Meaningful Valentine's Day

Other than the Christmas holidays, Valentine's Day is one of the busiest days in retail. It seems like everyone is purchasing something for their loved one. But instead of buying more material things this year, let's think outside the box and give heart-felt Valentine's Day gifts that also impact the world in a positive way.

1. Donate in the name of your love. Find an organization that supports a cause that your significant other supports. Say they're super into nature and the outdoors-- you could donate to an organization that helps protect forest land or an environmental cause. Say they're a strong proponent of self-sufficiency, you could donate to an organization that provides microloans or skills training to help people in developing nations start their own businesses! Check out the list of my favorite non-profit organizations here.

2. Bake a homemade dessert! This one is my favorite. When I lived in Mozambique I would bake on a regular-- chocolate cake, carrot cake, peanut butter cookies, you name it! You get so much satisfaction from making something 100% from scratch. Better yet, try using some fair trade chocolate as one of your main ingredients. Mad√©casse is made in Madagascar and the company was started by a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer!

3. "Experience" a gift together. This type of gift really allows you to be creative! You could go on bike rides through the mountains and have a picnic with a view of the sunset! You could take a class together: art, cooking, photography... You could dress up in weird costumes and go out to lunch and enjoy each others' company as people wonder what you two are doing! Or you could do a random act of kindness together and put quarters in parking meters, or hand out Valentine's Day candy to people on the street. Have fun with this one!

4. Switch to sustainable flowers. Did you know that 1/3 of flowers get wasted in a traditional supply chain? That's soooo many beautiful flowers! Thankfully there are lots of cool companies like The Bouqs that source all their flowers from eco-friendly, sustainable farms, and they only cut what they need once an order is made! This cuts down wasted flowers, and also saves resources like land, water, and fuel. They also provide social programs like adult education, child care and healthcare to the workers on their farms.

5. Give a gift of service. Instead of buying something or going out and doing something on Valentine's Day, what if you just showed that person you cared by doing something nice for them? Helping them with a project they're working on, cooking them a yummy, healthy meal, or even washing their clothes or tidying up for them? If you've read the 5 Love Languages, you'll know that many people show their love by being of help and service. Try it and see what happens!

Have any other ideas on how to celebrate a more meaningful Valentine's Day? I'd love to hear in the comments below! <3