There is going to be a flood of posts and articles surrounding Valentine’s (or Galentine’s if you’re trendy) Day, and it’s hard to think of something a little different to talk about! I actually LOVE celebrating Valentine’s Day, I think any excuse to talk and show affection and love to those we care for should be grabbed. We have games we play with the kids and eat heart shaped and/or red and pink foods for dinner, after 24 years Mr. Frugal and I still send cards to each other and have a take away as a treat with something bubbly in the evening.
Love is special, and if you have someone you really feel good around then take every opportunity to tell them. Of course for a relationship to show commitment and longevity you will need to show you care on more than just one day!
I’ve decided to use all this talk of love and relationships to write a post of two halves. 1. Frugal Romance and 2. Sustainable Sex (eco not stamina!).
If you are still looking for love there are a number of dating sites specifically aimed at people with strong eco and ethical values:
So, the shops will have lots of options for you to spend money to demonstrate how much you love someone. I’m here as the voice of reason to say what you SPEND does not demonstrate how much you love someone! Really, it just doesn’t. However your ACTIONS may well be a huge clanging bell of how much you have thought about/planned for/taken care over the person you wish to show affection. There is a very fine line between saving money and being careful about people’s feelings. A homemade item only works if it’s genuinely made with care and affection, FREE things you could consider creating might include:
- a card
- a photo collage
- upcycling a favourite piece of clothing
- a keepsake box
- a mix tape (or modern equivalent!!)
- inviting over a treasured friend
- offering to babysit for an important occasion
- cook/buy a favourite meal
- put on clean bedsheets, maybe with some perfume or petals on there?
- do all the cleaning, and open a bottle of wine…
If there is a chance that you have very different views on the whole Valentine’s Day thing I would encourage a conversation about this in advance to avoid common pitfalls and crushed expectations. Examples of AGREED spending changes could be:
- Celebrating on an alternative day when everything will be cheaper, flowers, meals, chocolates EVERYTHING.
- Setting a budget for gifts.
- Showing love to a common passion instead, so rather than flowers donate that money to a project you both love or buying an item you both agree is needed/wanted.
- Not spending at all, and have a free date night (see below)
- Buying one thing that’s really wanted rather than spending on lots of smaller items available in the shops that are red and heart shaped, but will ultimately end up in a charity shop.
For a no spend Valentine’s Day you will have to be a bit more creative, and if you are planning a surprise remember to focus on the LOVE and not the PRICE
– people don’t want to hear that it was cheaper to do X than Y, it’s just not romantic.
Here are five ideas for a FREE Date Night, and you can do these on any night of the year obviously – maybe you could have a monthly night of romance instead of just birthdays and anniversaries?
- Watch the sunset or sunrise together… this can be a truly peaceful and wonderous experience. NB if you are parents of young children I’m aware this won’t work for you x However, you are probably up for one of these anyway so having a partner to share it with might be nice??
- Look over an old photo album together and remember some fun times, you can laugh about your teenage haircuts, see your first dates or a wedding album. Have a laugh and remind yourselves why and how you fell in love… The longer you are together the more hilarious this gets.
- Snuggle up and watch a movie. Turn the lights out and grab some snacks or a hot chocolate and just be. Choosing a movie can be tricky – I would go for whatever is most likely to induce laughter, romance or sleep depending on your situation.
- Make a Plan – think about the future you plan together, discuss some shared goals or dreams and see how you can support each other to make them happen.
- Have an ‘early night’ – wink wink, see below
Somewhere in between the Romance and Sex halves of this post I want to quickly mention underwear – there are some really beautiful, ethically sourced and made underwear producers that may cost a bit more than Ann Summers, but will last you a long time are comfortable as well as sexy and offer an elegance and sensuality that may be more to your taste take a look at…www.lbpclub.co.uk, www.luvahuva.co.uk & www.moralfibres.co.uk.
So now we move to the more awkward part of the post – at least if you’re British it will be awkward! – to think about how we allow for frugal and ethical values in a healthy sex life. A quick word of warning from my own recent research if you use an online search engine to find ‘eco sex’ you are likely to come across a lot of articles, books and information about a group who took the term as their own and have a very specialist view of what it means; basically they practice and encourage people to love the Earth in the most explicit sense. If that’s your thing, you have found your people; if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly way to express human to human love then the ideas here will be more for you…
Below are some ways you may want to consider making changes or at least pondering the issues of sustainable sex.
One of the great things about sex is that it’s free! But if you want to change things up a bit here are a few more FREE ways to explore:
- turn the lights off and save some electricity (frugal and ethical!)
- consider the Great Outdoors as a possible location…
- save water by sharing a bath together
- enjoy a sensual massage using up some moisturiser or oil you already have
- change your ‘usual’ location if things have got a bit ‘same same’
- borrow a book from the library and try one new position a week/month/year
- make some cards with sexy suggestions and take turns to pick one at random
- one partner gets to choose the whole evening’s activities
If you have or use ‘equipment’ you might consider how ethically they are made, and the materials they are made from. The more natural the material the better from an environmental point of view, however it’s likely most sex toys are made of plastic. You will be pleased to learn therefore that the company LoveHoney can at least recycle your WEEE categorised sex toys. You just give them a clean and send them off, all the details are on the link.
If buying something new, you have the chance to be completely eco-friendly with options that are recyclable (glass, wood) or rechargeable, for example the Gaia Eco Vibrator is biodegradable and can be recycled. There is also a wind up vibrator which only needs you as a power source. You can check out www.lovehoney.co.uk, www.ethicalsextoys.co.uk and www.EarthAngel.co.uk who offer a selection of items for more ethical consumers, including recycled leather whips. There is also a social enterprise offering ethical sex toys alongside educational resources at www.vavven.org.
Condoms are still one of the safest and easiest ways to make sure you avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. However, they are not biodegradable and often end up in landfill or our waterways. The only currently available option that is biodegradeable is made from lamb intestines which aren’t especially sexy. BUT there are ways you can make more ethical choices… some companies offer 100% recycled packaging, and Fair Square off ultra thin condoms from fairly traded latex. At www.babipur.co.uk you can buy vegan, fair trade condoms – it is mainly a children’s site so don’t be too alarmed when you first get there!
Here is also a good point to think about being comfortable – there is a great lube available from lots of places including Boots called YES! Lube, this is organic and free of parabens.
If you have the urge to go all 9 1/2 Weeks, just remember to think about where your food is sourced, and it’s impact… traditional aphrodisiac foods like seafood are often full of unpleasant plastic particles or mercury and that’s not at all romantic. It might be better to go for a safer homemade option like this easy vegan Chocolate Sauce recipe…
14oz coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk coconut milk, sugar and cocoa powder together and then simmer in a pan for 10mins, add the vanilla and oil off the heat stir to blend and allow to cool (or not!)
If you like to dress up, consider getting costumes pre-loved instead of new, and consider the quality and flammability of the materials used! Again, you may want to try a homemade version, you might create your own school days with white shirts and ties, wrap up with toilet roll like a mummy and then rip it all off, recreate a favourite gig with the live CD and wear the gig t-shirts you bought back then…
Whatever floats your boat between consenting adults should be fun and healthy. It can be very difficult in family life to find the time and energy for romance or even the most cursory of sex lives, but intimacy is what makes a relationship different from a friendship so it’s worth nurturing for the long run.
I will be adding some more relationship based articles to the FRUGAL YOU page, after writing and delivering a number of courses on relationships, as well as working on my own for over 20 years I feel in a good place to share the love x
I like Valentines Day. There I said it. It doesn’t have to be a commercial exercise, you don’t have to buy overpriced meals and flowers, but it is a great opportunity to show people that you love them, to ponder on how you demonstrate that today and in the future- to check in with them to make sure they know they are loved.
We don’t spend crazy amounts, here are a few of our favourite ideas:
- Cut out heart shapes and write on each one something you love
- We splurged and got balloons one year, it was great as we used them to play lots of games and even toddlers can play balloon games.
- Take breakfast in bed for everyone, toast is the least messy.
- Depending on how you think it will go down…either everyone votes for a movie to watch, or everyone can choose one episode of their favourite show. You may be able to find a special film that is love/kindness related – please comment if you do!
- Everyone wears something red or pink.
- If we do buy things, they are things that will last many years and get lots of use. We have some cups with hearts on and a toast stamp that comes out on birthdays too.
- We read a few themed books – some ideas on www.mrsaverageevaluates.wordpress.com
- We do lots of crafts, check out the love bugs we made in a previous post!
- Finally, we have a treasure hunt around the house, each child has a sheet of photos of the people they love, they have to find the photo and we put a heart shaped sweet next to it. We have such a tiny family that we also use the Sesame Street printables to make sure everyone gets about 10 sweets. If you have visitors you can use the Sesame Street ones for them to find with their name on instead of a photo.
- We get heart shaped pasta from Lidl for dinner, easy, quick and universally acceptable even in our picky household. For pudding the kids have voted for pancakes…
The link above takes you to some (mostly free), craft ideas for Valentines. This will certainly be keeping us busy over next weekend, http://www.redtedart.com/2015/01/13/toilet-roll-love-bugs-valentines-day/ using up things like loo roll tubes is particularly good as they can still be recycled after you have done with them.