a “good” Valentine is by dosing your significant other with enough chocolate to kill a zoo elephant.
My hubby is a fervent chocoholic, but he’s trying to cut back. So this year he issued me a very hard challenge – no edible presents for Valentine’s Day.
The Challenge: A Valentine’s Day Without Edible Presents
So you want to take the diabetes out of Valentine’s Day? Where do you even start? Most of the gifts are either chocolate or candy. Those that aren’t chocolate or candy are decidedly female-oriented.
Let’s be honest. Flowers, mushy cards, giant teddy bears, and jewelry aren’t really on most men’s wish list.
So what can you do if you want to pamper your spouse without putting them into a sugar-induced coma or covering their desk in singing cupid plushies?
I’ve done a lot of research on it this year. The following categories are all ways to give your spouse a memorable and meaningful Valentine’s Day present without all the unnecessary calories.
#1: Gifts From His Past or From Your History as a Couple
These are a personal favorite of mine. In the early days of our relationship, my now-husband mentioned that his favorite toy as a kid was the Hamburglar wind up car you used to get in your McDonalds happy meals back in the 80’s. I happened to remember this conversation one of the first Valentine’s Days after we got married and, surprisingly enough, found one pretty easily on the mighty eBay for less than $10.
To this day, the only thing I regret about this gift is that I have yet to find anything else that measures up to it. He was absolutely blown away that I actually remembered the conversation, not to mention that I found one. And to this day it’s still proudly displayed in his closet so he can see it every morning when he gets dressed.
Anything you get that has a connection to his past or to your history as a couple is guaranteed to be a hit. You can get him memorabilia from his childhood favorite professional athlete, a gift card to the restaurant where you had your first date, or really anything that has a sentimental connection to a place or activity he used to love.
The bonus here is that they are usually pretty inexpensive. And if you can come up with a good idea, it’s guaranteed to be a hit!
#2: Activities that You Can Do Together
This is my favorite gift to receive. Instead of giving a physical present, take your spouse on an adventure.
The range of options here is huge. If you’re on the sportier side, try to find an adventure race that the two of you can do together (Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, Zombie Run, Color Run, Bubble Run…there seem to be an endless supply of these).
If you’re into a certain type of delicacy, you can tour a brewery, vineyard, or some other specialty place where your favorite thing is made.
If you both like the same sports team you can get surprise tickets to a game. (Actually, this one probably means even more if you don’t like the same sports teams and you agree to root for his team anyway.)
If you don’t want to spend too much money, there are lots of gorgeous spots that you can access for free (local parks, trails, or scenic overlooks) where you can easily take a picnic (or takeout from your spouse’s favorite restaurant).
Whatever you do, make sure you snap a picture of the two of you. You can print and frame it later as a fun little surprise gift after the fact and a reminder of what a fun time you had.
#3: Homemade Gifts
These are often the most time consuming but the most meaningful to receive.
Are you away from your spouse for long periods of time? (Maybe he’s in the military or has to go on extended work trips…) Try writing things you love about him on index cards (one each), folding them up, and putting them in a jar so he gets a love note each day next time he’s away.
If you’re artistic you can draw your spouse a picture book of how you met, how you got together, or another notable time in your lives. (Or if you’re not artistic you can make an epic stick figure creation. These can be fun too.)
These gifts can be as large or small as your imagination (and time schedule) allows. Take your time and think about what your spouse would really enjoy.
One Last Thing to Consider
Make sure you take your spouse’s love language into account when thinking of potential gifts.
If you don’t know what this means, you can read this blog post on called How to Express Love to Your Child for a quick overview. Basically, the theory here is that people express and receive love in different ways, so to get someone to really feel “loved” by you, you need to learn to “speak” the love language they understand. The 5 Love Languages are words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time.
When it comes to giving gifts, if your spouse’s primary love language is quality time, you might want to opt for one of the activities described in #2. If they like words of affirmation, one of the homemade gifts in #3 would be perfect. Take a second to think about what your spouse values most and try to match your gift to what they like best.
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder/unabashed digital nerd, PhD student/huge psychology geek, workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of ‘stepmom’ to a preteen and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid. Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just ‘mom’.