Skip the normal gifts; alternatives for Valentine’s Day!

Contrary to popular belief and a myriad of ads, there are alternatives to the usual symbols of “love” this holiday. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on flowers or jewelry, you don’t need to derail diets or lifestyles with a box of chocolates and dinner and a movie can fall flat as an expression of love. So, to help out the hopeless and maybe even the hopeless romantic, here are a few different ideas you could try this year.

Handwritten and framed song lyrics

Write out the lyrics to your song or to a song that has great meaning for your significant other (S.O.). Make sure it’s mostly legible and neat then place in a frame. You might get a double mat frame and put in a wonderful candid photo of you both to go with it – maybe one of you dancing together to your song!

List your Top 10 memories with them…and why

Award. A parchment diploma scroll, rolled up with red ribbon laid at an oblique angle.  Processed to give a vintage or retro appearance.Make a list of the best memories of your life together. But more than that, take the time to explain WHY they’re in your top 10. Have trouble with 10 or your haven’t been together that long? Do at least five memories. Bonus: pick a number significant to your relationship, like number of years married or the date of your anniversary. Consider writing it out on a scroll-like paper and tie with a ribbon to make it a keepsake.

Make a list of their best non-physical attributes

Make a list of all the little things you love about your S.O. Is it the way she tucks her hair behind her ear while she reads? Does he shovel the snow from the driveway before you’re even awake? Does she find creative ways to make nutritious food taste good? Does he bring home dinner or cook when you simply say, “I’m really tired today”? Tell them these are the things you love about them. You can do the scroll with ribbon on this one as well.

Build them a Love Book

It might be too late for this year but bookmark Love Book Online for the next gift-giving holiday. This website allows you to create characters that look like you and your S.O. Then you can select an unlimited number of pages that depict attributes you like about them, things you like doing with them and things you appreciate when they do for you. These can be highly emotional gifts. And they work for kids, too (I gave one to each of my sons for Christmas and they loved them)!


Learn a romantic poem in another language

Wanna make a girl swoon? Memorize a love poem in Italian or French (or another language – even Klingon if that’s her style!). Light a candle or three, hold her hand and recite it to her. Tell her what it means and why you learned it for her.

Do a painting class for two

I’m a huge fan of the wine and paint classes. Seriously, it’s my personal monthly therapy. And many of those places have couples classes. So – go do it! It doesn’t matter if neither of you has a smidgen of talent, it’s the bonding and laughter that make it a special night. And you might find that you DO have talent! Plus, you’ll have two canvases to hang in your home for the memories.

Love Birds

Check out or for locations nationwide.

Give a full-body massage with no expectations

Many women will give a massage with the hopes of getting one in return. And the going theory is many men will give one with the hopes of getting…something else in return. This holiday, give a full body massage with the clear understanding that you want nothing in return. Make them feel relaxed in every fiber of their being. Start at one end of their body and work every tiny muscle. Fingers, toes, ears, back, buttocks, legs, arms. Every one of those 2,000 parts of their body. And, yes, this will take more than ten minutes!!

Buy them a Silicone Ring

This one has a very specific audience. Is your partner very active – one who plays sports, rides a bike, mountain climbs, skis? Consider getting them a silicone wedding band to wear when they’re being active. This will protect their metal ring while also telling them you support their extracurricular activities. Win-win! (I like these: Qalo Rings)

Silicone Rings

Lead them through a museum where you’ve done research on the exhibits

Does your S.O. enjoy the arts? Take the time to research a new exhibit or the unknown exhibits at a local art museum. Walk through and surprise them with your knowledge and ability to talk about something THEY enjoy (if they know you don’t enjoy it and did it just for them, trust me it’s extra brownie points).

Suggest you get matching tattoos – and follow through

Couple TattoosGot a loved one with ink? Consider getting matching tattoos. Even if you don’t have any previous ones yourself (which might actually be more meaningful to them if you get your first with them in mind). Artists can do small ones on your rings fingers for matching wedding bands, you can get your initials intertwined, your wedding date, etc. It doesn’t have to be large or visible to everyone, as long as your S.O. knows where to find it and the meaning behind it. Tattoos usually have great significance and are considered art by most who have them – sharing one with your S.O. will increase that meaning in their eyes and create a permanent bond between you. Some great examples on

Attend something of interest to them – without whining

Yep. Go to the car show or the home show. Ask questions that allow them to teach you something about their topic of interest. Don’t expect them to engage you the whole time – find a way to enjoy it…see it through their beautiful eyes. Sharing this with them just might give you more insight into them as a person, outside of your relationship.

Show you know their favorite [whatever]

Is there is a special edition of their favorite movie? Maybe a boxed set from their favorite band? How about an autographed copy of their favorite book? All awesome starts! But, also think outside the box. Think about things like an inside look at the making of a movie or TV show. The memoirs of their favorite author. A documentary on their band. Also, check out sites like for literary inspired items, like shirts, temporary tattoos, and other products with book quotes, pictures made from book passages, etc. This Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorites (2X v-neck in Rose if anyone is really interested). 😉

Alice Quote ShirtMemories in a jar

This is a LONG TERM project. START NOW for next year!

Starting on February 15, start writing down all the special times in your relationship and put them in a jar/box/envelope. When you caught her watching you read to your child and she had tears in her eyes. When you saw her teach a dance move to your daughter. When they made your favorite dinner for no reason. When the laundry was done by fairies. Then next February, give this container to them and maybe even read them aloud.

VARIATION: Give your S.O. an empty mason jar (nicely decorated) and a stack of colored index colors this a Valentine’s Day. Keep a different colored stack of cards yourself. Tell your S.O. that you will BOTH add memories to the jar all year. Then next Valentine’s Day have a nice quiet dinner and read the cards to one another.

Get ideas on making a designed jar from Pinterest.

Learn their love language and speak that to them in several different ways

Do you know which of the Five Love Languages you speak and which one your S.O. speaks? For instance, my top love language is words of affirmation. So gifts that speak words of encouragement or affirm the positive in me are going to make me swoon way more than acts of service or even gifts (probably why so many of the items in this list are word related). Do more than one gift to show you REALLY get it.

5 Love Languages


All in all, these are really just ideas to get your romantic muscle flexing again. You know your significant other better than anyone. Find something that speaks to their heart. Remind them of why you love them and why they fell in love with you. Remember, this isn’t about doing the bare minimum so you can say you did something. Make an effort and truly show your love this year. Go beyond the societal standards and speak to YOUR loved one in a way only you can do.

As always, I’d love to hear any additional ideas you have! And if you try any of these ideas or other non-traditional gifts, please share your experience!

XO – Terese

About T.A. Babcock

Writer, artist, mom, special project manager, MS Office Goddess, beautiful dreamer, randomly eccentric lady. (Not necessarily in that order...)

Posted on February 9, 2016, in Holidays and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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