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30 Unexpected, Low-Lift Ways to Show Love (& Like) this Valentine's Day

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Tuesday, and the high pressure that comes with it, is fast approaching. May we suggest two steps to making this Valentine's Day a day that you actually enjoy (neither of which include pretending it isn't happening):

  1. Remember that "loved ones" is a very inclusive term. Make someone—anyone—feel loved on Valentine's Day, and you just might look forward to it come next year. (That person need not be the person you also like to cuddle with.)
  2. Think kind gestures, rather than fancy gifts. We loved putting together small-but-mighty ways to help a loved one or stranger during the holidays, so we thought a batch for Valentine's Day was in order.
Make DIY Heart Stamps Faster Than You Can Say "I Love You"
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Make DIY Heart Stamps Faster Than You Can Say "I Love You"

Take the weekend to plot your gesture, then let the plan unfurl on Tuesday—here are 30 ideas to get you started:

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  • Fix the [insert any broken appliance, door, or cabinet that constantly annoys him/her].
  • Coffee in bed. Alternatively, yes, breakfast in bed, brunch in bed, dinner in bed—but a hot cup of coffee to ease one out of a Tuesday morning slumber is kindness embodied. (You don't live with your loved one? Show up on the stoop.)
  • Hang that mirror, or framed piece of art, or wall calendar that he or she's been too busy deal with. Preferably, this happens while your loved one is at work, so they come home to it.
  • Prep their favorite lunch so it's ready to take to work.
A Take-to-Work Winter Salad Starring Brussels Sprouts, Apples, & Cheese

A Take-to-Work Winter Salad Starring Brussels Sprouts, Ap... by Samantha Weiss Hills

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Lunches That Pack in 5 Minutes (or Less)

Lunches That Pack in 5 Minutes (or Less) by Marian Bull

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  • Warm up the car (or heck, warm up the shower) before they drive off to work.
  • Pick up all the clothes that have accumulated on the bedroom floor. Extra credit: Wash, dry, and fold them, too.
  • Hide a cookie in their work bag. Best unexpected surprise when you open it up to pull out your laptop? Swap in a more hand-crafted valentine if you're the DIY sort.
  • Make a batch of Valentines to take to a local nursing home together. Even better if you've got kids who can pitch in.
  • Bring home stationery, stamps, and fun new pens for writing letters to your reps together. This year, it counts as romantic.
How to Make Stamped Menus Using Scraps of Produce

How to Make Stamped Menus Using Scraps of Produce by Laura Kaesshaefer

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DIY Scratch-Off Cards For Super-Crafty Thank-You Notes

DIY Scratch-Off Cards For Super-Crafty Thank-You Notes by Amanda Sims

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  • Print out menus of what you're making for dinner, to add a little flair to the whole affair. Even better if you're talking family dinner, or roomie dinner, rather than just a 1-on-1.
  • Have a thermos of spiked hot chocolate ready to go when they get home. Top it with giant marshmallows, and proceed with an evening stroll before your dinner plans.
  • Bathe the dog. And put a bow around his neck, so they notice.
  • Offer to take the cart back, from the car to the grocery store. Doubles as a really nice thing to do for a stranger (while you're—you know—shopping for steak and chocolates).
A Genius Valentine’s Dinner Strategy—Tuesday-Appropriate, All Fun, No Tears

A Genius Valentine’s Dinner Strategy—Tuesday-Appropriate,... by Kristen Miglore

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How to Make Homemade Dog Biscuits

How to Make Homemade Dog Biscuits by Erin McDowell

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  • Call. Call mom, call your beloved college roomie you've not kept up with as well as you wish you had, call anyone you love. Don't text.
  • Book a foot massage for them. A gift certificate is nice, but there's a 90% chance he or she waits so long to use it that it expires (making time for oneself can be... hard). Booking the appointment ensures they get pampered!
  • Get up early to... take the kids out breakfast, or to take the puppy out to pee, or to take the baby on a stroll around the block—all so your partner can sleep in just a few more precious minutes. (Totally fine if your ulterior motive is to spend a little bit of extra time with those early-risers.)
  • Make charaben lunch boxes. You might need to practice a little this weekend, but it'll be worth it: Your loved ones will be rewarded with baby animals smiling back at them.
An Itty-Bitty Bento Box That's (Almost, Not Quite) Too Cute to Eat

An Itty-Bitty Bento Box That's (Almost, Not Quite) Too Cu... by Mayukh Sen

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A Two-Step Coconut Bath Soak for Sinking Into After a Long Day

A Two-Step Coconut Bath Soak for Sinking Into After a Lon... by Caitlin Pike

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  • Draw a hot bath for their arrival home from work. Candles, red wine, bubbles, relaxing playlist, and snacks (duh) not required—but the more the merrier, we say.
  • Warm a bath towel in the dryer for when they get out. Would be exceedingly kind for someone getting out of the shower before work.
  • Buy a stash of their favorite candy to stock in their Snack Drawer at work. Everyone should have a fully stocked Snack Drawer, especially on Valentine's Day.
  • Replicate their favorite takeout food in your kitchen. If you're our Product Manager Amanda Russell, this might be a breakfast McGriddle (maple syrup in the bun), but it could also be Spicy Orange Ginger Chicken or Thai Basil Fried Rice.
11 Takeout Favorites That Take Less Time to Cook than Delivery

11 Takeout Favorites That Take Less Time to Cook than Del... by Leslie Stephens

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Salted Maple Honeycomb Candy

Salted Maple Honeycomb Candy by Merrill Stubbs

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  • Surprise them on Monday. Arrive home with a bottle of their favorite wine, Champagne, nostalgic soft drink, or—okay, okay—homemade kombucha. They won't see it coming, which will be half the fun.
  • Reorganize the ___ drawer. The sock drawer, the Tupperware drawer, the junk drawer—anything that needs an organizational overhaul.
  • Do their chores, before they have a chance to. Do they normally clean the litter box, or make the bed, or do the dishes after dinner? Your turn.
  • Make dinner from all the bits and bobs lurking in the pantry. A twofold gift, as pantry meals are some of the best meals and they also result in a tidier, less-cluttered pantry!
  • Embrace the heart-shaped. Make egg-in-a-hole the way [Kristen Miglore's] mom would: Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter (she also turned that inside heart into cinnamon toast, because she's angelic).
Conversation Hearts

Conversation Hearts by Erin McDowell

50+ Small-But-Mighty Ways to Help a Loved One (or Stranger) During the Holidays

50+ Small-But-Mighty Ways to Help a Loved One (or Strange... by Food52

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  • Write a love note on the bathroom mirror. Or an encouraging message, or a moustache—depending on their sense of humor. Dry-erase markers can be used in lieu of lipstick (or the other way around?).
  • Write down everything you're thankful for about them. Or, okay, just a lot of things. This list will run long, but need not be exhaustive, and also doubles as a Valentine template—hand it over at the start of the day.
  • Send flowers. No matter how cheesy this feels, it's always appreciated. Adaptable to loved ones in faraway places, too: Yelp a florist near their home address, ask for something a little less expected (so hydrangeas rather than lilies, say), and see if they'll walk it over.
  • Pick up a plant friend. Here's our guide to giving them as gifts.

For more inspiration, peruse our 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving; and tell us your favorite ways to show people love, in the comments.

Tags: love