Are you guys as bored with Valentine’s Day gifts as I am? This February 14th, I challenge you to think outside the chocolate box – and give that special someone something far more valuable – an experience. Honestly, most of us have more than enough things and don’t get me started on all of the christmas, birthday and valentine’s gifts that go untouched. I think that what people are really craving are more experiences to enjoy with loved ones.
Think about it, we are in the Age of Smartphones and Netflix – both have helped us become more introverted. Since when did it become “cool” to cancel plans to stay in and binge watch Law & Order for the tenth time? Since when did it become the norm to go out with friends and have to compete with an iPhone for someone’s attention? Anyway, this is kind of off-topic, but my point is, I think we are starved for real human connection. Starved for opportunities to bond with our significant others, friends, family and other important people in our lives. We can begin nurturing our bonds with others any time, but since Valentine’s Day is coming up, why not let it give you the final push you need to stop giving the same old chocolates and flowers and start gifting meaningful experiences that help foster connection.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. That Class/Skill/Workshop/Hobby They’ve Always Wanted to Try
Maybe your SO has casually brought up how he/she wishes she could take better photos? I guarantee there are plenty of photography classes offered in your area. Or maybe they have wanted to get in shape? Get him/her a gym membership or sign them up for a Spartan race- which will motivate them to get to the gym! The list is endless: Dance class, guitar lessons, rock-climbing pass, cooking or painting workshops, etc.
It doesn’t have to be one for the two of you. If your girlfriend and her sister’s favorite band are coming to town, buy tickets for the two of them to enjoy a night out together. Your boyfriend and his friend’s favorite team playing next month? You get the idea. I personally don’t think I attend enough live events, which is why I’ve made it one of my resolutions for 2017 to start going to more. I’ve seen my favorite bands, artists, comedians come and go from my city and not take the opportunity to see them but that ends in 2017! I mean it. I’ve already bought tickets to see my favorite band in July and my favorite comedian in February.
3. That Day Trip/Weekend Getaway You’ve Been Putting Off
My boyfriend and I are the worst culprits of this. We always say we’ll wait until we have more money or more time, when really, taking a couple of days away doesn’t take much of either. If it doesn’t happen, it probably won’t be due to lack of time or funds, it will be because you didn’t put in the effort to thoughtfully plan something. If you need to save up for a couple of months before there is nothing wrong with that, but at least book part of the trip like the hotel/Airbnb or an activity to motivate you to follow through (this trick words wonders for me). Don’t have a car? Get a Zipcard or try the Turo app- we used that on our California trip last summer and it saved us literally hundreds of dollars on a rental car.
4. “30 Days of New Experiences” DIY Personalized Calendar
I did this for my boyfriend a couple of years ago and he loved it. I bought a simple calendar that looked like this, did some research on things to do in our city and filled up the calendar with new things for us to do together that month. Some were free or low-cost activities, one was a concert I got us tickets for and others were restaurants we’d always wanted to try.
5. Spa Day
I firmly believe that some pampering every now and then is not only amazing, but necessary. Give your loved one the gift of a rejuvenating massage, facial or mani/pedi- it will be enjoyed and appreciated more than any gift you would otherwise give. Trust me. Low on funds? No problem. Plan out a DIY Spa Day complete with rose petals, candles and massage oil. Maybe even cook their favorite meal beforehand and have it ready to eat once the massage is over? They won’t know what hit them.
6. Board games/Card Games
Call me nerdy, but I’d choose a game night in with my boyfriend or friends over going to a nightclub any day of the week. Board games help us put down our phones and focus in on the present- a real achievement nowadays. They also promote connection/interaction and can bring you closer to your partner because you’re not just sitting watching TV in silence. Some quick ideas: Jenga, Scrabble, any two-person card game, Dominoes, Chess, Checkers, Boggle or if you’re really ambitious: monopoly (yes, people still play that.)
7. Tickets to a Conference
Is that annual small business expo coming up? Is that motivational speaker she loves coming to town? Personal development course you know he/she’d enjoy and find inspiring? You get the idea. Give the gift of helping them grow personally or professionally- now that’s thoughtful.
8. Romantic Movie Night
This can be for a trip to the theater or a movie night at home. Two years ago on Valentine’s Day I took my boyfriend to a special screening of the original Casablanca film at an independent theater in Boston. Seeing one of the most romantic movies of all time in it’s original form on a big screen was incredible. Check out classic film screenings in your area, or try getting one of those in-home screen projector’s and hand-pick a romantic movie! May sound kind of cheesy, but hey cheesy is in on Valentine’s Day.
9. DIY Project Supplies
So you’ve probably guessed by now that I am a fan of DIY anything. That’s because a lot of people are lately, possibly including your SO! Give him or her the nudge they need to finally complete that DIY project they keep mentioning. Buy all of the supplies, set up a little working space for them and let the magic happen. I get most of my DIY project ideas on…you guessed it, Pinterest- so start there!
I could have just included comedy in where I mentioned concerts and plays but I didn’t for a reason. I think we could all benefit from adding more laughs into our lives and I think comedy is amazing and often underrated. You really can’t go wrong with taking somebody to see some good comedy.