Your Valentine means much more to you than a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. So it’s time to step up your game this Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry though—it doesn’t take over-the-top effort to wow the one you love.
When it comes to showing your partner appreciation, being thoughtful is the key. Simply showing your significant other that you understand them and appreciate what they enjoy goes a long way. To help you out, we talked to relationship experts to collect some simple ideas for making Valentine’s Day extra special for your favorite person this year.
From trips down memory lane to a phone-free evening, click through this gallery to discover easy ways you can make Valentine’s Day amazing this year. And for more Valentine’s Day date inspiration, here are 20 Non-Cliché Valentine’s Day Date Ideas.
1. Set up a romantic picnic.
Restaurants are packed on Valentine’s Day, so it can be near impossible to hear your date. If you live somewhere warm and are looking for a more private meal, pack a picnic and find a spot in the park or at the beach where nobody else is around.
If it’s too cold outside in your neck of the woods, you can always set up a picnic in your living room. Hey, it’s the thought that counts! And for more ways to keep the romance alive, here are The 50 Best Marriage Tips From Couples Who’ve Been Married for 50 Years.
2. Play chef.
This Valentine’s Day idea is simple, but it really does work like a charm. Light some candles, put on some music you both love, and make a meal. You can either cook for your partner or make it a team effort. This is an especially wonderful way to make your significant other feel loved if money is tight or if kids are preventing you from getting out of the house for the evening.
3. Write them a love letter.
Before texting and direct messaging, there were handwritten love letters. And while this practice might seem old-fashioned, it can actually be quite romantic. “A love letter is a straightforward and beautiful way to show the love of your life that you truly care,” says Claudia Palma, director of romance at Las Ventanas al Paraíso, a luxury resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.
“To give it a more special touch, present your letter along with homemade breakfast in bed, or put the message in a nice bottle for your loved one to discover.” Looking to score more brownie points? These Adorable Little Romantic Gestures Are Sure to Make Your Partner’s Day.
4. Try something totally new together.
According to a 2000 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, new experiences have a bonding effect on couples. So, check out your city’s Airbnb Experiences or Groupon options and do something neither of you has ever tried before! Whether it’s indoor skydiving, a cooking class, or an art workshop, the novelty of trying something new together will add a new twist to your romance.
Plus, taking a class “helps couples practice teamwork and express their creativity,” says marriage therapist Dana McNeil, founder of The Relationship Place.
5. Take a day trip.
This Valentine’s Day, “add a spark to your relationship by changing up the scenery and reminding yourself of all the things you enjoy about your partner’s personality in a fresh setting,” says McNeil. Want to make it extra special? She suggests planning a day that “encompasses both partner’s interests and passions.”
6. Or visit the place where you went on your first date.
Going back to the place where sparks first flew will definitely dazzle your partner. If you have been together for a while, this will bring back fond memories and really set the mood. If you’re married, you can even surprise your Valentine by visiting your wedding venue and rereading your vows! And for more romantic gestures that will blow your partner away, check out these 15 Romantic Surprise Ideas That Will Wow Your Partner.
7. Capture the moment.
This idea works best coupled with another romantic surprise. “Whatever you’re planning, hire a photographer to capture the romantic experience,” suggests Palma. “Having professional photos and videos of these special moments makes it easy to look back on the experience fondly. Plus, in the age of social media, these images will come in handy for online sharing!”
8. Take a trip down memory lane.
Can you imagine how grateful you’ll be to have those photos decades down the line? After all, there’s nothing quite like looking back on your relationship and remembering all the good times.
This Valentine’s Day, go through old photo albums, look through your Instagram and Facebook feeds, or just share your favorite memories of each other aloud. Then, toast with a great bottle of vino to what lies ahead! And if Valentine’s Day is close to your anniversary, check out these 30 Seriously Romantic Anniversary Date Ideas.
9. Track down something from their childhood.
Did your partner have a favorite toy, movie, or collector’s item as a kid that they lost over the years? Take some time to find one as a gift this Valentine’s Day. It may prove challenging, but tracking down and buying something important to your significant other will definitely make their Valentine’s Day special. And if you want to buy the special woman in your life something almost as special as she is, check out these 15 Valentine’s Day Gifts Your Wife Will Love.
10. Surprise them with their favorite “thing.”
A thoughtful gesture—even if it’s simple—is all it takes to make your significant other feel appreciated. You could have your partner’s favorite lunch order delivered to work or slip their favorite snack in their bag before they leave for the day on Feb. 14. These small, thoughtful gestures can ease the financial pressure often associated with Valentine’s Day while still showing your significant other that you care.
11. Work out together.
There is a plethora of scientific research out there showing that couples who sweat together stay together. And while it might not sound all that romantic to spend Valentine’s Day at the gym, you’d be surprised how much fun you can have sweating it out with your partner, whether you schedule a workout class for the two of you to try together, book a joint personal training session, or plan a hike.
“Sweating it out is a good way to spend V-day because working out releases endorphins, chemicals associated with positive feelings,” explains relationship expert Sam Whittaker, editor at Mantelligence.
12. Book a spa day.
Your partner would likely never think to do this for themselves, which is what makes it such a special gesture. “People feel stressed from work and life and need a mini-break, so booking a spa day for you and your partner to relax and take a load off will make them feel like you’ve been paying attention and listening to their needs,” says Rebecca Cooper Traynor, founder and CEO of Match Me Canada. Chances are, they won’t even realize how much they needed it until they’re there!
13. Treat them to breakfast in bed.
Even if you cook frequently, it’s unlikely that you regularly bring your partner their favourite breakfast the moment they wake up.
And if you’re not into cooking, you can order in from your partner’s favourite breakfast joint and present their meal with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
14. Plan a tech-free evening together.
We all spend too much time on our phones and computers, so an evening sans screens feels extra special. “Commit to turning off and staying off your electronics all evening—phones, computers, and television,” suggests Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of online relationship community Relationup. “Instead, just be present without any distractions. It is novel for anyone to receive the full attention of their partner for an entire evening.”
15. Volunteer together.
If your significant other is passionate about a specific cause—whether it’s caring for stray animals, feeding the hungry, or visiting patients in hospitals—plan a day where you can volunteer for your partner’s favorite non-profit together.
Not only will this show them you care about their chosen cause, but you’ll also get in some quality bonding time while making a difference together.
16. Plan a movie night.
This Valentine’s Day, you can carve out time to watch a film you’ve both been meaning to see for months, or pick a classic movie you watched together early on in your relationship. Want to take this idea to the next level? Book a hotel room and order room service, so you can both enjoy the movie without having to lift a finger.
17. Go on a group date.
If you’ve already celebrated many a romantic Valentine’s Day as a couple, consider organizing a fun group date or hosting a dinner party at home instead this year. It’s a great way to shake up your routine, and research shows that spending time with other couples can actually help reignite passion in your relationship.