A year has passed since I penned a sampler of how Valentine’s Day goes down in the Middle East. Tempus fugit, baby, that treacly holiday is back in Jordan with a vengeance and I’m seeing red. Red balloons, red banners, red signs in restaurants urging early bookings. Tone down that redness with a healthy dose of green – here are eight do-it-yourself gift ideas that express your burning ardor without scorching your wallet.
1. 52 Reasons Valentine Deck of Cards: For couples who haven’t yet uttered the “L” word – the “52 Reasons why I LIKE You” is a heartfelt Valentine with training wheels. Grab an old deck of cards (image above) and some glue, and tuck into this easy tutorial (link here).
2. Sea Salt Caramels: Sweets for the sweet is a classic Valentine strategy. A simple recipe for a decadent treat is explained in this short, clear video (link here). Substitute kosher salt or Dead Sea salt for the final topping, giving your caramels a Middle East flavor.
3. A Year of Pre-planned Dates: Dream up twelve things that you want to do with your honey-pie. Write them on some stiff paper (use cut up cereal boxes, etc. to increase the up-cycle ante), connect them with a ring or loop of yarn, and hand them over with a hug. Advance planning leaves you free to enjoy the moment and each other. (Instructions can be found at this link.)
4. Peanut Butter Truffles: Reese’s peanut butter cups are impossible to score in Jordan, but these promise a close second. The alleged aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate are pinned on two chemicals it contains. Tryptophan is a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal, and phenylethylamine is a stimulant released in the brain when people fall in love. The science may be dicey, but the taste is good . Recipe link here.
5. Sweet Pomegranate Syrup: Rich, dark, and smoky tasting pomegranate syrup is a staple in most Middle Eastern cooking. But its intense flavor and molasses-like consistency can make it a tad medicinal ( I recently swallowed a tablespoon to quell a hacking cough). Lighten it up as a simple syrup and expand its versatility. Added bonus, it’s the color of love! Link here.
6. Make the Tiniest Book of Love: Good things do come in small packages, especially those that can be whipped up in about an hour. Decorate a matchbox (or not); and fill it with a handwritten love letter. Unlimited opportunities to personalize this; add some candy or keys to a new car. Link here.
7. Can Money Buy Love? Cash remains the greenest of gifts. Stow some coins and bills in an empty candy box, especially thoughtful if it relates to upcoming travel where different currency is used. Doubt you need further instructions, but the link is here.
8. Bottle Bouquet: This idea can be replicated with many different themes to suit the specific tastes of your love – make a movie bouquet, with DVDs. popcorn and theater candies, or a music bouquet, with CDs, new ear-buds and maybe tickets to a live show (link here.)
All images taken from referenced internet links.