By Ashley McIlwain

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. Feel free to let out a romantic sigh, frustrated grunt, or any other noise that corresponds with your outlook on this pink-painted, love-dovey day of chocolate and candy. The thing is, regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, it’s a great excuse to show some love, romance, and thoughtfulness toward your spouse or significant other.

I know, I know, you may be arguing that you don’t like being forced into showing your affections just so someone out there can make a dollar. My argument back is, “Don’t you think we all need a little push now and then to do something sweet for the one we love?” If we’re being really honest, most of us tend to forget to be thoughtful, creative, and romantic, and we could probably use the kick start that comes with Valentine’s Day.

So, dig deep and forget about the commercialism or “Hallmark” holiday nonsense, and take advantage of this opportunity to remind your sweetheart why you love them so much. It certainly can’t hurt, and I’m guessing that you’ll be glad you did. Plus, for those of you who hate the over-priced flowers, chocolates, and greeting cards, there is a way to supersede their marketing ploys. It’s called … getting creative! To help get your creative juices flowing, I have a few ideas that might help you get in touch with your romantic side.

  1. Make a homemade card. Oftentimes we pick up a quick pre-made greeting (sometimes literally on the way to your Valentine’s Day plans), throw on a signature, and let that be that. It’s not that that’s a bad option, but what we all really love is a heartfelt message from our sweetheart. So this year, why not try one of two things. One: make a homemade greeting card. That’s right, pull out the construction paper, scissors, and glue, and go to town like the five-year old you once were. Two: still pick up the store-bought card, but this time, write your own few sentences expressing love, admiration, and appreciation to your loved one. Maybe it’s three of your favorite things about your spouse. Whatever it is, make it from the heart. Don’t be afraid to be cheesy, silly, and imperfect. Those are ingredients for the best V-Day card ever.
  2. Homemade dinner with candlelight. Restaurants can be pricey, loud, and overcrowded this time of year. Why not plan a romantic, quiet night in for the two of you? If you can’t cook, enlist the help of a friend or cookbook. Still wary? Order take-out. Even better, cook the meal together and let the more culinary-minded person take point. Light some candles, take your time, and savor every second of your table for two.
  3. Bake your sweetie something sweet. There are lots of fun ideas on Pinterest. We recently shared a yummy Table For Two recipe that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. Even if you’re not the world’s best baker, you can pick up some pre-made cookie dough or a cake mix at the grocery store and follow the 2-3 steps. Those are tough to mess up, so give it a shot. Include a little note with the finished product that says, “How sweet it is to love and be loved by you.”
  4. Light a bunch of candles all over the house, turn on your song (maybe your first dance?), and enjoy a romantic, slow dance together in your living room. Take advantage of how close you are and whisper in your sweetie’s ear from time to time how much you love him/her and why.
  5. Leave a trail of cards from the front door to the bed with a reason you love your spouse on each one. Click here for a free printable I put together for you for this. Light some candles in your bedroom and be waiting there for your spouse 😉
  6. After dinner, draw a hot bubble bath for your spouse. Light candles in the bathroom around the bathtub and put a glass of water, wine, or champagne in there for him/her to sip on. Tell them you’ve got dinner clean-up while they go enjoy their bubble bath. When they are done with the bubble bath, greet them with a big kiss and a foot massage with lotion.
  7. Make reservations at your spouse’s favorite restaurant. Pull some pictures from the restaurant into a Word Document with “Will you join me for dinner at (insert restaurant name)? We have reservations at (insert time). I cannot wait to enjoy a night out with you! I love you sweetheart!” Print that paper out, roll it up, tie it with a pretty ribbon, and give it to your spouse as a sweet invitation to your night out.
  8. Grab a box of popcorn from the store, a romantic movie (or your sweetie’s favorite movie), a bag or two of candy, and put it inside of a cute box with a note that says, “Please join me for a movie night at home just the two of us. And just so you know, our love story is better than any fairytale or romantic movie out there J”
  9. Light some candles in the bedroom, turn on slow, romantic music, and give your spouse a romantic and relaxing back massage for at least 30 minutes.
  10. Pick up a mason jar at the store, decorate it with fun stickers (like hearts, words of affirmation, etc.), and fill it with little pieces of construction paper that you’ve written sweet things on. For example: “You are the most beautiful woman in the world.” “You are the most amazing husband.” “I love how you make me laugh.” “You’re my dream come true.” “Life with you is truly the best.”

Valentine’s Day may not be your favorite holiday, but it’s a great excuse to do something thoughtful and special for the love of your life. It’s an opportunity to be romantic, creative, and to make your spouse feel loved, adored, pursued, and appreciated. Like anything, your attitude determines the success of your efforts. There’s no point in halfheartedly approaching Valentine’s Day because it will show and probably do more harm than good. If you go into it though as a fun, unique opportunity to unlock your inner romantic and shower your special someone with the love they deserve, you’re going to have an amazing Valentine’s Day that you both cherish.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. –1 Corinthians 13:13

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