Valentine’s Day Guide

Whether you’re celebrating with your best friend, significant other, parent, sibling or child…
these ‘gifts’ are some alternatives to the main ‘favorites’;
I also listed better ideas below because we all receive love differently.

Click here to skip to the good stuff.
An asian couple holding hands walking away from- back to the camera. In front of them 2 girls: one white and the other black hold hands also walking away - back to the camera. Chicago 2018

Eco-friendly alternatives to general gifts based on societal standards

CARDS? Unless you know the person saves them and will be hurt without one- it’s NOT necessary.
FLOWERS? Try plants instead of floral arrangements. Plants are good for air quality- some easy to care for indoor plants are: Peace Lilies, Pothos, Snake plants, or the Monstera (fig like) plant. Of course, flowering plants are great, too: Orchids and Amaryllis are easy to care for.
CHOCOLATES? Opt for dark chocolate and one that isn’t seasonally packaged. The heart shaped box is really not necessary. Chocolate in general is not good for the environment and contributes to deforestation, emissions/fossil fuels, and extinction of the Orangutans… but it’s addictive. So the best thing for now is to switch to the lesser of two evils. Switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate and/or moderate your intake. This is better for your health and Mama Natch.
ROMANTIC DINNER? Why not? I’d suggest a local restaurant, go tapas style and share your plates. Try to eat everything and if you don’t finish… be honest with yourself, will you eat the leftovers? If not, leave it; Most of the time the takeout boxes are bad for the environment.
WINE? This one is easy, just recycle the bottle. & If the cork is real- COMPOST!
GIFTCARDS? Just do cash, it’s the most recycled thing- gift cards are unnecessary plastic.
JEWELRY/CLOTHING/SHOES?  This obviously depends on the person and price point. I recommend looking for sustainable jewelry companies- get gold (white, yellow, or rose) delicate pieces, they seem to be timeless. And unless you are planning to propose, stick to bracelets and necklaces.
For clothing, look for merino wool options- socks are amazing and hikers will appreciate them. Another great piece for travelers and hikers in general are button down shirts- flannel, chambray… anything that can be a light layer but also worn alone. Clothing can be fun because it’s personalized but be sure to buy fabrics that are sustainable 100% silk, wool, cotton…  not synthetic. These materials last longer- you can even find some NWT at thrift stores; I have often found Brooks Brothers and JCrew!
Shoes are a little tougher because they change so often- I really like canvas shoes for travel: Converse, vans, and Toms (they are timeless). I also can’t wait to try Allbirds when I need new shoes- they have 100% wool options.

Me standing in front of a garage door in New York City- the door is covered in spray painted colorful hearts; 2017

Honestly, I feel like the VERY OBVIOUS gifts are boring and thoughtless. I’m talking about perfume/cologne, wine…  chocolate. Why are these thoughtless gifts meant to show love? We all receive love differently… So, below I have listed ideas based on The 5 Love Languages.

Ideas based on the Love Languages;
These will only be GREAT ideas to those who receive love in these ways. Make sure you know their love language or they will FLOP, miserably.

Gift ideas for the 5 love languages

Physical Touch: The person who receives love by touch is going to want to have some intimate time alone with you… or if it’s a parent, child, or friend maybe not. Hahah. I think for these people it is important to try and be physically nearby. Make sure you HUG this person! Touch doesn’t have to be sexual. It can be a back rub for your child or dancing with your best friends. My favorite way to receive touch is with a SPA DAY- it can be at home or at an actual spa. If you plan to do an ‘at home’ spa day it should include fluffy towels, and new products- perhaps aromatherapy oils, incense, or LUSH products. This usually includes a massage and can in turn be a great gift for someone who’s language is Acts of Service. Manicure/Pedicures and massages are great gifts for the person who receives love through Touch. And EVERYONE deserves a massage.

Acts of Service: The infamous coupon book- THE KEY HERE IS don’t write things you should already be doing in your role but extra things… things you wouldn’t typically do. I’m sure you can figure this out. You can also hire someone- say a cleaning service 1x/month, grocery delivery for a month… etc. Or if you want to do a subscription meal box- I HIGHLY recommend Sunbasket. Click here for $40 off your first box. A subscription cooking box can also be a great option for Quality time if you chose to cook together. It’s also a great option for any relationship or celebration… especially for a friend far away.

Quality Time: Events & Experiences; this is my primary language!! I highly suggest doing something they love or something new for the both of you. This is one you need to JOIN in on. It can be a hike, a weekend trip, tourist in your own city, concert, comedy shows, live podcasts… you name it. The best gift for someone who receives love through quality time is through an experience. It doesn’t have to be the day of- just tell them what you’d like to do and give them something to look forward to. It can be a ski trip, a golf game… a custom food tour. HAVE A PLAN. Something like “Happy Valentine’s Day, I planned us a weekend/Day trip to *city* and then show them the plan… an itinerary. It shows effort and respects the person’s schedule; this is often a time when a card is necessary. Then schedule it together. Also, make sure you can afford the plan- it is a gift after all. Another thing you can do is purchase a class- I did a pottery class with my mom and purchased the class and we scheduled a date that worked for our schedules. Make sure you think of their hobbies, I’d love a cooking class (I like to cook & eat), she loves art. She really values gifts so this worked in both our languages- I got quality time with her (2 visits, 2 hours each) and she gets a keepsake from it. Quality time gifts can be pricey- especially since it’s for 2 people- look at Groupon, LivingSocial, AirBnB Experience, and even your company work perks.

Gifts: As I just mentioned in quality time, a class that includes a keepsake works here. You may also refer to the above gifts/products I listed alternatives for. Because my mom puts high priority on gifts, she is great at giving gifts, too. People show their love the way they receive it… so she likes to give personalized homemade gifts- THOUGHTFUL gifts. So if you are in anyway creative MAKE IT. It can be a photo album or any personalized gift using a favorite photo, a downloadable custom playlist, or an actual craft you have made (cutting board, painting, candle… ) using a skill you are known for. For Christmas she gave me a solar powered phone charger, bear spray, and a light for my camera (like a flash) among other things. I also suggest buying (and I know it’s plastic) an Annual National Park pass.  

Words of Affirmation: This kind of combines the above ideas, because I don’t think saying an affirmation out loud on Valentine’s Day will suffice. This is also going to need to be a thoughtful, personalized gift. A simple compliment or generic gift isn’t satisfying to someone who needs genuine affirmation to feel love. The best gifts for someone who needs to hear how you feel is (I’m not an expert), I assume, a book or letter. There are books at Marshalls and probably Hallmark that are set up as letters they open throughout the year. You write the letters and seal them in the book and they read them according to the instructions on the outside of the envelope. You can also make a box of letters- similar to this idea. You’ll have envelopes that say- “when we are arguing” “when you are sick” “when you had a bad day” “just because” “on our anniversary”… and so on. In the letters you should be personal and say things you mean. I think this gift should also be paired with a love letter for Valentine’s Day or include a red envelope in the box so they can easily find it for that day. You can also make a customized book online- ITS VERY QUICK, and they’ll send you a storybook illustration of your relationship.   

Personal insight

I’d like to mention, my top 2 love languages are: Quality Time and Touch. The ones I struggled with the most in this post are: Words of Aff. and Acts of Service. I have been pretty good at giving gifts throughout my life because that is often how love was shown to me… However, I was never coddled as a child so acts of service and words of affirmation make me a bit uncomfortable. I actually feel like I owe you something if you do me a favor & get uncomfortable and/or question your motives if you overly compliment me.

I say this to say… if you have a better idea about one of those 2 languages it might be better than mine, although I did some research. And also to say, if you are delivering your own love language… but it doesn’t translate then you could be in trouble. It may BACKFIRE. Either way, the most sustainable ‘gift’ is experience(s); hiking, touring your own town, museums… =)

…Also, if you’re trying to be my Valentine this year, I’m good.

A traveler who has allowed the World to show her that extreme posing beliefs are necessary to find the sweet spot that is revolutionary. Because life is too complex; it’s a balance of black and white; we need to blend the two so we can live in the grey space of an Open Mind. Currently finding a balance in exploring the World and being sustainable everyday.

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