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By: Alex Killian/ SHEC

Want to celebrate the day of love but feel sick at the thought of corporate associations with Valentine’s Day? Do you know that expressions of love are important everyday, but want to do something extra special with someone special? Luckily, it is possible to ignore the complex marketing scheme behind the holiday. The day can be a wonderful opportunity (or excuse) to spend time with people that you love and tell them how much you love them. Best of all, incorporating grateful gestures can be done in a way that is in line with your New Year’s resolution of eating better, getting out more and spending less money.

Planning a date is always a challenge. Instead of the standard Nicholas Sparks movie in theatres, perhaps discover your city. Normally, a suggestion to visit one of the outdoor skating rinks would be appropriate, but considering the El Nino winter, it might be better to plan a hike to one of Hamilton’s famous waterfalls instead. Bring your rain boots and get moving! Alternatively, try another new activity altogether; rock climbing at the gym is a great activity for two!

In the evening, prepare a healthy, homemade dinner together to warm up. Try a fancy-looking-but-remarkably-easy spinach-strawberry-and-feta salad as an appetizer, and a frozen yogurt parfait with the fruits of your choice for desert. Use Greek yogurt for extra protein and add some honey or maple syrup for that added swirl of sweetness. Don’t forget the wine and the candles for a romantic evening! After you exchange gifts, curl up with a movie or a book.

Gifts? Though certainly not a necessity, small gifts can help commemorate the holiday. Skip the Hallmark card and revive the dying art of homemade cards and handwritten expressions of love. Delve into the world of DIY on Pinterest for inspiration. The process of making your own Valentine’s Day card or gift can be meditative and therapeutic, and you might be surprised at what you can make with youwr third grade art skills. The recipient will recognize and appreciate the amount of effort that went into the gift.

To get even craftier, fill a mason jar with individual slips of paper with written compliments, memories and reasons why your partner means a lot to you can be an exciting alternative card that can be “read” over a longer period of time. Moreover, receiving something uniquely made for you makes one feel all sorts of warm fuzzies.

If your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, throwing in Hershey’s kisses can be a nice touch. Alternatively, dark chocolates or dark chocolate covered raisons/peanuts/almonds or even coffee beans make healthier study snacks, and will be especially appreciated as midterms creep up! A midterm survival kit can also be a meaningful gift. Be sure to include coffee, tea, study snacks and useful little things like handcream, socks or gum. If you’re both bookworms, consider exchanging recent books that you each read recently, thus spreading and sharing stories.

Each holiday or special day, Valentine’s Day included, is an opportunity to create memories and traditions with your friends, partners and family. Making your holidays affordable, healthy and sustainable can make the experience together more meaningful and more yours. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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