Let’s face it: a mass-produced, store-bought gift does not say “I love you” to your Valentine’s sweetheart like a thoughtfully planned homemade gift. Sure, sweet treats from the supermarket will not necessarily go uneaten, but if your sweetie likes candy in a red cardboard box from the store, he or she will love your homemade candy hearts made from lemon-infused olive oil and organic cinnamon (get the recipe for these oh-so-good candy hearts).
From cards to flower arrangements, take the extra time to do it yourself and really wow those you care about. They’ll appreciate the extra time and thought you spent on them — and you’ll love the money you saved.
Handmade cards. Whether you want to surprise your mate, attract a potential new one, or simply impress your friends and co-workers, handmade greeting cards are made to please. It can be fun to peruse scrapbooking and art stores for the perfect papers and vellums to accent a DIY Valentine’s card. Write a simple haiku in calligraphy across the front, or paste on a favorite photo. Vintage photos from thrift stores can give all greeting cards an old-timey, heirloom sentiment. But where do you find the time to customize when supplying cards to your office or child’s school class? Try your hand at screen printing! Screen printed card designs are customizable and can be applied time and again, stamp-like, for those days you need to give large quantities of love (and those days should come around often).
When you have crafted your cool card, pop it in a handmade envelope.
A treat for sore muscles. Valentine’s Day is meant for you and your sweetie to schedule in that much-needed relaxation time together. Massage can be at once playful, intimate and healing. You only need to learn a few basic strokes, or hand movements, to become an effective masseur or masseuse (learn from the massage tips outline here).
Giving the gift of loving touch is one thing, but you’ll really wow the recipient when you use a homemade herbal muscle rub. Recipes such as this one incorporate bay leaf and eucalyptus to ease pain, and ginger, which creates a warming effect. But you won’t want to give all your healing powers to your partner — these all-natural massage oils are gentle enough to be used for massaging children or pets, too.
Fragrances from the garden. Television advertising for perfumes and colognes would have you think these delightfully smelly concoctions are something like magic brews — mysterious, unknowable potions a normal human could never hope to create. If you don’t need to smell like a trademarked designer scent, you can create your own personalized smell using herbs and a little oil. Simply fill a glass jar with oil (vegetable oil works well, since olive oil has a scent) and herbs and put it in the sun to extract the scent. Let the infused oil sit for a few weeks. Strain the herbs and use the perfumed oil any way you like. This article on making your own perfumes has even more tips, as well as a recipe for herbal perfume balm. A great gift idea!
Easy, natural flower arrangements. Nagarie refers to a simple, austere style of arranging flowers that has roots in Japan. This method requires no training or talent, but it does require humility in admitting we can’t improve on nature, and a willingness to observe without judging or meddling. To keep it simple, nagarie always utilizes local, in-season flowers when possible (a feat difficult but possible in many places during February). The idea is to make your arrangements look as though they are a snapshot from the fields. Flowers are not clumped in mounds, but instead loosely bunched and allowed to slump into graceful arcs. Cut stems to different lengths to achieve an “un-kept” look with visual, layered appeal. Use grasses and reeds. Use branches and twigs. Use whatever is at hand in the nature out your front steps, and choose an unpretentious vase to display in, such as an old milk jar or vintage bottle. Learn more in this article on the simple art of arranging flowers.
Have a great day!