Valentine's Day doesn't have to cost a month's salary to be romantic.
By Kevin Armento for HowAboutWe
It can be an odd predicament, can't it, faced with the prospect of planning your V-Day. Both of you are to some degree cynical about the whole thing (everyone is, or at least likes saying they are) but at the same time, you're most likely not going to boycott it full-stop.
Then there's the added consideration of Valentines 2012, or: Still A Recession, Y'all. Income inequality's a real thing, and while a corporate holiday like V-Day isn't exactly the best illustration of the socio-economic grievances of our nation, your wallet just doesn't care -- and at the end of the day, you still want to create a romantic evening for your lover, right?
So here are some suggestions for V-Day dates you don't have to be Mitt Romney to afford.
Related: 5 Common Ways Valentine's Day Can Mess Up Your Relationship
1. Indoor picnic. Clear away your coffee table, lay down a comfortable blanket, and set out a spread of hummus, olives, dark chocolate, and red wine before he or she gets home from work. This bit of escapism goes a long way, without having to brave the colds of February.
2. Makeshift dance floor. I did this one year, and it was one of my favorite V-Days - and totally free. Make space in your kitchen floor, or garage, or wherever, lay out a circle of rose petals, and set up a playlist on your ipod. Dancing together in this makeshift space is free romance, the most underrated fun a couple can have, and the best part? The subsequent trip to your bedroom is a hell of a lot shorter than it would be from a club.
3. Scenic walk. If there's a theme to this list, it's that the subtlest suggestions of romance are inherently so much sexier than overdone, overpriced, often-forced Traditional Valentines. Pick a route that's scenic or historic in a way that you both find intoxicating, and stroll together. Bring mugs of coffee or tea, and see where your feet take you.
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4. Tackle a favorite dish together. Instead of the oft-recommended "Cook at home!", I'd more specifically suggest a) cooking together, and b) picking something you've both been wanting to try, instead of a random dish. Making a meal together is 99%-approved, very engaging and often comical, strangely intimate, and if you take it the extra step of tackling a dish you've had on your list, there's an added sense of accomplishment that's totally aphrodisiacal.
5. Double feature: recommended movies for each other. Like above, don't just "Watch a movie at home!" That's boring. Make it more personal by each picking a movie you think the other person would like, or one that reminds you of them, or whatever criteria you find intriguing. Besides being a super-cheap way to spend the night, your selections can open up new avenues of conversation in your relationship.
6. Art project. Some couples enjoy taking on projects with each other; and some couples that don't would do well to try. Spend the evening sharing a bottle of something while creating a painting together, or turning that bland wall in your study into a mural, or making a mosaic portrait out of the stack of old magazines on your table. You might treasure the masterpiece forever, or throw it out the next day - who cares? You've spent genuinely intimate time with each other, without donating any of your hard-earned money to Hallmark's Holiday.
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7. Warm bath, Prosecco, Erykah Badu. 'Nuff said.
8. Take a sick day together. Maybe you've been so busy that a night of Romance sounds daunting. Play hooky together, and spend the day at home vegging, ordering takeout, and watching a season of NewsRadio naked in bed. Who says V-Day has to be at night?
9. All-nighter reading out loud to each other. This one's not for everyone, but for the biblio-couple, nothing is sexier than reading out loud to your partner, and being read to by them. Pick a book you both love, one you're familiar with enough to not have to devote all your concentration to, and stay up all night with it (taking recreational breaks, of course). That's romance you can't commodify.