Let me guess — Your big plan involves expensive flowers, a box of chocolate, and instead of the Olive Garden, you’ll go to Asiago’s for some real Italian. If you’re really on top of your Valentine’s Day game, you’ll even get her some jewelry.
Don’t worry, I’m sure she won’t see that coming from a mile away… She’ll be sure to tell all of her friends about the great night you had that was exactly the same as theirs.
If I’m honest, I don’t care for the commercialization and coerced romance that is modern Valentine’s Day routine. But, rather than live within a bubble of negativity and reject the holiday altogether (and perhaps making the Mrs. feel left out), I decided to go a different route and embrace Valentine’s Day.
I’ve found a memorable Valentine’s Day doesn’t require spending a lot of money. Instead, it’s about showing your significant other how much you care and providing them with something unexpected.
How do you show unexpected romance on a day that every woman is expecting romance?
Watch and learn, gentlemen.
The Secret That Everybody Knows
When you buy cards and flowers for your true love, does it feel like a genuine expression to you? Most would say it doesn’t, that it feels insincere– like an obligation, and it doesn’t feel like it provides the meaning to both parties that it should.
My children helped me realize that we don’t have to participate in the commercialized side of this lover’s holiday and instead, bring back the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.
You see, most of the cards I give (and receive) end up in the trash can a short time later. They are someone else’s art, someone else’s words, and I just picked the most attractive one off of the shelf. “Yeah, that sounds like something I would say.” Cards like that have very little meaning.
When the children pull out the macaroni, glue, and crayons to make a card for Mom, you can bet that it’s getting prime real estate on the fridge. Homemade cards and handwritten notes express your feelings about someone better than any storebought card ever could.
To put the meaning back into Valentine’s Day, let’s replace the traditional options with our own versions that are straight from the heart. Let’s start with…
Don’t give your Valentine the same card that millions of other women are receiving. Is the love of your life just like millions of other women, or is she special? Special ladies deserve special cards.
A special card becomes so because it is unique and hand-crafted by you. As a manly man, I am secure enough in my masculinity to know when it’s time to borrow items from my wife’s scrapbooking supplies.
Make the card. This shows advanced thought and effort. Feel free to borrow ideas anywhere you can find them.
Pro Tip: It’s all about the glitter.
An important component of the card is the message inside. This is always terribly difficult, but I have an approach I like to recommend.
Choose a poem or lyric that expresses your feelings. If going into cheesy-love territory isn’t your style, then I recommend a light-hearted approach. One year, I wrote the lyrics from a children’s poem in her card. She had never read it before and she thought it was cute. Most importantly, it was memorable.
Do it with style. Nothing makes an impact like a handwritten note. If your penmanship isn’t up to snuff, try your hand with some calligraphy markers. You’d be surprised how easy you can turn your chicken scratch into something worth looking at.
Are you stressing out because you waited until the last minute? Is that why you’re reading this article right now? Most guys in your position will substitute “expensive and shiny” for “time and thought” at this point in the game.
As much as I’m sure we all love dropping loads of money on jewelry, there is another way. Let’s take a look at some low-cost, creative gifts that mean even more because you had a hand in their creation:
Use your own art or photos for the cover. Leave it blank or include your love story.
A homemade set of these heart-shaped bath bombs are sure to make her heart melt. Make sure she gets a chance to enjoy them, too!
Love potion bubble bath
Why not make it a full kit? I paired this love potion with the bath bombs, lit some candles, and got her a couple magazines to read while she soaked quietly in the tub.
Chalkboard heart frames
You want to win at Valentine’s Day? Because this is how you win at Valentine’s Day. If you have the tools and know-how, these frames would be a snap to make. If not, get a head start with some wooden heart frames.
While going out is nice, what I don’t care for is all of the other people going out, too. It’s our special night…the same as the other 100 people in the restaurant. To really make an impression you’ll need three things:
- The Right Atmosphere
You probably eat dinner together in your home on most nights, so the key is to make this dinner different. Use softer lighting with candles, get a red tablecloth, and use the fancy dishes. Add background music, and for heaven’s sake, make sure everything is clean!
- An Entree That Makes a Statement
Making a statement doesn’t require you to be a five-star chef. Go for a dish that is rare in your home, rather than relying on your usual go-to recipes. The key here is preparation; you don’t want to be doing food prep all night, so get it done ahead of time so that all you need to do is add some heat.
One tip from a seasoned pro: keep dinner light. You don’t want the pair of you to feel like beached whales after dinner.
Look here for some great recipe ideas:
- A Unique Dessert
Food should be fun. Just as with dinner, dessert should be unique. This isn’t the time to pull out Aunt Marma’s famous apple pie; we want yummy chocolate, finger foods, and perhaps some whipped cream (see Jello strawberry recipe…it’s INCREDIBLE). Think fondue, chocolate dipped strawberries, or a Jello strawberry parfait.
The Rest is up to You
I can’t give up all of my secrets. But if you follow the rest of my advice, you’ll be well on your way.