We all like to do big things for our loved ones such as take them on epic vacations, buy them amazing houses and toast them with $10,000 bottles of champagne. Yet, saying 'I love you' isn't about grand gestures. It's really about the small things that show you care. If you want to express your love, try one of these frugal but special ideas.
1. Clean the house. You probably don't want to clean the house. Your significant other probably doesn't want to either. Clean the entire house or just take on a few of your partner's chores. It will be appreciated.
2. Make a heart-shaped breakfast. So many breakfast foods lend themselves to being cooked in the shape of a heart. Slices of bacon can be folded into hearts, then baked in the oven. Before you toast it, bread can be cut into a heart shape, too. You can even crack an egg into a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter in a frying pan; it will cook into a heart-shaped treat.
3. Write a love letter. We might say "I love you" often, but how frequently do we actually detail all the reasons why we love a person? Write a letter that includes specific things you love about someone.
4. Plan a retro night. Spend an evening doing things that remind you of when you were first dating. It could be sharing meal or drink, a movie or a song, whatever reminds you of when you were first together.5. Make a card. It's nice to give or send a card, but it's much more touching if you make one yourself. It doesn't have to be fancy. Just personalize it for your loved one.6. Plan a scavenger hunt. One idea is a hunt for love notes around the house. You also could visit places that are meaningful in your relationship, and create a hunt there.
7. Put love notes on your calendar. Relationship coach Gina Senarighi recommends listing a different reason why you love your partner on an online calendar each day. Then, share it with your partner through a service such as Google Calendar so he can see the reasons.
8. Prepare their favorite meal or dessert. It's not as important what you cook or create but that you have made it just for the other person. Think about his preferences as you shop for ingredients.
9. Create a photo album or a scrapbook. If you're not so creative, check out a site like Shutterfly. It will print photo books for you with photos you have uploaded.
10. Give a single flower or a potted plant. Bouquets are beautiful, but a single flower can also be lovely, and much less expensive. Many small potted flowers are cheaper than bouquets. Or, buy an herb or vegetable plant so your loved one will think of you every time he eats it.
11. Make your own chocolates. Truffles are easy to make. All you need is chocolate, butter, cream and flavoring. A quick Internet search will produce several recipes. In addition, you can promise your sweetie he'll love every filling. There will be no surprise mystery-fruit nougat in a box of random chocolates.12. Hide a love note. Write a short note to your loved one, then hide it somewhere where he'll find it later. Try placing it in a work bag, on the car dashboard or in a pants pocket.
13. Corral the kids. Plan something with the kids so your partner can enjoy some alone time. Sometimes, there's no better way to say, "I love you," than giving someone silence.
14. Plan an at-home night at the movies. If you watch movies with your significant other, turn the time into a special event. Prepare movie snacks and drinks, select a film you're both excited to see and grab a blanket for snuggling.
Pick two or three of these ideas, and you'll send the message that you care.
Meg Favreau is the editor for the personal finance blog Wise Bread, where you can find 14 frugal Valentine's Day recipes.