Did you know that Valentine’s Day originally had nothing to do with buying chocolate, flowers or cards? Valentine’s Day started out as the pagan mating ritual Lupercalia back in ancient Rome, where drunken, naked men drew names of potential mates from a jar.
Later it evolved in Christian Europe, and was named after St. Valentine, who had no other connection with romance. In Shakespeare’s day, lovers exchanged handmade cards.
Then, in 1913, Hallmark of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentine cards and, as National Public Radio has said, “February has not been the same since.” The holiday really took off and became the annual spendfest we know today.
Not that lavishing pricey gifts on your sweetie isn’t fun, but you can retain the romance and opt out of the buy-buy-buy parts of Valentine’s Day. Women want to feel loved, Money Talks News money expert Stacy Johnson says in the video below. And there are loads of imaginative, inexpensive ways to sweep her off her feet. We’ll share some of them after the video.
Here are 10 great ways to say “I love you” for little or no money:
1. Tell her why you love her
Sure, you tell her you love her every day. (What? You don’t? Valentine’s Day is a good time to start.) But what will really turn her on is when you put some deep thought into it. Make a list of the 10 (or 20) reasons why you fell in love with her, and why you keep falling in love with her. Write each one on a card. Give her the cards separately, throughout the day or throughout the week.
2. Give a handmade card
Speaking of cards, you can make one that will melt her heart without spending a dime. You’re not an artist? No problem. This requires imagination and love, which you’ve got plenty of. Your own drawing, lettering, cutouts or collage will have charm because it comes from your heart. Make a huge card. Make a zillion different little ones and place them where she’ll find them throughout the day — on the bed, in the bathroom, in her car.
3. Make something — anything
The only limit here is your imagination. Here are a few ideas: Make dinner. Or breakfast in bed. Make a CD of your favorite romantic tunes. Make a surprise video in which friends and family tell her how loveable she is. Use a photo program like Shutterfly or iPhoto to create a keepsake picture book about your love.
4. Make peace
Pick a disagreement she and you are having. If you can, just give it up, and tell her so. (Be prepared to truly let it go, however.) Write down this gift in a note. Put the note in a box, wrap the box up beautifully and present it to her with a bottle of wine and two long-stemmed glasses.
5. Give your time
Homemade gift certificates can be a huge hit. Give her a get-out-of jail-free card, as it were — good for one time — where you promise not to notice or complain when she screws up. Give a gift certificate for her to take a night out with her friends while you stay home and take care of the kids. Give her a gift certificate for a bubble bath while you vacuum and do the laundry. Or take one of her dirty and least-favorite jobs off her hands — cleaning and detailing the car, for example.
6. Take her out for dinner – for half off
Would you like to splurge on a nice restaurant but don’t quite have the cash? Use restaurant certificates to create a memorable evening for about half price. Read “How to Cut Your Restaurant Bill in Half.”
7. Give her your undivided attention
Put aside distractions and listen to her. Pay attention while she speaks and ask an interested question now and then. Just listen to what’s on her mind and resist arguing. If listening intently isn’t your usual modus operandi, you may be amazed at the results. But here’s the thing: You can’t fake interest. Your heart’s got to be in it for real.
8. Take her out for ice cream sundaes
After a dinner at home, take her out for yummy, gooey sundaes. Linger over the ice cream and then stroll around for a bit. Or buy the makings and scoop up the fun at home. Just don’t forget to clean up. Leaving the dishes for her will undo the goodwill you earned. “15 Sexy Tips to Save on Valentine’s Day” has more great ideas.
9. Create an amazing evening
First, set the stage. Create a romantic corner of your home by setting the table with candles. Buy one or two roses and make a trail of petals from the door to the table. Next: an elegant dinner. You can save on a restaurant meal by picking it up and bringing it home. (Tip: Don’t forget to take it out of the cartons and put it in serving dishes.) Make a trail of rose petals to the bedroom and scatter them on the bed.
10. Hire a baby sitter
Clearing an evening for just the two of you is one of the most romantic things a partner can do. You can pack a picnic. It may be cold outside but you can take it to a scenic spot, stay in the car with the heater on and romantic tunes playing, and picnic away.