5 ways to show you care

By: Dee Van Dyk

Author: Canadian Living


5 ways to show you care

By: Dee Van Dyk
According to the Retail Council of Canada, Canadians show their love and friendship on Valentine's Day in traditional ways, dropping $19.75 million on flowers and $138 million on candy in 2003.

But if you really want to impress your loved ones, why not consider more innovative -- and less expensive -- ways to express your feelings?

1. Time
In today's fast paced world, the best gift is often a gift of time. A gift certificate or coupon book for jobs and favours is easily created and greatly appreciated. Some ideas: a car wash, babysitting, garage cleaning, dog walking or yard work. Offer up a full day of spoiling: breakfast in bed, a drawn bath with bubbles and a good book, a day of leisure followed by a candlelit dinner.

2. Talent
If you have a skill that can benefit the special people in your life, why not capitalize on it? For example, if you're a good cook, package homemade mixes (pancake/cookie/quick breads/cornbread) in containers complete with preparation instructions. Or put together a booklet of favourite recipes.

If woodworking is more your cup of tea, birdhouses and mailboxes make good gifts that can easily be personalized to match the recipient. Make potpourri or homemade bath salts -- your local library and the Internet will give you plenty of ideas for making and packaging these items for a fraction of what it costs to purchase them in stores.

3. Memories

For loved ones on either end of the age spectrum, memories are the perfect gift and can be collectively given by family and friends.

For Grandma or Grandpa:

• Have everyone handwrite a special memory on notes, assemble them in a scrapbook along with a picture of the contributor. It can be a specific funny memory (the time Grandma substituted salt for sugar in the fruit pudding), or a more general, heartwarming memory (playing dominoes on Sunday nights when Grandpa babysat you).

• Or go high tech and collect friend/family memories and stories with a tape recorder or camcorder -- this will make stories more conversational and personal.

Page 1 of 2 -- Discover unique Valentine's Day gift ideas for your children and close friends on page 2
For a child:
• Tape a favourite family bedtime story.
• Kids love stories about what it was like when you were young, or stories about when they were "young"; a tape of these stories can be listened to again and again.
• Older children will enjoy interesting tidbits of family history, as told by Mom or Dad or a grandparent.

For a friend:
• Put together a list of what makes your friend special and of your favourite moments together. Serve it up with dried apricots that have been dipped in melted chocolate and a cup of hot coffee.

4. Eco-gifts
Consider a living gift -- a plant you've cultivated yourself or a basket of seeds for next year's garden. These are especially appreciated in February when spring and warm weather seems a long way away.

5. Uniqueness
Put some thought into how to express your feelings in a unique way and don't feel you have to confine the expression of your feelings to February 14.

After every snow storm, one Calgarian expresses his feelings by snowshoe-ing the following two-foot sentiment into the fresh snow of a Canyon Meadows overpass: I love Sandi. Another thoughtful husband skips the flowers and chocolates in favour of a continuing education class that gets his frequently housebound wife out and into another environment.

Whatever the gift, it's important that it reflects your thoughts and the personality of the recipient. Happy Valentine's Day!

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5 ways to show you care