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I knew I’d hit the jackpot for a wonderful life with my husband when he turned our first Valentines (before we were married) into not one day, but an entire month. On February 1, 1983, a very cute large Valentine’s jar crammed with little red envelopes arrived on my front door. My roommates and I squealed as we realized that the envelopes were numbered 1-28, and each contained a sweet message. How could you not fall in love … and furthermore stay in love with someone who has created that warm and loving experience for me every year since?

The essence of Valentine’s Day is, of course, the expression of LOVE. While for the traditional February 14 holiday we think of cupid, romance, jewelry, candy and roses, it also draws our minds to the love we receive from our Heavenly Father and His Son. Our own well-being and ability to love (and express love) to others thrives upon His great love! “As I have loved you” He tells us and we sing in unison, “love one another!” What fun to have a holiday dedicated to saying “I love you!” I am quite sure heaven is very happy about Valentine’s Day.

So are American retailers. An article from Fortune Magazine just before Valentine’s Day last year reported on a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF). It projected U.S. consumers would spend a total of $18.2 billion on their family and sweethearts. Over $4 billion of that was spent on jewelry alone, with another $2 billion on flowers, followed by the remaining amount to be spent on cards, clothes, and an overall nice evening out on February14.

The vast majority of those surveyed reported hoping to receive candy and gifts. Twenty-percent of consumers report they like to provide something for their pets as well on Valentines.

So it’s a big deal! But as the saying goes, “It’s the little things that are the big things.” I don’t think it matters at all if its handmade, from the Dollar Store, or something much fancier or expensive if that’s what is in your budget — as long as your dear ones hear what the Savior would have us say to our special people: “You’re important! You’re special! My life is better and more fun because of you!”

It’s true that candy is a big player for Valentines Day, but there are lots of options that are just as sweet, without the calories or sugar. It is a kind and thoughtful gift of love to acknowledge that many people (of all ages) do not want or need to receive candy or sweets and it is often wise to make a different choice.

Just google “non-candy Valentines” and you’ll have a boatload of sweet inspiration. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Daily “You Are” Valentines. You can do this for your sweetheart, children or grandchildren. Make your own with paper, stickers, markers, ribbon, or anything that strikes your fancy and make 28 matching ones. Or find a cute printable and print out 28. Or use a children’s collection and print your message on the back. This year each of my husband’s Valentines to me are cut-out hearts decorated with a sticker. Each has the words “You are …” at the top and then identifies something special about me. They are different each year, but always one for each day. How I look forward to this Valentine’s tradition! At the end of February, I collect them in a special envelope to treasure forever.

It is fun to display the growing collection on a bathroom mirror or a refrigerator dor, and is an especially important thing for children to see this love expressed between their parents. Or, as Bob did our first year before we were married, he sent them to me all at once, and numbered them to be opened each day.

While it’s already the middle of the month this year, this very special Valentine plan can easily start on Valentines Day for the rest of the month, or tuck it into your own heart to do this next year for your sweetie.

2. Scripture Valentines. There’s a freebie treasure trove out there! Just google “scripture valentines” or “scripture valentine printables” and you’ll find a number of homeschool, Christian-based teachers and parents who have joyfully provided the rest of us with some charming Valentines to either print or use. They are wonderful exactly as is or adapt easily to use with our own pictures from The Friend, The Ensign, or other sources of LDS art. The link below provides both color and ready to cut out, or black and white which would be very fun for little ones to color.

http://www.blessedbeyondadoubt.com/free-valentines-day-cards-with-scripture-for-children/

The scriptural phrases of “The Lord looketh upon the heart” and “As I have loved you, love one another” are especially beautiful and inspiring when embellished with Valentine art and calligraphy. You’ll be able to find them and many more within the links of googling “scripture valentine printables.”

3. Fruit Valentines. Here’s a big shoutout to Jamielynn at http://www.Iheartnaptime.net for her post from Dole (the canned fruit company) with adorable Valentines to use with their little snack-size fruit cups. You can print these out for your own family for a Valentine snack or lunchbox treat, or make them with children or grandchildren to give away to friends and relative. “Orange you glad we’re friends?” “You’re one in a melon!” and “You’re A Peach!” never looked so cute!

To make things even simpler, just write those cute little phrases on a post-it note and attach to the fruit, or use an edible food marker, or even write “I’m bananas for you!” with an ink pen on a banana!

https://www.iheartnaptime.net/valentine-fruit-cups/

4. Jamielynn’s 50 non-candy Valentine printables. This creative gal has done the hard work for us! Here are 50 more of her delightful ideas to say “I love you” to your dear ones. This link includes printables for everything from coupon books to customize for your lovebug to clever Valentine cards that can be attached to little toys or items from the Dollar Store. Love it!

https://www.iheartnaptime.net/non-candy-valentine-ideas/

5. Say it with flowers: Live, silk or paper!  While live flowers are definitely on the more expensive side, how we enjoy and appreciate them! It’s also easy and fun to make long-lasting bouquets with silk flowers from the Dollar Store or elsewhere. Children and grandchildren especially enjoy shopping for, creating and giving these arrangements.

In addition, there’s an amazing crafting trend for making paper flowers that’s very fun to explore. Just google “make paper flowers” and you can see what I mean. While some of them get quite complicated, the link below shows how to create a precious bouquet using cupcake liners, pipe cleaners, a little ribbon and a jewel for the center.

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/crafts/how-to-make-paper-flowers-using-cupcake-liners.

We experience love in so many marvelous ways. I am grateful for a holiday and a reason to say “I love you!” to my dear ones as a tiny way of reflecting the constant love I feel from my Heavenly Father. I hope these ideas will inspire some easy, fun ways to turn up the love volume for those that mean the world to you!

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE