Flowers and a date night will get you off the hook for Valentine's Day in most cases and, depending on the flowers, maybe even some brownie points. But I’m here to provide you with seven tried and true ways to sweep your Valentine off their feet. Choose one from the list to make for the holiday, or create one a day for the week leading up to Valentine's Day. Best of all: you can do all of these on a budget.
1. Make a Heart-Shaped Breakfast
Want to drive the nail home with breakfast in bed? Bring them heart-shaped eggs with your customized mug and their Facebook will be littered with status updates. Fortunately, this isn't as hard as it sounds. Simply cut a heart out of a piece of bread with a cookie cutter, throw the bread outline on the hot pan, and crack the egg into the heart-shaped hole. It should stay together on the flip. Keep the bread or don’t, but either way it’s another heartfelt addition to a morning tradition.
2. Shamelessly Use Your Kids
Incorporate your children into this romantic holiday. Dads out there, trust me on this. One such example is the “Pillow Card.” Here’s what you do: get some iron-on transfer sheets, which can be bought at any major convenience chain, and white pillow cases. Now, find your favorite picture of each child or one of all of the children together, and print it out from the computer on the transfer paper. Iron onto the pillow cover and make the bed the next morning adding your little surprise(s). Mom will swoon, and you’ll have spent about $10 in addition to the flowers that should be waiting on the table.
Bonus: Have the kids color or write a Valentine's Day card. Scan it, and iron it onto the back of the pillowcase.
3. Make Your Own Vases for Flower Bouquets
This is about as simple as they come, but will have a lasting effect. Take another step with your annual flowers this year and surprise your Valentine with a custom vase or better yet, several. Start saving glass beverage bottles. Wine bottles work best, but beer or soda bottles will do, too. Take a light-colored or flat white spray paint and spray the glass completely. If it were me, I’d do three bottles total, shaped slightly differently. Take the dozen roses you buy this year and put four in each bottle and center them on your table, making a small cluster. It will create a completely different effect than usual and, best of all, your Valentine will see that you clearly didn’t just order flowers online for the cheapest price you can find. The presentation and thought will take you almost no time, and almost no extra investment if you already have some spray paint on hand.
Bonus: Take a red Sharpie and write your valentine a message on one or all of the bottles, suddenly turning your custom vase into a keepsake.
4. Use Lace to Create Intricate Patterns
Not an artist? What if a cheap yard of lace from a local craft or fabric store could change that? Hand-paint your vase this year by taping the lace to the vase diagonally, wrapping down to the bottom from the top. Pick a color that best suits your companion, and spray paint away. Remove the lace when you're done. The effect is alarmingly elegant and beautiful, and you’ll get artistic points to spare.
Bonus: Don’t stop there! Bake a cake and lay the lace down on top of it. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top and then remove the lace. They won’t know how you got such intricate detail, but that won’t stop them from loving it!
5. Enhance a Cute Photo with Important Words
Find a cute photo of you and your Valentine—maybe one you already have framed. Now copy the photo and lighten it (this can be done very easily with free online editing software, or editing software that came with your computer). Then, find either a poem, story, or your wedding vows and print them right onto your photo. This is free and quick, and creates a unique piece for your home.
Bonus: Really get in touch with your creative side and write your own story.
Bonus #2: Frame several of these types of photos/letters for a statement collage in your home.
6. Say “I Love You” with Your Morning Coffee
This is another simple, sweet gift that keeps on giving. Surprise your sweetheart by having their morning coffee ready, only now with a message. This can be done two different ways. For a permanent message, use a Sharpie on a porcelain mug, writing your chosen message. Set the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the mug for 30 minutes. Voila! You have a permanent, personal touch to a dish they’ll appreciate every morning. The second option is to paint the mug with chalkboard paint and write your message using chalk. It's simple and versatile, but best of all, you can change your message as often as you like.
Bonus: Why not do a whole place setting? Or if you’re really artistic, add a drawing instead of a message. The possibilities are endless.
7. DIY a Chalkboard Headboard
This one requires you to be a little more adventurous, but trust me, she’ll love it. You’ll need some more chalk board paint and two large wood pallets. Bear with me here—the pallets are easier to come by then you might think, and if you spend about five minutes on Craigslist, you can find them for free. Replace the headboard on your bed by installing the two pallets, horizontally and side-by-side. You’ll want drywall screws to be safe. Paint the front of the pallet with the chalkboard paint to create both a modern two-toned effect and a rustic artistic look. Now for the fun part: hang some chalk from the new headboard and write your first message. What will it be? Better yet, what will their first message be?
Bonus: If your room has a color scheme already, paint the rest of the pallet to match.