8 last-minute Valentine’s gifts to protect the planet and your pocket

cheap easy valentine's gift

Heads up, lovers: just two days ‘til Valentine’s Day. It’s a soggy, frigid Sunday in NYC, and while my newspaper dries on a wheezing radiator, I turn to the internet to scan eco-friendly tchotchkes that will show my honey I’m a eco-minded but cash-lean romance machine. Ten minutes online and I’m quickly swimming in a sea of greenwash. My advice? Stick to K.I.S.S. – a holiday-perfect acronym; keep it simple, and sustainable. Avoid the hype, and scan my 8 suggestions for sharing some love while saving the planet, and cash.

This year say “I love you” the old-fashioned way. Perform an act of kindness, cook something that delights, or create a simple artefact that sparks a smile. It could be my view is colored by six house moves across three continents in eight years. Stuff has to be pretty important for me to acquire and keep, because schlepping it around the planet undermines my best efforts to be resource-responsible and carbon neutral. But it is alarming to see how marketing can make us deviate from our best-laid “live lean” plans. Renewable doesn’t mean sustainable, and recyclable doesn’t erase damages caused by manufacturing and shipping. And don’t forget, Valentine’s Day discount & offers.

See that cool handmade natural cork handbag? It comes all the way from Greece, racking up more air miles than we’ve earned as a couple. Who wants a purse that’s a constant reminder of big carbon feet? There’s a bracelet made from repurposed Nespresso capsules, caffeine pods made from highly recyclable aluminum. But the process to produce that element has significant environmental downside, and only a fraction of aluminum products actually make it to recycling. A neighbor knits coffee cup cozies, in vibrant pinks and reds and sells them to commuters outside a local cafe. But how can my latte be more warmly dressed than the homeless dude who is sitting on damp cardboard a few yards from her stall?

But I’m getting preachy, and this post is about one of the silliest holidays on First World Calendar, so – using arcane, but recyclable, references here – I’ll hop off my soap box and get down to brass tacks.

1. Heart egg sandwich – Start the day off with a dish that’s tasty to the eyes as it is to the tongue. Simple concept, pan-fry a tasted sandwhich, adding another food within a heart-shaped cut-out. They go with an egg, but you can fill it with cheese or go sweet with fruit or jam. See Reclaiming Provincial’s version here.

cheap valentine's gifts

2. Secret pocket pillow – Super simple, useful, with a twist…you can pop in a tiny personalized message wnenever inspriation hits. Make this with stuff you aready have around your house. Use fabric from an old t-shirt, pillowcase, bath towel. Skip the sewing machine and pull out a needle and thread, YouTube tutorials abound on simple seaming. Get the full tutorial here from See Kate Sew.

3. Origami hearts – Like the secret message part but afraid of needles? So skip the sewing, and burn some calories learning a simple origami technique. Pencil in your poetry, and drop a batch of hearts in a pretty bowl for an instant love connection, or pop them in unusual places for surprise hits of sentimentality when least expected. Dream a Little Bigger shows you how to make the folds here.

4. Heart-shaped soap and salt dough cookie bunting – This is a winner if you want to involve kids. Using three common household ingredients, make a batch of DIY dough that quickly air dries, can be custom-decorated, and strung up on a pretty ribbon or yarn or cord to make festive buntings that could easily turn into an annual family tradition. See details at the Nurture Store site, here.

cheap easy valentine's gift

5. Heart quesadillas – While everyone’s embellishing their dried dough hearts, or penning their love notes inside origami folds, cook up something as cheesy as Valentine’s Day – quesadillas! – and either trim them into heart shapes after removing from the pan, or go the extra culinary mile and make them in an impressive basketweave style. The Mamas’s Grils show you how here.

6. Show the love salad – A perfect side to the toasted cheese sandwiches, use small heart shaped cookie cutters to shape up red peppers, thin slices of cheese, cucumbers, apples and melon. Or get a recipe from Jo and Sue, link here.

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7. Heart shaped glycerin soap – Go old school with Martha Stewart, the doyenne of DYI, and make some pretty soaps. in under an hour. You’ll probably have to run out for ingredients, but once you start in, the process is straighforward and swift. Martha offers the recipe and an ancient video tutorial here, any clue who here guest soapmaker is?

cheap valentine's gifts

8. Romantic cocktails – In the end, I’m going with a batch of rosy-hued pomegranate martinis, in a nod to our time in the Middle East. This recipe from Mix That Drink is a winner. I’ll pre-mix a pitcher and serve them up in coffee mugs, which frees up hands for footrubs and shoulder massages, which will forever be top on the list of the greenest and most affordable gifts for your bae.

All images from referenced websites

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