Copyright STACKEDD Magazine, 2/9/2015

18 Cheap Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

  1. Pick a theme that your sweetie adores: geography (India!), time period (1920s!), color (blue!), secret dream (mad scientist! — check out these beaker-shaped shot glasses from Archie McPhee’s). Invite them over and saturate your space with music, handmade decorations, food, and free entertainment according to their favorite theme.
  2. Nature is romantic, whether you choose a public park or a secluded hike. Sunrise and moonlight can both be trés romantique. For urban dwellers, consider the stately and romantic Willcox Wallon Queen Anne. Consider going the day before to hide love notes and a picnic along the way. For long-term, committed couples, turn your hike into a shared meditation: share what you are walking away from, and what you are walking towards. Devote mindful attention to your relationship and wait for the romance to blossom.
  3. Write something simple, à la 14 things I love about you, and collect poems, art and other images from the Interwebz that remind you of your sweetie. Print and collate it for free at your local library.
  4. Mosey over to your partner’s favorite bar and ask the bartender to invent a special drink just for your sweetie. Whenever they go into the bar with their friends, they can order their special drink by name. If you’re on Capitol Hill, check with the skilled bartenders at menu-less Needle and Thread.
  5. Create a treasure hunt that leads your sweetie straight to you. This is especially cute when you use something like these adorable hand-crafted Cupid’s arrows to mark the way. Check out women-owned Paper Delights for supplies.
  6. Spend some quality time learning massage techniques from online tutorials (practice on a friend!). Invite your sweetie to lay back and relax and give, give, give until they melt delightfully beneath your fingertips.
  7. Hide loves notes around your sweetie’s house and reveal their locations one by one via text message throughout the next few weeks.
  8. Repeat your first date. Classic.
  9. Create your own imaginative, sexy time dice: one die for body parts and another for activity. You might roll: nipples + nibbling, earlobes + warm exhaling… Prepare yourself for a seriously affectionate and playful evening.
  10. Do good for others — it generates serotonin and makes you look good. Participate in Cupid’s Undie Run or help serve breakfast at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.
  11. Revisit places that have meant something to you as a couple and collect one item from each place (a twig from the park where you first kissed, a business card from the restaurant where you nearly broke up, a postcard from Mexico where you took your first vacation together). Create a shadow box or album to show you’ve been paying attention.
  12. For a vacation without the price tag, swap houses with another couple, or check Home Exchange. Lounge in their tub, sleep in a new bed, and pretend you’re a tourist.
  13. Skip the mystique and brainstorm with your partner something you can both go in on financially to enjoy together — a sex toy? A night of beer tastings at the new bar around the corner? Replace the leaky shower head? Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a joint financial endeavor.
  14. Create a board game specific to your partner. Find some blank cardboard and make a Monopoly or Candyland template, substituting all your sweetie’s favorite spots. See the brilliant gameofreallife.com for examples.
  15. Use Fiverr to hire someone for $5 to do something cute for your partner, like recording a personalized song or flyering Pike Place Market with pictures of your sweetie’s face.
  16. Celebrate Valentine’s Eve — put a chocolate on your sweetie’s pillow the night before, and leave gifts for them at the foot of the bed when they wake up. Decorate the house with something festive the night before.
  17. Borrow games from a friend, invite another couple over and rewrite the rules with a Valentine’s theme (Egyptian ratscrew — slap only the J, Q, K of hearts), Twister (play shirtless), war (the winner gets a long kiss).
  18. Everyone makes something — what do you make? Take your skills and turn them on your partner. If you’re an accountant, make a spreadsheet of ‘love income’, ‘love expenses’ and ‘net income’ with the things your partner does to make you feel loved. If you’re an engineer, write an ‘equation’ about your relationship. Are you a teacher? Make a lesson plan for how you would teach your second graders about love using your relationship as an example.