Many fixate on Valentine’s Day as the holiday of love, a day set apart for grand gestures, romance and celebratory levels of affection. But why does such attention and kindness have to be reserved for a day, or even for one person?
Friendly, familial and romantic love are each distinct and central elements of the human experience. Anyone who has ever been truly loved well will tell you that it’s the constancy of patient, kind and selfless friendship that keeps love exciting and meaningful. Whether it’s the small notes dads put into lunch boxes, the carefully completed “honey do” list or the quiet whisper of “I love you” before drifting into sleep, our love for one another is built of a million imperfect but intentionally placed stones.
Still, we often forget to show the ones we love how important they are to us. So here are 29 ways to say “I love you” to those special someones in your life—one per day for the month of February. Some are serious; others, not so much. But perhaps these 29 tips could get you thinking about 365 ways—or more—to be an ambassador of appreciation.
1. Share five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact. Creepy … but definitely a memory.
2. Watch a sunset or sunrise together with your favorite indie-rock anthem playing in the background and pretend you’re in a slightly obvious hipster film.
3. Call your parents and thank them for specific things they’ve done for you.
4. Pick out a book and read aloud together. Quality time together and the expansion of your individual/collective knowledge bases.
5. Set up a “media free” day/evening so you can fully focus attention on a loved one.
6. Get fancy. It’s a classic, but dressing up and splurging on a friend or loved one is a timeless way to tell someone you care.
7. “Family Love Michael.” Throw a surprise “We appreciate you!” party with close friends where everyone gives a short speech about why someone is loved.
8. Plan “the perfect date.” Do exactly what he or she loves to do, with no strings attached.
9. Rent an ice-skating rink. Play “Endless Love” over the PA, and have dinner at center ice.
10. Revisit a first date or first meeting place and reminisce about what brought you together, what you’ve learned since and what you’re looking forward to together.
11. The Red Snuggie. Truly the gift that keeps on giving, all year long.
Pop some popcorn and arrange a marathon of your love’s favorite films from his or her childhood or college days.
12. Make a handmade Valentine’s Day card. Creative, frame-able and ultra-sweet.
13. Write out an Alphabet of Appreciation. “You are A for Awesome, B for Beautiful, C for …” (you get the idea).
14. Be a Merry Maid. Surprise a friend by cleaning their office, kitchen, car or bedroom—guaranteed to result in shock and awesome.
15. Babysit for free for that couple you know desperately needs a night out.
16. Be the Grocery Fairy. Most practical gift ever—surprise a friend with a week’s worth of fresh groceries.
17. FRESH. BAKED. COOKIES. Need we say more?
18. Knit something and give it away. Craftsmanship + generosity = LOVE. (Note: Everyone loves mittens.)
19. Mixtape 2013. Curating 12-15 hand-picked tracks for a friend or loved one says, “I care about you … and the soundtrack to your life.”
20. Handwrite a letter explaining why you love someone—and be specific.
21. Dedicate and perform a karaoke song (in public, of course) to your beloved.
22. “[Your Loved One’s Name] 4 Lyf.” Finally commit and get that lower back tattoo you’ve been considering.
23. Host a “Wes Anderthon.” Pop some popcorn and arrange a marathon of your love’s favorite films from his or her childhood or college days.
24. Two words: shoe polish. It makes your shoes look spiffy, but it’s also the best way to write “I heart you” on the window of your sweetie’s Subaru.
25. Love goes viral! Use iMovie to piece together a collection of reasons why you like/love/adore/appreciate someone (feature other people,
26. ROAD TRIP! Take your love to that place he or she has always truly (or ironically) wanted to go (i.e. the Lumberjack Games, The Holy Land Experience, Chuck E. Cheese, Las Vegas, etc.).
27. Surprise someone with an early-morning date. Watch the sky light up, go to a favorite breakfast spot, drink coffee and start the day with a full cup of companionship.
28. Public Display of Attention (the other PDA). Proudly and sincerely compliment, dote over and affirm your significant other in front of others.
29. “I like you. I love you. I’m proud of you.” Say and mean these three phrases often—affirmation through clear communication is the “chocolate-covered strawberry” of relationships.