It’s that time of year again.
No sooner is the holiday tinsel down than cherubic cupids take over as the retail decor of choice. Everything is red and covered in hearts, all in an attempt to get you to buy a gift for your sweetie.
Don’t get us wrong — we like the that there’s a day set aside specifically to show people you love them. We love the idea of reaching out and making interpersonal connections.
But surely there’s a better way to do that than with a box of chocolates?
The best gifts come imbued with meaning for both the giver and the recipient. Some people have a talent for choosing a gift that speaks volumes — but the rest of us can learn to do better.
Try some of these out-of-the-box ideas to give a meaningful gift this Valentine’s Day — or any time you want to surprise someone special with an amazing present.
1. The Opportunity to Explore a New Talent
Most people have something they’ve always wanted to learn how to do. Whether it’s using a pottery wheel, figure skating or baking a perfect pie, life often gets in the way of our creative pursuits. So why not give your loved one a nudge in the right direction with a gift card covering a workshop or series of lessons? Learning a new skill is hugely rewarding, and it boosts brain health, too.
The Message Behind the Gift: I honor your creativity, and I support you as you explore new and exciting aspects of your personality.
2. A Little Breathing Room
Valentine’s Day is all about togetherness, but everyone needs time alone to rest, recharge and be more fully themselves. You can support your partner in this endeavor by giving the gift of space. Instead of a spa day or massage — which only last for a few hours at most — give the gift of meditation. Meditation provides a wealth of cognitive and health benefits, including an increased capacity for awe. Also, there’s an app for that.
The Message Behind the Gift: I respect you as a complete person, and I want you to enjoy lasting peace in your life.
3. A Living Companion
Sometimes when you’re bursting at the seams with big feelings, it’s hard to know what to do with all that emotion. Bringing a pet into someone’s life can create a tangible object of affection and focus that energy for good. Forging a bond with an animal is a gift that can lower blood pressure, boost mood and more. An animal can also help combat loneliness if you and your loved one live far apart.
The Message Behind the Gift: I have felt your love, and I know that you have so much more of it to give.
4. A Year’s Worth of Flowers
Flowers are a pretty traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but they don’t last long. Solve this problem by giving your loved one a subscription to monthly bouquets so that the fresh arrangements just keep coming. The beauty of this gift is precisely that flowers are ephemeral: There’s nothing practical about them, so it’s a gift with no ulterior motive other than to make someone happy.
The Message Behind the Gift: I think you are beautiful, and I want you to be surrounded by beautiful things.
5. A Session With a Personal Biographer
What could be more meaningful that the chance to tell the story of your life? At StoryTerrace, we connect people with professional writers to create a truly special memoir. The process allows the storyteller to gain perspective on their life and share what they’ve learned with others — and at the end of the journey, your loved one has a marvelous, hardcover book to enjoy forever.
The Message Behind the Gift: I see you, and you’re so important to me that I want to preserve a piece of you to last for all time.
StoryTerrace client Didin Donckers (left) sat down with one of our professional writers, Eef Lanoye, in the comfort of her home
6. A Lifelong Dream
Gifts are highly personal, and only you know what your partner wants more than anything else. Whether that’s seeing Hamilton on Broadway or hiking the Appalachian Trail, you might be able to make it happen. Not all "bucket list" adventures are expensive, so don’t be afraid to get creative to turn a lifelong wish into reality.
The Message Behind the Gift: I listen when you talk about your dreams, and I want to make them come true.
The Finishing Touch
No matter what gift you decide to give your loved ones, you have the power to make it stand out by adding a personal, heartfelt note. In this world of rapid-fire texting and Facebook posts, a handwritten letter that shares your feelings in your own words is truly precious. So grab a pen and take a moment to open up on paper — it’s one of the greatest gifts of all, and it doesn’t cost a thing.