Let’s save money on Valentine’s Day this year. You’ll get my 6 simple ways to save money on Valentine’s Day along with a little history about February 14th. Explore my simple and inexpensive gift ideas for you, your family, and your friend; but first I gotta tell you what I learned about this ‘loving’ holiday, it certainly surprised me!
Valentine’s Day originated from a Roman festival. It had nice intentions of celebrating the coming Spring. Because as we know, with Spring comes rebirth. The Romans capitalized on this season and promoted fertility at this time. Side note; if you have a November birthday, your parents probably practiced the Roman tradition. LOL! Anyway, what I didn’t expect was a dark side to this ‘lovers’ holiday.
The Dark side of Valentine’s Day
This Roman festival included, what sounds like, arranged marriages by a lottery. Say what? All I can picture is taking a ticket at the meat counter and waiting for someone to call my name and hope and pray I was attracted to him. This does not sound very romantic, but they did it!
And according to legend, there was a priest whose name was Valentine. The story isn’t clear of whether the priest secretly married people behind the emperor’s back to spare men from war, or if the priest signed a letter to a jailer’s daughter “from your Valentine” which created havoc. Either way, the emperor, Caludius II Gothicus, martyred him! Yes murdered the guy named Valentine.
As for cupid, he represents the Roman god of love. Are you as confused as I am? This holiday is messed up, murder, love, lottery, and a naked baby with a bow n arrow. The Romans back then had some mental issues.
What We’re Spending
I get it that we’re celebrating this guy, Valentine, but “Be My Valentine” or “Will you be my Valentine?” sounds weird to me now that I understand the back story. Frankly put, these days, retailers use the holiday to get more business. In 2019 53% of all Americans spent a grand total of $30 billion. Heart-shaped candies and decadent chocolates get me all the time, but I spend maybe $25- $50 on Valentine’s Day, that’s including dinner. However, the average person spends about $225 on one person. There is nothing wrong with that. Your significant other’s love language may be ‘gifts’. But if you’re on a tight budget there are other ways to go about showing your love.
Save Money on Valentine’s Day with Simple Ideas
The average cost of a Valentine’s card is $4.99. That can add up with kids and even pets. Yes, they have cards for pets. Three kids alone plus a dog could cost $20. Ouch. Here’s a different idea, back in the day, my husband and I were strapped for money, and so instead of buying each other a card, we took a picture of the card in the store then shared the pictures with each other. I know that sounds lame, but it was actually quite fun. There are many benefits to this: it’s inexpensive, saves the environment, and you can keep it on your phone forever! In fact, if you found more than one perfect card, you can take a picture of that one too!
Unless it’s your birthday on Valentine’s Day, big gifts are out, at least in our home. Money doesn’t buy love. Time does. Time with your spouse, friend, kids, and pets says a lot more than the latest video game. What are they going to remember more? The gift and who got it for them? Or will they remember the memory of playing Battleship and Clue and the epic popcorn-launch-in-your-mouth game? Actually, the Game of Clue might be appropriate for Valentine’s Day…remember Roman times? Here’s my skinny on gifts and what we do in my family. Candy.
Candy is instant, enjoyable for everyone, and easy. Get whatever is their favorite sugar bomb. I know it’s not the healthiest, but skip dessert and have the candy instead…don’t forget portion control. My son loves those Sweetart Hearts, my husband is all about Nerds, and me, well, my hands-down favorite of all favorites is See’s Candies. Seriously, these are the best chocolates I’ve ever had. AND they are gluten-free! If you don’t have a retailer near you, you can order online, believe me, it’s worth it. They are SO good!
If candy isn’t your thing, flowers do make a great gift. Here’s the kicker. Keep the flowers simple. They don’t have to be red roses. The jester is what counts. Recently, my husband stumbled upon white roses at Trader Joe’s. He got a dozen for like $7.00. Can’t beat that, and they lasted a long time. They were beautiful. Thank you Trader Joe’s! The other option with flowers is to go for the carnations. They are a simple flower that comes in a variety of colors. A large bouquet is about half the price of a dozen roses (roses not from Trader Joe’s). I personally like to mix carnations and roses together like in this picture.
Besides the gift of time, sweet treats, and flowers, touch is just as important if not more. Touch is another language of love. It’s definitely my husband’s. Intimate time with your spouse or boyfriend is probably all they want for Valentine’s Day. Stop spending your money on other things, just give him some lovin’. As for kids, snuggles or tickle attacks while watching “Be My Valentine Charlie Brown” serve the best of both worlds for the child and mom/dad. Feel goods with hugs and laughs with tickles are a joy to the heart.
Save money on Valentine’s Day dinner
Let’s talk about dinner. If it’s just your spouse/friend with you, you’ll spend an average of $50 at a restaurant. And don’t forget to tip! Oh, did I mention the babysitter? As for time, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest nights at restaurants. You may have to wait for a table. I didn’t even mention traffic or the weather.
A different option is to have a candlelight dinner at home. This saves time and is a great way to save money on Valentine’s Day. I know it may sound boring, but that’s up to you. Dress up, get some music playing, and have your kids wait on you and play restaurant at the same time. It’s something different to try this year.
At the grocery, you’ll spend at least half of the amount on a meal than at the restaurant. Get some steak, salad, and garlic bread. Start up the grill and “By the Power of Grayskull, I HAVE THE POWER!” Yes, I have dated myself with He-Man. Dinner at home can be fun for everyone! Save money grocery shopping too, check out my tips here!
Final Tips for a Great Valentine’s Day
Lastly, decorating with construction paper hearts tapped on the sliding glass door gets everyone in a loving mood. This is an easy way to save money on Valentine’s Day. You don’t need to go all out with decorations. Keep it simple. It’s a gentle reminder that Valentine’s Day should be fun and not filled with a martyr. Now, don’t forget the chocolate! For more ways to manage money, be sure to check out my post on No More Money Problems.
How to live a drama free life sounds dreamy. But in a world that is dominated by drama; pandemics, racial injustice, a shaky economy, broken homes, and anxiety-filled minds, how do we navigate through all this? Right now is a great time to pull out your secret weapon to fight drama and kick it to the curb. Learn how to access your boxing gloves and how to use them effectively every day. You’ll be surprised how much simpler life gets and more enjoyable.
If you look at what’s on TV, YouTube, and in theaters, you wouldn’t be surprised by the health of our world. The shows these days are negative, scary, or full of things I don’t even want to see. Call me old-fashion, but for my mental state of being, I already have a bunch of stuff going on in my head and prefer to put positive things into it. With our daily dose of drama from our kids, spouse, extended family, and even ourselves things can build up and break down. What do we do? First and foremost, say “no” to drugs. I know that sounds funny, but seriously. We can achieve peace without the added side effects.
My go-to for cleaning my head out
When there is too much going on in my head I usually grab a piece of copy paper and write down ALL the things on my mind and categorize them in different departments. This is the first step to a drama free life. Just do it. Don’t give me or yourself excuses of why you can’t take five minutes and write things out. By doing this, it gives you a visual of what you have going on in there, plus you can strategize on how to tackle it. This technique usually does the trick, but sometimes the unsettledness lingers.
My enlightenment to a drama free life, who knew?
As I was listening to my daily devotional, the pastor talked about something that helped explain why I was feeling so overwhelmed. It was something I didn’t think of and that’s what I want to share with you.
Personal values do what?
Did you ever think personal values had a role in our serenity? I used to think personal values were like jewels in a black velvet bag; you learn them when you’re young and then carry them around with you. BUT don’t you dare get them out and use them because they’re valuable. Did I sure have that backward.
It had been a while since I opened my bag of personal values. Let’s face it, I’m an adult, and values are taught when we are children, right? Not so, those are morals. Morals are beliefs that are taught to us. Think of morals as “acceptable” acts. Parents usually teach morals to help a child determine what is right and wrong. Personal values come from within; they define what is important to us and help us make the right decisions that align with our hearts. When personal values are used correctly we ultimately experience happiness with our decisions.
Ahem. There is no better time than now to review your personal values. For me and Mr. Silent Chaos, my personal values had to intervene to save the day, along with some Bible verses of course. When our values align with our decisions, life is SO much easier and happier.
How could something so simple have such a big impact?
The first month of the year or around your birthday is a GREAT time to revisit your values. And that’s what I did on my birthday, I took a minute and grabbed my values exercise, and reviewed what I wrote down as my core values. During the exercise, I realized some values had changed and that was probably one of the causes of drama. When we understand WHY we’re making certain decisions, we understand ourselves better and can move forward by making the right decision for our sanity.
After my values exercise, my mind felt clearer and cleaner. It felt like getting new running shoes, I was ready to run for hours on end. At this point, I could now go back and look at my paper where I wrote everything down and organize it according to my values.
If you’re at a point where ‘simplifying your life’ sounds like heaven, then sharpen your pencil. Drama isn’t welcome in my home anymore. In fact, if I can keep myself in line with my values and speak God’s word, then the enemy doesn’t have a foothold on me. Fight back with what the Lord put in you, use your personal values.
“If you watch your life, you’ll be amazed at how many times a week Satan launches an attack against you for the sole purpose of stealing your peace. When I finally saw that, God said to me in my spirit, “Joyce, if the devil wants your peace that badly, then there must be something pretty powerful about being peaceful.”
As the world continues to get faster and noisier, the more important it is to enjoy the silence. Why? Learn how to reap the rewards of your ‘silence’ to feed your mental health and experience peace in this loud world. Embrace these 4 rock-solid reasons to enjoy the silence.
Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, all is bright.
Silent Night, the Christmas song, was composed in 1818. This now-traditional Holiday tune debuted all because of an organ…that broke. Without the help of an ill organ who knows if this song would have surfaced; oddly, silence accelerated its success.
How does silence help your success?
Recently I saw a commercial, not sure what it was selling, but it did leave me wondering what ‘peace’ really was. In the commercial, we see a couple who left the big city to go camping in the woods. Due to their over joyous accomplishment of setting up camp, they were obviously seeking serenity. However, when night fell and all was calm, they were restless and frustrated. Then one of them downloaded a ‘noise app’ on their phone. It played cars honking, emergency sirens blaring, and dogs barking…all was ‘calm’ and they instantly fell asleep. What is ‘your silence’?
Our ‘silent night’ is not only where our souls settle down, but it’s where peace waits and where ideas birth. Outside of bedtime, do you intentionally turn off the NOISE?
4 Solid Reasons to enjoy the silence
1. Hearing from God
The most likely time God is going to talk to us is when we’re relaxed…quiet…still…and alone. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, did this all the time! Why wouldn’t we? But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 If you haven’t gotten a daily devotional yet for this year, it’s never too late. One of my favorites is Jesus Calling.
Inc. Magazine says…awesome creative work can be achieved by shutting out the outside world, whilst you insanely focus on your craft. Do you say you’re not creative? That’s not true! My go-to for taking my mind off things is to put my colored pencils to work and get my hands busy. Develop your hobby and reap the rewards. Here is a fun and soothing adult coloring book to get you started: The Psalms in Color.
To get all the benefits of silence and creativity, not to mention getting outside, take up gardening or walking…without the earbuds. Did you know that nature can enhance your creativity and problem-solving skills?
Turning off the noise slows our thoughts. We can then think through our issues without distraction. The phrase “Sleep on it” makes a lot of sense now. There is truth in ‘sleeping on it’; not only does it help us think through things, but it restores our bodies, and reduces stress. One of the key tools I use to fall asleep and stay asleep is my white noise machine. Our family has 4 of these amazing things! Seriously, this is a game-changer and has improved all of our sleep and sanity.
4. Restoration in health
Huffington Post reports, Researchers found that two hours of silence daily led to the development of new cells in the hippocampus, a key brain region associated with learning, memory,and emotion. If you can’t get complete silence, the white noise machine I mentioned above is a great alternative. It helps drown out the distractions with little noises. Again, I LOVE this tool!
The Power in Silent Night
In the dancing noises of our world many of us, unfortunately, will miss these life-enhancing riches. We’ll wander in the racket and wonder why our prayer hasn’t been answered, why this particular problem still lingers, why we feel like we just exist, and why our bodies hurt all the time.
Josef Mohr, author of Silent Night, pondered on what to do about his broken organ. Christmas Eve was the next day, people are expecting music! So he hiked up a hill.
It was there where he looked down at the snow-covered village where he could be in ‘his silence’. It was there that he gained the courage to create his poem into a legendary song.
“The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence; the stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.”
Enjoy the silence recap
The next day, Christmas Eve, Josef approached his organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, and within 3 hours Franz composed the melody via guitar. Silent Night has been sung ever since. Are you making an effort to be in silence every day, ‘hiking up a hill’ to get a glimpse of the big picture?
“Silence” grows, moves, and it gives. How much is ‘your silence’ worth? Recharge by spending some time in silence. You might be surprised at what you hear.
Need some gift ideas to comfort someone? Whether you need a gift idea to physically comfort someone or gift ideas to emotionally comfort them, I’ve got 9 gift ideas to warm the body and soul. These are practical gift ideas, in other words, gifts that can be used daily. Candles and blankets are flooding the stores; as well as fuzzy socks and scarfs. Try something different this year, choose a gift people will really use and love. Here are nine great gift ideas that will make a lasting impression on them.
Gift ideas #1: Leg Warmers
Leg warmers were a big hit in the ’80s largely due to the movie Fame and Flashdance; not to mention the exercise aerobics. They may have been a fashion statement, but leg warmers are actually very functional and practical if I don’t say so myself! With leggings and skinny jeans trends, leg warmers are perfect to slide over your legs before going for a walk or walking the dog! I simply slide them over my leggings on cold days and head outside…perfect! Leg warmers are a great gift for people who live in the city and walk to work, for college students walking to the gym, and for the dog owner on cold days. I recommend these leg warmers on Amazon, pick your color!
Gift ideas #2: Heating pads
Heating pads. This sounds like an old person. Hear me out though, heating pads are an awesome way to get the blood flowing to the areas of your body to heal. They don’t just naturally ease sore muscles, but they give you peace of mind. Heating pads are portable, which is great for travel or sitting on the couch. There is nothing more comforting than a warm heating pad against your aches and pains. If you don’t have access to a bathtub or hot shower, a heating pad is the next best thing to warm the bones and bring a sense of calm to your heart. Great for camping/glamping!
#3: Hot Chocolate (Dairy-free!)
Hot cocoa – Dairy Free. Yes, it exists. For those of us who need to be dairy-free due to digestive distress, this hot cocoa is simply delicious. Let’s face it, there is nothing more soothing and joyful than sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. It not only warms your insides, but it warms up the childhood memories from playing in the snow. When I had to go dairy-free, not to mention gluten-free, I couldn’t have hot chocolate anymore. However, Swiss Miss now makes a dairy-free version! And I gotta say, it’s fantastic. If you have a dairy-free friend, a cup of hot cocoa would be a really awesome gift. You can easily get this on Amazon.
#4: Epson Salts (this is my favorite)
Epson Bath Salts: these are my favorite all year round. Epson salts aren’t just for after a chiropractic adjustment or massage appointment, they are for everyday use to release your muscle tightness and rid toxins from your body. They even have Epson salts infused with essential oils, which enhance the bath experience and give your body and mind extra care. My personal favorite is Dr. Teals Chamomile. When I smell the scent of these Epson salts my mind immediately releases and melts into the tub. This is one of the best comforting gift ideas if you have a bath lover.
#5: Mini Electrical Fireplace
Small electrical fireplace: This might sound silly, but these small electrical fireplaces are so nice to have around. These days, they are very affordable and portable! They are easy to use and instantly bring warmth to your room both physically and mentally. There is nothing better on a cold winter’s day than having the glow of a fireplace. You don’t need a fancy fireplace to get the same warm fuzzies. What I love about electrical fireplaces is that you can turn on the flames without the heat, because sometimes, you might just want the ambiance without the extra heat.
#6: Essential Oils
Essential Oils: essential oils were the craze in the 20-teens, but they are still beneficial for the mind and body. My essential oils are used every day, mainly for mental goodness, but also for sore muscles. I do have my go-to oils, but there are some no-fail oils to give as gifts, like Tea Tree, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, and Frankincense. A little bit goes a long way and gives our senses a treat and healing. You can get a nice variety of oils for under $10 on Amazon.
Gift ideas #7: Instrumental Music
William Augusto: Soaking in His Presence instrumental music. I usually don’t say much about music because everyone has their own taste, but this one is a must. When you just want to escape your reality without having to think about lyrics, this album is a keeper. Soaking in His Presence is beautiful, soft, and welcoming. Love, love, love this! When I want to feel closer to God Almighty, I play this music and pray. This is great when you’re driving and just need a minute to relax and calm your road rage. 😊
Flowers never get old. This is a great birthday gift idea and this is especially a great Mother’s Day gift idea. Add color to their kitchen table. This simple gift gives the gift of peace. Seriously, flowers are known to promote positive thinking and reduce stress! Talk about great gift ideas to comfort someone. Head to your local grocery store, Trader Joe’s, ALDI’s, or Costco to get some amazing deals on flowers.
Gift ideas #9: Silk Pillowcase
Silk pillowcase: this has been a game-changer in my sleep…for the better. A silk pillowcase is not only soft and cool, but it’s actually good for your hair! My husband even loves them. I know that a silk pillowcase sounds a little cheesy, but it is the bomb. If you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to get one for yourself! My husband loves his!
Wrapping it up!
In wrapping up these great gift ideas to comfort someone, I’m sure you found at least one of them to be a perfect fit for your friend or family member. Note: these gifts can not only be for Christmas gifts, but for Mother’s Day gifts, Father’s Day, Birthday gift ideas, and even gifts to mend a broken heart. May these gift ideas refresh and bring joy to yourself and those you care about. Surprise someone with one of these thoughtful yet practical gifts.
Are you looking to have an awesome Christmas this year? A Christmas that will have meaning? I know I am. This past month I researched Christmas, that’s kind of funny to say, we all know Jesus was born and it’s about His birthday. But I sought out more understanding of Christmas and how I can make it more meaningful. Who knew it has to do with our own personal identity? Buckle up for an ‘Ah ha’ moment and 3 amazing tips!
What’s up with ‘Merry Christmas’?
In 1843 it was Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” that introduced the word ‘Merry’ for “Merry Christmas”. The dictionary defines Merry as cheerful and lively. Occasionally you’ll hear “Happy Christmas”, but “Merry” fits the bill. The word “Christmas” originated from “Christ’s Mass” which literally means a group of many people gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. In fact, this celebration started in 313 AD, three centuries after Jesus’s crucifixion. Interesting isn’t it?
The history of gifts
For most people, Christmas’s meaning equals presents. Gifts are fun! Even for those who are hard to buy, yes, it’s a fun challenge. How did gift-giving come into play on Christmas? Well, it’s not a black-and-white answer:
1– It started in Europe as a pagan custom around the Winter Solstice, a celebration to mark the shortest day of the year. It falls in the range of December 20th-23rd each year. At this time ancient Rome would celebrate this day by gift-giving.
2– Around 336 AD December 25th was established as Jesus’s birthday in which the solstice gift-giving tradition leaked into the Christian holiday. Some believe that gift-giving started with the three Magi (wise men) giving gifts to baby Jesus.
3– On top of that, Santa Claus was introduced by a fourth-century Greek bishop who was a gift giver, Saint Nicholas. His legacy gradually blended into the Christmas celebration.
So “Merry Christmas” is a combination of things, but one thing is for sure, “Christ’s Mass” has stood the test of time. Jesus came to save us from our sins so we would have the opportunity to have life after death. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”, says Jesus. And in Mark 10:45 Jesus also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How serving others comes into play
A few years ago I read Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You. He talks about his experience of listening and obeying God’s cause that He placed in his heart. Based in LA, he tells great stories about how people off the street, the homeless, the drug dealers, and prostitutes have completely turned their life around by focusing on Jesus and the cause God placed in their hearts. How serving others, rather than serving themselves and their addictions have changed their life.
He says, “As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity. “ (page 38) This brings on meaning! Meaning for living.
Think about that for a minute. Christmas is the most popular time of year to give; not just presents. Just look at the Christmas movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, or even Die Hard. Yes, I just referenced Elf and Die Hard in the same sentence. But hear me out, they all have something in common.
Time is of the essence
Let me ask you this, what do you think would be a powerful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year? Sure we can give tangible gifts or donate money to a cause, those are fantastic ideas! But what about your time? Your precious time?
What about sacrificing a slice of your time and putting your talents to work to take the burden off someone else? Helping a neighbor with a project? Lifting someone up with a little encouragement? You might say, “But I do that already Christy” But do you do it with Jesus in mind? Do you consciously say, “Hey Jesus, let’s bless someone today! Use me. Work through me. Let’s do this!”?
I love this statement from Rick Warren, “What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.” In the Bible, 1 Peter 4 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” But here’s a bonus in all this. If you think serving is just for the person being served, you’re missing it.
What does serving do for you?
Serving others produces being Merry. It gives you meaning and purpose…do I dare say dream life? Serving mysteriously produces a deep joy in your heart.
1 – To serve others gives significance. Putting our talents to work to help someone else is meaningful for us. It warms the cockles of God’s heart. And generates joy in your own.
2 – It produces gratitude both for the servant and the person being served.
3 – Serving brings us back to earth. Serving helps take the focus off what’s going on inside us, to what’s going on around us. This helps us put our own lives in perspective, need I say, to learn more about ourselves.
3 Tips on serving others:
1. The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
2. Vision yourself helping.
3. Pray for opportunities in which you can help someone out.
Wrapping up Christmas and serving others
I have an experiment for you to try this month to gain more meaning in this holiday. I bet you know what it is. Serve with the mindset as giving a gift to Jesus; use your time, talents, and strength to give back to Him. Not sure where to serve? Don’t make this complicated. Open your eyes and pay attention to your surroundings. He’ll tell you.
One more thing, I encourage you to experience a “Christ’s Mass” and attend a Christmas Eve service at church this year.