It is an American proverb that has been crooned by singers from Frank Sinatra to Janet Jackson, and is truest concerning matters of the heart: “The best things in life are free.”
Toward that end and in honor of this heart-shaped, candy-coated occasion, here are 25 things you can do for your beloved on Valentine’s Day this year — all for free.
1. Write love notes. Put them in unexpected places, like under her windshield wiper, taped to his deodorant or in her lunchbox.
2. Complain less. Focus on the positive all day. More readily give compliments. This might be especially good for married valentines.
3. Make a collage. Put together a collage of pictures of the two of you, family and/or friends.
4. Write a poem. It can be heart-felt or silly (or both), but taking the time to put your words about that person on paper can be a beloved gift. For bonus points, read it aloud to your valentine.
5. Dedicate time. Set aside a night for your valentine to pick what he or she wants to do, and help them do it. The time is free, and you can make any guidelines you wish.
6. Spell out “I love you” in Cheerios on the breakfast table, in lipstick on the mirror or in socks on the floor.
7. Carve a heart into a tree. Either using initials or names, etch your love in wood for all to see.
8. Make a gesture. Depending on where you are in your relationship and how you feel, consider making that next step: Asking him to go steady, making her a key to your place, saying “I love you,” etc.
9. Clean the house or garage. This is a good gift if it is something your valentine usually does or would like to have done. You also can offer to do it together. Other chores can work as well.
10. Request “your” song. Call your valentine’s favorite radio station and dedicate a song to him or her.
11. Make a homemade card. Pretend you’re 5 years old and incorporate macaroni and glitter.
12. Give kisses. Or hugs. Or whatever will best express your love.
13. Draw a picture. This can be as simple as a big red heart and as complex as a relationship timeline. Note romantic and important dates you shared.
14. Make a promise. Has your beloved been after you to quit smoking, lose weight or even just put your clothes in the hamper? Make a promise to concertedly work toward that goal, and do it.
15. Take a walk together. Especially near the beginning of a relationship, just spending time together, walking and talking can be fun and romantic. Make sure to leave your cell phones at home.
16. Give a massage. Make it last at least 15 minutes.
17. Make him or her breakfast. Take your time cooking his or her favorite breakfast and enjoy the morning together.
18. Make a CD. Express your love with music like you did with mixed tapes when you were in junior high.
19. Cook together. Make cookies. Make dinner. Make a cherry pie. Get messy and have fun with it.
20. Set up a movie fest. Tape movies on your DVR, borrow DVDs or scroll through your collection to set up a cozy night at home.
21. Have a game night. Either with just the two of you or with other couples, get together and play cards or board games.
22. Serenade your date. Sure it’s corny and old-fashioned, but it can be pretty cute.
23. Go to church together (if you don’t already). Sharing this time can be a loving, heart-felt gesture.
24. Draw a bath. Carve out the time, put in some bubble bath, light some candles and draw a bath for your valentine. You also can make it a bath for two.
25. Share the love. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic love. Call your parents, kids, old friends or anyone else who is important to you and tell them how you feel.