With Valentine's Day about a week away, with the economy being what it is, you don't have to spend a fortune to celebrate.

Holidays are made to make money. Holidays obligate us to participate, whether we want to or not. Before the bright-bulb-of-'aha!' stuck me, I remember feeling left out every Valentine's Day I didn't have that 'special someone' to remember me. It also had to do with who I was with, but that's another story!

Spending money of our loved ones is unavoidable. But why does it have to be so much, at every turn, all the time? We just got out of the major holidays and we are sure to be jerks if we don't have much to spend on our significant others.

At the end of the day, it truly is the thought that counts. The sweetest gift we can ever give is our time. How do you wrap that up in a gift? With a little creativity, here's how.

* Make something.

It doesn't matter if it's a homemade card, a poem or a song. Gifts from the heart are the keepsakes we carry through our lives.

* Plan a picnic

Have fun with this one! Blindfold them, drive them to a remote location and picnic! It could be a dinner your prepared yourself or something purchased. Just pack it up, think about outside-of-the-box locations (along the river, a friends house in the country or somewhere with beautiful scenery). Yes, it's winter. You can eat in the car but make it sweet. Play soft music. Tell them what you admire about them, why you picked them and what they have added to your life.

* Coupon Booklet

Grab a stapler (you can get fancier than that, too, but this is simple), some paper and markers. Think of all the things your significant other does that get taken for granted. Dishes, cooking, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, taking the garbage out, etc.. One coupon (pronounced 'COO-PIN', as comedian Ron White says it)  might read "Free 30 minute foot massage." Another might be 'No dishes for one week."

I actually received a coupon booklet, made by my wonderfully creative middle daughter, for Christmas. It was so thoughtful and generous. This idea can be used for anyone, including kiddos, who need the 'get out of jail free' card every once in awhile so they know what grace tastes like.

Of course, the most important aspect of these gifts of time is FOLLOW-UP. The thought counts as long as you 'do'. Remember, people are what do, not what they say they will do. If not, it breaks trust and that is never good for a relationship. Trust me. You follow up and it will be among the most precious memories together you will ever share.