Love Your Partner not Valentine's Day-A Thoughtful and Loving Minimalist Gift Guide
Valentine's Day brings up many emotions for me, most of which is not pleasant. Let me explain. This social construct of a holiday reminds me of the high school popularity contest but on steroids. I first learned about this Hallmark-Godiva-Florists Holiday when I was a mere teenager in the mid 70's. It was my first year in the U.S. When my most of my classmates seemed to have boxes of candies, large or small and red heart filled cards. I was the new awkward, ‘fresh off the boat’ kid on campus, at a Junior High School, and felt out of place and rejected.
Fast forward, as an adult, I almost want to boycott the holiday for the materials aspect of it. Thank goodness I’ve been in America long enough to know it’s just a hyped-up business event where vendors and their supply chains from here to China enjoy the spikes in sales. As a result, more trash from the obligatory wrapped gifts piled up in our landfills and oceans, not to mention the balloons that ended in our oceans causing harms to our marine animals. See this blog about how much latex and mylar balloons blow.
Our family doesn’t exchange gifts for Valentine's Day. We informally promised not to fall for this social construct. We are a tightly knit family and understand our own emotional needs and health. We realize that there is no amount of money nor gifts that can fill a hole in a rocky or failing relationship. No bling, chocolate, perfume, or roses can bridge a communication gap in a couple or family members; it only worsens the problem.
We also understand that temporarily burying the hurt, the anger, and the miscommunication isn’t going to make it disappear. We’d just end up with a higher credit card balance or a depleting bank account. I’m no psychologist. I’m a married woman of 34 years this April who has been with her high school sweetheart since she was 15 years old so I've learned a few things about love and commitment.
Read more about it in my blog Secrets to a Lasting Relationship and get some of my tips and lessons learned on how to make your relation stronger. Hint: It's not chocolate, roses, or bling. Trying withholding judgment and speaking with kindness and compassion. Here are two books I highly recommend:
- The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
- Living Buddha Living Christ by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
Here are gift alternatives for any occasions
For the Minimalist & Crunchy People in Your Life
Consider the Followings:
- Passport Application
- Climbing Gym passes
- Blocks of Yoga classes
- Archery or Shooting range passes
- “Day or Weekend Hall passes-No guilt or questions asked” for your S.O (Significant Other)
- Air-filtering indoors plants instead of roses. See the NASA's list HERE
- Homemade granola or smoothie powder mixes
- Go on a hike/bike with a picnic
- Outdoors Stores Gift Cards, preferably from a B-Corporations that gives back the environment and community. See list HERE
- Pledge to volunteer together on a “Clean a river” or “Clean a beach” Day https://www.americanrivers.org/make-an-impact/national-river-cleanup/
Bonus: Go for a walk and talk about your day then go home and cook a meal together while enjoying a glass of wine. How much more romantic can it get?
For the Minimalist & Art-Food-Music-Bibliophiles in Your Life
Consider the followings:
- Online Newspaper subscriptions
- eBook, audiobook, or music subscriptions
- Get ebooks on S.O.’s To Be Read (TBR) list. And I shamelessly plug my memoir TigerFish and No Ordinary Sue
- Put your S.O.’s old music CDs on digital library or hook them up with wi-fi speakers/iPad
- “Day or Weekend Hall passes-No guilt or questions asked” for S.O. to read or attend concerts with friends
- Go on a picnic and choose a book to read to each other while playing some lovely music on your little portable speaker
- Work through your old CDs and books together to donate to a library. The Friends of Library will sell these and use the funds for the community’ readers
- Online Music gift cards
- Certificates for local music stores for lessons
- Certificates for local indie bookstores
- Season's tickets to local plays, symphony, ballet, or Broadway shows
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Produce subscriptions
- Beer, Cider or Wine Club Subscriptions
- Cooking classes at the local Co-op grocery stores
For the Bloggers, Writers, Makers, and Entrepreneurs in Your Life
Consider the followings:
- Monthly or Quarterly Subscriptions of Grammarly, Canva, Hootsuite, Tailwind, Squarespace, Google Email, etc.
- Social Media Classes or Webinars
- Money for conferences and lodging
- Coaching sessions
- Bookkeeping or CPA fees
- Ergonomic chair and desk
- External Hard drive, Shredder, Power Surge Protector
- Gift certificates to photography classes (Social Media needs good photos!)
- Gift Cards for food deliveries for those deadline days
- Quarterly or Annual P.O. Box for newsletters
Bonus: Read or play an instrument of your Work-in-Progress (WIP) to your S.O. Geek out about a new book or song while cooking, hiking or gardening. I think sharing the minutiae of your day and your passion with your loved one is romantic. It keeps you in touch and connected.
Last but not least, please consider the gift of active listening and rest
It’s a cliche but if you think about it, does it annoy you when someone looks at their phone or doing something else when you’re trying to talk to them? It does me. So put your phone away during breakfast or dinner with your family. Make it a couple’s or family’s tradition. This is the glue that will keep you together because you’ll be talking instead of looking at the screens.
For parents, give each other the gift of rest and sleep to recharge and rejuvenate. Don't be afraid to ask others for help, or trade with other parents for an afternoon or night off. Everyone will be grateful for it.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. Try some of these and let me know how it works out for you. Do you have any tips and minimalist or bookish gift idea for Valentines that isn’t an obligatory gift or waste of resources? Thanks for your readership.