To tell you the truth, the last thing I need right now is another piece of chocolate. Or a stuffed bear. I feel like a stuffed bear after this whirlwind of a holiday season. And collecting more STUFF is not exactly how I like to show my love for the planet. So here are some alternatives to the traditional that will guarantee warm fuzzy feelings for your loved ones, your wallet and Mama Nature.

DIY Valentine’s Card

I’m one of those weirdo’s that saves every scrap of wrapping paper, ribbon or bag that crosses my path. So when it comes time for making a card, I’m all set! But you can really use anything at all – posterboard pieces, shipping paper, heck even half those free mailers you get have ready-to-cut Valentine’s graphics on them. A couple years ago, we even made some out of the items in our recycling bin. Whimsy is key, my friends.

Budding Love

Instead of watching your cut flowers wither away, give something that will bloom like your love for one another! Potted plants are often inexpensive, beautiful and long-lasting. Small herb pots are a great gift because they’re both fragrant and useful.

Homecooked Meal

If there’s anything in this world that makes us all feel cared for, it’s being cooked for! Skip the trip to Chez Expensivo and whip up a couple homemade dishes. If you’re not an experienced cook, look for recipes online marked “easy.” Your honey will be awed by the hand-selected organic and local ingredients and the time you spent preparing. And hey, since the holiday does fall on a Monday this year, why not skip the meat?

Gift of an Experience

I’m a huge fan of experience-based gifts all year round but they’re especially great for celebrating love because they mean quality time spent together. Whether it be a tour of a local brewery or a visit to the National Pinball Museum, experience gifts are the way to honor your loved one’s interests and hobbies. Simpler yet, take them on a picnic or build a fort and play board games.

Spread the Animal Love

Finally, and my favorite option of all (hint, hint), adopt a pet from your local shelter. Shelters around the world are still incredibly overpopulated by animals that will return the favor with unconditional love. Help solve the problem by neutering or spaying your new family member.

Whichever way you decide to celebrate the love this season, keep in mind that it really is the thought that counts. If your casserole gets singed or your DIY card looks like it should return to the recycling bin, never fear. Spending quality time with one another is really what this, and every, holiday is all about. Now get out there and LOVE!