Thoughts on Giving: Valentine's Day

Isn't it amazing how quickly Christmas dissolves into "the rest of winter"?

For Tennesseans like myself, we don't really get into the heart of the winter season until Christmas is well over. With the departure of the holidays, a deflated sense of drudgery tends to settle in. It's as though all of society has hunched its shoulders and braces against the frigid, wet-but-never-snowing wind, desperately ready for spring. 

This year has brightened for us though, as the sky has dumped crazy amounts (for the south) of perfect, fluffy-but-sticky snow not once but twice! Such a nice pick-me-up right before Valentine's Day, the next holiday on the calendar that usually involves gift-giving.

I'll be going a different route for my gift to my sweetheart this year. As a budding minimalist who is committed to ethical shopping, I've found it challenging to think of what to do to celebrate such a sweet day. Here are some of the ideas I've rounded up, in case you're doing the same.

 Message from me to my husband on the hood of his beloved Miata

 

1. GIVE EXPERIENCES

Tickets to a concert, play, or movie. A trip for two to a festival. Is your date a sci-fi nerd? Take them to a convention! Sports fanatic? Tickets to the next big game. You know what they like. Play into who they are and give them something they'll remember forever - an experience just for them.

2. GIVE YOUR TIME

We have a friend who is an ex-soux chef, and last year he was my husband's favorite person. He helped le hubs design an easy and totally doable, but really impressive and delicious meal and gave him step-by-step instructions on how to prepare it. You don't have to be a chef (or have a chef friend) to make a delicious meal though. The internet is a wonderful thing, and there are some great resources on how to create delicious meals for beginners. Here's my favorite list.

3. GIVE AN ADVENTURE

My personal favorite. A weekend getaway can be a fun, spontaneous adventure, and it doesn't have to cost all that much to make it happen. Take them somewhere nearby but that neither of you have ever gotten around to visiting and make a trip of it. Pick a place and enjoy what it has to offer - together. The memories will be worth so much more and will last much longer than an item ever could. Here are some awesome weekend spots in the Nashville area.

4. GIVE TO CHARITY

One idea that is always a winner is to give a donation to your sweetheart's favorite charity in their name. There are endless lists of worthy causes, and your loved one will know that their gift will make a difference for a cause they care about. You can also consider donating your time to charity by serving at a soup kitchen, food bank, or animal shelter on Valentine's Day - maybe you could even do it together.

5. GIVE ETHICALLY

If you really really want to buy an actual item as your gift this year, try to make it ethical, too. Here are some options for the ethically-minded who also want to keep it classic.

1. All's Fair In Love Bouquet from One World Flowers ($69 incl. shipping)

Stickler for the classics? Get your sweetheart some red roses - from an ethical source. Local or online, it's out there. One World Flowers has been committed to working with only Fair Trade Certified™ farms to sell flowers that are not only environmentally sustainable but are also grown to promote social justice and economic development in the farming communities. Easy to order and they ship directly from farms in Ecuador to you within 48 hours.

2. Fair Trade Chocolate from World Market

Another classic (and guaranteed to succeed), fairly traded chocolates are not only easy to find, they're also suuuuper delicious. This one is available online or in stores at World Market, and is on the dark side of milk chocolate - the perfect balance.

3. Kiss & Hug Necklace from Ten Thousand Villages ($24.00)

Lovely and ethically made, this necklace is a perfect balance of sweet and understated. Pretty much a win. Available online or in-store at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade chain based in the U.S.A. and Canada. Find a store near you.

4. The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing (Kindle Edition) ($1.99)

Writing your loved one a poem? STOP, in the name of love. Leave it to the pros! (Just kidding, but if you're not a poet here's an option for you). Get your loved one this awesome classic in kindle form, readable on any device so they can carry your gift wherever they go.

5. Fairly Traded Coffee from Just Love Coffee

Coffee lover? Me too. Fair trade coffee is pretty easy to track down locally, but if you prefer online shopping I highly recommend this amazing blend by Just Love Coffee Roasters. Seriously, it's in my kitchen, and once I post this I'll be heading to the counter for my second cup. This company isn't just ethical, it's also charitable. Read their story here.

I hope these ideas are helpful, and I hope you have a very Happy Valentine's Day!