When anyone mentions Valentine’s Day, you’ll usually get one of two different reactions.
People either love Valentine’s Day and go all out with gift buying (probably spending too much money in the process), or they’re Valentine’s Day haters, who consider it a “Hallmark Holiday made up by giant corporations to leech even more money out of you for a useless holiday with little to no real meaning.”
Valentine’s Day may now be an 18 billion dollar per year business, but it did start out with real meaning.
The Real Meaning of Valentine’s Day
It was a liturgical celebration of (one or several) early Christian saints, but then started becoming popular as a romantic holiday during the time of Chaucer.
Today, the day is celebrated differently. Millions of Americans are going out to dinner and sharing gifts of stuffed animals, chocolates, balloons, and flowers.
Those gifts can add up. In fact, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spends $142.31 on gifts.
Teaching Your Kids to Appreciate Valentine’s Day
I personally love the holiday, but I can’t imagine spending $142 or more on Valentine’s Day gifts. I have two kids, and I love making the day especially about them.
From pink heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast to Valentine’s Day themed kids movies, we try to make the day as fun and festive as possible, without spending a ridiculous amount of money.
We also try to teach our kids to use Valentine’s Day as a day to help or give back to others.
I don’t believe that people who buy into Valentine’s Day gifts are thoughtless consumers, but I hope to be able to raise my kids in a way that shows them that they have other choices. You can celebrate the holiday without being on either extreme of the Valentine’s Day spectrum.
If you want to show your kids (or even yourself) that Valentine’s Day can be about love again, and not consumerism, try one of the following activities. It might just change your perspective on the holiday!
Give Valentines to your neighbors
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just about people in relationships. Use the day to do something nice for your neighbors.
Too often, we go through our lives barely nodding our head in greeting to the people we live closest to. Make a big batch of cookies to distribute or put a handful of candy in a baggie with a note that says, “I love having you as my neighbor.”
I guarantee you’ll brighten up their day, it will only cost you pennies, and you might make a new friend.
Surprise someone with a random act of kindness
Valentine’s Day is a great day to surprise people with random acts of kindness.
Whether it’s shoveling the snow out of your neighbor’s driveway, paying for the coffee order behind you, or simply leaving an anonymous note in one of your coworker’s mailboxes at work, telling them how great they are, use Valentine’s Day to make someone smile.Make Valentine's Day about love instead of consumerism with these tips! Click To Tweet
Share with the community
People always sign up to volunteer in soup kitchens and homeless shelters on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but not as many think to spend any time with the less fortunate members of our community on Valentine’s Day.
Volunteer to serve dinner as a family or call a soup kitchen and ask if there’s anything they need to restock their pantry.
Instead of spending over a hundred dollars on frivolous gifts, consider using that money to give back to the community, and make a real difference in someone’s life.
Make a “homemade gifts only” rule
In my humble opinion, homemade gifts are always better. I love it when someone takes the time to make something instead of buying a gift.
Whether it’s a macaroni necklace from my kids, or a love letter from my husband, I always prefer the handmade alternative to expensive trinkets and clutter.
I want to encourage my kids to put time and creativity into gifts, which is why we’re implementing a “homemade gifts only” rule. My daughter has plans to make a sparkly heart card for her daddy, and I will most likely be making a handprint card with my son to give to him as well.
Think outside the chocolate box this year and see if there is something unique, heartfelt, and homemade that you can make to show your loved ones that you care this Valentine’s Day.
A non-consumerist Valentine’s Day
I hope that my kids can grow up with either a balanced approach to Valentine’s Day spending or, at least, a neutral indifference towards the whole “it’s a corporate holiday” mindset.
You don’t have to go overboard with spending, and you don’t have to have a Bah, Humbug attitude, either.
Remember, you don’t have to buy into the billion dollar corporate industry to celebrate the holiday. Reach out to your friends, neighbors, and coworkers and let them know how much you appreciate them.
Take the day to give back to the community. Surprise a stranger with a random act of kindness.
Making Valentine’s Day about the people, not the things, will help turn it back into what it once was: a holiday based on love, not consumerism.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you love it or hate it? Do you have “a homemade gifts only” rule?