Saturday, February 8, 2014

10 Healthy Valentine's Gifts

Nothing says "I love you" like a gift that tells your beloved that you want him or her around for a long, long time. So instead of giving gifts of candy and champagne, why not give gifts that will improve your Valentine's health and encourage intimacy? And when it comes to my kids, I'm trying to break the connection that all celebrations center around food. To that end, I've come up with a few non-traditional ideas for both your grown-up sweetheart and your pint-sized love-bugs.

1. Balloons ~ For the last few years, we've gotten our kids huge mylar balloons for Valentine's Day. They loved the balloons and played with them for weeks. Last year my husband bought balloons with a little music player inside of them so that when the kids hit the balloons a song would start playing. When the balloons finally bit the dust, my husband cut out the music part and hid them in their backpacks. It was hilarious to watch my daughter's face when she put on her backpack and it started singing, "You're The One That I Want"!
2. A box of "chocolates" ~ This year, I bought papier maiche boxes at Michaels and am making what look like candy boxes. I painted them, glued a decorative heart on top, and then filled them with toys. I got Valentine's cupcake papers and filled them with Rainbow Loom bands, plaster magnets to paint, sugar-free gum, and a small toy. It looks like a box of chocolates but I think the kids will like these treats even better.  If you'd like more ideas for small toy "stuffers" check out my post on Easter treats.

3. Love Notes ~ I plan to top the box of treats off with love notes my husband and I will write to them like, "I love listening to you sing", or "I love cuddling with you", or "I love that you are brave and try new foods".

4. Stuffed Animals ~ My kids are still into stuffed animals, especially the Beany Baby "Boo" animals with the big eyes. It is one of the few indoor activities that my nine year old daughter and six year old son will do together so this gift feels like an investment in their relationship :)

5. Healthy(er) food treats ~ If your kids are in elementary school they will most likely have a Valentine's Day party. I saw a post on Facebook of an inside-out caramel apple which looked delicious and is more nutritious than just about any candy you'd buy at the store. I thought it'd be even better if you pushed some healthy granola into the caramel while it was still a little soft. It would cut down on the amount of caramel you'd be using and would add some healthy whole-grains while maintaining that "treat" feel. I tried experimenting with making a lower-sugar, dairy-free caramel to use but my candy thermometer broke on me (darnit!). When I achieve success, I'll post the recipe and a photo. Until then, please try it and let me know if it works! And anything cut into the shape of a heart is cute. You could cut apple slices (horizontally across the apple) and then cut them with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. My kids love when I use them like a sandwich and put peanut butter in between. Fruit is always a good party food and strawberries already look like hearts so you don't even have to do any work!

1. A shared experience ~ preferably an active one. Classes are a great way to spend time together! You can take a class in dance, rock-climbing, trapeze, or snowboarding. You can take a class in healthy cooking. You can go for a hike, a bike ride, or a nature walk. You can go roller-skating, ice-skating, snow-skiing, or trampolining. Research has shown that one of the best ways to increase intimacy with your partner is to experience NEW things together. So get out there, get active, and get closer to your partner.

2. Photo book ~ Photos of happy times will help your sweetie FEEL happy. Make it a size that your partner can take with him or her to work or keep handy. Then, when the world doesn't seem like a loving place, your Valentine can take a few deep breaths, look at the pictures, and remember how cherished he or she is.

3. A jar of "I Love You"s ~ Take slips of paper or small note cards and write loving things. They could be quotes about love or specific things about your partner. You might write, "I love how you make me laugh", or "I love that you are a caring friend", or "I love how you ______________ me in bed" ;) Make them honest and personal. Again, your sweetheart can pull this jar out in times of need and boost his or her happy brain chemicals.

4. Massage accessories and massage(s) ~ Touch is incredibly important for human beings and the act of touching promotes the release of oxytocin, a happy hormone. Oxytocin improves mood and also make us feel more connected and intimate. You can use fancy oils or go basic with some coconut oil. The key here is to create a relaxed environment and to really focus on your partner.

5. Gadgets that promote health ~ Okay, I realize that most other women would not get giddy over a Valentine's gift of new dumbbells, but try to think of something that you could buy your sweetie to help his or her healthy lifestyle. New exercise equipment? New cooking equipment? I will admit that this gift could be a landmine so tread carefully. The last thing you want is to give someone a Valentine's gift that they will receive as, "so you're telling me I'm fat?". You should do a little recon before going this route. 

Finally, we don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day, but Dwayne, if you're reading this and are moved to show how much you love me, I'd really like a spiralizer ;)

I hope these ideas help! If you have any ideas to add, please comment below :)