Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's without the $

I realize I'm going to sound like a huge sap, but that old saying, "it's the thought that counts," really is true. With a week left until one of the spendiest days of the year (if you're part of a couple, that is) there's still time to consider a thoughtful gift over a pricey one. Sidenote: The most romantic gift I ever received from a man was actually a simple card; it was what he'd written inside that made all the difference to me.

Some ideas:

Instead of a dozen roses: A pretty plant, with a handwritten note attached. You could deliver it yourself, or delegate the task to a friend. Bonus points if you can get something cutesy going and have a niece or nephew walk it up to the front door for you.

Instead of store-bought chocolates: Bake a simple recipe for brownies, like this one. If you want to get extra fancy, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter (I paid about $1 for mine at Bulk Barn.) PS: Cocoa-based recipes are more wallet-friendly than those based on bar chocolate. PPS: Alice Medrich rules my world.

Instead of dinner at a fancy restaurant: This one is obvious, but make the effort to cook your partner a romantic dinner. Effort is the key word here. No cooking skills whatsoever? How about buying a roast chicken, mixing up some packet gravy, and making a super-simple veggie side, like these cream-braised brussels sprouts (hint: anything with *cream* is pretty much a no-fail). If it's an outing you want, try having dinner at home and then heading out for drinks or dessert afterward.

Instead of a store-bought gift: Think about any other talent you have and parlay it into something personal. I once wrote a short story for my dad and pasted it into one of those little photo flip-books. I noticed that he seems to always have it with him. That's more than I can say for the tortured-urban-guy scarf I bought him.

Some more ideas:

  • See if your local symphony, opera or ballet company offers "Under 30" or "Under 35" discounts (Torontonians, check out tsoundcheck for $14 Toronto Symphony tickets!)
  • If you have (or can borrow) a car, go see a flick at a drive-in theatre
  • See if you can "borrow" a free pass to a museum or art gallery (the Toronto Public Library does this).
  • Go skating and grab some hot chocolate
  • Check out some community theatre or a university production
  • Scan the arts/culture listings in your local alternative mag for things your partner might like to do

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