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It may be Valentine’s Day, but red roses and restaurant reservations are NOT mandatory. And romance needn’t be expensive.

Thoughtfulness beats all when it comes to romance. Doing something you know your sweetheart will adore is a thousand times better than racking up the credit card bill for overpriced flowers on one day when everyone else is buying them too.

As Paul Oyer puts it so beautifully in his article How to Be a Better Valentine, Through Economics

“Start by asking yourself, “What do I want my partner to think upon receiving my Valentine’s present?”

Suppose you buy your significant other a dozen red roses or a box of chocolates. She is likely to think, “All right, he cares about me enough to buy the obvious present.” Sixty-four percent of men buy flowers on Valentine’s Day, so giving flowers signals that you are like two-thirds of men. This is roughly the equivalent of writing “hb” on your mate’s Facebook wall on her birthday: it shows that you remember, and that you are willing to spend approximately seven seconds conveying that fact.

So how do you say “Honey, I really care about you, and you are very special to me”? Put your resources where your mouth is. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but to credibly signal you really care, do something personal.”

Stay home, stay away from the crowds, spend some time together alone.

But whatever you do – acknowledge the day. It’s important you show your partner that you are thinking of them and that you appreciate them.

And then do it again every other day of the year as well.

Here is my Complete Guide to help give you some inspiration!

Chapter 1: Thoughtful, Non-Commercialized Gifts
Chapter 2: Date Ideas That Don’t Involve Restaurants
Chapter 3: Romantic Recipes
Chapter 4: Thrill Him
Chapter 5: Captivate Her

Chapter 1: Thoughtful, Non-Commercialized Valentine Gifts

Paying three times the price for red roses one day out of the year rubs me up the wrong way (that’s a little massage pun for you).

Some of these DIY options show you care, just because you put in a little bit of extra effort.

Free Punny Massage Printables (IOU a Massage)| Melt: Massage for Couples
Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards| Better Homes & Gardens
Classic Valentine Printables | Nest of Posies
How to Write a Love Letter | Art of Manliness
14 Romantic Gifts From Significant Others Who Really Pay Attention | Huffington Post
How to Make Any Gift Voucher a Romantic Present | Melt: Massage for Couples

Chapter 2: Date Ideas that Don’t Involve Restaurants

Like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is what we can commonly to refer to as “amateur night” – there’s something slightly uncomfortable and forced about sitting in a sea of tables-for-two on a set menu on Valentine’s night. Stay away from the crowds and do something at home or something completely different.

Give the Gift of Massage | Melt: Massage for Couples
50 Most Romantic Movies to Watch as a Couple | To Love, Honor & Vacuum
52 Ridiculously Romantic Date Ideas for any Couple | Melt: Massage for Couples
21 Date Ideas We Think You’ll Love | Marriage 365
Random Date Ideas Generator | $30 Date Night
What We Were Up to On Valentine’s Day | A Blog About Love
12 Secrets to the Perfect Picnic | Design Mom

Chapter 3: Romantic Recipes

Whether it’s a breakfast in bed or a three-course dinner at home, you’d be remiss to not make something utterly romantic and special for Valentine’s Day. We’ve rounded up some amazing recipes. If it’s dinner, make the effort to light some candles and dress up for the occasion. If you’re baking treats, package them in a beautiful tin and gift wrap them. Breakfast in bed? Serve alongside piping hot coffee, fresh OJ and pop a single flower on the tray too.

Dinners
Restaurant-inspired Crab Salad Recipe | I Am A Food Blog
Heart Shaped Pizza Recipe | I Am A Food Blog
Beetroot Gnocchi with Lemon Pesto Recipe | What’s Cooking Good Looking
Veggie Valentine’s Day Recipe Round Up | Love and Lemons

Romantic Treats/Desserts
Chocolate Heart Cake with Raspberry Buttercream | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Lemon Meringue French Toast | I Am A Food Blog
Raw Vegan Hazelnut Truffles Rolled in Goji Berries | What’s Cooking Good Looking
Rose Petal Dark Chocolate Bar | Pure Ella
(Edible) Valentine Confetti | Nest of Posies
The Laziest Valentine Cake Ever | 5 Second Rule

Romantic Breakfasts
Baked Almond Pancake with Strawberries and Citrus | The Year in Food
Blueberry Pomegranate Chia Breakfast Parfait | Pure Ella
Valentine’s Egg in a Basket | Reclaiming Provincial

Chapter 4: Thrill Him

Men. I find them really hard to buy for, especially if we try and overlay our own version of romance onto what we think they want.

Here’s a secret: If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then a bouquet of bacon “roses” or a Man Sandwich will surely make him fall even more in love with you. I can practically guarantee it!

Man Food: Afternoon Beer | I Am A Food Blog
A Steak Dinner at Home | Dinner, A Love Story
The Marlboro Man Sandwich | The Pioneer Woman
20 Gifts Guys Secretly Want for Valentine’s Day | Business Insider
A Bacon Bouquet | Our Best Bites

Chapter 5: Captivate Her

Women love romance. This doesn’t always mean over-the-top gestures. There are some things that will always go down very well – Lingerie, flowers (she’ll be more flattered if you pick her favorite flower rather than just standard roses… what did she have in her bridal bouquet? What was the first bouquet you ever bought her?), perfume, shoes… or just a deep, loving kiss (especially if her Love Language is Physical Touch)

What Women Want: Top Ten Romantic Gestures | The Telegraph
A Guide to Buying Lingerie for Your Girl | Complex
The Meanings of Flowers | The Language of Flowers
9 Facts About Kissing | Huffington Post

This is an evolving, crowd-sourced book. If you have a resource or chapter idea you’d like to see added, just Tweet or Facebook us and reference the “Valentine’s Day Guide” to make a suggestion. If you like the article, please remember to share it on social media!

Romance is one of those things we all wish we had a little more of in our lives. Often, we make the mistake of thinking that romantic gestures need to be big, grand, sweeping statements bursting with red roses and violins. They don’t. Incorporate some romance into your lives with these simple romantic ideas that will make your lover swoon.

Here are 5 simple romantic ideas that will make your relationship better instantly:

 

1. Give a back rub

It’s no secret that at Melt, we think back rubs are the bomb. A recent study entitled The Normal Bar found that there was one surprising thing ‘extremely happy’ couples had in common – 74% of them gave each other back massages! Yes, even we were pleasantly surprised by these findings!

As it turns out, the kind of attention you lavish on each other during a back rub can be a crucial ingredient for a fantastic relationship. Get more massages from your partner by learning how to rub them the right way. The more massages, the happier the couple. It’s practically guaranteed.

Massage increases your intimacy and trust, is a fantastic way to get closer together and show your partner some appreciation and you can make it a very romantic evening or just a bit of chilled out fun, depending on how you play it!

2. Plan an impromptu getaway

This is super important. It doesn’t have to be the holiday of a lifetime. Plan ahead and aim for a relaxed, romantic weekend getaway. Budget, say, $300. If you start now and put away $25 per week, you’ll be set to go in just a few months’ time!

Do the fun work now of deciding where you’d like to escape to with your sweetie. A city getaway in a nice hotel room? A remote log cabin in the woods? A beachside B&B? Pick somewhere that excites you both, so you have something to look forward to.

If you know your partner well and you think you can nail it without their input, keeping something like this a surprise is another way to make a big impact that they’ll love! Give them some anticipation by dropping hints a few weeks out and teasing them with information. They’ll be blown away.

3. Organise a clever date night

Something magical happens when you try new experiences together. It reignites the same chemistry as when you first started dating. And the feeling is even more heightened when there’s an element of anticipation, exploration, learning, fascination or achievement. When it comes to a date night, try organising something unusual and completely out of character for the two of you.

For something completely different try one of these date ideas:

  • Geocaching: This is like a global treasure hunt! Once you initiate yourself into the geocaching club, you’ll realise that there are caches hidden everywhere and you probably walk past a bunch of them every day! https://www.geocaching.com/play
  • Life Drawing: There are two takes on this saucy date idea. First, you could find a local Life Drawing session nearby you and pick up some sketch pads and pencils on your way there. Den and I did this one night in Sydney on the spur of the moment when we had some time to kill before a flight home and it was great. Our artistic skills leave a lot to be desired, but that didn’t stop us having an amazing date night with it. The second take is to be the model for each other at home! Take a look online at some basic life drawing tutorials and pick up any tips you can, then take some time at home to sketch each other over a platter of food and perhaps some wine.
  • Drive In for the New Millennium: Your own private outdoor cinema! Load up a movie to your laptop or tablet and set yourselves up outside after dark with a picnic blanket, large pillows and a host of snacks. Set everything up while your partner isn’t looking and surprise them with your little backyard makeover. Pick a movie you know they’ll love and relax together under the stars.

Once you’ve realised how much fun it is, consider scheduling a regular date night in 2015. Date nights are such a treat for any couple. One that your relationship deserves!

Decide that from now on, regular date nights will be part of your lifestyle as a couple. Pick a day either every month, fortnight or week. Set a firm date ahead of time – is it the last Friday of every month? Is it every Wednesday? Is it every odd Saturday night?

Once decided, put it in your calendar for the rest of the year – now. With reminders and alerts. Scheduling it ahead of time is key. You now have a year of date nights locked in, and they are now an utmost priority.

Other things may come up to clash with your date night – do you really need to go to them? Really, really? If so, politely inform your partner as early as possible and reschedule them immediately to another suitable night. Both prioritizing your date nights and treating them like an important event on the calendar signals to your partner that they are important to you, and that you will make time in your schedule to honor them.

4. Say ‘Yes!’ more often

This is great for your relationship – and your life! I did a year of this once and I had such adventures! I learned to ride a motorcycle, I took spontaneous road trips, I flew in a hot air balloon… take this further and make an effort to say ‘yes!’ to your partner more often and watch your relationship blossom.

When your partner makes a proposition, an offer or a suggestion, just say yes. Don’t criticise. Don’t tell them it’s a silly idea. Don’t pout. Just say yes!

As a couple, when other people invite you places, just say yes! If you both have a sudden brainwave to go away take an epic holiday or drive all night until you get to Disneyland – say ‘yes!’ and jump in with two feet!

Life is so much better with more ‘yes!’ in it. You open yourself to more energy and momentum. More things get done. Fun things!

5. Kiss for longer

Passionate kissing often falls by the wayside in longterm relationships. But it has a host of health benefits, as well as the added advantage of keeping you more connected to your partner. Some studies have found that it’s the frequency of kissing, rather than the frequency of sex, that is an excellent indicator to relationship security. It’s just something happy couples do a lot of.

10 seconds is a good benchmark to start you off – this ensures you’re not just giving each other chaste pecks. If you have to get to your 10 second time limit, you’ll probably get a bit creative with your kisses.

You might have to start with timed 10 second (or so) kisses, but soon enough – if you make it a habit – it will feel very natural and spontaneous for you to indulge in a bit of a hallway makeout session together whenever the mood takes you.

Gift vouchers. Impersonal, lazy ways to give presents, right? Especially when it comes to your partner, spouse, lover or significant other.

Wrong.

Everyone knows the best presents are thoughtful ones. And guess what? There’s no reason why vouchers can’t be thoughtful! In fact, I would argue that they’re often even more thoughtful than, say, a new sweater in a questionable color or the latest iPad.

The people that hate on gift vouchers have a bunch of arguments. Have you ever heard these?

“It’s like money, but less useful.”

“You’re basically saying you’ve given up on finding an actual present.”

“What kind of present requires work on behalf of the recipient?”

As far as I can tell, the biggest barrier to couples bestowing gift vouchers on each other is that it’s widely considered an impersonal present to give your spouse or lover come Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Birthdays.

Impersonal? Nonsense.

I mean sure, I agree that simply slapping $50 onto a department store card without really thinking it through is positively slothful.

But – done right – gift vouchers can make for some of the most touching and beautiful presents you’ll ever give, or receive.

That comes with a few caveats though. Just hear me out.

There’s the right way and the wrong way to give a gift voucher. Here’s how to make gift vouchers into a romantic gift – my definitive guide. (Make sure you read the last point, it’s the one crucial step that brings everything together):

1. Thoughtfulness is Everything*

A voucher for the hardware store, however practical, is not going to get anyone’s pulse racing.

If you’re going down the gift voucher route, you need to make it über-tailored.

Start by thinking very hard about what’s going on in your partner’s life right now.

Have they just taken up yoga? Get them a voucher to a high-end exercise gear store.

Are they known for saving all their pennies to spend on the kids and house? Get them a voucher to a clothing store you know they love (check the labels in their closet!) so they have to spoil themselves.

Are they doing up a vintage car? How about a voucher for some antique car parts?

2. Gift an Experience*

It’s a consumer world; we already buy most material possessions we want for ourselves and there’s a new trend away from material possessions with the introduction of the minimalist thinkers around the internet.

By far, one of the most significant gifts you can give in this day and age is an experience you know your partner will love. Something that impacts them in a different way.

Again, gifting experiences requires the same careful thinking I just spoke about – a voucher for a bungee jump won’t go down well with someone who has an intense fear of heights, for example (just ask my husband who turned a lovely shade of beetroot-rage and deathly pale at all once when he was given him a skydiving voucher for his 30th).

Is your partner really into gourmet cooking? How about a cooking class for a cuisine they haven’t mastered yet?

Are they stressed and tired lately from work? What about a pampering session at a day spa (trust me, men love this as much as women do, they just generally don’t know it yet)?

Do they spend a lot of time at the driving range? How about an hour with a pro perfecting their swing?

3. Gift an Experience You Can Do Together*

Here’s where the romance factor starts to skyrocket.

There is simply no substitute for spending time with your sweetie, and we already know that science has proven doing new things together as a couple is ridiculously good for your relationship. It floods your system with happy hormones that keep you bonded and happy.

For that reason, gifting a gorgeous experience that the two of you can look forward to doing together is – in my opinion – king of all gift voucher giving and really ups the romance ante on your gift giving.

Perhaps a weekend away, language classes, or a hot air balloon ride. We obviously love our very own Melt: Massage for Couples video courses where you can get your hands all over each other in your own home night after night – it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Whatever you choose, know that you’re doing something wonderful for your relationship. It may even seem like too much fun to be a good thing, but trust me… you can never make too many joyful memories as a couple.

*The Clincher: Wrap Something Up for a Really Romantic Gift

This is the important part and it applies to all the points above. In order to make a gift voucher the perfect romantic gift, you need to gift them along with something to unwrap. Otherwise it really is just a piece of paper or a plastic card that will sometime in the future take on its proper meaning.

A simple solution is to give something tangible along with the voucher as a little appetiser for the upcoming experience they are going to enjoy. It’s a delicious way to build anticipation and makes the gift voucher much more real immediately.

Let’s go back over some of the examples I’ve already used:

A Moroccan Cooking Class would go perfectly with some gourmet spices and a tagine pot.

A golf lesson will pair beautifully with a new leather monogrammed glove.

Give them a head start on their exercise gear voucher with a new gym bag.

When people gift our Melt: Massage for Couples vouchers to their spouse or to another couple, we encourage them to purchase a few massage essentials to package with the gift – a scented candle, a bottle of massage oil, a blindfold and a soft hand towel is everything you need (and more) to start massaging right away. You then have the added benefit of being able to start that very night.

melt-massage-gift-voucher

Our Melt Gift Voucher with scented votive candle, massage oil and plush hand towel. The perfect gift.

So there you have it – the next time you’re looking for an incredibly personal and romantic gift, look no further than a gift voucher.

And in the name of shameless plugs, if you’re looking for something for your sweetie, I really do recommend you check out our Melt: Massage for Couples videos. They’re specifically designed to be a perfect gift for any couple… and couples really do love getting their hands all over each other in a whole new way.

Feel free to comment below with the gift vouchers you have in mind for upcoming celebrations, or some details about the recipient if you can’t decide what to get them. We will crowdsource some inspirational, thoughtful gift voucher ideas for you, including the tangible elements you can wrap up as the “appetizer present”.

Romance isn’t all red roses and stuffed teddy bears. In fact, many would argue that particular ideal of romance is outdated and a bit clichéd these days.

Real romance boils down to a few key points: extreme thoughtfulness, going out of your way to do something selfless and – if you really want to delve headfirst into a romantic experience – a good measure of impracticality.

All that said, there are ways to infuse some romance into your everyday life with very little effort.

Our list here today of romantic things to do for your boyfriend/husband/lover comprises of small gestures that will make him melt. Most of them require very little preparation – we guarantee you can execute more than a handful of these right away (and the great news is, you only need to do one!). Go ahead, sweep him off his feet. Make a mental note to try a new one each week or so to watch him smile. romantic things to do for your husband

1. Make him heart-shaped pancakes. Or eggs. Or bacon.
It’s a thoroughly silly way to start his day – his favorite breakfast with a cute romantic twist. What does he love to eat? Go out of your way to get up early and prepare it for him. If it’s pancakes or eggs, simply get yourself a heart-shaped mould you can pop into the frypan (cheap and available online with some advance planning).

If bacon has his heart, arrange the strips into a cute message or shape for him. Don’t forget his choice breakfast beverage – bonus points for picking up an artisan tea, single origin coffee or freshly squeezing the OJ.

2. Send a love note along to work with him
Secretly write a quick little love note and tuck it into his work satchel, his pocket or his wallet for him to find later on. It can be a silly poem (Roses are red/Grass is green/I want you in my bed/If you know what I mean) a funny sentiment (I love you with all my butt. I’d say my heart, but my butt is bigger) or simply something sweet that will make him smile (Thanks for being you, you’re amazing. I’m so lucky you’re my husband. I can’t wait to see you tonight.)

3. Have flowers delivered
Men hardly ever gets bouquets delivered at work. Guess what? They love it just as much as we do. They pretend not to, but trust me. Who wouldn’t feel special to see a gorgeous bunch of blooms turn up and know someone loves them enough to send it? It’s one of the most romantic things to do for a person – crazy impractical, extremely thoughtful and nothing in it for you at all. If flowers really aren’t his thing, send a dozen manly cupcakes (bourbon soaked, perhaps?) or find somewhere that delivers bacon roses!

4. Buy his favourite chocolate bar and a magazine
If you’re at the grocery store, pick up a treat you know he loves and leave it at home for him when he walks in the door. I like to procure my husband’s favorite chocolate bar and place it on top of a car magazine. Maybe it’s a six-pack of an artisan beer and a copy of GQ, maybe it’s a box of cookies and a DIY periodical. Whatever it is, make sure you give him some alone time to take a break and enjoy it.

5. Give him a foot rub in front of the TV
Has he been on his feet all day? Been training hard with his sports team? I bet he’d love a foot rub. The great thing about giving a foot massage is that you can do it in front of his favorite TV show without much fanfare. Wait until he’s had a shower and is nice and clean, then settle yourself on the couch with some massage oil or even a decadent foot cream and treat his toes to a little loving. Alternate between full hand, comforting pressure and getting into the nitty-gritty spots with your thumbs and fingers. Watch his face to get an idea of what he likes – and then do more of it! Don’t forget his calves, he’ll go nuts for it.

6. Set him up to watch the game
Is his team playing? Do a little groundwork and set him up to watch it in style. Pick up some of his team flags, stock up on snacks (peanuts, hot dogs, popcorn, whatever his poison) and consider arranging a delivery of hot wings or pizza for half time. Invite a couple of his buddies over if you think he’ll like that, and then either make yourself scarce or, if you love sports too, sit with him and cheer them on.

7. Dress up for him
Men are visual creatures with specific tastes. When was the last time you donned some sexy lingerie to get his heart racing? Rustle up your lingerie sets or buy yourself something new that you know he’ll like. If you’re not sure, take him shopping with you to get his opinion on what he wants to see you in. Then get home, put it on and strut around the house in it for as long as you can before he can’t contain himself any longer.

8. Whisk him on a fun date night
Text him ahead of time and tell him you’d like to take him on a date tonight. Think of something creative you know he’d love to do – a competitive night at the bowling alley with some fried food, a few rounds of pool at a dive bar or to the video game arcade to be big kids.

9. Three course meal by candlelight
Make a special dinner full of his most-loved dishes and serve it by candlelight for a romantic twist on the regular weeknight dinner at home. If you’re feeling extra amorous, write up a little menu, get out the crystal wine glasses and really set the scene. Don a slinky dress and some lipstick. Serve three courses to the strains of his favourite chilled playlist and enjoy a little night in for two.