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There are so many special ways to show your Love with these Valentine's Day ideas. Get inspired! 

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Usually the question comes around the third week of January, when an iCal event gets entered perilously close to February 14, and all of a sudden—ding! A spark! And a pang—the hope of a grand romantic gesture and the guilt of knowing we might not recognize one if we saw it. It’s a day when disappointment is typically directly proportionate to expectation. We’re disappointed because we expect too much; we’re disappointed because we don’t know what to expect. It’s Valentine’s Day.

And it’s not you. Well, it is a little, sometimes. Because you don’t know what we want. But that’s mostly because we don’t, either. That’s not usually true—generally, in life, we know, deeply, what we want. Usually, that goes for gifts, too—you remember how achingly and unsubtly we campaigned for those Christmas presents? We’re not shy there.

But Valentine’s Day is something else. Mostly because it queues up so many selves, and at this one holiday (if that’s really what it is), they’re all at cross-purposes. There’s the childish, selfish, hunter-gatherer brain that endless wants, and immediately sets about thinking how much we can extract from how many people, pegging some for Repossi and some for a mini box of candy hearts (as foul as they are, better than nothing). There’s the more modest superego that’s always turning down drinks, the one that suggests a quiet evening in with a bottle of champagne only a little more expensive than your usual. Those aspiring to Gone Girl–style cool-girl status suggest beer and sliders instead. That semi-dormant Disney princess self, mostly untapped since elementary school, surfaces only long enough to whisper that maybe this is it—this could be the most important, romantic, glittery night of your life! But it very well could also not be.

So when we say, “This Is What You Really Want for Valentine’s Day,” we’re almost just as surprised as you. Not because they’re surprising picks—in fact, there’s a relieving sense of familiarity about them. They’re all things you’re already familiar with, that already belong on the arm of stable, handsomely appointed women everywhere. It’s just like reading a short, moving poem and thinking, “I knew all those words—why did I think to put them all together like that?” They’re gifts that are classic, even ubiquitous, that are in a small (but incredibly relieving) capacity, impersonal.

We would all be glad to have anything on here, in almost any order. They’re things we already want. And once you shift over into expecting something lovely, timeless, and generally desirable, it releases that emotional anvil that hangs over the day. These aren’t marriage proposals, they’re not our-new-life-starts-today markers. They’re beautiful things on a beautiful day. It’s as easy, as weightless, and as delightful as that.

Beyond your Budget? Following you find some additional tips by Andrew Housser.

Americans spent $18.6 billion to show their love last Valentine's Day. In fact, Feb. 14 is second only to Christmas in terms of holiday retail spending. On average, consumers dole out $131 to shower their special someone with flowers, cards, jewelry and other tokens of affection. No room in this year's budget for a grand display of love? Do not fret. Even if you cannot afford to dazzle with diamonds, you can romance your partner without breaking the bank.

The Tradition: Dining Out

Budget-Friendly Alternative: Romantic Home-Cooked Meal

Fixing your loved one a meal is even more special if you are not usually the chef in the relationship. Dinner need not be anything fancy or difficult to fix. Get creative. Plan a candlelight picnic (indoors or out) with the usual picnic fare; serve breakfast in bed; fix fondues of cheeses and chocolate; or skip the meal and prepare a decadent dessert. If you really want to dine out, look for coupons on online sites like, or go out for a less expensive breakfast or lunch.

The Tradition: Weekend Getaway

Budget-Friendly Alternative: A Day Trip

You do not have to travel far or stay overnight at a hotel in order to enjoy quality time as a couple. Check out your local art museum, visit the zoo, or go for a hike at a nearby state park. Pretend you are tourists and visit your city's popular attractions. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy or stop at a coffee shop. Take pictures so you can later create a photo album of your special day together.

The Tradition: Greeting Card

Budget-Friendly Alternative: Do-It-Yourself Love Notes

You can easily dole out $5 or more for a pre-made, commercialized card that does not even come close to conveying how you feel. Instead, write a love letter that highlights all that you adore about your significant other. Or capture your favorite memories as a couple by creating a photo card or collage using an online photo site. Or leave him or her little notes in unexpected places like the car, under a pillow, in a dresser drawer and on the bathroom mirror.

The Tradition: A Dozen Roses

Budget-Friendly Alternative: A Mixed Bouquet or Live Plant

Flower sales skyrocket for Valentine's Day, but with some planning you can come out ahead. Look for florist coupons on online sites like (just make sure the coupon is valid for use on Feb. 14). Or skip the florist and head to a grocery or warehouse store. You will find beautiful bouquets for a fraction of what traditional florists charge. Another idea: Instead of cut flowers, choose a live flowering plant that will serve as an everyday reminder of your growing love.

The Tradition: Night Out at the Movies

Budget-Friendly Alternative: Watch Romantic Flicks at Home

Date night at a movie theater can easily set you back $50 to $75 by the time you pay for tickets, popcorn, candy, drinks, and for some couples, parking and babysitting. Cuddling on your loveseat at home with a classic romance film can be more romantic than sitting in a theater with strangers, and it is much less expensive. Grab a bottle of wine, pour as much butter on the popcorn as you wish, light some candles, grab the remote and get cozy.

The Tradition: Jewelry, Stuffed Animals, Chocolates

Budget-Friendly Alternative: Do-It-Yourself Tokens of Love

Everyone has some sort of talent. Maybe you can knit your sweetheart a scarf or bake his or her favorite cake. Create a coupon booklet good for massages, favorite meals, hiking at a local park or a car cleaning. Mixed tapes may be a thing of the past, but you can still create a playlist for your honey or a photo collage of your favorite memories as a couple.

Remember that Valentine's Day should be about spending time -- not money -- with the one you love. Make the day truly special by putting thought and effort into creating unforgettable memories.

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