Skip the roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates this Valentine’s Day. Instead, give your sweetheart something meaningful, heartfelt and eco-friendly—that won’t clutter up their home

  1. Restore a beloved possession: polish a piece of heirloom jewellery, repair an old watch, tune a musical instrument, or replace the cracked glass in a framed photo.
  2. Bake a decadent dessert—or order one for takeout from a nearby resto or bakery (which has the benefit of supporting a local business during the pandemic). Make sure to request no disposable cutlery or napkins. Once at home, break out the good plates and cutlery for a restaurant-worthy presentation.cakePhoto by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash
  3. Order a personalized video, chat or Zoom call from your Valentine’s most stanned celebrity. The impressive Cameo roster has thousands of choices, everyone from David Hasselhoff and Melissa Etheridge to Ice T and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. Select from basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Motown legend Smokey Robinson, and Game of Thrones’ Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or Night King (Richard Brake). Even animals are in on the fun, with Fiona the Hippo, Puggy Smalls, Lola the Sloth, Einstein the African Grey Parrot and a whole menagerie of other critters available for a personalized message.
  4. Sign up for an online class that the two of you can do together.
  5. Order organic, ethical, non-GMO seeds for veggies, fruits, herbs, flowers and more from West Coast Seeds. And if you select the Bonnie Henry Pollinator Blend, a mix of seeds for colourful Cosmos flowers, your purchase honours B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer and all of the proceeds go to Food Banks Canada.
  6. Purchase tickets to an online concert, play or comedy show to watch together.
  7. Write a heartfelt song, poem or story. It doesn’t have to be worthy of Shakespeare, as long as it’s sincere (and doesn’t contain typos).serenadePhoto by Andrew Ly on Unsplash
  8. Give your loved one the opportunity to make a microloan through Kiva. This non-profit helps individuals in more than 80 countries borrow money to start or improve a business, enroll in school, or pay for emergency care. Maybe your sweetie will decide to lend to a family in Ecuador that wants to expand their farmland, or a single mother of five in Tajikistan who needs new fabrics to scale up her sewing business. Each time the microloan is repaid, your sweetheart can choose a new recipient to lend the funds to, over and over again—it’s the gift that truly does keep on giving.
  9. Get an annual membership to a museum or gallery. Even during the pandemic, many are offering virtual tours or special events online, such as artist talks.
  10. Give the gift of an adrenaline rush: bungee jumping, skydiving, a ride in a hot-air balloon. hot air balloonPhoto by Nick Torontali on Unsplash
  11. Use your sweetie’s favourite platform (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, etc.) to make a custom playlist. It’s the modern equivalent of a mix tape—but you don’t have to spend hours waiting for the radio DJ to play your song. You can even make multiple playlists, each one tailored to a specific activity: relaxing songs for soaking in the tub, songs with a great beat for exercising, upbeat songs for doing chores.
  12. Buy a gift certificate for a relaxing massage, facial or other afternoon of pampering.
  13. If the February drizzle (or worse, snow) doesn’t allow for a full-meal picnic in the park, you can instead bundle up and bring an umbrella, warm blanket, thermos of tea or coffee, and some ethically produced chocolate for a winter-weather outing.
  14. Find an electronic copy of a favourite book, album or movie.
  15. Pay for a subscription to Netflix, Crave, Disney+, ESPN+ or any one of the countless other streaming services. Then snuggle up on the couch together with some popcorn to enjoy it.
  16. Ask friends and family to share favourite recipes, then store them all in a digital-friendly format for a tablet.
  17. If your Valentine cycles a lot in the winter weather, get them a Canadian Automobile Association membership, since the roadside assistance for most CAA clubs now also covers bicycles. It’s not a sexy gift, but it shows that you care about their safety.
  18. Make a voice recording—perhaps of you reading a cherished poem or passage from a book, maybe of the kids saying something funny, perhaps of your sweetie’s 100-year-old granny talking about what a cute couple you two make.
  19. Buy an online subscription to your sweetheart’s favourite newspaper or magazine. Bonus: You’ll be supporting good journalism, which is needed more than ever these days.
  20. Secretly complete a task that has been on the to-do list for ages: clean out the garage, organize the photo albums, alphabetize the bookshelves, paint the spare bedroom, hang the artwork.
  21. Lions and tigers and polar bears, oh my! Adopt any one of these endangered species—virtually, of course—through the World Wildlife Fund. pandaPhoto by Bruce Hong on Unsplash
  22. If your Valentine is a fitness buff, pay for some online classes or a fitness app subscription. (Warning: This gift can backfire horribly if you don’t know 100 percent for certain that your loved one would view it as a gift instead of a criticism. Who can forget the uproar over the Christmas ad in which the husband gives his wife a Peloton bike?)
  23. Even if dining out isn’t happening for most of us right now, you can still order a takeout meal from your valentine’s favourite restaurant and pair it with a bottle of wine and a new movie streamed from Cineplex.
  24. Compile an online album of your favourite photos as a couple. Ask friends and family to contribute their best snapshots of you two as well.
  25. Create a walking tour of your city with a handwritten clue for each stop: “Where we shared our first kiss,” “Where we discovered the best gelato,” “Where I first told you I love you.”