February has already started off with a bang. I hoped and wished all my little “first star I see tonight” wishes for some snow this winter and we got it! Snow makes everything more beautiful (for the first two days and then it can go away and be warm and sunny again). And with all this snow comes coziness and peace… until you have to go to the store. Then, you see the bread aisle is empty, the milk is gone, AND on top of it all: Valentine’s Day crap just everywhere. Valentine’s Day has always been a difficult one for me. The kindergarten teacher/gift-giving-lover inside of me loves to decorate with all the doilies I can find and gift all the tacky/commercial hoopla there is to gift. But let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is pretty annoying. It’s corny and sugary, and sometimes can be a lot of pressure. I refuse to gift a box of chocolate on Valentine’s Day (but will NEVER turn one down). Instead, I’ve gifted an alarm clock, a salmon, and a day planner in the past. So I figured, maybe this year it could be a little fun. This year, my gifts for my friends don’t have to be overly gushy, but they also don’t have to look like things your weird uncle would gift you when he totally forgot that it was your birthday. Hopefully, we can let our loved ones know we cherish them every day and don’t need gift boxes to do so. But still, setting aside a special time to be cheesy and sweet probably can’t hurt either. Here’s a little list of things to do/gift that will definitely keep their value longer than a bouquet of Kroger roses.
1. Experience Gifts: Experiential gifts are so wonderful because their value increases as their memories are held and shared for years. Giving the gift of a museum pass or theater tickets may look a little different this year, but there’s always the option of volunteering or donating to charity in your loved ones’ names. What’s a better way to share the love than to pass it along? And if you’re the type of person who absolutely needs to have a tangible gift to wrap up and give, you can always give a gift that goes along with an experience. For example, hiking boots or a tent for a camping weekend!
2. Romantic Gifts: So you have a special someone in your life who you know would appreciate something a little extra special this Valentine’s Day – and an alarm clock doesn’t cut it (speaking from experience). Cook a romantic meal at home! I know this may sound a little unimaginitive, but try cooking your favorite meal-out at home. By cooking your go-to date night meal at home, you’re able to better control the quality of the ingredients going into your meal (Pst! right now Woodside Farms is doing produce pre-orders on our website where you can order online and pick up in person. And Woodside Farms added tasty grassfed meat from our friends at All Good Acres to the purchase options. So now you can wow your love with local Certified Naturally Grown produce in your meals!).
3. Chocolates… but better: I honestly don’t need a holiday to buy myself or my loved ones chocolate. But, did you know that you can customize your chocolate gifts with your favorite herbs to make a tasty homemade lovable treat? I got this recipe from a professor in grad school:
- 1 cup cacao butter (food grade)
- 1 cup raw cacao powder
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Coconut oil (optional)
- Melt the cacao butter in a double boiler then remove from heat.
- Very slowly pour in the maple syrup while whisking the cacao butter continuously. This is a very critical step and you want to make sure that the cacao butter is not too hot because you are trying to emulsify the ingredients. If you go too fast or the butter is too hot, the ingredients will separate.
- In a separate bowl, combine the cacao powder with the herbs of choice and then slowly add this to your cacao butter/syrup mixture. About half way through add any remaining liquids such as the vanilla extract and any essential oils you want to use. Try not to over stir and make sure not to get any water into the mixture as this will result in an irreversible bad texture.
- Spoon into molds and cool for several hours. Enjoy!
- Cinnamon and cayenne
- Chai: cardamom, ginger, nutmeg
- Pumpkin pie: ginger, cinnamon, clove, allspice
- Lavender and Rose
- Dried raspberries and lemon zest
- Candided ginger
- Cacao nibs
4. Flowers: flowers are always nice to get, but may be a little cliche on Valentine’s Day. Instead, grab some of your love’s favorite flowers now and dry them to incorporate into a gift that lasts longer than a vase of convenient store carnations. Here’s a blog post by the Wellness Mama to guide you through the drying process and with some creative ideas for your favorite petals: https://wellnessmama.com/403578/dried-flowers/
5. Sauna Package: This last suggestion is my personal favorite. It’s hard to remember what it’s like to be hot and sweaty when the wind is below freezing and the ice crunches below my feet when I walk outside in the morning. Infrared saunas are a great gift for the wellness minded love in your life. You can give a gift of a sauna session or book a private room for two and go with your Valentine. Saunas are a great way to detox, relax, and boost your immune system. If that doesn’t scream Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what does.
This Valentine’s Day I hope you’re able to celebrate your loved ones in a safe and responsible way with gifts that are personal, thoughtful, and kind to your wallet as well as the environment.