17 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts (And Why You Should Avoid Roses)

Valentine’s Day.

That holiday that creates pressure to be uncharacteristically over-the-top romantic using red roses and chocolates.

Well, if you are ready to try something different you’ve come to the right place.

Here you will find enough unique gift ideas to get you through several Valentine’s Days and probably some anniversaries, too.

But first, please, no more cut flowers and roses.

I’ve been reading How Bad Are Bananas by Mike Berners-Lee and have completely changed my outlook on bouquets of flowers which just happen to be the universal symbol for Valentine’s Day.

According to Berners-Lee, a single, out-of-season rose (aka roses in February) effects climate change potentially as much as four and a half kilos of bananas being shipped from thousands of miles away.

Then if you think about the amount of land and resources being used to grow the roses; land and resources that could be growing food and you are talking a big impact in the name of romance.

And finally, when you actually buy the flowers, they are generally still wrapped in plastic that can’t be recycled.

Not so romantic now, huh?

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So, here are 17 alternatives that are still romantic, will last longer, and be more fun to receive.

1. Handwritten Bracelet

Write a special message in your best handwriting and Etsy will turn it into a handwritten bracelet. A sentimental gift that can last as long as your love. You can even order one in rose gold for a bit of traditional symbolism.

2. What I Love About You Journals

Along the same lines as the handwritten bracelet, this is a handwritten journal that will be not only romantic, but potentially hilarious as you get a chance to show off your drawing skills. Stick figures, anyone?

A fun keepsake that the recipient can look at when she needs cheering up or is missing you.

3. A Love Map

Another unique Valentine’s Day gift that will last longer than a rose, the love map can be any significant place to mark a significant point in your relationship- where you met, first kiss, first “I love you’s,” cities where you’ve lived together, and so on.

4. Star Map

Again, with maps, but this time-maps of the stars. You give a date and time when your relationship started and you will see what the stars above may have looked like at that moment. The moment was written in the stars. Cheesy! But so romantic.

5. Have Your Song Turned into Art

Maybe you both have a song that you sing together, a song that reminds you of each other, or a song from a significant moment like a first dance. Whatever the song have it turned into a beautiful, contemporary piece of soundwave art that will remind you of each other when you see it, but give you an earworm as well.

Not all gifts need to last forever as a keepsake.

Making your own hamper can be as individual as your partner. You can spend as much or as little as you want. You can make it themed. Think of it as a Date Night In, in a box.

The box or basket can be something you already have and use scarves for the base and wrapping.

Assuming you pick goodies your partner will use up, this can be a great minimalist-style gift with little to no waste depending how careful you are at finding plastic free items.

Good thing you have this list!

6. The Cinema Hamper

Put in a DVD (easily found second-hand with no packaging) or a picture of your online rental along with some popcorn, a candy treat for each of you, and maybe a cozy, recycled wool blanket to snuggle in on the couch.

Order some take-away so no one has to cook (unless you want to). And you are set for a night in. If you have young kids, you both know how rare this experience is now!

Easily turn the gift into a night out with cinema vouchers instead.

7. The Relaxing Hamper

Create a spa evening for two by putting together some rose scented soap, yummy smelling heart-shaped bath bombs, some massage oil and either scented soy wax candles or a diffuser with some essential oil.

Relax in the bath, exchange massages, and see where it takes you. No aphrodisiac necessary.

8. The Saucy Hamper

This is similar to the Relaxing Hamper, but with a little extra something. Grab a Gin and Tonic Hamper, or Prosecco and Clementine and throw in a small (or big) bottle of the real thing. A Saucier version of the relaxing hamper, but since you’re home, no one has to drive so you both can let loose.

9. The Chef Hamper

Making a meal together can be fun. Lee and I used to cook together when I still lived in California. We’d pick a recipe and make it together. For me it was an early lunch and for him a late T. But it worked.

Find a recipe and maybe handwrite it on a cute recipe card to keep and make again.

Throw in some ingredients and maybe a personalised wooden spoon and a couple of aprons, and you both can cook up some love in the kitchen. How and where you decide to eat it is up to you.

10. The Inner Child Hamper aka Sundae Hamper

Find a couple of cute soda fountain glasses, tall spoons, an ice cream scoop, chocolate sauce, and any other toppings of your choice and you can have an ice cream sundae party for two big kids.

Ok, so maybe we want to be a little more adult for this holiday. And maybe you want to get out of the house.

Memories make the best presents, can cost as much or as little as you want and- if they’re good ones-will last a lifetime.

So here are some unique Valentine’s Day date ideas besides a “romantic meal” for two.

11. Chocolate Making Class

Why buy chocolates when you can make them together and eat them together?

Potentially messy fun and a sweet experience.

12. Make Rings

Instead of buying jewellery, make it! This could also be an interesting way to “pop the question” if you are so inclined.

Already married? This could be a fun anniversary gift and then renew your vows.

13. Winemaking

Sampling your creations along the way could call for a night out as well or at least a taxi. Lunch is included as well as a tasting of award-winning creations in case yours aren’t as stellar.

14. Stargazing

Get away from the light pollution to spend an evening under the stars. Peaceful, romantic, and a chance to cuddle if there’s a chill in the air.

15. Surf, Pizza, and Prosecco for Two

What’s not to like? A beach day, pizza, and prosecco! Unique Valentine’s Day gift for the win!

16. Canoeing for Two

Maybe you prefer to stay out of the water.

So, working as a team to canoe a canal could be fun and if you have a large meal after, you can enjoy it knowing you got some exercise in as well.

17. Swing Dancing

Dancing is so much fun. I took ballroom dancing for a year and a half and all walks of life were in there having a ball. Give it a try and you may have a new hobby to enjoy as well.

Experiences are only limited to your imagination. It’s a thoughtful gift and memorable.

They are my favourite to receive. They don’t have to be extravagant or expensive- taking a yoga class, or getting a couples massage are great choices for getting out and doing something besides dinner and drinks.

If these particular experiences aren’t in your area you can search Travelzoo, Airbnb, and Groupon for experiences by region and there are tons out there!

Hopefully you have found the list inspiring and made planning Valentine’s Day a little easier.

Oh, and if you get a card, avoid the glitter so it can be recycled.

Let me know in the comments below some of the best gifts you received for Valentine’s Day? How about the worst?

The One Tip to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions (And Some Eco-friendly Resolution Ideas, Too)

According to U.S. News, of those of us that make New Year’s resolutions 80% fail by February.

Turns out, I’m not one of them.

Now, granted, my resolutions weren’t grandiose, just basic goals to improve my life.

Many people choose exercising as made apparent by all the extra gym members for the month of January.

Some may decide to eat healthy, quit a vice, get out of debt or save money, spend more time with family. or something like being less stressed or happier.

These are all great resolutions and would benefit anyone who can keep them.

But how do you keep your New Year’s resolutions?

 

Start by only choosing one resolution.

Too many resolutions are overwhelming and sets yourself up for failure. So, choose one and when you succeed then you can move on to another goal.

For me, my first successful resolution was to floss regularly.

It looks so lame typed out.

But it was my New Year’s resolution in 2006 and still part of my daily routine 14 years later.

So, what was the one trick I found that let me be successful?

Build failure into the resolution.

Yup, part of my resolution includes me messing up.

It’s the one thing that throws us off track of any resolution, or goal for that matter.

You probably find that when the New Year rolls around or a new month, or even a Monday, you find you have all this motivation and enthusiasm to complete your goals.

And then you screw up.

Maybe you keep going.

Then you screw up again.

You encounter an obstacle. Things are tough.

Suddenly all the enthusiasm wanes and the next screw up, you say, ‘screw it’ and give up.

But instead of letting it get to that point, acknowledge that you will not be perfect.

For flossing, my resolution was “Floss my teeth 5 days a week.” (Still sounds lame).

My dental hygienist was concerned and asked me why only 5.

I told her that I knew life happens and there would be days where I couldn’t (or just flat out didn’t want to) and I didn’t want the slip ups to make me quit.

If I got all 5 of my flossing days in and decided to keep going I could and eventually I did and it became part of my morning routine.

But if I had a reason not to in the beginning, it was no big deal because I gave myself screw up days each week.

This worked for me with a gym resolution the following year as well.

This year’s resolution is to practice gratitude (using a journal) three days a week.

I’d love to make it five, but I really want this one to stick and I know my schedule at the moment so three will probably be just right.

Struggling to come up with a resolution? Skip it.

I’m sure you set goals in other ways and the above tip works for any goal you set for yourself not just on New Year’s Day.

If you would like some eco-friendly resolutions, I’ve put together a list below for you along with some wiggle room for fails (just in case).

 

1. Give up one single-use plastic item in your home.

 

Single-use plastic is a huge problem worldwide-it’s the worst kind of litter because it doesn’t break down, it’s not likely to get recycled, and companies keep making more.

Try finding an alternative for just one product and see how it goes. If you made the transition, you can push the resolution farther and make it two products.

Make it simple.

• Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
• Use a shampoo bar instead of a bottle
• Buying loose produce instead of packaged
• Use powder detergent in a box

Maybe you try switching a product and it doesn’t work for you.

Don’t sweat it, try something else.

Find one item to be successful with.

Once you do the plastic will be on your radar all the time and you might be tempted to try more, like these easy zero waste kitchen swaps.

2. Pick up one piece of rubbish and put it in a bin when you are out with your family.

 

This is a good one to do as a family. When you’re on an outing, each commit to putting one piece of litter in a bin.

This is easy to do at parks, beaches, or in town. Anywhere there are facilities to wash your hands after. Once everyone has picked up their one piece, you continue enjoying your outing.

If you don’t have a way to clean your hands after, skip it. There’s no need to expose yourself or your family to extra germs.

3. Volunteer once a quarter.

 

Only 4 times in the year. You and I know that life gets hectic, especially with kids, but volunteering is just as good for you as it is for whoever you choose to help.

Find a cause you would like to support and sign up. If you didn’t like the experience, find another and try again in a few months.

The idea is to just do it. Commit it to the diary and don’t change it. It’s only 4 times and who knows, you may find you enjoy it so much that you volunteer more maybe you involve your family, too.

4. Make Self-Care a Priority

 

Ok, so this isn’t really an eco-friendly resolution, but a happier, more relaxed version of you makes the world a better place so let’s say this falls under greenish.

As a mum, we feel like we haven’t a second to ourselves and often find we don’t even rank in top 5 for who/what we take care of first.

Time for a change.

Taking time for yourself is huge in helping your mental health, motivation, and well-being in general.

Taking care of you makes you a better mum, a better partner, a better person because you are giving you what you need.

Some ideas.

• Pick one day a week to give yourself 30 minutes of pampering.

A facial? Pedicure? You don’t have to pay to have this done. I do a face mask once a week. 15 minutes relaxing and then a shower.

I have found showering in the evening when Lee is home allows me some flexibility in how long I can take. Find what works for you.

• Hydrate.

Just drink water so your wee doesn’t stink and is light yellow. Picking so many glasses to drink is hard to commit to.
Instead carry a bottle with you.
I like to drink a glass of water after each wee. Put back what came out, right?

• Give yourself a bedtime.

Yes, having some quiet time without the kids is lovely, but staying up to enjoy more just leads to a run-down, potentially crankier version of you.

Making sleep a priority gives you more energy during the day and keeps you healthier because your body has time to fight off the bugs you encounter during the day.

If you set an early bedtime, you can also wake up before the kids and have a quiet hour to yourself to prep for the day.

I have not made this a habit myself (yet) but can say that having that hour in the morning is a beautiful thing and makes me quite productive, too.

• Learn a skill

What is something you have wanted to learn to do? Make it your resolution to commit to learn it.

Pay the money and find a class once a week so it doesn’t strain anyone taking care of the kids and doesn’t burn you out.

Most local colleges offer adult courses in hobby-type skills like sewing and cake decorating. You can also look to specific studios for yoga, dance, and martial arts, etc.

If it’s something you really want to do and enjoy, taking the slow and steady route to get there won’t be a bad thing.

Once you have set your resolution or goals for the coming year, remember to give yourself some grace. Progress is better than perfection. Celebrate the wins instead of focusing on the fails.

Life isn’t perfect and once you realise that you won’t be either, it’s much easier to be content and enjoy the process of improving your life, no matter how many tries it takes.

What is your resolution for this year? Comment below and let me know what strategies keep you on track.