Holidays are one of my biggest challenges overseas. I missed out on the creative gene somehow, and I'm terrible at planning ahead, so it just makes special occasions a problem for me. Add to that the difficulty of romance in a third-world country - lack of good restaurants or date options, lack of babysitters, busy schedules, no florists or chocolatiers - and Valentine's Day can just be a pretty lame holiday.

But we all know how important it is to have times of focusing on our marriage - especially when it's so hard to do. So I've assembled a list of Valentine's ideas - some quite simple, some that will take a little more preparation - that hopefully most of you can do regardless of your location or situation. (And I have to admit most of these ideas are not original with me, but are adapted from a dozen other websites.)

Word Ideas:

1) Love Notes. So much can be done with these. Write a bunch of little love notes and leave them all over the house where your hubby will find them. Or bind them all together into a small book. Or roll them up and tie individually, then put in a basket or jar to give to your Valentine.

2) Give IOU's - for anything from kisses and backrubs, to taking out the trash or cleaning the car, to making his favorite meal!

3) Go to puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com and create your own crossword puzzle using words and clues from your relationship. Be sure to include things from your first dates and your wedding and honeymoon as well as your relationship now.

4) If you're going to be separated for most of the day, do a text-a-thon. Send your Valentine a sweet or steamy text every hour, on the hour. Build anticipation for your evening together.  It will be fun for both of you!

Food Ideas:

1) Make a meal with symbols of love. Make soft pretzels and form them into heart-shapes. Shape our favorite biscuit recipe into hearts. Bake a heart-shaped cake, or cut-out heart cookies. You can use anything from string beans or carrot sticks to ranch dressing or ketchup to write "I love you"  and other Valentine's messages. If you do this as a family, it will be a hit with the children as well!

2) Make a desert bar, if you have enough supplies available. Set out all kinds of sundae fixings, or supplies to build-your-own sandwich cookies, or decorate-your-own cupcakes. Or if you like a slightly healthier twist and have the ingredients, set out supplies for layered fruit and yogurt parfaits, including granola, nuts, or chocolate chips.

3) Do you have leftover candy-canes from Christmas? Put two together to make a pretty red-and-white candy heart. You can even soften them in the oven for a few minutes to melt the heart into one piece.

"Date" Ideas:

1) Watch the sunrise together sipping hot chocolate. This way you can have your date before your children wake up in the morning. :-)

2) Build a fort in the living room using couch cushions, sheets, blankets, and pillows. Build it with the kids and have a bedtime snack inside, then turn it into a love cave after the kids are in bed!

3) Sit down with your laptop and go through old pictures of your engagement, your wedding and/or your honeymoon. This is sure to stir up good memories and lots of romantic feelings!

4) On slips of paper, write down every kind of kiss you can think of. (This could be done with more steamy actions than just kissing, too!) Fold them and put in a jar, basket or envelope. Then take turns drawing a paper and doing what it says.

5) Have a picnic in your bedroom - spread a blanket on the bed and start your evening off with some goodies.

So are you inspired to make the day special for your Valentine? Maybe you already have plans that you can share with us in the comments below. Or tell us what you've done for a simple but romantic date in the past.

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  • Great ideas! I would say, wherever you are, enjoy the moments you get. Often in ministry there are very few quiet evenings or the predictability to "schedule" regular date nights. Keep your eyes open and savor the moments you do have together. Soak in the sweetness of the ordinary and realize how much you have in your marriage. Make favorite traditions--just for the two of you. For Sam and I it is often coffee--before he goes to work and before the kids are up. Those few moments of quietness and connecting are priceless.

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  • Wise words for the everyday of marriage, not just February 14th. 'Soak in the sweetness of the ordinary' - that's something I need to learn!

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  • One favorite tradition of ours is making a little bonfire, then wrapping a strip of bread dough around the end of a stick and roasting them till done. Fill with jelly or sugar. So fun and the children love it too. And you don't need to try to pry a marshmallow from that huge white stuck-together lump in the bag... marshmallows don't work in Africa... :-)

    Last year, I made a nice supper and set the table real nice, then hid myself and the kids when my husband was about to come home and he had to find us. It was a hit and my oldest is so excited for Valentine's day to come around again ;) haha.

    I totally agree with Kate that the impromptu moments can be so sweet. For some reason neither my husband or I really like to have a real "date" that's planned out beforehand? We'd much rather do something on the spur of the moment... but that's just us ;)

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  • PS This is totally the funnest idea ever... Obviously it would only work in a Western country but still thought I would post it... :-)

    http://loveactually-blog.blogspot.com/2009/05/bookstore-date.html

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  • LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing!

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  • I knew you'd love it ;)

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  • This is a fun post... and you *did* think ahead! You're posting *days* before V-day :) I've been thinking about making soft pretzels for a while now, so maybe I'll use this as an excuse.
    I've also used larger cookie cutters to cut shapes out of pancakes for any number of occasions, so how about chocolate chip pancakes cut into heart shapes?! Heart shaped pizza? Possibilities are numerous.

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  • You're right, so many possibilities! These were just a few ideas to get your imagination started. :-)

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  • Custom Large Gaming Mouse Pad, soft cloth, more skin care. The mouse pad is soft and flexible, and the operation is more comfortable.

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  • Guest - Mah jabeen

    Valentine day is sing of love for couples and mostly young peoples wear the red color on this event. Mostly peoples arrange the parties and give the gifts of his/her lover. If u read it rush my essays then we know relation are key to live with happiness.

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