Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day, or do you tend to roll your eyes and write it off as another commercialized holiday designed by jewelers to make us spend money?
Well here is something I was surprised to learn recently… Valentine’s Day presents actually have quite a history. The tradition of lovers presenting each other with flowers, sweet nibbles, and cards (or, Valentines) on Valentine’s Day has been around since the 1400’s!
However, until about the 1900’s, Valentines were always hand-made. Lovers would write poems and stories for their loved one, draw pictures, and fold pressed flowers into their cards. The holiday was more about expressing love and shared history than it was about jewelry or other expensive presents.
I think those early lovers were onto something. Nothing says, “I love you” like taking the time to make someone something, or sharing an experience with them. And if you’re in a long distance relationship and can’t be together on Valentine’s Day, your time and thoughtful creativity in expressing your love will be even more special to your partner.
In keeping with early traditions celebrating creativity, here are five great Valentine’s Day presents that you can make or design.
1. Create your own old-fashioned Valentine’s Day present
Draw them a card. Send them a pressed flower from your garden. Write them a poem, or use the Alphabet to tell your partner things that you love and admire about them (for example, beside “A” you might write: “You are Aware of other people and draw them into conversation.”)
2. A picture says a thousand words
There are so many things you can do with photographs. Here are just a couple of ideas…
Buy them a silly gift and take a bunch of photos of yourself using that gift during your daily routine (take the gift to work or school, take it on walks, etc). Send them the gift and the pictures at the same time
Make a small photo book documenting your relationship to date, or print a photo onto canvas and stretch it for hanging on a wall. Check out MailPix – they allow you to create classy photo books and other gifts (mugs, blankets, bears, posters etc) quickly and easily. They can also print your photos onto canvas and stretch them for easy hanging.
If a “photo book” is not your thing, think about buying them an electronic photo frame and loading it up with happy snaps. I did this last Christmas. Here’s a link to the frame I chose.
Or, send them photos every month, straight from your phone — timeshel is a clever app program that lets you select some of the photos on your phone and turn them into beautiful prints every month.
3. Send them a love story
Send them a good love story with a happy ending. Yours!! You can write it and illustrate it yourself, of course. But if you’re looking for something a little more polished, check out LoveBook Online. Totally customizable, these books let you list all the reasons why you love someone and illustrate your words with casually cute stick figures.
Or, if you’re stuck for what to say, check out these books of questions and prompts to help you get rolling.
If you’re really not up for writing your own love story, send them another great love story. Let them know you’d like to read it, too, and then talk about it with them. Like the idea but not sure what book to choose? If you’re in a long-distance relationship, consider the following more-than-just-chick-flicks:
4. Music, sweet music
Make them a CD. Yes, this is the new and improved version of “make them a mixed tape” but there’s a reason that mixed tapes have become a cliché – they made for very special presents.
So burn your loved one a CD with something specific in mind. You might choose music for them to play in the car on their way to work, or while they’re making dinner at the end of a long day. You might send songs that remind you of them. You might send your own favorite songs, or a long distance relationship playlist like this.
Include notes (or, even better, a video of yourself) explaining why you chose the songs you did. You can even use TINE Tags to stick your video message onto the CD case so they can watch your video on their phone before they listen to your creation. Too much fun!
5. Map out your highlights
For those of you who love visuals and maps, create something that marks places that have been significant in your relationship.
You can buy a map and stick a sticker on every happy memory spot. Then write some notes about what you remember from those experiences.
If you have a bit more to spend you can even make art out of this. The company Tram Scrolls, for example, prints personalized old-fashioned tram-stop signs that list your own special places. This company designs a split two-part heart out of maps. Or check out these handmade and engraved personalized map necklaces.