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14 Ways to Say I Love You

Forget the flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day and try one of these creative gifts

Couple embracing at a candlelight dinner with a crooner - innovative and inexpensive ways to express affection

Photo by Jason/Corbis

Try a gourmet-at-home dinner for you two and a local crooner to sing as you dine. It's probably cheaper than most restaurants.

Any bum can buy a bonbon.

On the other hand, those TV ads that tout BMWs and diamonds as the ideal gift for a day set aside for love are a bit cold and cynical.

Love is warm and real and alive despite the rumors. Love is a many-splendored thing, and there are many splendid ways to show how much you care. With a little investment of time and creativity, you can give a gift that expresses love better than any department store nightshirt or lingerie ever will.

Try these 14 sweeties on for size:

1.    Everybody loves a love song, and a CD is still a favorite present. How about one song for every letter of his or her name? Say for instance her name is Tara: “True Colors” (Cyndi Lauper), “As Time Goes By” (the Jimmy Durante version), “River Deep, Mountain High” (Ike and Tina Turner) and “All I Do is Dream of You” (Michael Buble). And for Bob, how about: “Beautiful Dreamer” (Roy Orbison), “Out of Africa” (The Royal Philharmonic), and “Bella Notte” (The Glee cast).

2.    Give your significant other a candle that burns safely in a jar, all through the night.

3.    Massage coupons. Local places run specials that offer an hour of deep tissue tune-up, sometimes for as little as $25. Or make your own.

4.    A “honey-done” list. If your loved one has been hoping you’d make a birthday calendar for his computer, or clean her car, or make your special cookies for the work gang, or box up the kids’ sports trophies, do the job without fanfare.  Present the list of finished projects as an accomplished fact. Talk about points!

5.    Go with him to the game, though you’d rather crochet a cravat for a giraffe. Go with her to see Like Crazy, even though you’d rather do the Macarena in tap shoes.

6.    For groceries and maybe $50, advertise on your local list for a culinary arts student you can pay to create a gourmet-at-home dinner for you two. Advertise for a crooner (they’re out there) to sing as you dine, à la Lady and the Tramp.

7.    Write down the top 10 things you admire about your loved one. That’s different from love, and sometimes even more important.

8.    Find pictures of the six best times you had together, and make copies for a key-chain cube. If you didn’t take pictures, scanning maps or matchbox covers will do nicely.

9.    From Legos, make a superhero person in the image of your love. And don’t have the kids do it. (OK, the kids can help.)

10.    Give him a calendar with nine Friday evenings blocked off, for the next year. Make the plans and sort out the child care, and arrange for them to pop up in advance on his computer or phone.

11.    Let her sleep all day, waking only to watch reruns of Law and Order.

12.    Borrow a cabin, off-season, from a pal. Off-road it to a winter picnic and a double sleeping bag by the fire.

13.    Play poker. Play darts. Play pool. Spend the evening doing the things you did in courtship days.

14.    When your love opens his or her wallet, let there be a note that says, “You’re my lucky day.”