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How to take Valentine's Day down a notch

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

It's about heart, not cash

As with just about every holiday or occasion, retailers have found a way to turn a day into a money-making focus. With the effort to gain access to your pocketbook, retailers have also managed to up the perceived pressure on the day of love. If you just watch ads, you might think that expensive diamonds are required for every relationship! But they aren’t, nice though they may be. You don’t have to buy into the consumerism of Valentine’s Day to show your love to your family on Valentine’s Day.

Happy family together

Your son does not have to have those light-up Valentine's for class with candy taped on. Your daughter doesn't need a whole new outfit. You don't have to break the bank for an extravagant gift for your honey. Take Valentine's Day down a notch this year. Focus on the heart, not the ads or the pocketbook -- and it might be the most fun "holiday" yet.

Opportunity to consume?

It's hard to blame manufacturers and retailers for their efforts to get you to consume. Their job is to make money after all! But if you recognize it for what it is, from print advertising to pop-up web ads, it's a whole lot easier to put it in perspective and not go overboard.

You don't have to buy, buy, buy to make it a fun holiday and express your love for your sweetie and your kids. Valentine's Day is about the heart, and you can't buy emotion.

Opportunity to create!

Perhaps you can look at Valentine's Day as a way to create: Create your own valentines, your own traditions, your own expression of love and affection. You likely have plenty of craft material in the house already to create valentines for your child's class.

Your daughter likely has enough in her closet to dress for the day. You likely have the items in your pantry to make special cookies for your sweetie. And if you do need to pick up a couple things, then it is just a couple things, not a cart-full.

Opportunity for conversation

The consumerism conversation is likely a conversation you've tried to have with your kids before. Such as, oh, in advance of certain December holidays. Perhaps renewing that conversation now is appropriate. Consumerism versus heart-felt, budget appropriate expression is a year-round issue! You can instill in your kids your values about love, family, budgeting and emotion and still have a fun, loving, pink and red Valentine's Day.

As with other holidays, it can be easy to be swept up into a level of expectation and consumerism on Valentine's Day. Take a breath, step back, and don't buy into it. Take Valentine's Day down a notch and you'll be teaching them that true expressions of emotion come from inside -- not necessarily a jewelry store.

>>How do you celebrate Valentine's Day with your family? Share in the comments section below!

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