Thursday, February 6, 2014

Secret Cupid 101 (Ideas to Surprise Your Valentine!)


I've written on this blog before about my family's tradition of doing "Secret Cupids" during the week before Valentines Day.  Basically, every day we leave each other a little surprise from "SC" (Secret Cupid, not Santa Claus!)  This has become a really fun thing for me to do for Ryan every year.  He usually does it back for me as well, although this isn't as much his type of "thing," and some days he forgets, which I've decided I am okay with.  In the early days of our marriage, I'm sure I pouted when he forgot to do Cupid for a few days, but now that I am much more mature (eh hem, realistic and possibly resigned?), I've realized that it makes me super happy to surprise him, and that is enough.

Once our kids are a little older, we will do Secret Cupids with them like my mom did with us (that's how the tradition started)--but even then, I think I will do a separate thing for Ryan.  It's just exciting to spoil him once in a while!  I'm not generally a cutesty wife (honestly, I can barely keep our kid clothed and fed and the house picked up on most days), but every now and then I love to put in a bit more effort to show Ryan just how much I love and appreciate him.

Because tomorrow is the first day of Secret Cupid Week, I spent some time today thinking of ideas and also looking online for ideas (googled stuff like "Valentines gifts," "surprises for spouse," etc), and I compiled a list.  I thought I would post it here so I can reference it in future years, and also so if any of you are wanting to start a tradition like this, you'll have a jumping off point.  Don't worry...I already made Ryan promise that he wouldn't read this blog post and spoil his surprises (and if you are reading this right now, Ryan Matthew Nielson, you better stop immediately, OR ELSE!!!!).  To anyone else reading this post, read on, and please let me know if you have any other ideas for Valentines surprises in the comments!!

Here's a list of ideas for surprising your spouse, in no particular order.  Some of these ideas are fairly pricey, so you may have to spread them out over the years, but some of these ideas are totally free, which is always a plus.  Also, I fully admit that these ideas are super corny...but hey, sometimes you have to embrace corny in the name of love!  So here goes:

-Send him a text every hour of the day while he is at work, telling him something that you love about him.

-Mail him a Valentine to his work or to your home (or just slip one in the mailbox so he will find it amongst the bills).

-Create a little Videogram with the kids (something like, "Why we love Daddy" and email it to him at work).  You could also just do this with a photo of you and the kids holding a sign.

-Print photos of you two together--possibly from your dating days--and put them all over the refrigerator.  I did this one year, and then the next day Ryan added little construction paper thought/speech bubbles that were hilarious and made my day.



-Sign him up for a class about something he's interested in (art, photography, cooking)--or better yet, take the class together.

-Think about something he's currently struggling with and do something about it.  Ryan is having some back pain right now due to his long hours leaning over the dental chair, so I researched the best heating pads and ordered him a good one.  I also made appointments for us to get massages on his day off next week.  (I figured he might not be willing to go into a spa without me, so I get to have a massage too.  Score!  Super excited about this!!)

-Order a custom painting of your family, your home, or another place that is special to you as a couple. Lots of artists on Etsy have beautiful, original work.  I am kind of obsessed with this seller's cute artwork, and I would love to someday order several of her paintings as a series to display in our home--each of the LDS temple in all of the places that Ryan and I have lived.  Wouldn't that be awesome?

-Leave loving notes for him all over the house--on the bathroom mirror in a dry erase marker or lipstick, on the milk carton in the refrigerator with a permanent marker, in his car on a big paper heart on the steering wheel...you get the picture.

-A similar idea: "Heart attack" his car or his office door by taping construction paper hearts all over with loving notes written on them.  (It would be fun to have the kids help with this.)


-Build snowmen that look like the two of you in the front yard.  Use your own accessories so he's sure to know who the snowmen are. (Hahaha, I am giggling just thinking about a snowman wearing Ryan's ski hat and a snowwoman wearing one of my scarves!)  The snow couple could even be holding hands or holding a sign with a loving message.  Awww!  This idea just came to me as I was writing this post, and I think I may have to do it this week.

-Make some sort of photo album for him.  Lots of online services like Shutterfly have deals this time of year, and these programs are easy and fast to use with a  really professional final product.

-Do an act of service for him.  Clean the whole house, or the garage, or the refrigerator.  Is there a particular chore that you know he's been wanting to get done but hasn't?  Do it for him.  Is there something that bugs him about the house that you can take care of?  Ryan is not a huge fan of the messy card table that I currently have in our bedroom--it is overflowing with papers to be filed and stuff that I need to get organized, and it really is an eye sore that gets in our way.  I decided that I am going to sort all of my papers and get the card table out of our room next week as one of his "Cupid" gifts.

 -Plan a weekend get-away somewhere fun.  You can actually take the get-away during Valentines Week, or just get it all planned and scheduled and give him a coupon/itinerary.

-Leave a message in the snow outside the bedroom window.  Ryan did this for me one year.  He stomped "SC Loves You" in big letters, and I saw it out the window first thing in the morning.  I thought it was adorable.


-Send him to do something fun with his buddies--basketball game tickets, skiing, whatever.

-Plan some sort of sexy surprise.  Last year, I bought myself a new silky nightgown (because, let's face it, the ones I got for my wedding are WAY too small now, and I had never gotten any since).  I left it on the bed before I went to a book club with a note that said, "I hope you will wait up for me." ;)  Let's just say, he did!  (TMI???  Sorry, Dad, if you're reading this!!)  You can also just do something as simple as hang white twinkle lights on the headboard of your bed or light a candle and put on music...something romantic and different that will surprise him.

-Make his favorite dinner.  You could even put out Valentines place settings to go along with it.

-Have his favorite breakfast treat ready for him first thing in the morning--a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls, a box of his favorite donuts, homemade muffins...whatever.  If you are really ambitious, you could get/make enough for him to take to work and feed his coworkers.

-Buy a new board game and invite some favorite friends over to play it with you guys.

-Surprise him at work for a lunch date.  Or if his work isn't the type of setting where a surprise is really possible, schedule it with him in advance.  (You could also be sneaky and let his secretary or boss in on the plan, so they will make him think he has a meeting, or a conference call, or a patient to see...then you will show up instead.)

-Give him a candygram with clever messages spelled out with candybars.  Ryan did this for me one year, and even included Pepto Bismuth as part of the love note...random! :)



And I did something similar for him with "study treats" on the year he was cramming for his Board exams.  I think I got the printables from Pinterest or something.  I certainly don't know how to make a cutesy printable myself.



-Plan a scavenger hunt around town, possibly featuring some of the memories from when you were dating or throughout your years of marriage.  This doesn't have to be super complicated.  I think I am going to do this for Ryan as our actual Valentines Day night date next week--and we will just look for Fun Dips and Jones Sodas at the grocery store (reminiscent of our first date), go ice skating (reminiscent of our second date), go get some kissing pics in a photo booth at the mall (reminiscent of later dates), and possibly go to dinner at a restaurant that we loved (and still love) when we were in college.

-Go somewhere together that is special or meaningful to both of you.  I thought about taking Ryan to the temple this week.

-Make or buy a favorite treat (homemade bread, fresh chocolate chip cookies, specialty candy) and have it waiting when he gets home from work...or drop it off at his work mid-day.

-Fill your bedroom with helium balloons, possibly with love notes or photos attached to the strings.

-Think of something that would improve your marriage and make it happen.  I've noticed lately that Ryan and I go on extremely boring dates.  We like to go out together when we can, but it's almost always dinner or a movie, and sometimes we just don't have a lot to talk about other than Noah and work.  I know there are a gazillion fun date ideas online, but honestly, who has time to look up date ideas online??  Well, I am going to make time this week.  As one of Ryan's Cupid gifts, I am going to spend an hour researching fun date ideas.  I will either make a list of at least one we can do every month this next year, or I will make a huge list to read to Ryan, and he can help me decide what sounds fun.  (I will report back if I get an stellar date ideas that need to be shared.)

-Do something that he loves together--watch a football game with him, go hunting with him, do an art project with him.

-Use one of your talents to do something special for him.  If you are an artist, paint him a picture.  If you are a writer, write him a poem or a love letter or a narrative about your marriage.  (I did this once as an anniversary gift.)  If you are a musician, write him a song, or sing him a favorite love song, or serenade him with your guitar.

-Take him on a random outing in your town--something that you have never done before and might never do without an occasion.  I've found that one of the best places to discover these random outings is from Groupon, Living Social, or coupon mailers.  Take a chance and try something different...it might end up being a bust, but at least it will be an adventure and something to laugh about in future years.  A few years ago, I got a coupon in the mail for a Russian bathhouse near our house.  I decided to live on the wild side and book an appointment for me and Ry for Valentines Day.  It ended up being one of our most memorable, hilarious, and random dates ever.  You can read the full report here.  (I still laugh when I read that post and remember that night.)

-Get him a gift!  Not super original, but is there something he's been wanting but has been too frugal to buy?  Or is there something you think he needs that he probably wouldn't think of?  Buy it for him.

-Steal his car from the parking lot at work and take it to the car wash.  Vacuum it out and Windex the dashboard etc.  Fill it up with gas.  Leave a love note on the seat.

Wow...that list took a lot longer to write up than I thought!  I really hope someone out there uses some of these ideas--please let me know if you do!  It doesn't have to be for Valentines...it could be for anniversaries or birthdays or just an average day when you want to show your spouse a little extra love.

If you want to start a Secret Cupid tradition, you can start Friday the 7th so it will last the entire week, but you don't have to.  You can start whenever is convenient for you, and I'm sure your hubby (or wife for that matter, in the highly unlikely event that a man is reading this post) will be thrilled to be spoiled, even for a day or two.   If you want to see the several posts that I've written on this blog about Secret Cupid in the past, click here. More fun ideas are included in those posts, but they were pretty specific to me and Ryan so I didn't include them in this generalized list.

And if you want to do Secret Cupid with your entire family like my mom did (it really is a super fun tradition with kids), click on this link and head over to my sister's blog where she has outlined how the whole thing works.

As I was compiling the ideas for this post and thinking back on former Valentines Days, I remembered a hilarious story from my teaching days that I have to share.  One February 14th, Ryan gave me a glow-in-the-dark necklace with a note saying that I could wear it on our sledding date that night.  He was going to take me to a famous sled hill near Buffalo, NY for an evening adventure.  Well, when my high school students asked what Ryan had given me for Valentines Day, I said, totally innocently, "He gave me a glow-in-the-dark necklace. He said I'm going to need it tonight."  It wasn't until they all burst out laughing that I realized how bad that sounded.  "TO GO SLEDDING!!!!  TO GO SLEDDING AT CHESNUT RIDGE, YOU GUYS!" I yelled over the mayhem.

"Suuuuuure..." they all teased.

I hope you all have a spicy and romantic and fun Valentines Week, and I hope this list of ideas makes that just a little easier! :)

11 comments:

  1. This is so cute! My Mom was big on Valentine's Day, so I've tried to keep that tradition in our family too. SC may be something I need to add! :)

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  2. i LOVE LOVE this list! so many great ideas! thanks for sharing. here are a few more simple ideas:
    -origami heart "wall of love" - i just did this for dave's birthday. he was turning 32, so i made 32 hearts and put a slip of paper in each one telling something i love about himhttp://www.minted.com/julep/2013/02/07/wall-of-love/
    -pictures in the shape of a heart. i did this for our anniversary this year http://daveandstephanie.blogspot.com/2013/08/six-years.html
    - while we were dating i bought some empty vitamin capsules and wrote on tiny slips of paper things i love about him and then rolled them up and put them in the capsules. then i got a prescription bottle from a pharmacy and put a little label on the outside that said something cheesy like "prescription for love. take one as needed." i think that is one of dave's favorite things i've done for him.
    - like you mentioned above, it is so easy when you're out to dinner to talk about work, bills, kids etc i love this list of questions to ask your spouse during each of the courses of the meal (appetizer, main dish, dessert). they're are some fun questions! http://www.familyvolley.com/2011/02/date-your-husband-let-me-start.html
    ok, sorry that was a really long comment! i can't wait to use some of your ideas, this week and for the rest of the year!

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  3. Love this! Thayne and I definitely need to go on more couple dates. We do a lot of family dates because I don't usually plan in advance enough to get a sitter and then it seems expensive to get a sitter and go on a date. I love these ideas and plan on stealing them!
    PS Glow in the dark necklace story - HILARIOUS!

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    1. Oh, and we did secret cupid this year with the kids. Tyson loves it but Lexi doesn't have a clue. Super fun!

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  4. Thanks for sharing Rachel! I think I will add this to my "Keeping the Romance Alive" Pinterest board as a reference when I am short on ideas! Have fun!

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  6. I was just thinking about Secret Cupid today! That is such a neat tradition. That brings back fun memories from college. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Such great ideas! Thank you for sharing :)

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  8. I still have the heart socks you got me when you were my secret cupid at white gables! We don't do much for Valentine's around here, but I have for the last few years written a sonnet for my very own SC. :) Keeps my brain going! I almost forgot this year, though. I remembered this afternoon and am grateful Spencer is on call tonight. I just finished!

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  9. We do this too!!! Except at our house it is signed, "Your Secret Admirer." Our kids love it and have fully joined in the fun. In fact, they are slowly taking it over... But I agree, I love still surprising my husband with simple little gifts each day. He started it when we were dating and its been a yearly tradition ever since. Thanks for the ideas!
    PS: I would totally have said the glow in the dark necklace thing. I naively get myself into trouble like that on a regular basis. :)

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