A stuffed teddy bear, a heart-shaped box of chocolate and a bouquet of red roses have long been staples of Valentine’s Day giving. While these can make fine gifts, this year those who want to shake things up a bit can offer alternatives that cater to their loved one’s ideals. In lieu of stuffed animals, these community- and conservation-inspired ideas may be well received.
Adopt an animal
Collecting stuffed animals may be a replacement for wanting a pet of one’s own. If the conditions for getting a pet are favorable, meaning recipients have the money, space and time to properly care for a pet, then couples can extend their love to a companion animal. This is one gift that shouldn’t be a surprise, as it is a commitment that requires both people be on board. Visit animal shelters together to choose your pet.
Support a conservation group
If animal adoption is not the right step at this time, offer a romantic partner a stake in the welfare of an animal facing endangered or critical status through symbolic adoption. Various organizations enable people to make donations toward the conservation of animals in the wild. Support large cats, birds of prey, and others through a charity such as the World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife.
Take a trip
Visit animals in the wild by planning a trip to a national park in North America or other areas around the world. If schedules or finances prohibit a trip at this time, purchase entry tickets to a conservation center or nearby zoo that specializes in certain breeds of animals. Even local wildlife rehabilitation hospitals may offer tours or enable people to foster injured or orphaned animals.
Plan a day around wildlife
Make this Valentine’s Day memorable with an entire day immersed in nature and wildlife. Plan a hike through a nature preserve; pack a picnic to enjoy midday. Make a donation in a spouse or partner’s honor at a park that he or she holds dear. Consider sponsorship with a plaque on a bench or fund educational classes at a learning center. The recipient will enjoy seeing his or her name displayed.
In lieu of gifting a stuffed animal to a romantic partner, consider purchasing stuffed animals or toys and donating to a favorite charity, like a children’s hospital in his or her honor. If allowed, deliver those items in person and spread a little extra love on Valentine’s Day.