relationships

Best Valentine’s Day Gifts And Activities For the Love of Your Life That Aren’t Just A Dinner

Mari Lezhava / Unsplash

It’s okay to admit that you take your partner for granted. We often forget how love began simply because it’s been so long. This Valentine’s Day shows your partner that you do truly love them by giving them more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates or flowers. Because while all of that is nice, doing something extra such as giving them a unique gift that not only says “I love you” but rather “I love you more today than the first day we met.” We’ve featured some really special gifts that will make your partner feel loved like never before.

A group Valentine’s Day party.

Unsplash

Who says Valentine’s Day has to be just between two people? Instead of having a dreadful dinner for two at an overcrowded restaurant, host a party with other couples and celebrate love with a real bash. It’ll be a lot more fun, we can assure you.

A scavenger hunt.

YouTube

If you’ve seen the movie “Amelie,” you’ll know there’s lovely scavenger hunt seen in which the protagonist leaves a trail of clues for the man she desires. Think about that kind of concept for your partner. Leave notes and questions with clues to the next location that will lead them back to you.

Personalized book for couples.

Instagram/@lovebookonline

Do you always get asked, “so how did you two meet?” Instead of retelling the story, show them the actual story through LoveBook — a printed book with your personalized story. Go to lovebookonline.com to submit your story and get a published book with the story of how you met.

Recreate the day you met (or your first date).

Unsplash

For those that have been together for a while, have you ever gone back to that one restaurant where you two had your first date? This Valentine’s Day goes back to that city, that bar, or wherever your first date was to remember how it all started.

Personalized mixtape pillow.

uncommongoods.com

No one makes mixtapes anymore, which sucks so bad because that was one of the way’s you could tell your crush that you liked them. For $58 you can lay your pretty little head on a soft mixtape made just for you and your love. Bonus points for listening to your favorite tunes while using the pillow.

The Lovebox Spinning Heart Messenger Box.

instagram/@lovebox_love

This personalized “love box” is basically like a regular text message only it’s more special and saved in a special love box. Get it? You buy the love box, send a message via the app, and your person will get an indication (via a spinning heart) that they have a message. They open it, and bam. Love delivered, just go to en.lovebox.love. 

A personalized map that shows your two worlds coming together.

Etsy

These days, it kind of rare that two people fall in love who happen to be from the same area. Thanks to social media, people from all over the world are coming together all in the name of love. Commemorate these two worlds coming by framing your individual cities, or hoods, or countries in one picture. You can purchase them on Etsy for $45.

Hire a mariachi to serenade your love.

Unsplash

“Ay, ay, ay, ay/ Canta y no llores,” imagine hearing those words from a mariachi that is hired to sing just for you. That is the ultimate gift that no one would expect.

Give them the moon.

Amazon

The next time your loved one says “I love you to the moon and back” respond by saying “Oh yeah? Prove it!” Now you can. For $20 you can get a 3D LED dual color light in the shape of the moon that will light up any room. And more importantly your lover’s heart.

Luminous dice game for a little sexy time.

Amazon

Let’s get real for a second. Your sex life probably needs a jumpstart, and that’s only natural especially for a couple that’s been together forever. These dice will help you the boost you need. You just can’t beat a $13 deal on Amazon.

Go on a long weekend getaway staycation.

Instagram/@curiocollection

If you truly can’t get away for a trip somewhere abroad, why not just take a break for a couple of days without getting on a plane. Don’t you deserve at least a night away at a grand hotel? We suggest visiting a Curio Collection hotel (they have 74 beautiful hotels all over the world and probably near you) where it will feel like you’re in a world far far away.

Play the Fog of Love.

Facebook/Fogoflove

Love is magical, sometimes even not of this world. Fog of Love — a board game — that tells a “powerful, cinematic love story that will leave a lasting impression and the best way to experience any great movie is to not know how it will end, so we won’t give any spoilers away.” Now that’s a game we can get into, especially on Valentine’s Day.

One book for all of your special meals.

Amazon

One of the things couples do more than anything is else is go out to eat. But are their certain meal experiences that stick out more than others? Certianly! That’s why this book — Menus: A Book for Your Meals and Memories — is a perfect gift. You will be able to keep forever those special meals and recipes that you can pass down your children, and be remembered forever. The book is available for $14 on Amazon.

Forget tattooing your lover’s name, get a personalized ring instead.

Amazon

We know you’re in love, but do you really have to get a tattoo to prove it? Nah. Get a cute tiny ring with your love’s name on it instead! These rings are available on Amazon for just $24.

A rain shower head will change your life.

signaturehardware.com

There’s a reason why we people love going to hotels, one of them being the bathroom. Bring a little piece of heaven with you and present your partner with this incredible gift that will transform both of your lives.

Talk to each other.

Amazon

We know it’s hard to talk to your partner after years of being together, but TableTopics can change that. They have a TableTopic for all kinds of situations including for family and friends, but for Valentine’s Day, we suggest you get the one for couples. It’s just $25 on Amazon.

A personalized liquor bottle.

Amazon

If your partner likes a fine glass of liquor, this personalized gift on Amazon for $45 is perfect for them.

Get to know each other again as if you were on a first date

iciclesgame.com

Is it possible to break the ice with someone you have been with forever? Yes, in fact, it might be harder than if it was the first date. The Icicles Game is a fun question game that will help you learn about your lover all over again.

Hire a cleaning crew for a month.

Unsplash

Sometimes the everyday stuff gets in the way of really enjoying life and your partner. Why not give them a treat of no work at home? If that doesn’t say “I love you” nothing will.

Get them a celebrity shoutout.

cameo.com

For as little as $50 your partner’s favorite B-list celebrity will send them a special message right on their phone. We did this for our loved one, and believe me they cannot stop telling all of their friends about this unique gift.


READ: 20 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas For All The People You Love In Your Life

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What PDA Is Like When You’re LGBTQIA+

Entertainment

What PDA Is Like When You’re LGBTQIA+

@brunalinzmeyer\ Instagram

Public displays of affection are the common little perks that come with being in a relationship. If you aren’t in a relationship, it can seem kind of mushy but anyone who’s coupled will tell you it’s awesome. Being able to casually hold their hand or lean in for a kiss helps to strengthen the bond you have with your partner. It’s small manifestations of the love they make you feel.

However, not everyone gets to experience this freedom in a relationship. If you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you know that PDA often works differently for you. It can be more rare — and more precious — because of our social climate. It can also be a validation of your love.

Safety is also something that often sets it apart from straight PDA. Around the globe, even here in the U.S. LGBTQ+ PDA can often be an act of bravery. Whatever the difference, it’s proof that you’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community and that’s important.

We’ve gathered responses from LGBTQIA+ social media users and they gave us some incredible insights on acts of affection.

The need to cautiously avoid danger is one that straight people don’t often feel with PDA.

iStock

“I think that it’s been really hard for me to show any PDA to my girlfriend because there is a factor of ‘what if?’ And recently with so many hate crimes against POC in the LGBTQ+ I have been very cautious. It wasn’t until recently that I have been trying to go outside my comfort zone and hold my girlfriend hand or even put my head on her shoulder. I’m happy about my accomplishments in regards to being more open in public.” — @Angelina.vicenio

There is a trend of queer, femme-presenting PDA being devoured and monetized by outsiders. This writer shared the complexity she feels about this as a bisexual woman.

Swipe Life

“Now that I openly date women and femme-presenting folks, PDA is multi-layered. I still love it, but I can feel our kisses being consumed by cishet men in the vicinity. Sometimes, I can hear them whistling or calling their friends over to watch. I wish they knew that these moments aren’t for them. But queer women are so hypersexualized and fetishized that even seeing two of us on a date is perceived as an invitation.” — Gabrielle Noel, writer

PDA is a struggle if you or your partner aren’t publically out yet.

The Culture Trip

“I’m the mother of a gay son. His BF hasn’t come out yet and they can not show any type of PDA and that frustrates my son so much. They are always in the house and I feel so bad because they are missing out. I live in DC and my neighborhood has many gay couples. Love is love and wherever I go, if I hear someone speak negative about a gay couple showing affection, I shut it down immediately. I try and take my son and his BF to places where they can be themselves, but I also encourage them to be brave and to always stand up for who they are and what they deserve.” — @acro__iris__

When harrassed about PDA, abuse can run the gambit from passive mistreatment to aggressive actions.

NY Times

“Many people in my life don’t clock me as gay so I guess that counts? Once I was holding hands with a guy in downtown Riverside and got yelled “f-ggot” by some dude in a car. One time I was kissing my high school bf and my “friends” threw a hacky sack at our faces.” — @bruhjeria

This Twitter user reminds us that straight people don’t need safe places to be themselves — but LGBTQIA+ people do.

Queerty.com

“Unfortunately, it is hard to engage in minor public displays of affection (hand holding, hugging, small kisses) as a gay person due to mean stares and fears of being attacked. Pride is a safe space for me. Straight people don’t need that type of space to engage in PDA.” — @willygr8tweets

LGBTQIA+ couples are sometimes even forced to hold back during PRIDE — which should be a safe place.

The Culture Trip

“It’s a shame we still have to deal w people telling us we shouldn’t kiss or engage in pda at pride, at OUR safe space, bc it makes them ‘uncomfortable'” — @emmalejenkins_

However, allies and queer people alike still feel warm and fuzzy seeing LGBTQIA+ PDA.

Elite Daily

“Am I the only one who absolutely hates PDA but if it’s a gay/lesbian/queer couple i’m like ((((((-: <333” — @jaydee_cakess

This person reminded us that PDA is a universal right.

iStock

“‘U can be gay all u want but i don’t want to see two guys making out in public, ew’ PDA!!! IS!!! THE!!! SAME!!! DESPITE!!! WHO!!! IS!!! KISSING!!! WHO!!! WHY are two men different than a man and woman showing affection in public?” — @c_alexandraxo

Though there is still so much work to do, this Twitter user pointed out the progress the LGBTQIA+ community has seen.

OnABicycleBuiltForTwo.com

“#LancasterPride shows how far we’ve come. When I first moved here in ‘98, any same-sex PDA had to be checking all directions before gently brushing knuckles. Unless you were at the gay night at The Warehouse. Then you had to practically hump on the dance floor just to say hello.” — @RG_Bhaji

When My Mother Married My Father, Her White Family Excluded Us, But My Dad’s Latino Family Rallied To Support Us In Good Times And Bad

Culture

When My Mother Married My Father, Her White Family Excluded Us, But My Dad’s Latino Family Rallied To Support Us In Good Times And Bad

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Growing up, I remember placing my hand against my dad’s much darker skin. Our skin tones were always very different. People would say I looked more like my mother but I think they were just seeing the same white complexion. I didn’t have my dad’s deep brown skin or his jet black hair but I had his eyes and his way of looking at the world.

More than once while growing up, I had friends point out the difference between the two of us. While my mom had a mix of white European backgrounds, my dad had Mexican, Indigenous, and Spanish blood flowing through his veins. Her light skinned, slender form contrasted his dark and rotund one. However, I’ve never met two people who were more complimentary of each other than my parents.

In the 1980’s interracial marriage was still against societal norms in South Texas.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

My parents married in a small church in Highlands, Texas during Holy Week. They were joined in celebration by my dad’s large Latinx family. On the other hand, my mom’s family wasn’t so eager to be there. The only reason they attended was that my dad provided their wedding clothes and personally drove them to the church. They didn’t support my mom’s decision to marry someone brown.

My dad’s family was happy to welcome my mom. Still, their welcome came with some trepidation. When they announced their engagement, my grandmother solemnly asked my father if this is what he really wanted. This was not a rejection of my mom but my grandmother’s concern about the ugliness that they would face as an interracial couple.

Officially, interracial marriage was legalized across the United States in 1967.

The decision to legalize came after the landmark Loving vs Virginia case. The Supreme Court found that the laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Though it was now legal, it wasn’t exactly popular at the time. South Texas was slow to adopt any kind of sweeping social change, especially if it was mandated by Washington DC. To put this into perspective, look at how desegregation was approached in the area.

Brown Vs the Board of Education reached its historic mandate in 1957. When my dad and his siblings were going to school in the late ’60s and early 70’s their school district had only just begun the process of desegregation. My father would tell me stories of being bussed to the “white schools” to fulfill the 1957 mandate. When he and my mother married in 1985, the city was still very segregated.

Though it was legalized 10 years after desegregation, interracial marriage had just as much trouble being accepted by conservative Texans.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Though Texas has a diverse population, outside of its major metropolitan areas, it’s still socially conservative. Texas is also part of the Evangelical Protestant Bible Belt and is home to close to ten million Catholics, Protestants, Methodists and Baptists.

The state’s religious breakdown is very relevant when we talk about interracial marriage. Historically, many religions practiced in the U.S. disavow mixed marriages. For example, the Christian Bible is often cited as a reason against the mixing of the races. However, there’s no actual text that prohibits interracial marriage. Both Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 urge the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites.

That passage in Deuteronomy reads:

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them [Canaanites]; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”

On the surface, this might look like a case against interracial marriages. Nevertheless, it isn’t as the Israelites and Canaanites were of the same ethnic group. The argument here refers to the difference in tribe and religious observations as reasons not to intermarry. Still, though there is no text to back this up, many continue to use religion to argue against mixed marriages.

Another reason why interracial marriage is opposed is something I have lots of experience with.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

One of the social objections to interracial marriage has to do with the offspring of these marriages. Interracial children come from several different cultures. A common worry is that these children will never fully belong to any. Similarly, objectors claim that these children will be shunned by their respective cultures for being mixed.

This has been a major arguement as recently as 2009. Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell was exposed for refuseing to officiate interracial marriage. It was his opinion that these marriages do not last long. Additionally, he claimed he didn’t want the kids of mixed marriages to suffer unduly.

In a 2009 interview with the Associated Press, Bardwell said:

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

I can honestly say that Bardwell is absolutely wrong in his thinking.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

A little over 35 years ago, my parents met, dated and fell in love. They had me — their oldest daughter — 13 months after they tied the knot. My little sister joined the family 18 months later. She and I have never felt unloved.

We were raised with my dad’s side of the family. As such, we grew up with quinceañeras, authentic Tex-Mex and my grandma’s telenovelas filling our childhoods. While we were lighter in complexion than my fully Latinx cousins, we were no different.

My mom didn’t have the same sort of family support my dad did. Long before their wedding, her relatives were family in name and name only. However, she loved my dad with all her heart. That included his culture.

My mom had no exposure to Latinx culture before my dad — she didn’t even have any Hispanic friends at the time. Still, she embraced my dad’s family and heritage; learning Spanish words, cooking Mexican food and teaching her children about our culture.

While my parents found acceptance from his Latinx family, not everyone was as accepting.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Unlike the questions I got from childhood friends, some microaggressions were meant to genuinely hurt my parents. In their neighborhood and, later, when they moved to Houston, my parents didn’t face discrimination or harassment. It was outside these safe places that they experienced bigotry.

My mom has told me stories of times when she and my dad were stared at; sneered at even. Traveling through the small towns of South Texas, my parents’ relationship was sometimes treated with hostility and, other times, like an oddity.

There is a particular story my mom has shared about this. When she and my dad were newlyweds, they went to eat at a cafeteria-type diner. Walking in, dad was immediately aware that he was the only person of color in the restaurant. My mom explained that all eyes were on them the entire time they ate. They were treated as some sort of sideshow while they were there. As my dad put it, they should have sold tickets.

This isn’t the first or the last time my parents would be made to feel abnormal because of their marriage. I remember once they had glamour shot-esque pictures taken of themselves. The photographer applied a filter that completely washed out my dad’s complexion. Totally infuriated, my dad pointed out to the photographer that they made him look like a white man instead of a Latino. It was fixed eventually but the damage was done.

There are other bolder attacks and countless microaggressions but my parents paid most of them little mind. After all, they were together and happy.

Additionally, they were welcomed by my dad’s community and that meant a lot. When my dad died 33 years after they joined in marriage, it’s my dad’s Latinx family and community who rallied to support my mom, my sister and me in our grief.

My parents’ love created that world; one where my sister and I can always find welcoming and love. All the glaring bigotry in the world can’t take that from us.

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