Valentine’s Day can mean a pretty penny out of pocket for many couples. Jewelry, flowers and a fancy dinner at the hottest restaurant in town can add up quickly, but in a lot of ways these gifts and traditions have lost their meaning and significance. Sure, they’re the pricey options – which, for some, is the only way they know how to show their “affection” – but let’s get real here, this route isn’t very creative… or thoughtful, for that matter.
In lieu of the same ol’, same ol’ this year, consider a thoughtful handmade gift. Yeah, yeah, I know – effort and all. But your significant other deserves it, if only for putting up with you all year round. Plus, I’m here to help. If you aren’t the creative type, or if you’re just stumped for ideas, here are a few craft projects to spark your inspiration.
- The decorated candy jar
Start with a Mason jar with a lid; local thrift stores or even major retailers have these available in the kitchenware section. While you’re out, pick up a bag of your boo’s favorite candy – sweets that comes in small pieces, like Kisses, or the new limited-edition Strawberry Shortcake White Chocolate M&Ms from Target. Also grab a red or pink bow and ribbon or garland to go on your jar. To assemble, wash the jar and place the candy inside. Decorate the jar with the bow and the ribbons (or however you see fit; free printables are available at the blog The36thAvenue.com) and then add a little card with a hand-written message of fondness and maybe a sweet memory or two.
- ‘52 reasons I love you’ cards
This one requires only a deck of cards (minus the jokers), glue, and artistic paper. On separate sheets of the latter, you’ll write one thing you love about your significant other and then glue it to the back of each card. It takes some patience, but once you get through the entire deck of cards you’ve got an incredibly thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift. You can add a small ring binder to keep all the cards together and make for an easier time wrapping or handing the gift to your loved one.
- Chocolate strawberry bouquet
For this DIY gift you’ll need small wooden sticks, strawberries, melted chocolate and wrapping paper with twine. Simply dip the strawberries in the chocolate, then skewer them on the wooden sticks and let them dry. Once dry, wrap them in the paper and tie the paper loosely with the twine for a classy bouquet look and feel.
- Cupcake in a jar
The concept is similar to the jar of candy, but in this instance you get to bake! In simple terms, you’ll bake the cupcake, break it up into chunks and put it in the jar. Once that’s done, tint your frosting pink or red with food coloring and add that on top, then tie a pink spoon to the jar with a festive red-and-white V-Day-inspired ribbon.
- Simple ‘you and me’ photo album
Print out a few great photos of you and your main squeeze that they haven’t seen or aren’t familiar with. Personally, I recommend pulling pictures from your phone or Instagram account using the new Fuji Instax Smartphone Printer; I got one for Christmas, and it’s perfect for a project like this. When you’ve chosen the perfect images, buy a small simple photo album – one that you can spruce up and to which you can add your own touches. Write captions for the photos too – a reminder of where you both were when the picture was taken and what the occasion was.
Going the extra mile
While there’s nothing wrong with the traditional Valentine’s Day approach, going the extra mile with a handmade gift can add a lot of thoughtfulness and personality to the celebration. If you’re looking for a way to step up your game and really impress your loved one this year, let your artistic side take over and make something that they’ll know you put more thought into than money.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon.