Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you’re probably already thinking what to get your significant other. If you’re concerned you don’t have the resources to get them an expensive gift, don’t be. According to the Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey conducted by BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation (NRF) yearly, $126.03 was spent on average per person in 2012 and the people surveyed estimated they would spend even more on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2013 – that is $130.97 on average. That is a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, surprising your loved one with a romantic getaway or jewelry is great, but you don’t have to sweat over it if you really can’t afford it. Sometimes the best things in life are free or inexpensive, and that applies to romantic gestures as well. You just have to get creative. And if you’re married or have been together for quite a while and your finances are not that great, you can suggest to your partner beforehand to not get each other gifts this year or at least to keep them low-budget. I know that doesn’t sound too romantic, but sometimes compromises are not an option. Besides, I’m sure you’ll find ways to still surprise your partner and compensate. Here are a few ideas:
1. Cook a romantic candlelight dinner or improvise an indoor picnic. This might sound too traditional to some, but cooking for someone will always be romantic and intimate and it can work for both men and women. I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t appreciate her man making an effort to cook her a nice dinner and we all know that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. In fact, a recent survey conducted by CreditDonkey.com on 1,235 Americans shows that 54.8% of women and 47.5% of guys would like to receive dinner for Valentine’s Day. That’s not too shabby at all. Just one tip to you guys: don’t cook and then forget to clean up your mess; put dirty dishes in the dishwasher and clean everything behind. Stepping into a clean kitchen will make her glow and get you extra points!
2. Go together for long walks, hikes, or bike rides. This will give you a chance to catch up and the fresh air will make you feel great both mentally and physically. We all lead such busy lives and sometimes we don’t even have time to talk to our loved ones as much as we would like. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to stop, take a deep breath, smell the roses (or the snow) and carry on a meaningful conversation with the special person in your life. Plus, it has been shown that exercise can help couples create a deeper bond.
3. Go together to a free gallery or museum. Can’t Valentine’s Day be cultural? Why not? And if you dress up nicely for the occasion, I’m sure it can feel like an important event.
4. Go dancing or take a one-time dancing class. A passionate dance like tango should definitely do the trick. The intimacy, closeness, complexity and tension that tango embodies will be like a special secret the two of you shared in a small universe that you can create and recreate time and time again.
5. Have an at-home movie night. Pick a few old or romantic movies that you both want to watch, buy or make some snacks and cocktails, snuggle under a warm blanket and enjoy.
6. Don’t have money to get your sweetheart a day at the spa? Then create an at-home spa experience. Do your homework and read about relaxing massage techniques. You don’t even have to buy expensive massage oils, just use an oil that you have at home, like grape seed, olive or almond oil and mix it with a few drops of essential orange oil, known for its relaxing and uplifting properties.
7. Get a book that you can read or listen to together. Find something funny, romantic, relaxing, or whatever you think you’ll both enjoy. If you want to spice things up, get something like “50 Shades of Grey” by E. L. James. I’ve heard great things about it.
8. Get playful and creative. Leave love notes all over the house where your partner can find them or write your love messages on small pieces of paper that you can roll and tie with pretty ribbons and place them in an attractive jar. On the same page, you could also create a photo album or PowerPoint with the best photos of the two of you and write meaningful comments next to each photo. Your partner will be deeply moved.
9. Get mysterious. Have your partner meet you somewhere neutral and then take them to a place that’s special for the both of you, such as the place you first met or had your first date. All those good memories will definitely bring back butterflies in your stomach.
10. Guys, buy your women flowers. And not just on Valentine’s or on her birthday. It has been shown that receiving flowers increases a woman’s levels of oxytocin, which is a crucial hormone that protects against stress (in addition to numerous other important functions it has in a woman’s body). Now you might think the more flowers, the better, but that’s not the case. According to relationships expert Dr. John Gray, women use a points system to keep track of the acts of love their partners do for them, and men are under the impression that the greater the gesture, the more points they will get. Wrong! Getting a woman a dozen roses will not score higher than getting her a single rose. You will get only one point in both situations. One point for every act of love, that’s how it works. But that’s actually good news and men can use it to their advantage: instead of only doing grand romantic gestures a few times a year, they should be constant in the small things they do for the women in their lives. Small things matter the most.
Some of these ideas may not be that original or maybe some of you will find them old and corny, but they are just a few examples of special things you could do for little or no money and still have fun. Just follow your heart and you will find a way to romance your partner without having to break the bank.