20 Last Minute Valentine's Day Ideas (many free!)

Valentine's Day can sneak up on us sometimes. In busy seasons of life, or when we haven't had the time or energy to plan something in advance, it can still be fun to take a little time at the last minute to make this holiday special.

Here are some ideas to make your Valentine's Day special, that don't require planning ahead:

1. Make Valentine's cards for family members, for each other, for seniors in a nursing home, or for a local hospital. You don't need to make these red cut out hearts with doily edges, they can just be on plain printer paper in red crayon if that's what you've got around ;)

2. Make a special dessert. Is there something in your cabinet you can easily whip together? What about vanilla ice cream with strawberries on top? Even on years that I don't plan ahead, I tend to keep the pantry stocked in enough items to pull together some kind of dessert on special evenings.

3. Read the story of St. Valentine! True meaning behind this holiday anyone? Here is a great resource for information about the REAL Saint Valentine whose day we celebrate today.

4. Hang some last minute decor! I like this printable Valentine's bunting, or you could make your own using cut out hearts (a project for the kids!)

5. Write a love letter to your spouse or child, or write a friend and tell them how much they mean to you.

6. Order a heart shaped pizza! I learned last year that many local pizza delivery places can turn their regular pizzas into a heart shape for this holiday.

7. Spend some quality time together. Could you eat dinner as a picnic on the floor? Read aloud from a book together? Play a game or just sit and talk? Go for an evening walk? Try to avoid stressful topics or those you know will have conflict. Share your hearts with each other!
Husband and I hanging out Valentine's Day 2015

8. If you feel like you really want to make an investment in your spouse, in a marriage that might be struggling, consider starting a Love Dare. I've heard that this has been so wonderful and helpful for many couples, and it only takes one person doing it.

9. DIY a gift! What are you good at? If you're a baker, bake something. If you're a builder, build something. Use the skills that you have even if they are just hobby skills. My husband loves video games and we used to play them together, so one year he built a special house covered in roses for me to discover in Minecraft. To non-gamers that may sound silly, but it was incredibly sweet.

10. Give an experience gift!

Some free ideas: coupon for a homemade picnic on the date of their choosing, do the chore they hate the most for them for a week, give your bedroom a mini-makeover by tidying it up, dealing with all the laundry baskets, organizing surfaces and adding a few extra touches that you have around like a chocolate on each of your pillows or a printed photo of your wedding day.

Some bought experience ideas: buy tickets to a movie or local show you know your spouse would enjoy. Tickets to a special outing like the aquarium, or a special garden or arboretum. A printed gift card to a store or restaurant. A handwritten coupon for a book of their choice from Amazon or your local bookshop. A bottle of wine or whiskey delivered from your local liquor store (many do home deliveries!)

11. I hate to suggest it, but for an easy kid-gift, you could do homemade valentine's slime or play doh. These will not happen in my house, but perhaps you do not mind the cleanup of these items quite as much as I do ;) There are many recipes for this on Pinterest.

12. Wear something pink or red from your closet! (I see you Christmas dress from 4 years ago)

13. Make a list of reasons you love about your spouse and gift that! You could make this on a regular piece of paper, make a booklet, or tear up strips of paper, write the reasons, and put them in a decorated jar.

14. It may sound common or cheesy, but there is nothing wrong with picking up a bouquet of roses or a bakery treat as a special way to celebrate!

15. Breakfast in bed!

16. Take an interest. Does your spouse have a hobby that you... could kind of care less about? Maybe ask them to show it to you, show you what they love about it, and don't say a negative thing about it. Does your husband like to watch baseball or play some game on his phone? Ask him about it and watch a game or a round with him!

17. Make a homemade Valentine's day cocktail or mocktail!

18. Let your spouse win. This sounds silly, but it could be a great last minute gift. Is there some small thing you've been disagreeing over that you could give up? Obviously you can't do this for issues you feel are major, but something like "what color should we paint the guest room" or "what temperature should we keep the house set at" or "where should we go on our next date or vacation"... can you let your spouse win as a Valentine's gift?

19. Be a better listener. What is something your spouse or children have been asking for or complaining about for awhile? Can you do anything to get them what they want or find a way of making them happy? If your wife always complains about you leaving the toothpaste cap off (not an issue in our home), can you make an extra effort to make putting it on a habit? If one of you needs a bit more alone time or time with friends, can you plan a day (or longterm solution) to make that happen?

20. Do a tiny home update as a gift. This could be as small as reorganizing an annoying drawer, finishing a project, clearing out the garage, or what we did this year... I gave my husband a pair of pear trees! One for our anniversary which is in January, and one for Valentine's day. These will be amazing to have for years and years, and he has always wanted them. If your wife is a gardener could you get her a rose bush instead of a bouquet? If your husband constantly bumps his head on the basement stairs ceiling, could you put something soft around it? A tiny home update can be a very sweet gift!

Do you have other ideas? I'd love to hear them! For more, check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest board, and I hope you have a wonderful v-day!