5 Ways to Make Valentine's Day More Meaningful

by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter, Pilates and Barre-Certified

As we seek ways to honor our loved ones on Valentine’s Day, many people feel compelled to conform to the cultural ideals of extravagance and excessive spending. Card companies, florists, restaurants, jewelers and candy makers have led us to believe that sending cards, delivering roses, sharing a decadent meal, giving pricy jewelry and sending heart-shaped truffles are the best way to prove our love. Forget that pressure! Follow these tips to feel good while making your significant other, family, friends and even strangers feel truly cherished. 

1.  Get fit as you give back. Sign up for charitable "exercise" where you can get the double benefit of helping others while you help yourself. Not only is giving back a great way to keep perspective of how good your current relationships are, but it lifts spirits and makes you feel more connected to people. So, grab your loved one (or go solo and make new friends!) and take part in a charity race, walk shelter dogs, build houses for the homeless, play sports with disabled and disadvantaged kids, or go eco-running. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by giving – and receiving – the gift of health?

2.  Provide random acts of kindness. Kindness feeds our soul. Deliver flowers to a random couple, buy a gift card for someone special, leave carnations on your coworkers’ desks, donate blood, hand out candy bars to a children’s hospital, give a stranger a genuine compliment, drop off pet food at an animal shelter, offer to buy a homeless person a meal, babysit for a busy couple … the ideas are endless!

3.  Plan a dream date – that won't cost you a cent. Tell this person that the sole topic of conversation will be hearing about their dreams – their bucket list, their passions, hopes and goals, where they'd like to travel and who they most admire. Allow them to talk freely, and later on see if you can help make any of their dreams a reality. 

4.  Give chocolate with a purpose. It’s true; sometimes Valentine's Day just isn’t complete without chocolate. Eat and buy your sweets guilt-free by purchasing fair trade chocolate, such as from Divine Chocolate USA, which is owned by cocoa farmers from Ghana. Fair trade guarantees that farmers earn a fair, livable wage for their work and aren't exploited in the process. For the animal lover in your life, consider Rescue Chocolate. From each chocolate purchased here, 100 percent of the net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations around the country.

5.  Thoughtfulness outweighs it all. Most people will treasure thoughtful or creative gifts more than ridiculously lavish or cliché gifts. A reenactment of your first date, a heartfelt message of love and appreciation, a scrapbook filled with mementos, a well-planned homemade dinner or dessert, or an at-home movie night with their favorite flicks will almost always be more memorable than yet another necklace or night out at a restaurant. 

It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of Valentine's Day materialistic expectations. This time around, remember that we are all worth much more than any amount of money can measure.