Utterly Romantic Valentine’s Day Gifts for Cheap or Free

Photo (cc) by Ilkka Jukarainen
Photo (cc) by Ilkka Jukarainen

The original Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with buying chocolate, flowers or cards. It began as the pagan mating ritual Lupercalia back in ancient Rome, where drunken, naked men drew names of potential mates from a jar.

We’ve evolved

We’ve evolved in the last couple of thousand years, and here’s possible evidence: Only 43 percent of women and half of men today expect sex on Valentine’s Day, according to a survey by Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines of 2,000 of their websites’ readers, according to an ABC News report.

The survey turned up other surprising points of agreement between the sexes, including:

  • Being dateless on Valentine’s Day is no big deal: women 79 percent, men 78 percent
  • Getting engaged on Valentine’s day is “cheesy”: women 61 percent, men 64 percent
  • Receiving a Valentine’s Day gift is totally unimportant: women 85 percent, men 86 percent
  • Plan to spend less than $25 on partner’s Valentine’s Day gift: women, 49 percent, men 24 percent

Money’s not the issue

The survey makes it clear that, while lavishing pricey gifts on your sweetie can be fun, most of us don’t expect it. The pressure is off to buy-buy-buy on Valentine’s Day. What is true is that it’s great to feel loved and to celebrate in heartfelt ways. Here are 10 endearing ways to say “I love you” for nothing — or close to it — this year:

1. Tell her (or him) why you love her (or him)

Photo by (cc) SharonaGott
Photo by (cc) SharonaGott

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

Photo (cc) by Nathan Cooprider
Photo (cc) by Nathan Cooprider

Speaking of cards, you can make one that will melt his 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 little ones and place them where your sweetheart will find them throughout the day — on the bed, in the bathroom, in the car.

3. Make something — anything

Photo (cc) by Nicole Danielson
Photo (cc) by Nicole Danielson

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

Photo (cc) by NatalieMaynor
Photo (cc) by NatalieMaynor

Pick a disagreement you and he are having. If you can, just give it up, and tell him 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 with a bottle of wine and two long-stemmed glasses.

5. Give your time

Photo (cc) by MOTOKI Plasticboystudio
Photo (cc) by MOTOKI Plasticboystudio

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 your honey out for dinner – for half off

Photo (cc) by Derek Key
Photo (cc) by Derek Key

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 your undivided attention

Photo (cc) by Kevin Dooley
Photo (cc) by Kevin Dooley

Put aside distractions and listen to your partner. 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 him out for ice cream sundaes

Photo (cc) by Hector Alejandro
Photo (cc) by Hector Alejandro

After a dinner at home, take him 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 your partner will undo the goodwill you earned.

9. Create an amazing evening

Photo (cc) by Ilene Tatro
Photo (cc) by Ilene Tatro

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

Photo (cc) by Lane Fournerat
Photo (cc) by Lane Fournerat

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.

What’s your approach to Valentine’s Day and how do your views stack up with those in the survey? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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