Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and perhaps you’re wondering how you can express your love without breaking the bank this year. With even the price of a card and some chocolates adding up, the cost of Valentine’s Day can weigh heavy on you, knowing it’s costing money you don’t really have or could do without spending.
If that’s you, don’t worry. There are many ways you can show how much you care about someone this Valentine’s Day that won’t cost a single penny, and will mean more and last longer than a bunch of flowers.
What’s your love language?
Each of us gives and receives love in different ways, from a hug, to presents, to spending quality time together.
Marriage counsellor Gary Chapman came up with ‘Five Love Languages’, or five main ways that people typically receive or give love.
When we know each other’s love language, we can connect much more deeply than by just spending money because a day in the calendar tells us we should. By expressing love in the ways your loved ones respond best to, even the small gestures become part of a solid foundation of care, compassion and connection.
What are the five love languages?
The five love languages are:
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
If you don’t already know your love language, you can take a really quick, free quiz to find out – and get your partner, family, friends or kids to take it too. Knowing your loved ones’ love languages is a game-changer in making sure you can express your love in a meaningful way this Valentine’s Day.
Once you know your loved ones’ main love language, have a read through some of the creative ideas below, and see how you can best express your love on Valentine’s Day, without an expensive price tag.
Acts of service
For someone whose love language is acts of service, you feel most loved when someone takes care of the practical things. Things like breakfast or a cup of tea in bed go a long way, or even a romantic evening meal.
But don’t underestimate the simple things this Valentine’s Day, either. Offering to run errands like filling up the car with petrol or picking up the kids from school, or doing the dishes or taking the bin out, all say, ‘I care about you enough to take care of this for you’ to someone whose love language is acts of service.
For gift lovers, the thought behind the gift is what counts. A gift is a signal that you’ve been thinking of someone, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, or even cost a thing, to have a big impact.
To give a meaningful gift this Valentine’s Day, why not pick up their favourite snacks while doing the weekly food shop, or create a handmade card and add your favourite photos together? You could take an old jar and fill it with happy memories or things you love about them, make them a playlist of songs that remind you of memories you’ve shared together, or pick up a personal gift from the local charity shop.
Physical touch includes anything from a hug or kiss to a tap on the shoulder. If your loved one’s love language is physical touch, chances are they’d appreciate a cuddle, holding hands or shoulder massage after a long day.
There are many ways to express love with physical touch, from snuggling up watching a movie, to holding a hug for 20 seconds to release oxytocin, a crucial bonding hormone that increases trust and happiness. Maybe it’s rubbing your partner or child’s back, or even just sitting next to each other, knowing the other person is close by.
As you are intentional with touch throughout the day, your loved one is picking up cues of safety, trust and love. Small gestures can go a long way in building a strong bond that will strengthen your relationship even further.
In our busy lives, it’s easy to look forward to ‘quality time’ with those you love. Typically, we associate quality time with time away such as a holiday, but a change of scene often isn’t possible. Around Valentine’s Day, not only does everything cost an extortionate amount, but things like getting time off work and pay being affected add additional financial barriers.
It’s good then, that quality time has nothing to do with where you are. It’s about choosing to be fully present, with no distractions, offering your loved one your undivided attention, even if all you have is five minutes.
It might mean switching off your phone for the evening and watching your loved one’s film of choice, or having a quick cup of tea together before work. By improving your ‘active listening’ skills, you can show your appreciation by increasing eye contact, being curious and asking specific questions, or leaning in and listening with empathy and compassion. All of these gestures let your partner (or child, or friend!) know that you really value the time you spend together.
Words of affirmation
Words of affirmation aren’t just about compliments or saying ‘I love you’. Words are a powerful tool to express to those you love exactly what it is you love about them.
This Valentine’s Day, why not get creative by writing a poem or letter to your loved one, talking about all the things you love about them, or your favourite memories you’ve shared together. Be specific, and refer to individual situations where you’ve noticed an amazing quality in them. For example: ‘I appreciate it when you…’, ‘I am so proud of you for…’, or ‘Thank you for…’.
Take some time to think about what you would like to say. Quality over quantity is the key here, and there has to be substance behind your words. You don’t have to be particularly good with words, because the love is expressed in the gesture, not the quality of what you write. Leave them a note on their mirror in the morning, or send some text messages throughout the day to let your loved one know you’re thinking about them.
Express your love on Valentine’s Day
I hope that exploring each of the five love languages has inspired you to get creative with expressing your love this Valentine’s Day. If you can’t afford to spend a penny this year, be encouraged: there are still plenty of ways you can show those you care about how much they mean to you, in a meaningful and personal way.