Although Christmas and New Year’s occurred only a few weeks ago, retailers are already making the leap to Valentine’s Day, which is only a few weeks away.  The advertising agencies have done an excellent job of designating Valentine’s Day THE day to show your love and affection for your significant other by showering them with expensive gifts such as the traditional chocolate, jewelry, and meal out.  Just visit any restaurant on Valentine’s Day and see how many hours it may take to get a seat, let alone your food.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way.  Fight back against the consumer machine by making your Valentine’s Day more meaningful.  Consider the following:

  1. Start an anti-Valentine’s Day tradition.  My husband and I, shortly after we began dating, decided to never celebrate Valentine’s Day on the actual day.  Our first Valentine’s Day together, we went to a popular upscale chain restaurant on Valentine’s Day and had to wait three hours to be seated.  It was a miserable experience and led us to never celebrate on February 14th.  Instead, we celebrate the weekend before or after Valentine’s Day.
  2. Have friends over.  While Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a romantic day just for a couple to spend together, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Have a few couples over to your home and enjoy a dinner together or host the party potluck style with everyone bringing a dish to pass.  If each couple has children, consider chipping in together and hiring a babysitter to watch all the kids in another area of the house.
  3. Take the time to show your partner appreciation.  Valentine’s Day is a nice time to reflect on your relationship.  Sometimes my husband and I will each write down the 10 things we most love and appreciate about one another.  Life gets so busy that we often forget to thank one another.  Sharing the 10 things you most love about your partner gives you the time to reflect on all the things that made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place, and he will be glad to hear all of them at once, as will you.
  4. Begin a grateful tradition.  When my husband and I reached a rocky point in our marriage shortly after our first child was born, we implemented a policy where every night we told each other three things we were grateful for.  This simple act only takes a few minutes, but it is often enough to help you truly feel grateful to your partner and all that he or she does during the day.  When you focus on gratitude, you can’t focus on all of the little annoyances you may experience in a day.
  5. Make a homemade dessert.  I sometimes make a Valentine’s Day heart cake that the whole family can share.  While Valentine’s Day is typically for couples, kids like to celebrate too.  If they are small, make their day by packing heart shaped cookies in their lunch box on Valentine’s Day.
  6. Have a media free day.  Reader Tiffany from Healthy-n-Balanced suggested making Valentine’s Day a media free day.  No Internet, no TV, no computers.  Just one night to concentrate fully on one another.  In our household, this happens rarely, so a media free night would definitely be appreciated.

Don’t fall into the marketing trap and spend a lot of money on Valentine’s Day.  Talk with your partner well ahead of the actual day to decide what you will do to celebrate.  Instead of feeling the need to buy jewelry or chocolates, celebrate Valentine’s Day all year long by showing your partner on a daily basis how much he or she means to you.  That is often appreciated much more than a one day splash of love.

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