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Last minute affordable Valentine's Day ideas

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I stopped by Ralph's today,and from the moment I walked in I could see droves of people (mostly men) heading to the flowers and cards sections. Many of them (once again, mostly the men) had this determined, if not a bit angry, look on their faces. A look that practically screamed "Must buy the obligation. Must find and buy the obligation!" Not one of these people looked joyful about what they were doing, nor did I see love written across their faces.

Ah, the smell of Valentine's Day in the air - or is that desperation?

What is it about this day that drives us crazy? It's supposed to be the day we show our love, but instead it seems like the day most people feel they have to prove their love, or else! It needn't be that way. In fact, I'd wager that all parties involved would prefer it if is wasn't.

So, to help take some of the stress out of what should be a lite-hearted, fun holiday, here are some gift and activity ideas to help get you through the weekend. All are affordable, and there is definitely a green theme to the list. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

  1. Flowers: These need not be super expensive, nor do they need to be a whole garden's worth. What variety you get should depend on who you're giving them to, but you should always try to get locally grown (it will say California on the wrapper somewhere), and if possible organic or fair-trade as well. Many local stores are currently having sales on their flowers, many of which fit the above description. Just as a thought, you may even want to consider the power of the single rose, which is delivered in person :) I'm just saying...
  2. Candy: Although there are many options out there that are organic, fair-trade, and preservative free; sadly I can't in good conscience recommend any one brand that is easily obtained without special ordering them. I wish I could, but I can't. So, instead I recommend buying only what you need. Giant heart shaped boxes seem great in the store, but remember that a) it's going to be in the high 80's on V-Day, and b) giant boxes of candy mean lots of calories sitting around tempting people. Instead of going big, go better, and get a smaller box of high quality chocolates from somewhere like See's, filled with only the pieces she/he likes. It'll be a more personalized gift, and it won't temp anyone completely off their diet.
  3. Gifts: Not all gifts have to be expensive. As long as they're from the heart, they can still mean a lot. Don't automatically go for the obvious, but take a moment to think it out first. Would a $40 candle set be better than a $10 gift card to the coffee shop your significant other frequents (hint: candles suck, so no they would not). Also, remember any allergies that might exist, as that great new perfume might cause you to spend your V-Day in the ER. Making something yourself might still be an option,despite the late date. Check out the attached video for some ideas on what might still be possible. The Center for Biological Diversity is offering free ringtones of animal mating calls, if that's something that might work for your love, so keep an open mind when selecting a gift.
  4. The Card: If you opt for a traditional paper card, then make sure it matches the personality of the one you're giving it to. No butt jokes will ever be funny enough to be on a Valentine's day card, so skip those every time. Many companies are offering free e-cards this year, so you might want to opt for one of those instead. Especially if the recipient lives far away, this will ensure that they actually get the card on time One conservation group has put together some Valentine's day e-card options that promote love and saving endangered species, the perfect combination for those of us who care about the world around us. Check out the website for the selection (caution: some of spicy)
  5. Activities: This year you have an entire weekend to carry out Valentine's plans. Take advantage of that and explore your options for spending time together. a) Take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather (can you say "hello global warming?") and enjoy a picnic together on the beach, or at a park. No reservations required. b) Involve the whole family, and stop by your local Barnes and Noble. The kids can enjoy the special Valentine's Day story time on Saturday, while you enjoy some quiet time in the cafe with your special someone. Call your local store for start times. c) Armstrong Garden Center will be hosting a free class on how to start summer veggies from seed on Saturday morning. If you and your sweety enjoy gardening, or are looking for a new couple's hobby, the experts there can help to get you on started. d) Explore your creative side by painting a pot or two at Painted Earth. e.) Relax at home, and enjoy each other's company. Sometimes the nicest time you spend with someone is when aren't doing anything at all, except being in each other's company.

Whatever it is that you ultimately chose to do for Valentine's day, remember to enjoy yourself. Go to diner, watch a movie, plant a tree, have a picnic; it doesn't matter what you're doing, as long as you're with someone you love.

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